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

Continuo organ brings first sound of new pipes

George Damoose

The sound of organ pipes can be heard once again in St. James' Church thanks to the gift of a beautiful new continuo organ crafted by Bennett & Giuttari located in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. A continuo organ is primarily used for baroque and early music as part of a "continuo group" of instruments that form the foundation of the ensemble. It also accompanies choirs, solo voices, and solo instruments and can be part of a chamber orchestra.

The new continuo organ will be used on Sunday mornings to accompany choral and solo music. Additionally, this will be the primary instrument for smaller services held in the chapel. The organ is on wheels and travels easily between spaces.

It will also be used in performance by the St. James Music Series and our community partners who present baroque and early music concerts at St. James by-the-Sea.

George Damoose and his children, Alison and Christopher, gave this beautiful new instrument in memory of their late wife and mother, Cari Sweeney Damoose (1942-2020). George and Cari have long been patrons of the arts in La Jolla, and we are grateful for their generosity and love for music at St. James and the St. James Organ Project.

This mechanical action continuo organ is based on the Kisten organs of the 17th century (Manderscheit, Nuremberg), with all pipework in wood. Panels on the side (fretwork) and top of the instrument control the egress of sound. The sticker action/ palletbox lies directly beneath the keydesk, giving very precise control of pipe speech. A single-fold wedge reservoir gives gently flexible wind.

It is a mechanical action instrument with a transposing keyboard from C-D" that accommodates tuning at A440 and A415. It includes three stops, 8' Gedeckt, 4' Rohrflöte, and 2' Holtzprincipal. Each stop is divided at middle C to give the organist the option of a solo melody in the right hand.

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