Manuel Rosales: 213.925.8633
Office: 323.262.9253
Fax: 323.262.8018




Opus 11

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
147 N.W. Nineteenth Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

Rosales Organ Builders, Inc.
Los Angeles, California

Opus 11 - 1987


Click for more information on the Opus 11.

John Strege Retirement
Director of Music John Strege has retired from Trinity Cathedral after 37 years as organist and choirmaster, effective May 2, 2010. Article


The year 2007 marked the 20th anniversary of Rosales Opus 11. The event was observed by a recital featuring John Scott on October 29. Click to see John Scott's program and to read a review in The Oregonian.

Jonathan Ambrosino writes of this instrument:

It has been now eighteen years since I first saw that organ. I still have my handwritten notes and impressions from that visit (three years before my first laptop!). It was David Junchen who urged me to see it most of all, and Grahame Davis, ... and seemingly countless others. Sometimes it's difficult to think back to those far more unyielding times, when its fusing of the supposedly unfusable reflected the culture as much as the instrument itself. It was a clear watershed, amplified by so many people understanding that very fact right from the start.




GREAT - Manual I
16'   Prestant
8'   Principal
8'   Flute harmonique
8'   Bourdon
8'   Gamba
4'   Octave
4'   Spire Flute
2 2/3'   Octave Quint
2'   Super Octave
    Cornet V
    Mixture VII-XI
16'   Bombarde
8'   Trumpet
4'   Clarion
16'   Bourdon
8'   Principal
8' Bourdon
4'   Octave
4'   Rohrpipe
3 1/5'   Grosse Tierce
2 2/3'   Nasard
2'   Doublet
1 3/5'   Tierce
1 1/3'   Larigot
    Mixture V-VII
8'   Trumpet
8'   Cromorne
4'   Clarion
SWELL - Manual III
16'   Bourdon
8'   Principal
8'   Bourdon
8'   Flute harmonique
8'   Viole de Gamba
8'   Voix celeste
4'   Principal
4'   Flute octaviante
2'   Octavin
    Cornet IV
    Mixture IV
16'   Bassoon
8'   Trumpet
8'   Hautbois
8'   Vox Humana
4'   Clarion
32'   Bourdon
16'   Open Wood
16'   Prestant
16'   Bourdon
8'   Octave
8'   Flute
8'   Bourdon
4'   Super Octave
    Mixture VII
32'   Contra Trombone
16'   Bombarde
16'   Trombone
8'   Trumpet
4'   Clarion
Couplers & Accessories
Great to Pedal
Positive to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Positive to Great
Swell to Great
Swell to Positive
Rossignol (Nightingale)
Etoile (Cymbelstern)
32' Open Wood Resultant
32' Bombarde Resultant
Compass:  61/32
Key Action:  Mechanical
Stop Action: Electric
Combination Memory:  32 levels


by Barbara Owen

Axiom: An organ is not a “piece of equipment.” It is a musical instrument, and it can be (or should be) a work of art. Works of art aren’t bought off the shelf. They are commissioned, and the commissioner and commissionee become partners in the incarnation of a dream.

Ten years ago John Strege, the Organist-Choirmaster of Trinity Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon, increasingly frustrated by the limitations thrust upon a growing and vital music program by an inadequate organ and an outmoded chancel arrangement, began to dream. He shared his dream with his Rector, the Rev. William H. Wagner. They both shared it with their congregation, and it slowly began to come into focus.

A Dream is the opposite of a quick fix. It has to be allowed a life of its own, and room to grow. Dreams require patience of a saintly sort. After five years, things began to happen at Trinity Church. Realizing that an organ, more than any other instrument, interacts with and is influenced by the room in which it stands, the church took a long holistic look at its rather ordinary chancel – and began making changes.

The changes were made not just with the organ in mind, but took in the needs of music as a whole and, most importantly, music’s role in the total liturgical experience. Lawrence Kirkegaard was called in to correct the depressingly dead acoustics. Absorbent material was removed, surfaces hardened, and the chancel walls articulated to eliminate slap. Music and the spoken word took on new meaning, and the congregational singing improved.

The altar was moved forward, closer to the people, to involve them more intimately in the sharing of the Eucharist. The immovable divided choir pews gave way to flexible seating improving choral blend and visibility. The organ was recognized as a participant in liturgy and music and invited to join the choir behind the altar. But the old organ, even had its many mechanical infirmities and tonal inadequacies been corrected, did not fit into the plan. Installed in a side chamber its tone was unfocused and acoustically buried.

Organist Strege had some ideas about the sort of organ Trinity should commission. Consultation with Douglas Butler and friendly advice from Charles Fisk helped to clarify and shape those ideas. In 1981 a young organ building firm from Southern California was invited to create their magnum opus in Portland.

Manuel Rosales added his insights to those of Strege and Butler. The starting point was Butler’s suggestion that the organ make a “Romantic gesture.” The neo-Baroque concept (more neo than Baroque) was decrescendoing like the whine of autumnal locusts, but a fully neo-Romantic organ would only trade one set of musical limitations for another. Rosales was not enchanted with the idea of merely copying some other organ.

While Butler wanted a Cavaillé-Coll, Strege wanted something that would play Stanford and support congregational song, and Rosales wanted to make his own statement. In the end, all were agreed that, without watering anything down, this organ had to provide “all the delicious sounds” but also possess clear and strong choruses. A tall order.

The construction of the organ fell behind schedule. It tried, then vindicated, the faith and patience of a whole church and an entire organ company. And it grew, and evolved, and succeeded. Years from now the trials will have been forgotten, and the members of Trinity Church will only know that, back in A.D. 1987, they dedicated and took into their lives a very special musical instrument.

Charles Fisk is credited with being the first builder of mechanical-action instruments to dare a carefully calculated (yet not unlimited) tonal eclecticism, but he himself gave credit for the concept to G. Donald Harrison. The idea still scares those who, on the one hand, feel that the smallest of organs should (or even can) be “all-purpose,” and those who, on the other hand, are scandalized by even the most judicious mixing of styles, regardless of the size of the organ.

With 54 speaking stops and 87 ranks on three manuals and pedal, Rosales’ Opus 11 is as big as an organ as its imposing classical façade suggests. The “Romantic gesture” has become a foundation, and yet it is not merely a Romantic organ with a Classic caboose, any more than it is a Classic organ with Romantic appendages. It is rather that most difficult-to-achieve thing, an integrated eclectic organ that will not do quite everything, yet will do a significant amount of musically important things authentically and with style. The stoplist is “Frenchified,” and there is an unmistakable French accent that can not only lift an audience out of its seats with a blaze of reeds in a Vierne Finale, but also interpret to satisfaction the more refined emotions of Couperin or de  Grigny. For everything required by those composers is there, not just on paper, but in the pipe construction and voicing.

Strip away the French reeds and mutations, however, and you find robust principal choruses and a 16’ Trombone capable of doing justice to the intentions of J. S. Bach, particularly his later works. Pare it down to the warm foundations and you have three manual 8’ Principals to choose from to interpret either Frescobaldi or Mendelssohn. And yes, it can accompany Stanford like a “Father” Willis or allow one to play the second movement of the Symphonie Gothique on a single juicily voiced Harmonic Flute. Most importantly, it will accompany Anglican liturgy and raise hymn-singing to new heights of enthusiasm.

What doesn’t it do? A dearth of high narrow mutations and spicy short-length reeds handicaps one’s choices for some of the North European Renaissance literature, although the principal chorus and several of the lighter flutes make a good showing in Buxtehude’s Praeludia, and there are two Renaissance “toy” stops – a Rossignol (adjustable!) and an Etoile. The Great chorus is a bit too bold for 18th century English voluntaries, yet the secondary chorus on the Positive works well in this context, and one can choose from three Cornets of varying characteristics which work equally well in French classic solos and English voluntaries.

Because the organ speaks on 93mm of wind pressure and must project to the rear of a large building, its sound is not subtle close up in the chancel, yet certain quite delicate effects are there for the finding. Certainly it’s an organ that can handle not only Bach and Franck but also the moderns, from Heiller to Messiaen; and while its reeds and strings lack early 20th century ultra-smoothness, one suspects that the right person could coax a few orchestral effects from this instrument. Like any really good organ, this one is capable of more than might be immediately apparent from merely perusing the stoplist.

Mechanically, the instrument should please all but the most dogmatic purist. The comfortable suspended action, with nothing more for assistance than balanciers in the lowest octaves, is light, crisp, and responsive, even when coupled. That alone testifies to careful engineering of the traditional sort. Horizontal rollerboards are used wherever possible because they offer less friction than vertical ones. Rollers are kept as short as possible to minimize torque, with splayed horizontal trackers used to extend the range at the bass ends.

But there is also some very clever modern engineering in evidence in the design of the Solid State Logic stop and combination action. One of the most feared problems with this type of action is circumvented by a bypass mechanism that allows the stop action (activated by Heuss’s new electric slider pullers) to continue functioning even if the combination action crashes. The “French connection” is evident here, too, in the “Great ventil” pedal and the extra pistons for Fonds, Plein Jeu, Grand Jeu, and Sforzando.

All this functions from a deceptively simple and uncluttered console, comfortable and inviting to the player. There is a hint of French in its design, but more than a hint of the American Romantic, accented by the easily read oblique-faced stopknobs, modeled after those used by most American builders in the 1880s and 1890s. The script lettering on the knobs, bone and ebony manual keys, and Honduras mahogany music desk all contribute to the feeling of subdued elegance. The congregation can’t really see this – it is the builder’s visual gift to the player.

The wind system is a carefully-thought-out synthesis of old and new. The wind from the blower is fed into three large wedge bellows, the top two of which (ganged together) feed the manuals, the lower one the pedal chests. The wind stabilizers are actually large concussion bellows (winkers) attached to the bottoms of the six manual chests, activated or inactivated by sliders. The result is an ample wind supply which invites the challenge of even the most demanding textures, yet at the draw of a knob can become gently flexible. A clever touch (one of many): the wind stabilizers automatically go off when the manual tremolo is drawn – available on both right and left jambs for handy grabbing.

The long gestation period of this organ has resulted in creative design and use of materials, unusual accessibility of all parts, carefully worked out mechanicals, and solid and almost overbuilt construction.

The pipework in the organ is not all new; seven stops were rebuilt from the old organ. That it all works together so harmoniously is testimony to the skill and resourcefulness of pipemakers and voicers alike.

Of the more than 4,000 pipes, 2,501 were constructed in the Rosales workshop. Half of the remainder, including the polished tin front pipes, were custom-made by the German firm of Laukhuff, and the other half came from F. J. Rogers in England. The huge scaled wooden 32’ Pedal Bourdon was made in Rosales’ workshop, but the other 32’ stop, the Contra Trombone, was quite simply a lucky find – a rare 1905 Austin “Magnaton,” acquired from theatre organ expert David Junchen. Its heavy 15” diameter zinc resonators were fitted with new boots and tongues. Artistry and imagination are evident throughout in the handling of all the tonal material.

Visually, the organ speaks for itself. It is a strong visual element in the chancel, but not an obtrusive one. What you see is what you hear, for the boldness of the classically oriented oak case, with its handsome basswood carvings and polished tin front pipes, mirrors the organ’s extroverted tonal character. It all says “proclamation!” in an unequivocal but by no means impolite manner. It is an instrument to rejoice in, and with – the embodiment of a decade-long dream. Long may it continue to bring joy and beauty to the congregation that dared dream and work for its realization.

Reviewer Joseph Adam has described this organ as "undeniably beautiful but solid." (The American Organist, October 1995, p. 69)







Rosales Pipe Organ Services, Inc.   3020 East Olympic Boulevard  ▪  Los Angeles  CA  90023-3402
Manuel Rosales: 213.925.8633    Office: 323.262.9253    Fax: 323.262.8018