The Organ
The Warren A. Cross Memorial Pipe Organ was installed in the Essex Community Church in the summer of 1990, a gift to the hamlet of Essex from Donald Beggs. Named for Warren A. Cross, a lifetime resident of Essex and friend of Mr. Beggs, the organ is a creation of Jaap van der Veer, of the Netherlands.

The final design of the Cross organ was twice the size originally contemplated, in order to take advantage of the superb acoustics and size of the Community Church's sanctuary.

The organ itself was assembled in Mr. van der Veer's shop in Holland. He constructed most of the wood pipes himself - which are made of 150 year old pine - and the wood mechanical mechanism. The metal pipes were made by a small firm in Germany that specializes in this exacting work.

The Cross organ is operated by "tracker action" - direct mechanical connections between the keys and stops and the pipes - rather than by electronics. This feature is much admired by organists as it gives them a special "feel" for the instrument. By contrast, almost all modern organs are operated electronically.

The organ was disassembled and shipped by air to Essex, where it was reassembled by Mr. van der Veer and his family. The pipes were then "voiced" (tuned) to give them their proper tone colors. The first concerts were held shortly thereafter, during the summer of 1990.

Mr. Harold DeMarse of Queensbury, NY, a builder of organs and a fine organist, has been maintaining the organ since 2006. In 2007 he completely rebuilt the organ's wind chest, and "voices" the organ annually.

In addition to his generous gift of the organ to the Essex community, Donald Beggs donated a very extensive CD collection of organ music to the Belden Noble Memorial Library in Essex. More information about that collection can be obtained by calling the Library at (518) 963-8079. Check its web site at www.cefls.org/essex.htm for hours of operation and other information.

Stop List of the Warren A. Cross Memorial Organ

8 Prestant
8 Rohr Flute
4 Octave
2 Wood Flute
11/3 Mixture 11
8 Trompette
8 Gedeckt
8 Gamba
8 Vox Celeste
4 Harmonic Flute
22/3 Nasard
2 Prestant
8 Oboe
16 Subbass
8 Gedeckt (12 pipes from subbass)
4 Choral Bass
16 Fagot
Great to Pedal Coupler
Two Memories
8 General Combinations Pistons
Swell to Great Coupler
Tutti Piston
Swell to Pedal Coupler
Clear Piston

The Pipes of a Pipe Organ

The following was written by Donald Beggs, who donated the Warren Cross Organ to the Essex Community, for the first organ ooncert featuring at the Essex Community Church in the summer of 1990. It illustrates his technical knowledge of organ construction, his passion for the instrument, and his pride in the Cross Organ. Donald Beggs died shortly after this concert.

Pipe organs are most extraordinary concoctions of sounds. These sounds are made by the multitude of pipes that make up any pipe organ, whether it is a small one such as is the Warren A. Cross Memorial Organ here in Essex (almost 1000 pipes of various shapes, sizes, materials) to the world's largest (in Philadelphia with over 30,000 pipes, about 1/8 of which would fill the entire Essex Community Church).

Pipes make the sounds of organs, and the shapes and materials from which they are made determine the character of the sound. The large majority of pipes in any organ are found and made of a variety of metals - pure tin, pure zinc, and/or a mixture of the two metals, called "spotted metal" - which impart different tonal characteristics. Some metal pipes are simply round, others are conical, some have caps on them, and some even have a slender pipe coming out from the top of capped pipes. These metal pipes range in length from the size of a cheap ball-point pen to monster low sounding pedal pipes that can be from 16 to 32 feet in length and hollow enough to easily lower a slender adult down inside them. Most all "speak" or "sound" through an opening near their base called a mouth or lip. The size and shape of these pips also has much to do with the kind of tone emitted.

All pipes, wood and metal, are divided into two tonal classes - lingual or lip, and labial or tongue. The great majority and lingual, which means they have flute-like or string-like sounds, and have the mouth or "lip" at their lower end, through which the actual sound comes. A few kinds of pipes are labial, providing sounds similar to reed and brass instruments. These pipes do not have a lower opening and the sound comes out the top. At the base of each of this kind of pipe is an actual small brass reed, that when vibrated by the wind gives them their particular sounds. On the Essex organ there are three such sets of pipes: an assertive Trompette, a soft oboe, and in the Pedal, a Fagot - a sort of bassoon which is much more assertive in its voice in order to carry a "punch" when musical passages require that this sound dominates over the full organ being played. On large organs there is usually a 16 foot or even a 32 foot Pedal Bombarde which simply plows through all the other sounds to give a massive solo effect.

At the other end of the tonal spectrum of organ sounds are some pipes generally called "mixtures." These are the very slender lip or lingual pipes that lend brilliance. They are called mixtures because usually they are not used singly but as "Mixtures" with other sets of pipes. Too, they are not just one pipe per key or tone but two to six pipes per key or tone, all sounding at once and so voiced ass to produce a specific series of harmonics or partials based on a given "home" tone. The Essex organ has some of these too: a III aRank (three pipes to each key) Mixture and a 2 2/3 ds Nasard which can be used with the 2' Prestant to form a II Rank Mixture.

As the pitch of a set of similar pipes rises, the pipes become smaller, both in length and diameter. Yet each pipe, regardless of its shape, has to be rolled and soldered along its length by hand. This exacting soldering job requires great skill and must be almost invisible, inside and outside. The glued sides of the square wood pipes must also be done by hand and be of such quality that they will last for hundreds of years. There are over 200 large pipe organs in Europe that are over 300 years old, still in daily or weekly use and with all their originals pipe work.