The Balcom and Vaughan pipe organ, the second largest organ in the city, at Trinity Episcopal Church needs a lot of work to restore it to its full glory. The church is gathering donations for its restoration. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Balcom and Vaughan pipe organ, the second largest organ in the city, at Trinity Episcopal Church needs a lot of work to restore it to its full glory. The church is gathering donations for its restoration. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

‘You’re literally moved by it’: Everett church seeks to restore pipe organ

The 1971 Balcom and Vaughan instrument has been with Trinity Episcopal since 2010. It needs $150,000 to be fully restored.

EVERETT — David di Fiore’s feet stomped and tapped on pedals as his fingers pranced atop the keys of the pipe organ during a recent Sunday afternoon performance at Trinity Episcopal Church.

The renowned composer and organist rose to prominence in Seattle and now teaches at the Catholic University in Ruzomberok, Slovak Republic. While in town, he performed at the church at 2301 Hoyt Ave.as a demonstration of its 1971 Balcom and Vaughan pipe organ, part of a fundraiser to restore it.

His performance took the single instrument and made it sound like an entire orchestra of flutes, oboes, trumpets and more. The crowd of almost 100 people stood and applauded di Fiore after the scheduled program ended, again after the encore and once more after the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him on his 70th birthday.

The church installed the pipe organ, an instrument with ancient origins, in 2010 after buying it from another church in Spokane for about $40,000. Thousands more were spent to install and reconfigure it in the church’s sanctuary built in 1920.

Crews had to construct new supports for the organ’s electronic control panel, dozens of pipes and wind box above the rear of the sanctuary while preserving the view of the stained glass windows.

Stained glass and organ pipes decorate Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stained glass and organ pipes decorate Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Church leaders estimate needing $150,000 to fully restore their 51-year-old organ that is the second-largest in the city, behind First Presbyterian Church’s. Its electronics panel needs to be updated to this millennium. Some notes don’t work or are well out of tune. And the console needs to be replaced with something shorter, among other fixes and replacement parts.

“Trinity wants to be part of a movement of curation, preservation,” said Rachel Taber-Hamilton, the church’s pastor since 2011. “We’re responsible for holding a certain story about Everett, and it’s ongoing. This organ, as odd as it might sound, is a benchmark for us holding that story.”

Pipe organs are wind instruments controlled by buttons, keys played by hand and pedals played by feet. Over the centuries, the instrument has gained modern updates including electronics that control the bellow, which pushes wind through the pipes.

But in Trinity’s sanctuary, the volume remains analog. When the bass rumbles, there’s no subwoofer or speaker system necessary.

“There are pieces when they hit particular notes and I’m on the other end of the building by the altar, you can feel the vibration,” Taber-Hamilton said. “You’re literally moved by it.”

David Spring explains possible plans for the church’s organ Wednesday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

David Spring explains possible plans for the church’s organ Wednesday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

While other churches embrace modernity in how music factors into religious expression, Trinity has rooted itself in tradition.

“Some churches are trying to be mega concerts, rah, rah rah,” said David Spring, Trinity’s organist and music director. “People get in touch with their spiritual side in lots of different ways.”

He knows di Fiore from their childhood in Seattle. That connection has brought the expert organist to Everett multiple times over the decades since the Balcom and Vaughan was installed.

Spring plays the organ during liturgy, using a mirror to time the music as it fades in and out. He can command its buttons, keys and pedals to move from a hymn to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” to Bach.

“For a person who likes to keep busy, it’s great,” Spring said.

David Spring plays the pipe organ Wednesday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

David Spring plays the pipe organ Wednesday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Music is one of the many ministries worth supporting at Trinity and elsewhere, church leaders said. The sanctuary hosts secular performances, and Taber-Hamilton has done liturgy for special masses, such as a Harry Potter-themed one held last year or the Star Wars-themed one scheduled for this fall. They see it as an asset for anyone who wants to enjoy the sounds.

“Our community, as many have been, has been through so much during the pandemic,” Taber-Hamilton said. “I would love for my music department and this community to feel like people were caring for them in return.”

The church is collecting donations for the organ that can be dropped off at the church’s office.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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