The maker of several pipe organs in the Charlotte area is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year and says the business is going strong.
“There are so many pipe organs in this country and so many churches have them, that the restoration and repair of pipe organs is going to carry on for quite a long time,” said Victor B. Schantz, president of Schantz Organ Co. and great grandson of its founder.
In its 140 years, Schantz Organ Co., which is based in Ohio, has built 60 pipe organs for churches in South Carolina and 94 pipe organs for churches in North Carolina.
At least five of those have been in the Charlotte area: Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, Epworth United Methodist and Forest Hill United Methodist in Concord, First Baptist Church in Kannapolis and Central United Methodist in Albemarle.
“Pipe organ sales are very specific to where church and community religion are popular, and the southeastern United States has had a very strong religious influence and presence,” Schantz said.
The Schantz organ at Providence Baptist Church was installed in 1973, and in 2004 the A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Co., which is based in Lithonia, Ga., added another console and more pipes.
The organ still drives the traditional hymns at Providence Baptist’s 11 a.m. Sunday service, said Diann Clark, the church’s organist. A choir of 40-50 people sing with it.
“The organ is still king there,” Clark said.
Clark primarily plays traditional hymns, but she’ll switch to the piano for a gospel or Taize song.
She likes to play the organ during the church’s offertory, and she often chooses it for music before the service.
Clark enjoys the versatility of the instrument, and she says people still love organ music because of the “wide range of places it can go.”
“I can bring it down to peaceful, calm tranquil kinds of music, or it can soar,” she said.
Schantz said organ music remains popular, as sales have increased at Schantz Organ Co. since January following a sharp decrease in business following the 2008 recession.
“We’re pleased to see that happen,” said Schantz, who estimates that there are about 30 organ-making companies in the U.S. They also are pleased that people are still connecting with organ music.
“For them, the pipe organ is still important,” he said.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at email@example.com.
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