ROCHESTER — In pieces, the new Sacred Heart Cathedral organ was at its most vulnerable, said organ builder Paul Fritts.
The disassembled 40-foot-tall and 25,000-pound instrument arrived at the cathedral Sunday in two rental trucks from Fritts’ shop in Tacomah, Wash.
Fritts cautioned the more than 50 people who had volunteered to help carry the organ’s components into the cathedral to be careful with his Opus No. 26. The organ’s tin-lead alloy pipes, for example, are easily dented and should be handled with care, he said.
"Everything you carry has been handcrafted in our shop from raw material," said Fritts, owner of Paul Fritts and Company Organ Builders.
And careful the volunteers were, even as they strained in the nearly 90-degree heat for several hours carrying the organ’s parts. As groups of up to 12 people lifted heavy and awkward lengths of wood, supports, wooden boxes and other components, other volunteers watched closely to make sure the pieces did not collide with door frames, walls or people. Even those who were limited in their lifting ability helped by carrying light tubing and small pieces of the organ.
"You will get a real inside look at what is inside the organ, because when it’s all together, you won’t be able to see most of what is being brought in," Fritts told volunteers before they started carrying pieces.
The organ cost approximately $1.5 million, which was paid for by donations earmarked for the organ, according to diocesan spokesman Doug Mandelaro. Following several weeks of assembly and several months of fine tuning and adjustments, called "voicing," the organ will be dedicated Sept. 13 and will be featured in a major organ conference in October.
The new organ replaces a smaller Brombaugh organ currently on loan to the diocese, which was removed from the cathedral in April and reinstalled at Rochester’s St. Michael Parish.
Ginny Miller, Cathedral Community music minister and associate director of the diocesan Office of Liturgy, said she and others have long dreamed of having a significant organ at the cathedral to lead parish and diocesan music programs.
"I think a wonderful instrument really encourages you to play the best you can," Miller said. "When you play on a worthy instrument, it just spurs you on to be the very best musician you can be."
Sister of St. Joseph Clare Roland said as a graduate of Sacred Heart School and a former teacher there, she always has felt connected to the parish. So, it was natural for her to respond to a call for organ-toting volunteers.
"This is just another part of lifting up people’s hearts and minds to God with this beautiful organ," Sister Roland said. "By coming here today, we all have a little bit of participation in the future of what this organ will mean to this parish."