Church: Medford Immanuel Lutheran (Opus 65 Organ - 2018)

Transcriber: Robert Lipprandt 

Surnames: Hirschmann, Tesch

----Source: The Star News (Medford, WI) 9/27/2018

Over the centuries, people have come up with countless ways to make music to help celebrate and venerate the glory of God. Religious music has been written for bells, pianos, trumpets, violins, drums and even electric guitars. Perhaps the most iconic musical instrument for religious must is the pipe organ.

At its most basic level, a pipe organ is a large box filled with whistles. However in the case of organs, these whistles may measure more than a dozen feet long and a typical organ may contain hundreds of them. Pipe organs are wind instruments with the performer using multiple keyboards, foot pedals, stops and a great deal of talent to control the pitch and tone. There is something mesmerizing about watching a virtuoso play a pipe organ. Depending upon the complexity of the piece, the performer get his whole body involved pulling and pushing with hands and feet, a blur of action.

On Sunday morning, organist Craig Hirschmann was at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Medford to help the congregation celebrate the 25th anniversary of the installation of the Martin Ott Pipe Organ that dominates the choir loft at the church.

Immanuel Lutheran Church’s organ has 1,005 individual pipes with 17.5 stops in 20 ranks and was built in the German tradition. To an organist, those numbers and terms have a lot of meaning and are necessary in knowing how to play effectively. The organ was built for Immanuel by the Martin Ott Company, based in St. Louis, Missouri.

The company refers to Immanuel’s organ as “Opus 65.” Its first public performance was not at Immanuel Lutheran Church, but rather at a national convention. In 1993, St. Louis hosted the “National Pastorals Musician Convention” a religious musicians’ confederation. The shop construction of this instrument was finished just in time to exhibit the instrument in the foyer of the conventions headquartered at the St. Louis Cervantes Convention Center. Various organists performed at noontime on the instrument.

The company brags about having assembled the organ and having it ready to play within 48 hours. Considering the complexity of a pipe organ, this is no simple task. The organ was then disassembled and moved to Immanuel in Medford and installed in the choir loft becoming a dominating element in the rear of the A-frame style ceiling in the church sanctuary.

According to the company, “the Schwellwerk division is above the key desk and the Hauptwerk and Pedal divisions are house in the upper organ case. The Pedal and Hauptwerk divisions have a common C. and C sharp wind chests. The casework is made of red oak and the manual key action is suspended.

Those technical details, faded into obscurity on Sunday morning as Hirschmann’s hand flew over the keys in a blur of dexterity and skill. Hearing Hirschmann play was a special treat for Dean Tesch of Medford, one of the church’s organist and a driving force behind the celebration of the organ’s 25th anniversary in Medford. Tesch notes that they were college classmates at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota.

Hirschmann is a 1984 graduate of Martin Luther College and has served in congregations in Appleton and Milwaukee. He holds a master degree in church music from Concordia University, and has studied organ with some of the best contemporary organist in the county. He currently teaches music education at Martin Luther College.

Check out the Star News website at  for a selection of music from Sunday’s concert as well as links to a series of videos prepared by Immanuel Lutheran Church giving more details about the history and construction of the organ.  



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