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10th Anniversary of the Pipe Organ
October 30, 2019 at 5:00:00 AM

St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, San Antonio, is a vibrant Catholic community of 3,200 families, in a residential neighborhood on Thousand Oaks Drive. They have a well-deserved reputation for superior community outreach ministries for the needy. Under the leadership of The Rev. Monsignor Kevin Ryan, and Parish Administrator Dorothy “Dot” Hamlin, the parish has managed its growth, adding new ministries to meet the growing need of the community. But, there was something missing. St. Mark’s had no pipe organ. Former Music Director, Lena Gokelman, was instrumental in changing that. It was a daunting endeavor to educate the parish to the difference which a pipe organ could make in their Liturgical and musical lives, and then convince them that they needed one! A long-standing parishioner of means was convinced, and through his generous contribution, a Buzard Pipe Organ was purchased, and the parish paid for the installation of the organ. The church planned for the basic space for a pipe organ when it was built in 2000. The sanctuary seats about 1,200 people and is remarkably lively in its acoustical environment. The organ was designed to visually compliment the interesting contemporary sculpture of the Christus Rex, incised into and built out from the brick wall at the front of the assembly. The organ itself is raised 18 feet above the floor and sounds along the building’s axis. Sonically it fills the entire room whether playing soft or loud. The woodwork in the façade is solid white oak, stained in two colors and finished to relate to the Church’s other woodworking. Pipes in the façade are made of polished tin and flamed copper. Two sets of horizontal trumpets emphasize the aural excitement which a pipe organ can bring to a solemn Liturgical occasion. A high pressure Tuba made of polished tin is in the organ’s façade; a polished copper set of lower high pressure Pontifical Trumpets is mounted over the entry doors. Lest you think that valuable resources were squandered on two Chamades, which might have otherwise been used to increase the main organ’s specification, the Chamades were included only after the organ’s chamber space had been completely filled with the necessary and customary stops. The choral singers are located to the right of the building’s axis, in its own “bump-out” seating area. Because the choir is effectively in another acoustical room, and the singers cannot hear the organ clearly, we provided a five stop Choral Organ to accompany them, housed in a small free-standing case which stands behind them. The instrument sports 35 independent stops and 43 ranks of pipes across three manual keyboards and the pedal clavier. As in all Buzard Organs, there is a wealth of tonal variety, even if the instrument is modest in size. At the hand of Tonal Director Brian Davis, all the Diapasons have individual interest; the flutes are liquid in tone and often take their cues from orchestral counterparts; strings impart a warmth and keenness to the palate. The chorus reeds are spectacular, each stop having its own depth and degree of èclat; the plaintive English Oboe is a tremendously effective solo player, but also colors the Swell flues subtly. All metal pipes are made of rich, high tin-content metal of generous thickness, most 70% tin. The instrument has been extremely well-received by the parishioners, clergy, and the wider organ community. Organist David Heller dedicated it in Solemn Pontifical Mass followed by a concert on Saturday, November 21st, 2009. St. Mark the Evangelist will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the dedication of their Buzard Pipe Organ Friday, November 15, 2019 with a concert by David Heller, Director and Chair, Department of Music for Trinity University. The concert will begin at 7:00 PM in the Main Sanctuary of the Church. Please join us. Excerpts from

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