Pipe Organs of Indonesia
G. Verschueren, Tongeren, Belgium
A few streets away from Gereja Immanuel is the modern Istiqlal Mosque, an immense, many-columned white building, said to have been the largest mosque in South-East Asia for many years. Over the road, and dwarfed by, the mosque is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Jakarta. This attractive and well-proportioned building, in a traditional gothic design P. Dijkmans, is quite large in it's own right. The church, and other old churches, feature in a book, Gereja-gereja tua di Jakarta, by A. Heuken SJ and published in Jakarta by Yayasan Cipta Loka Caraka, 2003. The ISBN 979-97229-4-2 will find it for you in a number of libraries in Australia.
Below a massive circular window, there is a choir gallery over the great west door and once there was a pipe organ in this balcony. I was unable to locate information on this organ, of which no sign remains.
However, on it's own elevated platform in the south transept sits an attractive organ by George Verschueren of Tongeren, Belgium, built in 1988. The Verschueren workshop in Belgium was founded by the grandfather of the current proprietor of Verschueren Orgelbouw, Léon F.M. Verschueren III, as a filial company in 1937 under leadership of his second son Emile. In 1951 the Belgian operations became independent. In 1998 it ended its activities by the death of George. Verschueren Orgelbouw is located in the south Netherlands region and has not built organs in Australia or South-East Asia, although an organ built by L Verschueren (Leon II) for a Free Reformed Church in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1961 was relocated to the Free Reformed church in Albany, Western Australia, in 1974. The organ was subsequently enlarged in 1980 and 1993 and now is a two manual 18 stop instrument.
The Cathedral organ was ostensibly to replace the old organ, which has not been in existence for many years. The church also houses a large electronic organ which, located on the main floor opposite the pulpit, seems to be in greater use than the fine pipe organ in the transept above it. Perhaps some of the reason for this is that the pipe organ does not appear to have sufficient power for projection into the very large room it must fill. I played the organ to an almost empty church and felt that it was not of sufficient capacity to handle the acoustic and volume of the place. A short while earlier the church had been full to capacity at a morning mass and the electronic organ had been used on that occasion, so I was not able to judge the effect of the pipe organ under "working" conditions.
These comments aside, the organ is an absolute gem. The key touch is balanced and light under all playing circumstances. Drawstops were arranged on each side of the key desk and wind was activated from a stop on the left side. Manuals are of four octaves and the flat pedal board of two octaves.
The appearance of the organ is pleasantly complimentary to the architecture of the cathedral, although in no way does it attempt to dominate the expansive transept in which it is located. The affect of the building was to make the organ look small, even though the top of the organ case would be 7 meters above the floor of the church. The organ loft railing and organ casework reflect the gothic nature of the cathedral and all timbers are stained to match the existing woodwork of the church. Pipes are presented in flats with a large central tower and two f1anking small towers in the left and right extremities of the case. The quality of woodwork in the case and around the key desk is very high and remarkably attractive.
Specification of the organ is:
Coupler I + II
PO Box 1155
Northam WA 6401
+61 (0)8 9574 0410