The largest Viscount Organ in North America will be installed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, VA. The organ will include a completed restoration of their Austin Pipe Organ, to also become Viscount’s largest hybrid organ.

We are honored to announce that this summer we will be installing the largest organ in the 67 year, three generation history of our firm at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, VA. This is not only the largest organ our firm has ever installed, but also the largest Viscount Organ AND largest Viscount hybrid organ in North America ever installed.

The console will be a custom french console inspired by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, while still remaining versatile for today’s diverse American Church.

The first picture shows the magnificent interior of St. John’s historic sanctuary ‘courtesy J. Gleason Photography’. The picture below shows the century and a half old Cavaille Coll of Church Notre-Dame of Epernay, France. We are modeling our design after this console, adding many more stops, and integrating some architecture from St. John’s Church as well. For instance, the new console will feature raised panels that appear to be church windows representing the trinity. A similar design is found throughout St. John’s.
After completing their restoration, the Whitesel Church Organs team is interfacing about 18 ranks of wind blown pipes from the church’s existing Austin Pipe Organ. Some of our competitors suggested altering the Austin Pipe Organ, or doing away with ranks of pipes altogether. As a friend of the pipe organ, and real pipe organ technicians and enthusiasts ourselves, we do not feel the need to take away or change something that is working well for the church.  If your church has an existing pipe organ, and is interested in adding additional pipe or digital stops, consider working with Whitesel Church Organs.  We have no ulterior motives, and aren’t ‘anti’ pipe organ like some others in the digital organ business.  We will do whatever it takes to preserve the integrity of the original instrument.

Including the new physically modeled digital organ stops powered by Viscount’s Physis Technology, the console will have 88 movable drawknobs.  And not only is this console custom, but the entire stop specification is as well.  Viscount and Whitesel Church Organs took all of the organist’s tonal and stoplist wishes and made them a complete reality.  It isn’t our job to tell you how many ways you are wrong about what’s best for your music ministry.  It’s our job to tell you how we can accomplish what you already know to be best for your music ministry.

The custom console will feature new state of the art handmade automatic velocity fully adjustable wooden keyboards, exclusively available through Viscount. This innovative keyboard design is able to reproduce, down to the minutest detail, the authentic touch sensation of the traditional pipe organ keyboard. The keys themselves will also be groundbreaking in the US, featuring bamboo naturals and ebony sharps.  Bamboo has an exceptional strength to weight ratio, is pleasant to the touch, and is a renewable green resource.

The sound system is also totally and completely custom made for use with Viscount Organs Physis Technology by Walker Technical Company of Zionsville, PA. It will boast a total of 51 speaker cabinets strategically placed throughout the sanctuary, without any being visible to congregants in the pews. The speaker system will be powered with 8,000 watts.

This is the first official announcement about the organ, but we will be creating a blog for the installation’s progress over the summer. Be sure to stay in touch through our facebook page or website for updates.

Taking the recommendation of Joshua Dove, St. John’s Leadership understood the importance of previewing this technology on a similar grand scale and space.  For this reason, instead of viewing a much smaller local Whitesel Church Organs installation, they had the forsight and wisdom to send their organist, Christopher Rusk, to Whitesel’s recent large Viscount 3-Manual Organ installation in Darien, CT at Noroton Presbyterian Church. Noroton is the largest Presbyterian Church in New England. Here, Christopher was able to see and hear the capabilities of Viscount’s Physis Technology paired with the Custom Walker Technical Sound System in a space with phenomenal acoustics and ideal speaker placement.

The work has already begun, and Whitesel Church Organs plans on the installation being complete this summer.

Jeremy Fillsell will be opening this organ up on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7:00p.m., and we’re looking forward to it transforming or reaffirming your belief about what this firm is capable of. We are thankful to all who continue to believe in the good work we are doing, and especially thankful for the people of St. John’s Church for their trust and faith in Joshua Dove, and our firm. This is the culmination of a life’s work. Not of Joshua’s life, but that of our late predecessors, Carroll Motsinger and Norman Whitesel, and the continuation of a never ending ministry.

For Carroll’s Grandson and current company President, Joshua, this is the beginning of our arrival. Whitesel is not a local or regional firm. Whitesel is a national firm.  A national pipe and digital organ firm with an army of experts ready to provide your church with the finest finished product and the highest quality service, no matter what size church. Opus 1,275. This is our masterpiece.

If you currently have a pipe, digital, or hybrid organ project, and would value our opinion, please call us right away at 888-439-8383.


St. John’s Organ Contract Signing

Front row (L-R): Margaret Perkins (Senior Warden) & Joshua Dove

Back row (L-R): Clifford King Harbin (Associate to the Rector), Christopher Rusk (Organist & Choirmaster), J. Derek Harbin (Rector)