First Presbyterian Church, Bakersfield
First Presbyterian Church has been active in Bakersfield for more than 120 years! The first organ “was assembled in 1958 from two theatre organs, an old church organ and a large used Moller console.” In 1984 this organ was replaced by a 3-manual 44-rank Austin pipe organ..In 2007, the church formed a core committee to investigate the possibility of updating the 1984 Austin. After an extensive investigation the committee recommended, and it was approved, to “modernize” the 1984 Austin pipe organ with a new Rodgers 4-manual console. On May 23, 2007 a contract was signed with Robert Tall & Associates, Inc., San Dimas, California, Southern California representatives for Rodgers Organs..
All but one of the original Austin pipe ranks is used in this new pipe/digital combination instrument. The 43 Austin ranks are augmented by 180 digital ranks bringing the instrument to total of 223 ranks! These sounds or voices, as they are called, are spread over 4-manuals in seven divisions: Great, Swell, Choir, Solo, Antiphonal, Trumpeteria and Pedal. The Antiphonal and Trumpeteria divisions sound from the rear balcony of the sanctuary. The remaining digital divisions play in their respective pipe chambers in the front of the church. There are 16 separate speaker systems powered by five amplifiers totaling 1,600 watts of power. A state-of-the-art digital pipe interface permits the pipes to “talk” to the electronics. The console is in Colonial Finish to match the décor of the church interior.
David Demers, Director of Technical Services, Robert Tall & Associates, Inc. and his crew of experts completed the installation of the new console and electronics in January 2009. Jerry McCoy, a member of the church, completed the wiring from the pipes to the pipe-driver boards and digital interface. Dan Miller, Rodgers Product Manager and Robert Tall accomplished tonal finishing of the electronics. Dr. Tall was honored to play the Organ Dedication Recital to a capacity crowd on March 17, 2009.
Robert Petker, former Minister of Music, served as Organ Committee Chairman with members, Dr. Robert Provencio, Minister of Music, Meg Wise, Organist and Barbara Petker. Dr. Phil Dodson, prominent area musician, served as Consultant to the Committee. Dr. Jeff Chandler is the church’s Senior Pastor.