Donations: Adopt a Singer, Organ Restoration

Cat Choirbook

Donations to the Music Program

Adopt a Singer for St. Martin’s

St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church is known for our commitment to the Sacred Liturgy, and what the Second Vatican Council called a “treasure of inestimable value”: Sacred Music.

St. Martin’s employs professional singers for the weekly celebration of Mass at 4:00 on Saturday and at 9:00, 10:300 and 12:15 on Sundays throughout the entire calendar year:  Like the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, we never take a break!  In order to maintain this important tradition and build upon it, we need your help.

1 singer costs the parish $240/month and $3,120/year, not including feast days.  Your contribution will ensure the stability of our program.  Our choral program could even expand with enough help!  Louisville has no shortage of great singers.  They should be singing at St. Martin’s!

Consider adopting a singer for a month, a year, or even longer.  Online donations can be given here: Online Donation.  Or, if you prefer, you may write “Adopt a Singer” on the memo line of your check, or write “Adopt a Singer” on an envelope with your donation enclosed, and send it to:

Adopt a Singer
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
639 S. Shelby Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202

Pipe Organ Restoration

The organ that has stood in the gallery of St. Martin of Tours Church in Louisville, Kentucky for 120 years is a rare survivor (Organ History).  Substantially unchanged since its installation in 1894, it is one of the earliest and largest electric action instruments that still possesses its original voice in its original space.  Built by one of the most respected teams of artists and craftsmen of the late 19th century, this Farrand & Votey organ is one of the few remaining examples created by that company.  Incorporating what was state-of-the-art technology at the time, the organ at St. Martin of Tours is an unusual example of an intact, Romantic-era organ in its original, spectacular acoustic.

“Some organs are rare, others great. This one is both.”  Organ consultant, Jonathan Ambrosino, reports that “it is as rare as a Tiffany window, except that there are many more Tiffany windows than Farrand & Votey organs.” Built a few years before the death of Brahms, the organ at St. Martin of Tours is an artifact of high 19th century art.  Its sound has also never been altered.  It is intact.

The Need for Restoration

An organ does not survive into its 121st year without developing some problems.  Some of them serious.  Currently, there are numerous pipes that are not playing, and many pipes are getting air when they shouldn’t, resulting in unwanted whistles, hums and drones known as cyphers.  One of the three keyboards is virtually unplayable because of these problems. That means a full third of the pipes in the organ are often unusable.  Restoration is not only necessary to bring back the sounds of the instrument, it is necessary to prevent losing any more.

Because of the organ’s quality and age, repairs and changes to its 19th century design can and should be made with modifications from the period.  Toward this end, the restoration of the organ will be accomplished by the following:

1. An initial research and restoration phase will be conducted on a portion of the organ to better understand its historic design.  During this phase, the Roosevelt patented windchests will be removed from one division of the organ, examined and restored to determine how the rest of the instrument’s mechanism will be returned to working order.

2. Once the path forward becomes clear, the remaining windchests will be restored. The old leather that is found throughout the instrument will also be replaced. Leather typically deteriorates in about 30 years and is used for nearlyevery moving part of the organ in order to control over 2,000 pipes.  Much of the leather in this organ comes from the 1970’s.  Once these phases of the project are completed, the organ will once again possess a reliable mechanism.

3. Restoration of the wind system. The wind system is the only major component of the organ to have been completely replaced, and restoring that system will bring the original lungs back to the organ.  The current system does not have the “lung capacity” that originally provided the full depth of tone of which this organ is capable.

4. Pipe Restoration.  Once the mechanism and winding of the organ is stable, it will be possible to restore the speech of the pipes to their original clarity and uniformity.  Some pipes have been damaged by poor service work and climate changes over nearly 1 ¼ centuries.  Returning them to their full voice will be the happy culmination of the work in the first two stages.

5. Finally, the renovation or replacement of the currently malfunctioning console and restoration of the stenciled façade pipework will complete the return of the organ to its full powers.

A thorough restoration of this rare, historic pipe organ will allow our 120 year-old instrument to serve the community for another century and beyond.  Putting our resources into this unique work of art will certainly benefit the greater society beyond the boundaries of the parish and city, as fewer and fewer of these treasures survive into the next generation.  However, in order for that to happen, significant funds must be raised.   Initial estimates for the complete restoration of the organ between $350,000-450,000, with the initial phase costing approximately $90,000.  The organ is appraised at $1.75 million.

Please donate to preserve this important cultural treasure before it falls silent.  This and many future generations will be grateful for your generosity.

Donate online or send your contribution to:

Pipe Organ Restoration Fund
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
639 S. Shelby Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202