Builder’s Notes on St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, Arlington, Texas
St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church was built in the mid 50’s. It is a very large and active parish in Arlington and the Dallas Fort Worth area. The church building is large seating approximately eight hundred people. The organ and choir have been in the gallery since the building was completed. When the building was built there were no provisions made for a pipe organ. Prior to our new instrument the organs were electronic. After we were invited to submit a proposal for a new instrument we determined that a new free standing organ could be installed in the rear portion of the gallery by taking over three rows of choir risers. The Goretti staff determined that this would leave adequate room for the choir in front of the new organ. Since the choir risers were concrete the floor was leveled even with the highest riser. Upon completion the area for the organ was approximately 12’ deep and 34’ wide. The facade casework actually sits on the floor which is level with the entry doors on both sides of the Gallery. Behind the facade the actual organ base is approximately 36” above the bottom of the case.
The organ case incorporated many architectural elements found throughout the room. It is constructed of white oak. The pipe shades and center carving in the case are maple. The Great 16’ Violone and a portion of the Great 8’ Principal are located in the facade. The Great division is in the center, the Swell is on the left and the Choir on the right. All of the enclosures are constructed of 1” MDF with 2” thick expression shutters. The Great Principal chorus is unenclosed in the center behind the facade with the remaining Great division directly behind the Principal chorus. These remaining stops are positioned behind expression shutters. These stops include a large scale 8’ Harmonic Flute, 4’ Nachthorn, 8’ Trumpet, and Pedal 16’ Subbass.
All three divisions have a complete Principal chorus. The instrument has three sets of strings and a variety of flutes and mutations. The Choir has a vintage 8’ wood Concert Flute. This stop produces a smooth velvet timbre and can be used as a softer solo flute in comparison to the Great Harmonic Flute. Also located in the Choir is an English Hooded Tuba. This is a high pressure stop and can be heard over a loud ensemble. Because of the materials used in the expression chambers this stop can also be used as a chorus reed if the shutters are closed. When playing full organ it is possible to close the Choir shutters and while playing add the Tuba. If the listener is not aware it is difficult to hear the Tuba being added to the ensemble. Then while building to the climax opening the Choir shutters allows the Tuba to come into full force and provides for an amazing increase in the volume of the entire instrument.
At the request of the church there is an unenclosed Chancel division at the opposite end of the room high above the altar and out of sight with the exception of the 8’ Pontifical Trumpet. This powerful stop is horizontal and is located in two sections high above the altar and visible to the congregation. The Chancel contains a complete Principal chorus, an 8’ Wood Gedeckt, 4’ Harmonic Flute, and Pedal 16’ Bourdon.
The action of the instrument is electro-pneumatic. The drop sill four manual console is located in the center of the Gallery. The Chancel is home on the fourth keyboard and floats in other divisions. The fourth keyboard also serves as a Solo. This division has selected stops from other areas of the instrument. This feature allows for great flexibility in regard to registration.
This is an exciting instrument with a dramatic presence in the room. It is our desire that it will be a significant addition to the musical life both at Goretti and the City of Arlington.
– Dan Garland
(also see stoplist)