Melodies in Oak and Alloy: The St. John’s Pipe Organ
Anchoring the musical landscape of St. John’s is our magnificent pipe organ. Commissioned in 1993 by former organist Dr. Jim Anthony, and masterfully crafted by renowned organ builders Taylor and Boody, this instrument, their Opus 23, is an intricate blend of time-honored tradition and contemporary artistry.
With its two-manual tracker system, the organ facilitates a nuanced and intimate connection between the musician and the music. Beyond expertly delivering the classics of organ repertoire, the St. John’s organ has been a playground for pushing musical boundaries with an explorative joy. Our organist frequently ventures beyond the standard repertoire, emulating sounds one might expect from instruments like the Hammond B3. Achieving terraced dynamics, especially without the aid of a swell box, becomes a delightful challenge, showcasing both the instrument's versatility and the organist's dexterity.
The organ has also been the centerpiece for numerous recitals, becoming a beacon in the Greenspring Valley for world-renowned musicians. Notable organists like Gerre Hancock, a master of improvisation and church music, and Felix Hell, known for his prodigious talent and engaging performances, have graced our sanctuary, elevating the organ's status and solidifying St. John’s reputation in the organ music community.
With its outstanding design and dynamic tonal capabilities, the St. John’s organ continues to be a pivotal element of our worship and musical engagements, bridging past, present, and future in every resonant note.
Gracing our parish hall is another instrument of extraordinary pedigree—a nine-foot concert grand, Knabe model D, that hails from the early 1910s. Crafted by the esteemed Baltimore-based Knabe piano factory, this magnificent instrument underwent a meticulous restoration in 1988 by certified piano technician David G. Hughes, ensuring that its majestic tones continue to enrich our musical experiences. Generously donated by Maura Godinez in loving memory of her mother, Mrs. Frances Prochazka, this Knabe serves as an integral part of our Music in the Valley concert series. Its presence not only elevates the performances held within our hall but also serves as a resonant memorial, honoring both musical tradition and personal legacy.
While the pipe organ may hold the esteemed title of “king of instruments,” the kazoo has carved out its own quirky, yet heartfelt niche in the auditory tapestry of St. John’s. Inaugurated in 2018 by Benjamin Buchanan, our earnestly playful Music Director, these buzzing little wonders make their annual appearance in celebration of National Kazoo Day on the Sunday closest to January 28th.
The kazoo, an American invention with African roots, historically serves as an instrument that turns the human voice into a buzzing timbral symphony. It's an instrument of inclusivity, transcending age and skill, offering a whimsical yet earnest way to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. it employs a diaphragm that vibrates in sympathy with a performer's hum, producing a timbre replete with a rich frequency spectrum.
Our custom kazoos aren't just any kazoos—they are Kazoobie Kazoos, the pinnacle of plastic kazoo craftsmanship. Made entirely in the USA, these little instruments are manufactured with the utmost attention to quality and durability. The resonators are fashioned from high-grade materials, and the caps, pressed in with a formidable 100 lbs. of pressure, are exceedingly difficult to remove. Add to this their safety approval for ages three and up, and their dishwasher-friendly nature, and you have what is essentially the Rolls-Royce of kazoos.
Each kazoo is embossed with the name of St. John’s Church, a tactile testament to the sense of community and collective joy that it represents. If you're a first-time visitor, don't hesitate to ask about this buzzing addition to our musical family; you'll receive your very own kazoo to take home.