The Church of Saint Asaph, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Monarke II Organ from Johannus Orgelböuw

A New Monarke II Organ from Johannus Orgelböuw

The Church of Saint Asaph, Bala Cynwyd, PA

This new, digital-pipe hybrid organ consists of a low-profile, custom designed two-manual console with 50 digital voices and large multi-channel Audio system (20.3). “Married” to these digital voices are 9 ranks of Austin wind-blown pipes at the rear of the church, furnishing a portion of the stops for the Great Division. This marriage of a classic pipe organ with state-of-the-art digital sampling technology creates an instrument of exceptional beauty and versatility.

The resulting instrument places St. Asaph’s squarely at the forefront of modern church organ design and technology in the Philadelphia region. It is the first new instrument of its sort in the Philadelphia area and continues to be featured broadly in local organ guilds’ recital programs and other musical events. Hybrid virtual organs are becoming the new normal, and this instrument from Johannus will be known especially for its unique qualities and the international pedigree of Johannus’ parent organization – The Global Organ Group, The Netherlands.

The Specification of the New Monarke II Organ

A three-day trip to the Johannus factory (in Ede, The Netherlands) was undertaken in 2019 to meet with the cabinet makers, tonal designers, technicians, and accountants for the manufacture of the new organ. The tonal design is based largely on a beautiful Johannus Monarke organ auditioned in ThomasKirche, a centuries-old Roman Catholic church in the village of Echt. It was molded in the French Romantic style.

The entirety of the specification for the digital stops was chosen from the more than 4,500 pipe samples in Johannus’ library from organs around the world. The resultant instrument has digital samples of instruments by Cavaille Cöll (French), Silbermann (German), E.M. Skinner (American), and D. Harrison (British). All of this was brought to crescendo by a digital Trompette en chamade, a large-scale “horizontal trumpet” that has its own high-power audio system at the front of the church. The names engraved on the stop tabs are in French in keeping with the overall French romantic approach to the instrument. See the ‘stoplist’ below.

The Church was planning on the organ’s debut in time for Easter of 2020, but COVID interfered. The finished instrument was finally featured in the American Guild of Organists 2021-2022 Recital Series, Philadelphia Chapter.