The King of All Instruments by Aaron J. Kelly, Diocese of Rochester Second Basselin

The King of All Instruments: The dedication and inaugural recital of the Gerald F. Muller hybrid organ.

By Aaron J. Kelly, Diocese of Rochester Second Basselin.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the faculty, staff, and seminarians of Theological College welcomed a number of guests to our chapel to celebrate the dedication and inaugural recital of the new organ. The evening began with Father Gerald McBrearity, P.S.S., rector of Theological College, acknowledging Dr. Gerald Muller, who has served as the Director of Music at Theological College for 18 years and will be retiring at the end of this year. It was through his dedication and hard work that the new organ became a reality. The seminary faculty decided that it would be fitting to dedicate the new organ to Dr. Muller in thanksgiving for his service at Theological College. On the evening of April 4th, Father McBrearity blessed the organ, praying, “We, your people, joyously gathered in this church, wish to join our voices to the universal hymn of praise. So that our song may rise more worthily to your majesty, we present this organ for your blessing. Grant that its music may lead us to express our prayer and praise in melodies that are pleasing to You.”  

Following the blessing of the Gerald F. Muller organ, Daniel Roth performed an inaugural recital. Daniel Roth is the Organiste Titulaire of the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, France, where Father Jean-Jaques Olier founded the Society of Saint Sulpice. From 1974 to 1976, Daniel Roth was the Artist in Residence at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Chair of the Organ Department at the Catholic University of America’s School of Music. Roth is well known for his skill in improvisation. The recital consisted of five pieces focused around the theme, “Passion and Resurrection.”  Roth played the “Fantaisie and Fugue in G Minor BWV 542” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Prière” by César Franck, “Scherzo from Symphonie No. 2” by Louis Vierne, an original work “Gloria Patri from Livre D’Orgue Pour Le Magnificat”, and “Symphonie No. 6 in G Minor, Op. 42, No. 2” by Charles-Marie Widor. The varied repertoire showed Roth’s incredible skill and talent for the organ.    

I once heard a quote attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart which says, “To my eyes and ears the organ will ever be the King of Instruments.” As I was listening to Daniel Roth perform, my mind kept going back to those words. The Gerald F. Muller Organ was constructed and installed by R.A. Daffer Church Organs, Inc., located in Jessup, Md. The organ is a hybrid, meaning it is both digital and pipe. The great contains eight stops that are pipes, and the pedal has one stop that is pipes, with a total of 634 pipes. The digital part of the organ has more features than could ever be imagined. In addition to the countless many different stops, the digital part of the organ has a feature that can self-play approximately 300 different hymn tunes, it has a recording feature, it has 100 memory levels, and much more. When Daniel Roth was performing, I truly caught a glimpse of what the new organ can do. Daniel Roth’s recital was a most fitting way to honor Dr. Gerald F. Muller, and to dedicate the new organ.  

It has been a pleasure over the past few months to have the opportunity to play the new hybrid organ for house liturgies and for personal leisure and to learn the new instrument. Listening to Daniel Roth and being present for the dedication of the new organ was very inspiring especially because I get to play the new organ almost every day. I am reminded of the words of Albert Schweitzer who said, “If you are called upon to play a church service, it is a greater honor than if you were to play a concert on the finest organ in the world… Thank God each time when you are privileged to sit before the organ console and assist in the worship of the Almighty.” The organ will be used for many years to aid the seminary community in offering worship to God. The blessing and dedication of the new organ pointed to the fact that it still is the king of the instruments, and has the ever-important role of assisting in the worship of God, the Almighty Father.  

This article was written for the Summer 2017 edition of The Crossroads.