M.P. Rathke Op. 12 was recently featured on the cover of The Diapason magazine’s November 2022 issue. I contributed a couple of paragraphs for Michael Rathke’s fine article.
[Carvings were designed and executed by noted Boston-area sculptor Morgan Faulds Pike, who wrote the following in preparation for the organ’s dedication:]
The carved white oak panels—above the console, above the swell shades, and in the attic pedal case—represent flora and fauna which symbolically resonate with the church interior, the city of Carthage, and, most endearingly, Father Steven Wilson’s specific requests for a carefully camouflaged “sparrow and her nest” (Psalm 84:3) and “somewhere, a little mouse.” Our design process was a stimulating collaboration from which Father Steve’s wishes and my design drawings produced something more like a working friendship than a design challenge.
The Alpha and Omega shades on the Attic Pedal directly relate to other A & Ω carvings in the room. The maple and oak leaf designs are representative of Carthage, Missouri (“The Maple Leaf City”) and the organ’s quartered oak casework, respectively. Above the console two panels, one depicting a Marian rose, the other the ancient Holly and Ivy of pre-Christian ritual, echo motifs that appear in more simplified forms elsewhere in the church. The designs evolved in keeping with Father Steve’s desire for the case to have everything to do with the church interior and the greater community; I must say here that they also reflect his own remarkable and unselfconscious aura of holiness. He wished the sparrow and her nest to be discreetly perched within one of the swell façade shades, to be discovered only after some study. We based the sparrow on a North American song sparrow that was nesting at the time in a bush beneath Father Steve’s window. Her beautiful song might just allude to the choir singing beneath her perch above the swell louvres. The mouse, “a creature of great personal valor,” is a cheeky surprise, clinging to the lower frame of an otherwise-smooth front pipe shade.