A Brief History of the Oakdale Emory UMC M. P. Möller/Allen
By Ray Brubacher, Organist
"December 1, 1986 dawned bright and extremely cold in the low 20s when the M. P. Möller Organ Company 18-wheeler pulled into the circular driveway in front of Oakdale Emory United Methodist Church in Olney, Maryland. I was on hand to welcome the delivery of Opus 11,712, consisting of a three-manual console with 17 ranks (Great/Swell/Pedal), with a planned-for 8 rank choir addition. Installation began immediately even though the windows had not been installed, no pews or carpeting was in place, and of course, no heat.
The organ was first used for services in late spring of 1987. It was formally dedicated in October of that year. In 1991, the planned-for choir division became a reality. 1996 saw the addition of an unenclosed Solo Trumpet built by Eastern Organ Pipes, since by that time the M. P. Möller Company had ceased operations.
Twenty years of constant use began to make the electro-pneumatic console unreliable. Pedal contacts were breaking faster than I could repair them. Soon afterwards the church began work on a building expansion program. It was decided that funds would be raised for a new console and additions to the organ. It became apparent that, due to escalating prices for pipe additions that we could not afford, we would turn to digital technology for those needed additions. I immediately turned to the Allen Organ Company, knowing their outstanding worldwide reputation for quality due to unending research and development. The late Tom Hazleton, among others, was to provide invaluable assistance and advice to me. A specification was drawn to include all of the Möller ranks with a new Allen console and digital additions. A contract was signed and the deposit made.
Soon afterward the entire building expansion program was voted down by a small majority of members. Jordan-Kitt's Music very graciously refunded our deposit even though they had a signed contract.
Three years elapsed before another building expansion program was initiated and passed by the congregation. I immediately contacted Allen Organ Company representative Fred Markey and we went back to the drawing board. A contract was again signed for a three-manual console to control the existing Möller ranks with the addition of 58 Allen organ digital ranks.
Upon completion of the additions to the building the new organ was installed. The dedicatory concert was given to a standing-room-only audience by the eminent concert organist, Dr. John Walker. Dr. Walker's program put the organ through every test, from all major eras of organ composition, including gospel and contemporary literature.
Today the organ sees constant use by the Jordan-Kitt's Music, Inc. institutional sales staff (Ken Saliba and Fred Markey) as a demonstrator instrument. The blend of pipe-work with the digital ranks is cohesive and gorgeous. I am constantly exploring new combinations with the state of the art MIDI system, a valuable addition for contemporary as well as traditional worship.
It remains an instrument that the congregation as well as visitors admire and cannot believe that there are digital electronic components working with the Möller. I remain grateful to the Allen Organ Company and its local staff for their interest and support."