In early 2014 when discussions commenced about the possibility of a large new mechanical action pipe organ in the yet-to-be-built Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, C. B. Fisk was presented with a thoroughly unique set of challenges and opportunities. Firstly, this would be the first Fisk Opus to be placed in a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Secondly, the Cathedral building was to be on a vast scale; it would be in cruciform plan, would be over 80' in height (160' to the top of the dome over the crossing), approaching 350' in length, and would have a seating capacity of 2,000. The chosen architect was James O’Brien of O'Brien & Keane Architecture in Arlington, Virginia, the acoustical consultant, Dana Kirkegaard of Kirkegaard Acoustic Design LLC, in Downers Grove, Illinois.
By late spring 2014, C. B. Fisk, Inc. was chosen as organ builder and a Letter of Intent was signed in June. We were then free to exchange ideas with the Cathedral musicians and the Organ Committee to further refine the stoplist, and to engage with Jim O’Brien and Dana Kirkegaard to formulate the building design parameters related to the organ, the choir, and to all music-making in the new space. By March 2015, a full-fledged contract for a three-manual 61-stop instrument was signed.
The organ and choir will be placed in a large multi-level West End gallery, both thus speaking without obstruction down the main axis of the lengthy nave. The organ’s tonal design, developed with the requirements of the Roman Catholic liturgies in mind, is largely, but not exclusively, influenced by the English Romantic organs, in particular those built by Willis during the second half of the 19th century. Both the Choir and Swell divisions are under expression. The console is detached.
In the Fisk tradition, the visual design of the new organ is being accomplished in a precise scale model of the building to ensure harmony with the Cathedral interior. The position of the organ in the gallery, the minstrel gallery surrounds to ensure projection of the choir’s voices, the system of choir risers, and the arrangement of divisions within the organ case are all direct results of the collaborative design process we have enjoyed with Messrs. O’Brien and Kirkegaard.
A Cathedral ground-breaking ceremony took place in January 2015. A fall 2017 organ installation is planned.