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The pipe organ

The organ in the Church of the Immaculate Conception was installed in 1953.

Did you ever wonder what the largest instrument in the world is? You might be thinking a tuba or a grand piano? No, the largest instrument in the world is a pipe organ! The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound when pressurized air or wind is driven through a series of pipes. Some of the pipes are wooden and some are made from metal. A row of pipes is called a rank. A keyboard, like you would see on a piano, is used to pass wind through the pipes and make sounds. Most pipe organs have more than one keyboard.

You can even play with your feet on a pipe organ using a pedalboard. A pedalboard is found near the floor of a pipe organ and is a keyboard played with the feet. You may notice round-shaped knobs when looking at a pipe organ. These knobs are called stops. They can be used to play many pipes at the same time when a key is pressed.

The pipe organ in the Church of Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods was made by the Casavant Freres Company of Canada. It is the third organ that has been used in the church. The organ was installed in the church in 1953. Renovation on the organ was completed in 1999. The organ has approximately 1,700 pipes. Some of the largest pipes of the organ are 16 feet high. The smallest pipe, which is only a few inches tall, can be heard clearly all the way to the front of the large church. The organ has three keyboards and many stops.

Sister Camille Neubauer came to the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence around 1953 and remembers the organ being installed. She now works in the Liturgy Department for the Sisters of Providence. One of her main responsibilities is maintaining the instruments used in liturgies, so she pays close attention to the Casavant pipe organ. She is so fascinated by the organ that she asks a lot of questions when the pipe organ builders come to repair the organ. She wants to know everything possible about the organ. Sister Camille majored in music at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She mentions it is a good idea to pretend you are an octopus when playing the pipe organ because you have to use your arms and your legs to play. She says the organ has always been a piece of her. “It’s in my blood.” she said.

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Paul Beel

Paul worked for the Sisters of Providence for 10 years, first as a Systems Analyst in the Information Technology department and as a photographer/digital media/web developer in the Missions Advancement office. He is a graduate of Indiana State University with a degree in electronics technology.

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