Strike a chord in Alexandria

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The interior of Christ Church is filled with building materials as assembly of the new pipe organ begins in December 2021.

A years-long process at Historic Christ Church culminated in the installation of a
The newly completed Harrison & Harrison Pipe Organ at Christ Church in the Old Town.

new pipe organ, only the sixth instrument to be installed in the church since the building was constructed in 1773, and George Washington sat among the congregants.

Designed by the prestigious organ building firm Harrison & Harrison of Durham, England, it took several months for the organ components to clear customs in Baltimore en route to Alexandria. After delivery in November, it took another three weeks for the painstaking construction of the facility to be completed.

“Once the organ was assembled, we needed another three weeks to harmonize or refine the pipes,” said Jason Abel, music director and organist at Christ Church. “Now that it is complete, the instrument will be used for services and recitals in the historic church which features a large and dynamic musical program.”

Christ Church is now home to one of the few Harrison & Harrison organs to be installed in the United States. The venerable firm, founded in 1861, has built instruments for such notable venues as Westminster Abbey, King’s College Cambridge, Coventry Cathedral and many more.

“The new Bromley Organ will not only bring beauty to our musical offerings, but will also bring beauty to our physical space.”

— Dave Riggs, Christ Church parishioner

“We’ve waited two years to receive this organ and we’re thrilled it’s here,” said Christ Church member Anne Shine. “During these uncertain times, we weren’t sure of a certain arrival date, and now we’re in a flurry of preparations for her debut.”

According to Abel, the dedication recital will take place on Sunday, January 30 and will feature international performer Nathan Laube, organ teacher at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany.

Music Director Jason Abel talks about the process of installing the new pipe organ at Christ Church.

“The organ will be known as The Bromley Organ, in recognition of the generous donation made by longtime Christ Church parishioners, Cap and Marilyn Bromley, who made this project possible,” Abel added.

The old Christ Church pipe organ was installed about 40 years ago.

“The new Bromley Organ will not only bring beauty to our musical offerings, but will also bring beauty to our physical space,” said stalwart Dave Riggs. “I believe the Bromley Organ is a new addition to enrich our worship services.”

A pipe organ produces sound by driving pressurized air through selected organ pipes from a keyboard. Each pipe produces a unique pitch, and the pipes come in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the compass of the keyboard.

Parishioner Riggs said: “I believe the new organ in Bromley demonstrates two things. First, that this congregation keep the faith with the generations that have gone before us to preserve the Church of Christ, against all odds, for nearly 250 years. And second, that we have faith that Christ Church will continue to be a vibrant and important part of Alexandria for generations to come.

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