St. Mary Our Lady of the Snow, Milford, Michigan
58 Stop / Three-Manual French-Terrace Style Console

"When I first arrived in Milford at St Mary's parish in 1991, I saw great potential to develop a Liturgical Music Program. My first meeting with the eleven-voice Parish Choir proved to me that there was an interest in developing an adult choral ensemble. Within five years, the choir grew to a fifty-voice ensemble. A Children's Choir soon followed and now boasts a membership of approximately sixty voices. For many years our choirs have performed with piano accompaniment. This was due to the fact that we had a very basic electronic Allen Organ from the late sixties. As our Music Program grew, the need for a new organ became obvious.

There were some challenging issues that would need to be studied and resolved. How much money would the Parish be willing to spend for this project? Was there enough room for a large pipe organ? It was decided that the room for pipework was nominal and installing a small pipe organ was viewed as a waste of money. The dry acoustics of the church would not allow a true pipe organ to blend and resonate. The new affordable Quantum Organ would fit into our space, give us a large three manual instrument and would include acoustic enhancement producing a rich organ sound. After three years of study and research we purchased a new Allen Quantum Organ and it was installed in August 2005.

St. Mary Our Lady of the Snow
St. Mary Our Lady of the Snow

The impact of the new organ was obvious to everyone. From the first verse of "Joyful, Joyful We Adore You" the congregation was in awe and sang with vigor and confidence. Moments of prayer and reflection were more inspiring and powerful with the ambience of soft flutes, strings and colorful reeds. People had not heard such glorious sound from the previous electronic organ. Following Mass on that first Sunday, people were asking where the pipes were located. I explained that we did not have room for a good pipe organ and that our new organ uses digital sound reproduction. All agreed that the sound was amazingly like that of a real pipe organ. With the addition of our new Allen Organ, our Sunday Mass experience has become more prayerful, powerful and inspiring.

One of the most exciting features of the new organ is the ability to record and play back choral accompaniments and organ pieces. In the past, our choirs performed almost exclusively with piano accompaniment. The Organ Console is in a location where the choir cannot see me directing if I am playing. With the auto playback, I can stand in front of the choir directly, while the organ plays the accompaniment automatically. Organ Preludes and Postludes may be recorded and played back before and after mass. This allows me to tend to the choir, other ministers or other details prior to a liturgy. If I am predisposed, choir members or other musicians can begin the prelude on time or start the postlude with the push of a button.

The most important aspect of our new Allen Organ is that it raises the awareness of the uniqueness and importance of the organ as the primary instrument of the church. While it is not possible for every church to spend a half million dollars or more for an authentic pipe organ, the new Allen Organ is an incredible reproduction. The Organ reigns as the "King of the Instruments" at St Mary's in Milford thanks to the Allen Organ Company."

-- Steve Hanson