THE GEORGE AND WILMA VAN WESEP MEMORIAL ORGAN
"Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." —from Psalm 150
The pipe organ has a rich and lasting tradition at LaGrave. Throughout the church’s history, it has been and continues to be the primary instrument used to lead the congregation in weekly worship. Past organs and organists have given testament to the importance of music in the life of the church. Today, a full-time Minister of Music plays the current instrument, one that will lead God’s people in musical prayer and praise for generations to come.
The current organ at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church was a gift from Richard and Helen DeVos in memory of Helen’s parents, George and Wilma VanWesep, thus, the official name of the organ is the George and Wilma VanWesep Memorial Organ. Installed and dedicated in the fall of 1996, the organ was a collaborative project between the Austin Organ Company (Opus 2765) of Hartford, Connecticut and the Allen Organ Company of Macungie, Pennsylvania. It is among the most technologically advanced instruments designed and built today and maintains the very highest standards of quality. The melding of pipe and digital voices in an instrument of its size is unprecedented. The Austin Organ Company built the 76-rank pipe organ consisting of 4,413 pipes. The Allen Organ Company built the computerized console and 32 ranks of digital voices. The organ’s 108 ranks are divided over five manuals and pedalboard, speaking from both the main chancel and the antiphonal organ located in the balcony. The antiphonal organ also includes a Trumpet en Chamade rank of horizontal trumpets. The organ is a spectacular world-class instrument of immense color and dynamic diversity.
The organ housed in the sanctuary of LaGrave Church capably plays a variety of roles. First and foremost, the organ is a marvelous service playing instrument which supports and leads the congregation in singing. Additionally, it accompanies the various choirs of the church from the softest sounds to the richest ensembles of fuller organ sounds. The eclectic organ also plays organ repertoire from all periods—from Baroque to contemporary—extremely well.
From time to time, LaGrave reaches out to the community by offering public concerts and recitals. Past featured artists have included the world-renowned concert organist, Carlo Curley, who dedicated the organ, Dame Gillian Weir, John Scott of St. Pauls’ Cathedral in London, Dr. James Kibbie, and other prominent organists from around the globe. Dr. Larry Visser, the organist at LaGrave, is a frequent recitalist as well, having presented fall recitals in conjunction with the church’s art exhibition entitled “Inspirations.”
The organ is also featured on the CD LaGrave Organ Favorites with Dr. Larry Visser. The CD may be ordered by calling the church office.
Click here to hear a sample from "Toccata' from Symphony No 5. This file may take a few moments to download depending upon the speed of your connection.