Trinity Lutheran houses a heavenly instrument

LYNNWOOD — On a recent Sunday evening, Robert Huw Morgan gave an organ recital at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lynnwood, playing the works of Bach.

Morgan, the university organist at Stanford University, was a visiting artist for Trinity Lutheran’s series of organ recitals, which the church puts on to showcase its hand-made instrument.

The church’s organ was built by Martin Pasi, an Austria-born instrument maker who now works in Roy, Wash.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful instrument,” Morgan said.

The day before the concert he put in a six-hour practice session, and even then, stayed on the bench for another two hours, just because the instrument was such a pleasure to play.

Norma Aamodt-Nelson, minister of music at Trinity Lutheran, also plays the organ during church services and recitals.

“There was a period of time when the organ was just heard in recital music,” and banned from church services, she said, even at a time when many of the greatest composers wrote primarily for liturgical purposes.

Bach, who was a devout Lutheran, was among those, and he composed many pieces with the intent of having those pieces performed in church services, she said.

While Bach’s perferred instrument was the organ, Morgan said that there’s very little primary source material to show which of his organ pieces were performed during his lifetime.

The Pasi is a mechanical, or “tracker organ,” which means the keys and pedals directly control the valves that let air into the pipes. Only the blower runs on electricity.

“It allows the organist to play with more sensitivity and more articulation,” Aamodt-Nelson said.

“It’s allowing music to sing and breathe, and that’s something Bach would have loved,” she said.

But in addition to using the Pasi organ for church services, Trinity Lutheran also lets its organ shine in public recitals.

“There are many beautiful organs by some of the finest builders in the world, and it’s one of the top, I think,” Aamodt-Nelson said.

Martin Pasi built the organ, his fourth at the time, in 1995 to replace the instrument the church lost when serial arsonist Paul Keller destroyed the church in late 1992.

Pasi has now built more than 20 organs, ranging from smaller single-keyboard instruments to the gigantic instrument, with four keyboards and 76 stops, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.

Trinity Lutheran’s instrument, with two keyboards and 29 stops, is still impressive, weighing eight tons.

“It speaks very well in the room, and it leads worship beautifully,” Aamodt-Nelson said, adding, “It’s one of the reasons I came to this church.”

Morgan agreed. “I can’t rave enough about it. It’s one of the best instruments I’ve ever played,” he said.

“It’s a honey, it really is,” he said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or

On Sunday, May 4, Trinity Lutheran Church will host its final organ recital of its “Artists at the Organ” series this spring. Mark Brombaugh, organist and choirmaster at Christ Episcopal Church in Tacoma, will perform at 7 p.m. The church is located at 6215 196th St. SW in Lynnwood. A donation of $15 is suggested, while seniors and students can pay what they are able to. For more information, go to

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