A couple of days ago, I met a new organ student at a location I had never been before: the chapel of Hawai‘i Baptist Academy’s elementary school. It turns out the organ was built by Felix Schoenstein, the same builder as the organ at Sacred Hearts Academy. What was amazing was that I was not only totally aware of the building itself, but also the pipe organ—especially since it is located only 5 minutes from where I live—and on the same street no less!
You may remember that when I visited Sacred Hearts Academy chapel a year ago last May, I was stunned to find such a beautiful building in Honolulu, and with a Felix Schoenstein organ. Go back and read my post “Baccalaureate time,” for history of the Schoenstein organ company.
Today it became clear. I found out from my student Elizabeth Wong that the reason that the two organs were by the same builder, and of the same vintage, was that the nuns who founded Sacred Hearts Academy had once owned the buildings which were sold to Hawai’i Baptist Academy.
Here’s a picture of the Hawai’i Baptist Academy chapel. The organ is located in the rear gallery.
Sadly, both Felix Schoenstein organs are in disrepair. At Hawai’i Baptist Academy we found many dead notes in the pedal which will make it difficult to be a satisfactory practice instrument. Also one of the stop tabs was broken and was stuck in the “on” position, resulting in always having the 4′ sound on the Great manual. I understand that it has been years since this organ was used, and no wonder it is in such poor shape.
Andrew Druckenbrod, Post-Gazette Classical Music Critic in Pittsburgh wrote: “The pipe organ may be the most faithful parishioner a church has — never missing a single service. But it’s often taken for granted, and without annual maintenance and costly repairs, many of these grand old instruments [in Pittsburgh] have fallen into disrepair.
Add to the fact that there is a shortage of organists to play these instruments compounds the problem. What a pity!