1709218469 A great Montreal organ on its way to Virginia

A great Montreal organ on its way to Virginia

As we enter Juget-Sinclair on Rue Mill in Montreal, we quickly come across an extraordinary encounter: to our left there is a large organ that is so impressive that it takes up a third of the workshop.

After two years of work, organ builder Juget-Sinclair, a team of craftsmen specializing in the manufacture and maintenance of mechanical organs, began dismantling the instrument piece by piece to deliver it to Virginia, where it would become the soul of the Sacred Heart Cathedral will be from Richmond.

“An organ like this from Quebec is almost unheard of. »

– A quote from Robin Côté, President of Juget-Sinclair

The Opus 55 is the most impressive organ in the Juget Sinclair workshop. Weighing about 15 tons, it is four times larger than a choir organ used in religious ceremonies.

It is used for large ceremonies, high masses, but also weddings and large funerals. All important moments in people's lives, explains Robin Côté, himself an organist.

Robin sits on the bench in front of the organ.

Founded in Montreal in 1994, Juget-Sinclair is the third largest organ builder in Quebec after Casavant Frères and Létourneau, both based in Saint-Hyacinthe.

The new organ, a true work of art that echoes the Neo-Renaissance style of its home, is the second instrument in a series of three presented to the organ builder by the august Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Richmond.

The first instrument, a choir organ, was delivered last year. The work on the third instrument, a small accompanying organ, also known as a chest organ, is already a third complete.

A large organ in a workshop, next to workers. Approximately 96% of Opus 55 pipes were made in Montreal. The remaining 4%, corresponding to the largest pipes, were formed in Europe. Photo: Radio-Canada / Philippe-Antoine Saulnier

Receiving an order for a new grandstand organ like the Opus 55, accompanied by two other instruments, doesn't happen every day.

This order is due to a reputation built over almost 30 years by the duo Denis Juget and Stephen Sinclair, and then all the people who have passed through the workshop, emphasizes Robin Côté.

Because an organ is not the work of a single person, but the work of a team in which everyone has their own knowledge and excels at it, he says.

“The organ is a complete work. […] We are like painters and customers choose us based on our previous paintings without seeing the new one. »

– A quote from Robin Côté, President of Juget-Sinclair

This goes into the equation. He joined the Postman's team 22 years ago and went through all disciplines, from design to harmonization, including piping and carpentry… until he became a shareholder and president of Juget-Sinclair.

Building an organ is not taught in school, at least not in North America. It is a know-how that has been passed on from master to apprentice since ancient times, emphasizes Mr. Côté.

Starting in the 19th century, the Casavant brothers learned from Louis Mitchell, a French Canadian, who learned from Samuel Russell Warren, who was from the United States. And he learned from a postman in England, says Robin Côté. We have knowledge passed down for centuries and I pass it on to others.

The organ is the only instrument that requires knowledge of carpentry, metalworking, mechanics, engineering, blacksmithing and architecture, to name a few. Knowledge of the game is not absolutely necessary, but it helps enormously, he emphasizes.

The sound of the Juget Sinclair organs is truly Montreal, but borrows from German, French and North American traditions.

It creates a unique sound, created by our ears, our taste. This means that the organs of the individual companies do not sound the same, explains Mr. Côté.

Opus 55 in a few notesOpus 55 in a few notes with a duration of 0 min 59 sec (listen to segment)

Listen|0 min 59 sec

And a very local signature is present: the register buttons, also called registers, which allow you to select the sound of the oboe, the trumpet or 65 other instruments, are marked in French.

Because we are Montrealers and Quebecers and we work in French. […] No one has complained about it, even though they like it, he says.

How does a mechanical organ work?

When a button is pressed, a lever is activated that moves a carbon fiber wire attached to brackets, balancers and other levers. These open a valve that lets air into the pipes.

Electricity is only used to operate the organ fan, not for playing. The organ does not require electricity to produce sounds. It is the wind that creates noise, says Robin Côté.