At Knox Presbyterian Church we take pride in our dynamic music ministry. Music adds extra depth to worship, enabling us to raise our hearts when words fail. We practice and present a variety of musical styles, aspiring to engage the congregation fully. We are always looking for fresh ways to involve new members.
Knox’s tradition of musical excellence has maintained a well-trained and highly-motivated choir. We have continued to build our program with the addition of choral scholars. We are proud that our scholars often become fully engaged in the church community. We sing on most Sundays from September to June… hymns, psalms, anthems, introits and occasional responses. We love old chant and Renaissance composers as much as spirituals and new music. (A CD of music composed especially for us is available from the Knox Office.)
We are always looking to involve new members of all voice types. Because we prepare a lot of music, it is an asset to read music, but not strictly necessary. Although we strive to be the best we can, we enjoy the process, with lots of light-hearted humour and playful productivity in our practices.
From time to time we take a more contemporary/popular/folksy approach to Sunday morning music, usually with guitar, piano, percussion and a few singers. This enables us to explore other styles and genres of praise and devotional music.
The enhancement of the organ has enabled us to enjoy a wider range of repertoire than before, from Bach to Messiaen, via Widor and Stanford. Since establishing the organ scholar program in 2013 we have had two successive and successful organ scholars – Graham Fast and Winnifred Hume – and are currently looking for a third. Organ music before and after the service occasionally gives way to piano, classical guitar, harpsichord or other instrumental music.
Variety and Special events:
Young singers and instrumentalists from the church school sometimes join the choir to sing in the Christmas Pageant or to play Dixieland jazz arrangements during Mardi Gras. On other occasions we have assembled a wonderful string orchestra of church members and friends. We also love to collaborate with visiting musical groups… like Corps Bara Dance, the Mount Royal Chamber Flutes, One Voice and Les Voix des Rocheuses. We also worked with Malcolm Lim to present a drum service in which we all “drummed for justice.”
We are blessed with many beautiful voices, both within the choir and from friends and special guests. Resident string players, Subin Choi (violin) and Liz Tremblay (cello) also treat us regularly with their wonderful talent and stirring selections.
The Knox Organ
The pipe organ in the Knox sanctuary is a marriage of two original Casavant instruments.
Opus 1794 was built in 1945 for Highlands United Church, Edmonton. Organ historian Stuart Kennedy told us that because of wartime regulations, Casavant had to smuggle zinc across the border for their pipes! It was a 5-rank unified organ with two manuals and pedals. When Highlands replaced it with something larger, it was installed in the Mount Royal College library. Adrian Koppejan installed it in the Knox sanctuary in 1987, and added a 2-rank mixture a year later.
Opus 313 was built in 1908 for Wesley Methodist Church, Winnipeg. It was bought in 1919 by the First Church of Christ, Scientist, and rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1955.
We bought it in 2004 when their church was sold for condos! It was dismantled by a dedicated team, driven across the prairies in a U-Haul van, and stored in the Rosses’ garage. Then followed a long period of dormancy, spent in fund-raising. (The Dulciana was installed in 2007.)
The best of the two organs were finally brought together in a giant work-bee during the summer of 2009. This transformation owed much to the huge generosity and vision of Steve Miller and Hart Godden, and to generous donations of time, talent, and funds from Knox congregation and friends. We now have a 24-rank organ with solid state memory system.
We held an inaugural recital on April 29, 2012, featuring organists Timothy Pyper, Colin Redekop, Chellan Hoffman and Jim Picken.
Specifications are as follows:
Casavant Op 313 (1908)/1794 (1945)
2 manuals, 24 ranks
Reinstalled and enlarged with some refurbishment by Stephen Miller and Hart Godden, 2012
8 Flûte à cheminée
2 2/3 Nazard
1 3/5 Tierce
8 Trompette harmonique
Swell /Great 8
8 Viole de Gambe
8 Voix Céleste
4 Flûte ouverte
2 Plein Jeu II
32 Basse acoustique
16 Contre Gambe
16 Bourdon (Sw)
8 Salicional (Gt)
8 Flûte à cheminée (Gt)
4 Viole (Gt)
4 Flûte (Gt)
16 Basson (prepared)
Swell /Pedal 4