St. Benedict Cathedral Nave organ installed

A pipe is handed off in the work area during the second day of the Nave organ installation. The Nave organ contains eight sets of pipes totaling 560 pipes. The Message photo by John Rohlf

By John Rohlf 

The Message assistant editor 

The installation of the new pipe organ at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville took a major step forward in June, with the installation of the Nave organ. 

Jeremy Korba, St. Benedict Cathedral music director and organist, confirmed the Nave organ was installed the week of June 10.

“They got finished probably half a day earlier than they were thinking,” Korba said. “Folks that have seen it so far think that it looks beautiful and we’re really excited.”

The Nave organ is placed in the front of the Cathedral, near the statue of the Blessed Mother and the cantor stand. The Nave organ, which will be the secondary organ, contains eight sets of pipes for a total of 560 pipes. This organ will be used to support smaller gatherings situated at the front of the cathedral and to accompany clergy and cantors. 

The installation of the main organ will begin July 8 and is expected to take three to four weeks, according to Korba. The Gallery organ will be placed in the back of the cathedral. The Gallery organ will feature over 3,700 pipes. 

Korba noted the size of the Gallery organ is much larger and a much bigger scale project than the Nave organ. 

“The Nave organ was one 24-26 foot trailer,” Korba said. “They’re anticipating that the loft organ will be three 52-foot trailers. So basically six times as much stuff to unload and build, which is why it will take so much longer.”

A few weeks after the main organ is installed, tone finishers will come on two different occasions to test the tone of the pipes. With this process potentially taking about five weeks, the hope is for the complete organ to be ready to use in September. 

The organ is a result of a gift from a donor, who approached Benedictine Father Godfrey Mullen during the renovation to donate the organ to the cathedral. Father Mullen was the rector of St. Benedict Cathedral at the time. 

Current Rector of St. Benedict Cathedral and Diocesan Vicar General Father Alex Zenthoefer expressed gratitude for the gift. 

“The new organ will not only sound beautiful, but it is being made specifically for our space,” Father Alex said. “Its design incorporates the arches that are so prominent in the Cathedral's architecture. Parsons has also taken care to include the Benedictine medal as well as the flower medallions found on the baldacchino. This gift will help to lift the hearts of the faithful for generations.”

Korba said as soon as the renovation to the cathedral was completed about four years ago, they got to work to make the gift of the organ come to fruition. Parsons has worked on it in their shop for the last two years, with the last year being the primary work, Korba said. 

Korba said the donors for the organ also provided an electronic organ, which the cathedral has been using while they wait for the completed installation of the organ. Korba said the electronic organ has been “a wonderful tool” for the cathedral to use. 

Korba also cited the planning required for a project of this magnitude. This included discussion of where to place the Gallery and Nave organs in the Cathedral. At the beginning of the process, they talked about maybe having the principal forces at the front of the Cathedral because, at that point, the choir was in the front of the cathedral, Korba said. However, the choir has since moved back to the loft. 

“So it made sense to put the principal, the largest number of forces in the loft and then the secondary organ in the front,” Korba said. “And so once those decisions were made, we got to work on working with Parsons for providing some guidance on what the case work, the physical appearance should look like.”

Installation of the Nave organ spanned three days at St. Benedict Cathedral. The installation of the Gallery organ, which is slated to begin July 8, is expected to span multiple weeks. The Message photo by John Rohlf