Sacred pipes
St. John’s organ consists of more than 4,000 pipes.

SCN/Finnegan

Sacred pipes

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
2/28/2019


SAYVILLE—This Friday, March 1, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church will host a concert performed by renowned organist Mark Pacoe. The event is also being held to dedicate the long-anticipated arrival of the church’s new Peragallo Pipe Organ.

St. John’s music director Cindy Holden said it is a thrill to have the organ in the sanctuary of the church, which has been a part of the community since 1897.

“Worship is what we’re about,” said Holden. “[The new organ] is an ideal way to lead a traditional service.”

Holden, a lifelong member of the congregation who has been playing the organ there for the past 17 years, said that the church has undergone many changes over the years. The original organ and most of the interior of the original church was destroyed in a fire back in 1955, save for the pulpit and altar that have resumed their place in the restored sanctuary. After the church was rebuilt in 1957, there wasn’t enough money to replace the organ, and so a smaller electronic organ was used. “Our electronic organ was starting to have problems, though,” said Holden. And so she led the search for a new one to replace it. 

One possibility was an organ being sold by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Central Park West. “We looked at it and it was too high – just wouldn’t fit the space,” she said. Not even in the new space, as the church was going through the plans to renovate and expand. Another purchase possibility was one in Canada. “We went down many paths,” Holden added.

And then while perusing The American Organist publication, Holden came across an organ that was being sold by the closed Upsala College in New Jersey. “We made them an offer of $10,000 and they accepted,” she said.

The purchase was for the organ pipes, more than 4,000 of them, ranging in size from around seven inches to 16 feet. There are three keyboards.

After the purchase, the pipes were all stored while a wood structure for them was built to incorporate the church’s new space. That work was mostly completed in September 2018 and church services, which had been held for a time in the adjacent gymnasium, resumed in the sanctuary. 

Pacoe, an award-winning musician, is currently the director of music for St. John Nepomucene and St. Francis Xavier Cabrini on the East Side and Roosevelt Island in Manhattan. He has performed all over the world and recently traveled to Sayville to practice on the new organ. He said he’s looking forward to the concert, his first in Suffolk County.

“I think it’s a great instrument for the parish, and a great asset to the community,” the musician said in a telephone interview. “It has an acoustic warmth to it.”

Pacoe said he’d perform “a wide variety of sounds. I’ve planned a diverse repertoire from the early 1600s to modern day.”

Among the selections will be a jazz arrangement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” sonata, contemporary composer Hans-Andre Stamm’s “Rhapsodia Latina” and a Bach trio, among other pieces.

Holden, though, will be taking a seat in the audience this time for a different perspective, listening to the beautiful sounds she has come to love and appreciate from the incredible instrument. “This is a dream come true,” she said.

Tickets for the concert, which will begin at 7:30 p.m., can be purchased at the door.

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is located at 48 Greene Avenue. For more information go to www.stjohnsayville.org or call 631-589-3220.