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About the Organ

Steps Along the Way


Construction began in June 1981, at John Brombaugh's shop in Eugene, Oregon. It was delivered via two trucks to Collegedale in October of 1984, after a meticulous handcrafting process requiring more than three years.


It took Brombaugh's staff of technicians six weeks to reassemble the organ in the church once it arrived. Brombaugh himslef lived on campus for close to six months while he performed the most critical stage of assembly--individually voicing each pipe to match the acoustics in the church.


In January of 1985, the first tuned pipes were used in congregational worship. During the installation and voicing process, Harald Vogel, director of the North German Organ Academy, provided invaluable consultation.


The organ was formally dedicated during worship services on Saturday, April 26, 1986. During the festivities, the International Composition Competition Award (for best newly composed organ piece) sponsored by Mrs. O.D. McKee, was presented to Naji Hakim of Sacre Coeur in Paris, for his Embrace of Fire. Fantasia in Memoriam A. H. was commissioned specifically of Peter Planyavsky, music director and organist of Stephensdom in Vienna. 


The ongoing yearly concert series, sponsored by Eugene A. Anderson, has brought organists from around the world, including Klaas Bolt, Guy Bovet, Hans Davidson, Yuko Hayashi, August Humer, Gustav Leonhardt, Peter Planyavsky, Michael Radulescu, Leonard Raver, Montserrat Torrent, and Harald Vogel. 


For more specific concert information call Southern Adventist University's School of Music at (423) 236-2880.


From the Builder


The pipe organ as the principal musical instrument for the Christian Church is the result of development extending back over a thousand years. Changes from country to country, varying with the requirements and musical needs of various congregations has resulted in a number of national styles. Congregations influenced by Luther's Reformation have led the development of the organ in its use with singing of chorales and hymns, the liturgy of the church, and in music such as that which Johann Sebastian Bach composed to inspire the people in their offering of praise and thanksgiving to God.


The instrument our shop has made for Southern Adventist University is strongly influenced by the historical development of the organ, especially that found in northwestern Europe in the 16th through 18th centuries. This influence notwithstanding, this organ was entirely made here in the United States and consequently must be considered an American organ designed for the musical and spiritual enrichment of a Christian congregation in the South of our country.


The musical resources are disposed over four manuals and pedal which control the slider windchests by means of suspended tracker action and have mechanical stop action. Electricity is only used to power a blower which fills two large wedge-shaped bellows. The slender wooden trackers control the key action completely, just like they do in the historic European instruments that render the compositions of the old masters so wonderfully.


The organ contains 4,861 pipes in 108 ranks for its 70 stops. The temperament (i.e. tuning of the musical scale) of the organ is well tempered in the manner of Johann Sebastian Bach. Voicing of the pipes has been done on a windpressure that will support a column of water 90 mm. high.


The casework is made of hand-planed white oak fumed in strong ammonia that has accelerated what would have been accomplished by natural aging. The upper back panels are of western red cedar, a very stable wood with lively acoustic properties. Pipes, moldings, and key nosings are gilded with 23 carat gold leaf. The naturals of the manual keyboards are plated with cow shinbones prepared in our shop. The manual sharps, stop knobs, and keytable moldings are from African ebony. The keychecks are from zebrawood, the pedal sharps from Brazilian rosewood, the pedal naturals from maple, the black strip in the music rack from oak sunk in a North German peatbog for many centuries, and the stop rods of beech. The keyboards and trackers are from sugar pine. The windchests and bellows are made of white oak, western red cedar, sugar pine, and sheep and cow leather. The reed shallots and tongues are of brass, some covered with lead plates and leather. The pipes are made of various combinations of lead, tin, antimony, copper, and bismuth.


Many have contributed to the conception and execution of this organ. Very special thanks are due to my shop associates whose blood, sweat, and tears made it possible to bring this project to completion after more than 48,000 of hard work.


It is the hope of all of us who have participated in building this instrument for Southern Adventist University that it will bring musical and spiritual inspiration here in the South and praise and thanksgiving to our Lord and Saviour for many generations to come.



John Brombaugh

Dedicated in Memory of Anton Heiller, 1923-1979


The Anton Heiller Memorial Organ stands as a tribute to one man's invaluable contribution to the musical world. It is especially appropriate that this organ bear his name as he was the original adviser for the Southern Adventist University organ project, personally recommending appropriate stops. He was also the instructor of many of the organists performing for the dedication event, including Collegedale Church organist Judy Glass.


A native of Vienna, Heiller became one of Europe's most famous organists. Heiller was appointed professor of organ at the Academy of Music in Vienna in 1945, the school from which he had graduated three years previously. He taught there until his death in 1979. He was influenced by the music of his friend and colleague, Paul Hindeminth, whose new and exciting compositions he relished. Heiller toured the countries of Western Europe, playing the organs to be found in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. Regular tours also brought him to the United States, Japan, and Australia as a concert artist and lecturer. He was frequently consulted on the building of new instruments and the restoration of old ones.

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