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  • Writer's pictureSt. James by-the-Sea

Announcing the Elliott Family Antiphonal Organ

St. James by-the-Sea is pleased to announce the first of our named gifts, the Elliott Family Antiphonal Organ. It is given to the Glory of God by Dr. Max Elliott, his late wife, Melissa, and their children, Max Jr., Wyndham, John, and Carter. We are grateful to all of them for their generosity and faithfulness.

Max and Melissa came to St. James in 1970 when they moved to La Jolla and quickly became members of the parish family. They also became integral to the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, where they supported many creative programs, served on the board of directors, and donated the Elliott Reading Room.

This gift by the Elliott family reminds us that the St. James Organ is both an instrument for worship and an invitation to San Diego's vibrant arts community. We look forward to many collaborative concerts and artistic events in this space.

The Elliott Family Antiphonal Organ

The word "antiphonal," or "antiphon," literally means "from the opposite side." In this case, most of the organ is in the front of the church, and the antiphonal organ is all the way in the back.

The Antiphonal Organ is an essential part of the instrument for two reasons. It houses the beautiful solo trumpet, the Tromba Marina. Unlike anything else, this reed is used for special occasions. It announces the arrival of the bride at a wedding; proclaims the opening of the service on Easter Day and other major festival occasions. Named after a medieval instrument, the name Tromba Marina was chosen by Manuel Rosales because it translates as "trumpet by the sea," and the antiphonal organ sits on the west wall of the church closet to the ocean.

This portion of the organ also contains a principal chorus of pipes. This is a "foundation" sound that acts as a magnet to draw the sound from the front organ out into the nave where it supports the congregation more fully.

The beautiful design of the organ case matches the organ in the front of the church. The finials around the top match the original rood screen, and the corbels seamlessly integrate with the roofline. The exquisite detail also includes the gold-leafed sword and scallop shells of St. James the Great, our church's patron. The Elliott Family Antiphonal Organ frames the round Ascension window at the west end of the church.

We look forward to its installation in Spring 2022.

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