Saint John’s Abbey Announces Major Pipe Organ Expansion

The 64-rank 1962 abbey pipe organ built by Walter Holtkamp is about to undergo a major expansion.

Renowned organ builder Martin Pasi of Pasi Organ Builders, Roy, Washington, has been selected to execute the expansion. Work is expected to be completed in Fall 2019. The completed instrument will have 115 ranks. Price tag is well over a million.

Here are the specifications of the current and future organ: Holtkamp Pasi Organ – St John’s Abbey

“Abbey Organ Chronicles” at Pray Tell will report occasionally on the progress of the project. The first installment reported on Benedictines and organ building in the Middle Ages. Further installments will continue this history.

Plans are already underway for major newly commissioned organ works in conjunction with the dedication and blessing of the expanded organ.

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13 comments

      1. I didn’t think the price tag was relevant to the post. But now that it’s mentioned, perhaps it’s also worth noting that Martin Pasi operates a small shop in the state of Washington; it is not a big company. Nobody is getting rich off this.

      2. That’s right, Doug. Most of that cost is invested in materials and labor. Small profit margins on projects like this for a small shop. The quality and value will be very high, however. Exciting project.

  1. This is a delightful surprise that Martin Pasi will be doing this work. He is at the top of the craft, and this is a creative idea. I am thrilled to hear too that there will be commissioned organ works that will hopefully contribute to the rich heritage of great sacred organ music.

    1. Pasi has built some of the most beautiful organs it has been my pleasure to hear and play. Excellent choice!!!!

  2. Growing up in the Cleveland area I had the good fortune to play a number of Holtkamps, including the gem at Our Lady of Angels on Rocky River Drive, where my teacher Ivan Licht served two long tenures; an organ upon which the great Albert Schweitzer recitaled. I am sorry that I can’t find the date. There is also a wonderful Holtkamp gem at the Unitarian Universalist site in Rocky River. Stunning! I love the understated Holtkamp keydesks.

  3. Lovely spec!

    How much difference was there between whatever spec was originally discussed with Pasi and the end result? I’ve been thinking of doing a comparison of our original organ spec proposal and what we ended up with at the Cathedral of Phoenix.

  4. I believe that Pasi has constructed a few dual-temperament organs. Will the St John’s restoration include meantone stops, or a switch to move between well-tempered and meantone tuning?

      1. 1/12-comma mean tone, i.e. equal temperament (for those about to freak out at the thought of 1/4-comma mean tone at the Abbey!)

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