The Great Auditorium Organ
The organ was built by Robert Hope-Jones, an Englishman who immigrated to this country in 1903 and opened his own factory in Elmira, New York in 1907. The company received major financial support from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) who was a member of the board of directors and a great admirer of Hope-Jones.
The instrument was dedicated on the evening of July 3, 1908 by concert organist, Mark Andrews, with over eight thousand persons in attendance. During the summer of 1908 famed organist Edwin H. Lemare gave a series of ten daily recitals during the convention of the National Association of Organists.
Since 1908 the organ has undergone several rebuilding projects. Beginning in 1974 and continuing through the present, a major expansion program was initiated under the leadership of Auditorium Organist, Dr. Gordon Turk and Organ Curator, John R. Shaw in an effort to create a more versatile instrument. In keeping with accepted standards of organ construction, full diapason, flute, and reed choruses were built for each of the major divisions. Currently the instrument consists of ten (10) divisions, totaling 200 ranks and over 12,200 pipes. It is controlled by a five (5) manual and pedal console. All of the restoration and expansion projects over the years have been funded as a result of memorial contributions and/or generous benefactors. Several projects still await funding.
As the centerpiece of the Auditorium's music program the instrument receives regular care and maintenance. It is used for all services of worship as well as regular recitals featuring the resident organist in addition to numerous guest recitalists.
Today the auditorium organ remains one of the largest and most famous pipe organs in the country and is recognized for its unique tonal subtlety as well as its massive sonority. As a result of its tonal flexibility the organist is able to draw upon a broad range of repertoire. It is heard by thousands of persons each season.
For the 100th anniversary in 2008 a celebration of the opening of the organ in 1908, a new gallery division consisting of 15 ranks of pipes built by A.R. Schopps' Sons, Alliance, Ohio was installed in September of 2007. This division is located in the real gallery of the auditorium 300 feet from the main organ. The gallery organ is the result of funds provided by an anonymous donor.