International Organ Day – RCCO Vancouver – An Organ Crawl

By Susan Ohannesian

On Saturday, April 23, 2022 I hopped on my bicycle and cycled to Michael Dirk’s place, locked my bike safely in the garage, got in his car, and he drove me to Holy Family Parish.
The Vancouver Centre of the RCCO celebrated International Organ Day, and our first in person event since the beginning of the pandemic, with an organ crawl. We started at Holy Family Parish in east Vancouver. Marianne Huestis introduced the organ and Isaac Howie demonstrated it before we all had a chance to try it out.

The organ, Casavant Frères (Opus 3672, 1989), was originally installed in St. John’s Church in Vernon. It was relocated to Holy Family in 2021 and installed by Marianne Huestis and her team. It is a versatile two manual electro-pneumatic instrument, with 21 ranks of pipes, that fills the church with sound or subtly accompanies the Gregorian Chant.

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We had a short lunch break and then reassembled at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver. Marianne Huestis, along with Centre President Angelique Po, introduced the organ and gave tours of the organ loft. St. Andrew’s-Wesley is a large neo-gothic church which has just undergone a huge restoration and seismic upgrade. Casavant Frères, who had various involvements through the years with the church’s organ, enlarged the organ to 72 stops with 4185 pipes and added 13 new ranks of pipes to the Solo division in rear gallery. They also provided a new 4 manual console, and cleaned and restored the pipe facades. The organ looks and sounds glorious.

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Also at St. Andrew’s Wesley, Michael Dirk set up three organs in various spaces in the church for us to try out, including the Viscount Cantorum single, and double with pedal board, which Michael has been renting out to various organizations who need an organ for concerts.

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The OrgelKidsCAN kit was placed in the children’s area and put together by Michael Molnar, Katherine Hume and her daughter.

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At the end of the day everything fit back into Michael Dirk’s car and there was still room for me to be driven back to his house where my bicycle was waiting for me to ride home. It was a full, informative, pleasant day and it was wonderful to be together with colleagues and friends again.

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