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Cornell Baroque Organ

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Burning the rack to seal pipe from moisture

Sustainable Wood

Most of the organ’s wood is quarter-sawn domestic white oak, from the Ohio River Valley. But Chris Lowe, case builder, couldn’t find quarter sawn white oak domestically that was long enough for the 18-foot long pedal tower frames or for the main big timbers by the keyboard. He finally found the right oak from a forest in Germany that has been sustainably harvested for 300 years.

The big timbers for the balcony frame and the bellows frame are recycled timbers from old mill buildings.

Researchers looked around the globe for the perfect color to stain the organ’s wooden surfaces—and found it not ten miles away in Trumansburg, New York. Caput mortem, a red pigment in linseed oil, is an all-natural stain that matches precisely the color of the balcony wood.

But after it was applied, Munetaka Yokota, organ designer, felt the wood of the case had become too dry. So Chris Lowe, builder of the case, put a layer of wax over the entire surface of the organ. By hand, of course.