Built to coincide with major renovations to the sanctuary at First Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, IA, Parsons Opus 50, (2021), represents the efforts of countless individuals who, over the course of a decade, worked diligently to build consensus and to provide the congregation and community with a substantial destination quality pipe organ situated in an acoustically desirable setting.
Working in concert with First Lutheran’s organist & cantor, Dr. Brett Wolgast; senior pastor Steve Knudson; acoustics and organ consultant Scott R. Riedel, and a very dedicated organ committee, Parsons was tasked with creating an eclectic, yet fundamentally cohesive organ to serve as a cornerstone for the church’s traditional worship services and musically oriented community outreach programs.
Located in downtown Cedar Rapids, the church sits in close proximity to Coe College where Dr. Wolgast serves as the chair of the music department. Marita Wolgast, Dr. Wolgast’s wife, serves as the choir director at First Lutheran and is also a member of the Coe College faculty. The church’s central location, seating capacity and excellent acoustics make First Lutheran the preferred venue for a wide variety of musical events.
First Lutheran’s three-manual and pedal, 51 rank mechanical action organ contains two expressive divisions, (Swell and Choir), and is designed to effortlessly support congregational singing, accompany choirs, soloists and instrumentals and to offer a multitude of options allowing for subtlety, nuance and color. As a result of the organ’s tonal specification, excellent voicing and fastidious on-site tonal finishing, the organ is aptly described as being prominent and artfully proportioned for the room without being overbearing.
The casework is of walnut with ebony, burled elm, quarter sawn white oak and figured maple accents; the organ’s steel structure ensures stability for the key action connecting the detached console to the windchests; modern carbon fiber trackers and adjustable pneumatic assists are used to ensure a responsive key action; Expression enclosures and louvers of 2 1/4” thick maple; a single wedge bellows provides wind to the organ and is stabilized with a series of tunable concussion bellows; and the organ’s environment is stabilized with a micro-climate air circulation system designed to quietly and effectively keep temperature and humidity consistent with the church nave.