This tracker organ is now gracing the new mezzanine of St. Luke’s Cathedral, Sault Ste Mare. Photo: Stephen Mallinger
Last month, a Canadian soldier who died in combat far from home received a special tribute. At St. Luke’s Cathedral in Sault Ste Marie, Ont., a new German-built pipe organ was dedicated to the memory of Captain Nichola Goddard, killed in action in 2006 in Afghanistan at age 26.
At the time of her death, the young woman–whose grandparents are parishioners at St. Luke’s–was serving as a forward observation officer with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. She is the first Canadian woman to die in combat since World War II and was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
According to Stephen Mallinger, organist and choirmaster, the new tracker organ, installed as a memorial to Goddard, was built in Hamburg by the renowned firm of Rudolf von Beckerath. “A tracker organ uses mechanical linkages between keys, pedals and the valves that allow air to flow into the pipes of the corresponding notes. There are no electronics,” he says.
He concedes that this type of organ, which was especially “voiced” for the cathedral’s acoustics by a visiting expert from Beckerath’s, does require a slight adjustment in playing technique. “It takes little more finger power and has a heavier action, but the sound is very fluid and very even.”
Mallinger’s first public performance on the new organ, which has pride of place in the cathedral’s new mezzanine, was given on May 20 when he played Dieterich Buxtehude’s “Komm nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist” during Holy Communion. “Two people came up and said it made them cry,” he says.