Glebe-St. James’s new organ and musical plans

Reverend Teresa Burnett-Cole (left) and Matthew Larkin (right) stand in front of the new Phoenix, which was dedicated on October 15. Photo: Pam Fitch

By Pam Fitch

The new addition at Glebe-St. James United Church made a successful musical debut. On October 15, a record crowd attended the official dedication of the church’s new organ and enjoyed the inaugural recital offered by well-known concert organist, Matthew Larkin.

It’s another sign that as we return to in-person activities following the isolation of the pandemic, Glebe-St. James is continuing its long tradition of musical offerings and community engagement.

In 2019, the congregation was presented with a hard reality: the beloved 1929 Casavant Frères organ was failing and needed to be replaced. Following a successful fundraising campaign, Glebe-St. James purchased a new Phoenix Digital organ and final voicing of the organ was completed last April.

The organ features a four-manual console with 82 stops. There are two sample sets installed: the main sample set is that of the world-famous “Father” Willis organ of Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, UK); the secondary one is that of the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Saint Etienne (Caen, France). The console is mechanical/digital and is outfitted with MIDI technology. It also includes an orchestral module that can be played from any of the four keyboard manuals and the pedalboard. The audio system drives 27 speaker cabinets which are installed in the pipe chamber of the original organ, located behind the wall of the choir loft.

The recital program featured works from the French, Dutch-German and English schools, amply demonstrating the sound capabilities and colours of the new organ. Larkin engaged listeners with personal stories and notes about each work. Featured favourites included the familiar Toccata and Fugue, BWV 565 by J.S. Bach, a work often associated with Halloween, and “Nimrod” from Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 39, arranged by Larkin.

Another exciting fundraising event for the music program of Glebe-St. James happens on November 19 at 1 p.m. – join us for a Sing-along Sound of Music at the Mayfair Theatre. The classic Julie Andrews musical will be presented on the large screen with lyric subtitles so the whole audience can sing along. This is a perfect way for everyone from grandmothers to grandkids who love this film to dress up as one of their favourite things (fancy dress encouraged but not obligatory!) and sing along with all the songs. Tickets are $20 (adults/youth) and $10 (12 and under). Tickets are available online:

It is a blessing to be able to gather and to sing together again. Glebe-St. James strongly encourages the use of masks and vaccinations so we can all remain healthy. The choir is back to full strength and enthusiastically preparing for the music of Advent. If you are interested in attending Glebe-St. James, you are most welcome any Sunday at 10:30 a.m. If you cannot attend in person, each worship service is live-streamed, and you can find information on how to connect from the website:

Pam Fitch is a long-time member of Glebe-St. James United Church.

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