First Lutheran has commissioned Paul Fritts & Company to build a new pipe organ for the church. It is scheduled to be ready sometime in 2018.
The New Organ Committee was formed in early 2015. It included Brian Wentzel (chair), Pastor Jimmy Madsen, Barry Jensen, and Chuck Workman, with David Boe as special advisor. The committee first narrowed the field to three organbuilders, all of whom build fine tracker organs, and all of whom have a connection to John Brombaugh.
In March, the committee visited seven recent instruments by the three builders to hear and see examples of their work. After the visits, the committee drew up a Request for Proposals, which was sent to each of the builders. After receiving proposals from the three builders, the committee brought each builder to Lorain for an interview. After this exhaustive process, the committee unanimously recommended Paul Fritts & Co.
Paul Fritts leads a nine-person shop in Tacoma, WA and has built about 40 organs since 1979. Their stated mission is “to craft instruments that players and audiences will love and cherish.” They are highly regarded in the organ world, and their large instrument at St. Joseph Cathedral in Columbus (2006) is considered by some to be one of the finest organs in the country. The committee was very impressed by this organ and the Fritts organ at Notre Dame University that it visited, as well as by recordings of other Fritts instruments.
Parts of Paul’s proposal can be read here. He proposes building a two manual and pedal organ of 36 ranks. It would be similar in many ways to our previous organ, but with added flexibility: some extra sounds (especially reed stops, which are Paul’s specialty), and a swell box (which allows more variation in dynamics than we had before). His proposal emphasizes the reliability of the organ, which should be mostly maintenance-free. Almost every part of the organ would be built in their shop, using many of the practices that John Brombaugh tried out for the first time in modern organbuilding for our previous organ. Organ building has continued to develop since 1970, and Paul’s shop is on the forefront of new techniques, just as John Brombaugh was.