Manuel Rosales: 213.925.8633
Office: 323.262.9253
Fax: 323.262.8018




Opus 16

The First Presbyterian Church of Oakland
2619 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

Rosales Organ Builders, Inc.
Los Angeles, California

The First Presbyterian Church of Oakland
and Rosales Organ Builders’ Opus 16

The previous organ in the church was built by The W. W. Kimball Company of Chicago in 1913. At that time it was their largest instrument on the West Coast. With 4 manuals and 56 ranks it must have been a real showpiece. Its tonal design was unusual for the period, in particular the pedal stoplist, which boasted 10 entirely independent ranks. Its playing action, however, was of the "Tubular Pneumatic" type which already, by the time of its original installation, was considered obsolete.

In the late 1920s the organ's action was electrified and some pipes were added and others changed. This work was carried out by Kimball factory personnel and was of a quality consistent with the original installation.

Over the next fifty years many changes were made to the fabric of the instrument. Modifications to the tonal design, mechanical alterations and changes in the basic structure were made in conjunction with the addition of several stops. In many ways, a victim of the Neo-Baroque revival, by the 1980s the instrument bore little resemblance to the original. Pipes from many sources, some from other local churches, some brought across the country, were added. Even stops for which there was no space were added - namely the 32' Wood Diapason and the 32' Wood Bombarde --- enormous pipes that we have incorporated into our new instrument.

In an effort to determine the best route to take with the rebuilding of the instrument, the Session of the church sought the counsel of several authorities. Among them were Jack Bethards of Schoenstein & Co., Joseph Dzeda, Associate Curator of Organs at Yale University, and Edward Millington Stout, well known Bay Area organ restoration expert. Their reports lead the Organ Committee to the conclusion that a major revision or replacement of the instrument was needed.

Rosales Organ Builder's first contact with First Presbyterian Church was in January, 1987, and at the time we were completing our Opus 11 in Portland, Oregon. After many committee meetings and much discussion, this church signed a contract with our firm in June of 1988.

The essential design of Opus 16 stems from the wealth of knowledge gleaned from centuries of organ-building; as history well illustrates, many of the outstanding achievements of the past have been built on the foundations of earlier work. Thus, when invited to present a proposal for the new organ at First Presbyterian Church, we instinctively chose to preserve the finest elements of the existing instrument.

Some of the parameters of the project were as follows: The organ would have mechanical playing action of the tracker type, as this system has proven to be the most reliable and long lived. Significant portions of the beautifully crafted 1913 casework would be retained. A consensus, however, was reached that the proportions and detailing of the case could be improved. New speaking pipes would be featured. Following a concept drawing by Charles L. Nazarian, Bay Area CAD specialist Charles C. Clancy developed a new design which reshaped and augmented the casework in an effort to accentuate the instrument's height and highlight its beautiful detailing.

The two 32' wooden stops, although not original to the Kimball, would be retained. They were of such significant proportions that every effort should be made to save them.

As much of the old pipework, which was in good condition, would be saved and modified if needed to be consistent with the new tonal design. This amounted to 11 1/2 eanks, including the two 32' stops.

The Antiphonal organ would be saved but diminished in its tonal effect. This part of the organ remained playable from its own console and served the church as a temporary instrument during the waiting period for the new instrument.

The new organ would conform to earthquake codes and structural engineering criteria which would be determined by experts in that field. Also, the Church has installed a new floor for the organ structure, re-inforced the ceiling above the organ, and has replaced the choir loft structure. New lighting for the choir and the facade was installed in time for the dedication.

Building upon these parameters, the design has developed into a broad picture of eclectic organbuilding. As new organs go today, our design is really rather conservative. A complete Principal Chorus on the Great serves as the backbone of the instrument. A secondary Principal Chorus is found on the Positive. To add grandeur to these Principal Plena, sub-octave Principals at 16 and 32 foot are found on the Great. These were inspired by French and German designs of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

A generous selection of color stops is found on each manual with two registers of the 2-2/3 Nasard type and four Tierces --- each of a different type. Additionally a Mounted Cornet of V ranks is featured on the Great.

Typical of organs of all periods, flutes are found on every division. Through a variety of shapes, scales and voicing techniques, each flute color retains a strong personality, and each blends well with other stops.

There are four Harmonic Flutes to be found. Following the French Romantic tradition, the largest one is in the Great and a Chorus of 8' - 4' & 2' Harmonic Flutes is found in the Swell.

The Great Harmonic Flute is a member of a quartet of registers which include the 8' Principal, 8' Chimney Flute and 8' Gamba. Their color palette is inspired by the work of Cavaillé-Coll and is essential to the richness expected in the 19th Century literature. Their actual scaling is unique to Opus 16, however, as is most of the pipework in the instrument.

The Pedal on this opus, more than in any other instrument that we have built, will provide a solid foundation and an unmistakable sonority that exceeds that of the original organ.

In contrast with the traditional nature of the tonal and mechanical design, please note that this organ has state of the art console registration aids and that it is also MIDI Compatible!

We have aimed for an instrument which will meet the challenge of both choral and organ literature while providing rich and varied support for congregational singing. Grandeur and majesty balanced with clarity and delicacy -- these are the qualities we have sought. And in a larger context, we wanted to add new colors to the palette of fine organs in the Bay Area.

We at Rosales Organ Builders are honored to have worked on this instrument and for a congregation that has been supportive and hard-working. It was our goal to leave them with an instrument of which they will be proud and can enjoy for decades to come.



GREAT - Manual I
32' Prestant
16' Prestant
8' Principal
8' Gamba
8' Flûte harmonique
8' Chimney Flute
4' Octave
4' Spire Flute
2 2/3' Octave Quint
2' Super Octave
1 3/5' Tierce
V Cornet (m.c, mounted)
VIII Mixture
16' Bombarde
8' Trumpet
4' Clarion
16' Chamade (t.c)
8' Chamade
4' Chamade (ext.)
16' Bourdon
8' Principal
8' Gedeckt
4' Octave
4' Rohrpipe
3 1/5' Grosse Tierce
2 2/3' Nasard
2' Doublet
1 3/5' Tierce
1 1/3' Larigot
VI Mixture
8' Trumpet
8' Cromorne
4' Clarion
ANTIPHONAL - Plays from Great & Pedal
8' Principal
8' Stop'd Diapason
4' Octave
2' Fifteenth
SWELL - Manual III
16' Bourdon
8' Geigen Principal
8' Viole de Gambe
8' Voix céleste
8' Flûte traversière
8' Bourdon
4' Principal
4' Flûte octaviante
2 2/3' Nasard
2' Octavin
1 3/5' Tierce
1' Piccolo
IV Mixture (prep.)
16' Bombarde
8' Trumpet
8' Hautbois
8' Clarinet
8' Vox Humana
32' Open Wood (ext.)
32' Prestant (Great)
21 1/3' Prestant Quint (ext.)
16' Open Wood
16' Prestant
16' Bourdon
10 2/3' Quint (ext.)
8' Octave
8' Flûte (ext.)
8' Bourdon (ext.)
4' Super Octave
V Mixture (prep.)
32' Bombarde (ext.)
16' Bombarde
16' Posaune
8' Trumpet
4' Clarion
8' Chamade (Great)
4' Chamade (Great)
4,062 pipes
63 speaking stops
3 double-rise, dead-weighted bellows
Wind pressures: 3-1/2", 4-1/4", 7"
1 single-rise bellows 15" pressure
3 blowers totaling 6 h.p.
Organ weighs about 75,000 lbs.
6 couplers
Great and Positive tremolo
Swell tremolo
Pedal tremolo
32-level combination system
General piston sequencer






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