Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the October 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.
Jeannine: I understand you recently retired after 32 years as Director of Music Ministries at First Presbyterian Church of Saginaw, Michigan. Early in your tenure, a Casavant Freres pipe organ was designed, built, and installed in the church. Would you share some of the joys/challenges of this project?
Mr. Largent: First Presbyterian Saginaw is the first church in Saginaw, established in 1838. When Anna and I came to Saginaw they were beginning the process of an Historic Renovation of the 1885 Sanctuary. The project had the possibility or a new organ.
A committee had been formed and Dr. Marilyn Mason, Chair of the Organ Department of the University of Michigan, would be the consultant. (A special treat for me because she was Marianne Webb’s Masters degree organ professor). A renovation by itself is stressful…. But when you pair it with a new organ project… OH MY GOSH!! Pastor Robert L. Emrich had only been there a year- here came the two new musicians and they were expecting their first child…. Let the mayhem begin!
Lots and lots of meetings. And excellent new organ committee made up of a broad cross section of the congregation and four of us were organists. Dr. Mason took us around the region to see the recent work of many fine builders. The decision was made to go with Casavant Freres Ltd. Michael Perrault was our representative from Casavant. The decision was made for a three-manual instrument of 70 ranks along French Romantic lines because it would provide a rich and warmer sound for worship. It would also have sounds well suited to the full organ repertoire. It was a joy to work with Casavant and we had two trips to the company in St. Hyacinthe Canada to see things in process and for approval. The disruption and stress of being out the sanctuary and rehearsal space during the whole renovation cannot be fully expressed in words! At least printable words!! The Sanctuary renovation was beautifully done. We returned to worship and rehearsal spaces in the fall and the Organ arrived the week after Easter and a month of chaos with the installation and final voicing of the instrument concluded the project. The final voicing was done by Yves Champagne of Casavant with the excellent ears of Marilyn Mason, Michael Perrault assisting in balances and blends. A glorious instrument to serve as a voice in worship was created and the case has the dedication “Soli Deo Gloria” below the pedal towers.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist and David Jordan, media artist are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea and Around the World in 80 Minutes. Contact the Jordans at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a performance in your community.