About our Hilton Head Pipes

by Director of Music Tim Reynolds

pipes BWHow exciting it is to see and hear the acoustic pipes in the sanctuary! The purchase of these pipes was made possible through the establishment of a Designated Gift/Pipe Organ Fund in 2007 to honor Patricia Graves, the mother of our organist Debby Graves and her brother Warren, who sings in the Chancel Choir, and mother-in-law of Jay Graves who rings in our Adult Handbell Choir along with Warren and Debby. You can see that music is an important part of the Graves family tradition and what an appropriate way to honor their mother. When the fund was established it was in hopes of one day adding acoustic pipes to our current digital instrument. This fund continued to grow over the ensuing five years just waiting for the right opportunity, which presented itself in April 2012. Debby was speaking with the organ technician who maintains our digital instrument, and he recalled that we had spoken of adding pipes sometime in the future. He referred Debby to a company near Los Angeles that had a new set of pipes that they had built for a church that had closed and were making a greatly discounted proposal for the sale of this pipe package. It ended up that the California organ builder was a colleague of Debby’s that she new well from her years in Southern California as an organist. From that day, to the purchase of the pipes a few days later, a great deal of activity ensued with meetings and phone calls to see if we could make this transaction all come together before another buyer purchased the pipes. There was enough money in the Designated Fund to pay for the pipes, their delivery and installation. All at a fraction of what a new set of pipes would cost. And through the generosity of other St. Andrew By-The-Sea members to the Pipe Organ Fund we are able to maintain and insure the instrument for the first year without using any programmatic funds. God is good!

On Friday, May 11, 2012, the 500+ pipes and 4 wind chests were packed into a truck, along with organ builder Ryan Ballantyne and his assistant (his father), and they left Los Angeles to drive across country arriving on HHI on Sunday, May 13th. The installation began the next morning. With great thanks to Trustees Roger Abney and Dean Beckelhimer for all of their help and expertise, the installation was completed before worship services the following Sunday.  A dedication was on May 27.

The instrument itself is what we call a hybrid – partially acoustic pipes, mostly digital. Both can functionally independent of each other or jointly. You will notice in the sound of the acoustic pipes that you can actually hear the air moving through the pipes, much like when someone plays the flute only on a much larger scale. When working independently and together this new addition gives us a great deal of variety and flexibility as we plan music for our worship services here at St. Andrew.

Some of you have asked about the small box mounted in the middle of the pipes. This is a Zimbelstern. The Zimbelstern is a musical instrument which rings small bells at random intervals as an accompaniment to organ music and has been used in devo-tional music since the 16th century. Some say it is a representation of the Holy Spirit in the room, others say it a reminder of the celestial quality of God. You will hear it from time to time – you decide how it speaks to you!