The German-made Klais pipe organ that served the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels in St. Paul, Minn., for more than 50 years is bound for a new home at Central Lutheran Church in Dallas.
Someday, that is. For now the grand instrument crafted by renowned organ builder Johannes Klais is in pieces, stored at the Garland workshop of Robert Sipe, the expert charged with its restoration and installation. And church members are in fundraising mode in support of the Klais Pipe Organ Project, known as KPOP. Following on the heels of a major (and costly) remodel to the church itself, installing the 2-manual, 16-stop, 20-rank organ means raising an estimated $150,000 to $200,000.
“When we dream, we dream big,” says Ted Steinke, a longtime church member and Lake Highlands resident. He was among those who traveled with organist Larry McCain to St. Paul to play and inspect the organ. The congregation approved the purchase in 2011.
“We decided it would be a perfect fit for our church,” Steinke says, and also for the larger community. “We envision being host to community concerts, organ recitals, competitions.” Only after the funds are raised will the installation process (taking about nine months) begin. In all, it’s estimated that it will be about two years before the organ is installed in the choir loft and ready to be played.
The organ (Opus 1152) is noteworthy in that it’s only the second such instrument made by the Orgelbau Klais firm of Bonn, Germany, to be installed in the United States. “It has a great history to it,” says Steinke, who is one of the church’s many members of German heritage. After reaching out to the Klais workshop in Germany, the congregation received a reply including congratulations, well wishes for the project, and a copy of the original voicing scheme for the organ. (Voicing refers to the pitches of the individual pipes.)
The centerpiece of the fundraiser is an opportunity to purchase a pipe in honor of, or in memory of, a designated individual, who will receive special recognition from the church (specifics of the recognition program are still under development). These donations start at $1-$49. Two real estate agents from the congregation have pledged a percentage of commissions based on referrals as the first of “what we hope to be many KPOP partners.” Also, there will be many fundraising events, such as talent shows and chili cook-offs, throughout the year.
Central Lutheran Church was established in 1922, moving to its location along Easton Road in 1960. Steinke’s family started attending the church not long after that relocation. His father, who passed away several years ago, was a bass in the choir. Steinke is a tenor in that same choir.
“I’m committed to making this happen,” he says. “I just think it’s cool that we’re getting a German organ installed in the church. I’m a Steinke, after all.”