While Trinity has one of the most successful and well attended weekly organ recital series in the country, hosting 35 recitalists per year from around the world, (Fridays at 12:15 p.m., Sept. through June) the primary purpose of the organ is to support worship. Indeed, of all the elements of Trinity’s inspiring building, the organ fills an essential and unique role of supporting and encouraging congregational singing and participation in our worship life.
The Trinity Organ is, in fact, comprised of two organs:
The Chancel organ (at the front of the church, built in 1963, and cleaned and renewed in 2007), the primary role of which is accompanying the choir.
The Gallery organ (aka “Nave organ,” in the west gallery, built by the renowned Ernest M. Skinner in 1926, though since altered tonally, and more recently cleaned and refurbished), serves as the main instrument to support congregational singing. Together, these instruments are used in a variety of ways in worship and for recitals.
There is one console, from which organists play and control both Chancel and Gallery organs.
Our church’s original organ was built by Hilborne L. Roosevelt in 1876, his Opus 29. It had mechanical action, assisted by Barker levers on all divisions, but its chancel location proved unsatisfactory, and the organ was moved to the gallery. Hutchings-Votey built a new instrument for the chancel in 1903 and made both organs playable from a single console.
In 1924, Ernest M. Skinner undertook a rebuilding project—his Opus 479—involving changes to both the Roosevelt and Hutchings-Votey instruments. By 1926 it had expanded to Opus 573 as a virtually new organ in the gallery, as well as a new chancel console. This console was on the north side of the chancel and had four manuals. (The famous Parisian organist/composer Louis Vierne performed on this instrument on April 9, 1928. Afterward, he wrote expansively to Mr. Skinner in great admiration for the organ and its well-appointed console.)
Aeolian-Skinner provided a new console in 1956 which was placed on the south side of the chancel. The four manuals of the previous console were consolidated as part of a design to keep the console as low as possible. Aeolian-Skinner installed a new chancel organ in 1960. In 1962 the gallery organ was extensively rebuilt, and major tonal modifications were made by Jason McKown, who maintained the organs for many years. In 1987, Jack Steinkampf installed a rank of horizontal trumpet pipes under the west gallery window.
The chancel organ has 49 ranks of pipes played over three manuals and pedals. The nave organ has 75 ranks of pipes. The combined organs contain nearly 7,000 pipes.