Our Op. 97 for the University of Dubuque is complete. Installed in John and Alice Butler Hall in UD’s Heritage Center, the new organ is the university’s main teaching and recital instrument.
Installation of our Op. 98 for St. Christopher’s Church in Chatham, Massachusetts will begin on 12 April 2021. Maury Castro is the Organist & Choirmaster.
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We’re delighted to be commissioned to build a new four-manual instrument for Saint James’ Church, King Street, in Sydney, Australia. The organ, our Op. 99, will be completed in the second half of 2022. Warren Trevelyan-Jones is the head of music, Alistair Nelson the organist, and Peter Jewkes the consultant.
Dear Friend of Dobson Pipe Organ Builders,
In 2012, Lynn Dobson and I set in motion a business continuation plan to provide for the future of our company upon Lynn’s retirement. On 15 February 2020, this day arrived: Lynn retired from full-time employment and I became the company’s owner and president. In his retirement, Lynn will continue to work with us and our clients on the visual design of new organs, and he will remain involved in projects currently under construction. Supported by the collegial team we have assembled in Lake City, we believe the transition to this new chapter in the company’s history will be seamless.
It is hardly necessary to speak of Lynn’s influence in the organ world. He is widely acclaimed as one of the most gifted case designers of his generation, producing architecturally-sensitive designs that run the gamut from Gothic to contemporary. In his 45 years as president and artistic director, our company has been commissioned to build landmark instruments for Los Angeles’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall, Merton College in Oxford, U.K., and Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue in New York. No less important are the many more modest instruments found across the country that faithfully support vibrant worship, week in and week out.
Most of you know I’ve worked in Lake City for many yearssince 1984, in factand I’m joined by colleagues representing a combined five centuries of experience in our craft. With this foundation, we are well prepared to carry on the tradition of fine organbuilding begun by Lynn in 1974. We are currently building our Op. 97, a three-manual instrument of 51 ranks for the University of Dubuque, which will be installed in May. A two-manual organ of 32 ranks for Saint Christopher’s Church in Chatham, Massachusetts, follows, then a four-manual, 51-rank instrument for Saint James’ Church in Sydney, Australia, the oldest building in that city’s historic center. We tune and maintain 120 organs in the upper Midwest, and we have two restoration projects on the books, both unaltered mechanical-action organs: the 1892 J.W. Steere & Sons in First Baptist Church, Owatonna, Minnesota, and an early Lyon & Healy, Op. 34 from 1899, at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Independence, Iowa. We continue to be honored by the interest of a wide variety of prospective clients, and are at work on several exciting projects.
I am sure you will join me in congratulating Lynn on so distinguished a career and offer him best wishes as he looks ahead. For my part, I appreciate your continuing support of our firm and fine organbuilding generally, which, in enabling a particular kind of beauty, has so much to say to our world.
John A. Panning, President
DOBSON PIPE ORGAN BUILDERS
Lake City, Iowa
We were privileged to build a new instrument, our Op. 96, for Bruton Parish Church, in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. Founded in 1674, the parish worships in its 1715 church, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970 and is one of the most recognizable structures of Colonial Williamsburg.
Bruton Parish Church has a lengthy organ history. The makers of the first organs, from 1756 and 1840, are unknown. At the dawn of the 20th century, the Hutchings-Votey Organ Co. provided a new instrument, some pipes of which were retained in Op. 968 of the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co. That instrument, rebuilt on six occasions since its construction in 1937 and growing from 13 ranks to 105, was crowded into the attic, the east gallery of the church, the case of a 1785 organ by Samuel Green that was added in 1939, and the church tower. Faced with increasing mechanical unreliability and advised by several consultants that a new, smaller organ more advantageously placed would yield both musical and maintenance benefits, the parish undertook a search for an organ builder. That process came to its conclusion in February 2016 with the signing of a contract between Bruton Parish Church and Dobson.
The new organ stands in the east gallery, above the reredos, in the space formerly occupied by the Green organ case. The design of the new organ case takes its cue from the historic reredos, which was reconstructed in 1939. The case is painted the same putty-gray color as the reredos; the tin façade pipes are gilded. The Great and Positive divisions and some pipes of the Pedal stand in the case. The Swell and largest Pedal pipes are located immediately above and speak through the ceiling grilles. Because of architectural constraints, the organ has electric action.
The Rev’d. Christopher L. Epperson is the Rector of Bruton Parish Church. Rebecca Davy is Music Director & Organist, and JanEl Will is Organist; James Darling is Choirmaster-Organist Emeritus.
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In 2009, in celebration of our company’s 35th anniversary, we made an online exhibit of some of Lynn Dobson’s drawings. One of the most highly-regarded case designers of his generation, Dobson has proved to be equally at home in modern or historically-inspired idioms. Lynn A. Dobson: Drawings & Projects presents a selection of work from 19742009, and includes unrealized designs as well as built instruments.