Organ Rehab

April 1, 2007
Duke Chapel's Aeolian organ

Chris Hildreth

Duke Chapel’s original organ, built and installed in 1932 by the Æolian Organ Company, will be removed and reconditioned over the next eighteen months before being reinstalled in late 2008.

The Æolian organ, one of four organs in the chapel and the one that accompanies the Chapel Choir and various worship services, is located in the chancel. “With the addition of a new console, it will also have an enhanced role in teaching, recitals, and concerts,” says chapel organist David Arcus.

Although the Æolian received minor repairs and renovations over the years, the organ is in dire need of a major overhaul after more than seventy years of consistent use, says Duke Chapel organ curator John Santoianni.

“The Æolian reminds me of an automobile I once owned which looked great, but needed many repairs,” Santoianni says. “You could not tell from looking at the outside just how much mechanical work was needed.”

The organ will be named for Kathleen Upton Byrns McClendon ’80 in honor of a $600,000 gift that she and her husband, Aubrey McClendon ’81, made for the project in 2003. While the instrument is out of service, a small electrical organ will be brought in for temporary use.