Breathing new life into a piece of Kingston music history

A local fundraising campaign is hoping to strike a chord with donors.

The pipe organ at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Kingston has seen better days. Now 114 years old, the piece of Kingston music history, which has helped to celebrate the good times and the bad, is showing its age and in need of some tender, loving care.

Jeffrey Moellman is the Cathedral’s organist and music director.

“Here at the console, the stop knobs that we use are fragile — in fact, there are some that have broken off,” Moellman said. “So I can’t use those to play.

“And also the controls, the pistons that would operate sets of stops don’t work.”

And that’s just the beginning. The keyboards need to be rebuilt or replaced, and the individual pipes — almost 2,800 of them — need to be cleaned, adjusted and possibly replaced if they don’t blend with other sets of pipes. The valves in those pipes need to be checked if not repaired.

Known as “The Voice of St. Mary’s Cathedral,” the pipe organ was constructed and installed back in 1905. Moellman says it’s been well over 40 years since the instrument’s last major overhaul.

“Depending on which proposal we go with, really the work on the instrument could be very wide ranging,” Moellman explained. “Some would keep everything that is here but refurbish it, other proposals would replace large parts of it just to bring it up to a modern standard that would be reliable, rather than trying to make something that is so old work.”

Moellman says that in order to bring the organ back to its original state, it would took many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Officials are hoping to do the work in phases.

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