Pöide church finally gets new organ after decades without

The organ at Pöide St. Mary Church (Pöide kirik).
The organ at Pöide St. Mary Church (Pöide kirik). Source: ERR

It is rare to see a new church organ consecrated in Estonia. However, after over three quarters of a century, this is what happened on Sunday in Pöide St. Mary Church (Pöide kirik) in Saaremaa. The church's new ten-stop organ, which had been decommissioned in Finland, was restored by master organ builder Hardo Kriisa.

Kriisa estimates that there are just over 150 organs in Estonia, of which perhaps only a third are in good condition. However, a lot of work had to be done on the newly-consecrated organ in Pöide St. Mary Church, after it was donated by a church in Finland.

"The organ they threw out there really had stopped working. All I took away was the pipe organ and the pipe organ console (the organ's main control center - ed.), from which we only used the case. Everything inside has been rebuilt. In short, the entire organ has been practically newly built. So I also dared to put my name on the organ console," said Kriisa.

According to organist Andres Uibo, Kriisa has employed a few tricks in the creation of the ten-stop organ (An organ stop is a component of a pipe organ that admits pressurized air (known as wind) to a set of organ pipes - ed.), because under the vaults of Pöide St. Mary Church, the acoustics make it seem like the organ has as many as twenty.

"Hardo Kriisa as a master has put it together it very skillfully. In the organ, you can combine things in a way so that there are ten stops, but in reality, for the player or the listener, it feels like there are 20 stops. It's like a bit of a mirage," Uibo explained.

Over the past few decades, the congregation has been restoring the church, which was sacked by the Soviets in 1940.

Since organs are unique instruments and do not come cheap, the small congregation in Saaremaa has spent tens of thousands of euros to rebuild an existing organ, which it received free of charge from Tervakoski Church in Finland. The money was raised with the help of donors, who are now all part-owners of the newly restored organ.

"We gave people the opportunity to donate to the organ's pipes, and to specifically link one particular organ pipe either to their own name or the name of someone they wanted to commemorate. And that was really helpful," said Veiko Vihuri, a pastor in the Pöide congregation.

However, there is still one issue to resolve regarding the congregation's new organ.

"We are also looking for an organist. In fact, life is not easy for small rural congregations. Some congregations have a pastor but don't have an organist. Meanwhile, another congregation has an organist and doesn't have a pastor," said Vihuri.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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