Greenwood United Methodist Church
Opus 1 is one of the most successful Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ installations in the U.S. The instrument has proven to be one of the most valuable assets to the ministries of Greenwood United Methodist Church, and proved that organs of remarkable quality, are finally within reach of most churches.
In the beginning...
What initially began as a "pipe dream," you might say, Opus 1 was born out of necessity. The church's existing analog Allen was, indeed, a remarkable instrument of its time; a real triumph in the age of tone generators and analog circuitry. While the congregation of Greenwood United Methodist Church has a long-standing love, appreciation, and support of music throughout its 170+ year history, in the wake of recent times and waining numbers, as is seen in many churches these days, finances simply did not allow for the purchase of a new, or even used, pipe organ. To improve the situation of the organ, there were ultimately two options - invest the money into restoring the existing 1960's Allen, or purchase a new digital organ.
In the early days of this project, I took it upon myself to further develop my understanding of Hauptwerk, while leveraging my existing knowledge of electronics, audio/video systems, and wood working skills. Having worked in the commercial Audio/Video industry for last decade, as well as having a solid background in recording and audio technology, I felt I had a solid foundation on which to build and expand my understanding of Hauptwerk. So, over the span of nearly two years, I worked to design Opus 1 from the ground up, starting with the audio system.
After building and testing numerous custom speaker designs I ultimately settled on commercially available speakers from the pro audio market for the main 48 channels. The two subwoofers used in the organ, however, are custom builds, each fulfilling a specific function and serving a specific place within the overall disposition of the organ.
Rather than build a new console from scratch, I decided to purchase an old Allen console from the former Olive Branch Christian Church on Indy's Old South Side. The three manual console was in need of some cosmetic touchups, as well as a fourth manual.
After a few months with the original Allen manuals, it became evident that a new set of manuals and more pistons were desperately needed, so they were eventually replaced with new Fatar manuals. 90 fully-programmable, back-lit thumb pistons were also added.
With its four manuals, 90 pistons, and 12 toe studs, and the world of features provided by Hauptwerk, the organ boasts one of the most flexible and player-friendly consoles. With 12 different sample sets -- allowing the organist to perform repertoire from Bach to Cole Porter -- the possibilities are truly limitless.
What originally began as a modest project to replace a small failing organ, turned out to be one of the most successful digital organs I've ever experienced -- one that must be heard and played to be believed. When all factors are considered, including cost, the instrument is nothing short of spectacular.
The organ has drawn a significant amount of interest due to its authenticity, its unique capabilities, and the attention to detail in all aspects of its design, but most importantly, perhaps, is the realization that with a little know-how, building such an instrument on your own is no longer some farfetched dream.