One of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences in my near 43 years of ministry has occurred in these past five years with the Diocesan acquisition of the former Crystal Cathedral campus in Garden Grove. Shortly after the acquisition, I was asked by Bishop Tod Brown, to be part of a team to assist in the ‘repurposing’ and transformation of the existing Crystal Cathedral into Christ Cathedral, the mother church for our Diocese. Since that time, the Liturgical Renovation Committee working closely with the myriad of other committees, consultants, musicians, architects, artists and contractors, engaged in this Herculean task, has completed the bulk of its work. We are now poised to begin in earnest the interior transformation of the iconic Philip Johnson structure, one of the great religious architectural statements of the last century. The following video prepared by the Office for Communications of the Diocese of Orange, provides an excellent visual overview to the work that has been accomplished to date.
Since I have personally been involved with virtually all aspects of this projects since its inception, I will periodically be sharing different aspects of this exciting project via this Blog. Early on in the project, it became apparent that the Great Hazel Wright Memorial organ, installed shortly after the completion of the sanctuary, by the esteemed Italian organ builders, Fratelli Ruffatti, was in need of substantial restoration. While the great windows of the Cathedral that would dramatically open from time to time behind Dr. Robert Schuller, became a signature element of this building, they also brought in the outside environment with its pollutants that are anathema for any pipe organ. Added to this, the constant sunlight in a space that was not temperature controlled, together with the yearly performances of the Joy of Christmas and Easter with artificial smoke and flying angels, not to mention a wandering camel or two, adversely impacted the delicate pipe work. Restoration was a must if this instrument was to serve the worshipping community in the years to come.
With the encouragement of our new Bishop, Kevin Vann, and thanks to the generous support of a growing number of financial donors, the restoration project began some five years ago. With nearly half of the 16,000 pipes transported to the Ruffatti workshop in Padua, Italy, together with the 5-manual organ console, the restoration is now completed. The organ and all of its restored pipes and console are now in temperature controlled storage, awaiting installation in the renovated Christ Cathedral.
The process of re-installation and tuning to what will be the new ‘lively’ acoustical environment within the Cathedral will take a number of months. Workers from Italy together with those with trained ears to scale and tune each pipe to their ‘renovated environment’ will result in a sound this side of heaven! We anticipate completion sometime in the latter part of 2018 or early 2019.