About Our Organ:
In his memoir, “The Substance of Things Hoped For,” Rev. Samuel DeWitt Proctor details the story of a congregation in Harlem that chose to invest in an organ for their church, an instrument that would allow its congregants to worship and “copy the great sounds of nature – the rolling thunder, the wind whistling through the trees, and the thrush singing a love song. The music cleanses their spirits, drives out ugly thoughts, puts wings on their prayers and wafts them heavenward. Oh, yes! The organ works for them! They can go out of here and find a job, do it well, get paid, and eat on time. They are not hungry. They have an organ in their lives!”
Pipe Organs, referred to as the King of Instruments, have always been amazing machines, individually crafted, and complexed instruments. But the organ at First United Methodist Church, Lake Charles, has a contemporary personality to complement its original glorious sound.
The building and installation of this pipe organ, Opus 634, built by Schantz Organ Company, began in 1963, and was completed in 1964 for the grand total of $52,047.00. Current replacement value is approximately $1.1 Million! It has 39 ranks (sets) of pipes, housed in three pipe chambers which are in two decks behind the grill cloth at the back of the choir loft. There is a pipe for every pitch (key) on the organ for each rank of pipe – the bigger the pipe, the lower the pitch and the smaller the pipe, the higher the pitch. Each rank of pipes has its own unique sound, according to different materials used, size, scaling, and octave pitch. So we have the softest flute or string sounds to bombastic reeds (trumpet sounds), with the basic organ sounds of Diapason pipes to provide strength for hymn singing.
The 2,294 individual pipes on this particular type of Pipe Organ, is controlled by the organ console, which has 3 keyboards, called “manuals” and a pedal keyboard, played by the feet (unique to organs). There is a complex system of wiring, pneumatic (air) valves, electrical, and solid-state switches in the form of “stops” (draw knobs - which also start the sound), couplers and keys at the console.
In 2015, the computer “brains” of this organ, was replaced by a Peterson ICS4000 specialized system that allows multiple organists to control settings; allows recording and actual playback of the instrument; and has MIDI capabilities which means a digital keyboard can be connected to it, allowing synthesized sounds to be played from the pipe organ and can be played through an amplifier and large speakers installed in the organ chambers in 1992.
Each rank of pipes sits on a wooden “wind-chest”, where air is blown into by 2 large blowers, one on the main floor and one in an upper chamber, through very large tubes and the air pressure is regulated by large bellows.
Obviously, the Pipe Organ requires regular maintenance, at least twice a year, by specialized technicians. The organ at FUMC, Lake Charles is maintained by Rive Pipe Organ in Metairie.
For more information or to receive a private tour of the Pipe Organ, Contact the organist, Marlene Mullenix.
Pictured Above Is Our Organist Marlene Mullenix
About Our Organist:
Marlene Mullenix is a native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she studied piano, theory,
voice, and organ. She earned her Associate Diploma (A.T.C.L.) in Piano Performance, from the
Trinity College of Music, London, England in 1977 followed by the Piano Associate Diploma
(A.R.C.T.) in Piano Pedagogy, from the Royal Conservatory of Music, University of Toronto. In
1982 she also received the Licentiate Diploma (L.T.C.L.) in piano from Trinity College. A
Master of Music Degree in Organ Performance from Rice University in Houston came next in
Marlene has held organist positions in Calgary, Toronto, (Canada), Denmark and Houston.
In 1989 she became full-time Director of Music & Organist at First United Methodist Church for
6 years. From 1995 – 2002 she was organist at the Cathedral, accompanying the Cathedral
Chorale on a tour in 1998, to Rome, Italy for a Papal Mass on Christ the King Sunday, as well as
performing other concerts and Masses in Rome and the area.
Mrs. Mullenix has also been organist at First Presbyterian Church, Lake Charles, (1997-2005),
Immaculate Conception Church and The Church of Our Lady LaSallette in Sulphur, and most
recently returned to First United Methodist Church as organist from 2010 until following David
to Saudi Arabia in 2016. At the end of 2017 Marlene came back to the US to return to the
Cathedral as principal organist, spending half of 2018 in the US and the other half in Saudi.
Once again, Marlene returned to First United Methodist Church in August 2019, still carrying on
duties at the Cathedral.
Marlene also teaches piano & organ lessons privately and is a Certified teacher for the Royal
Conservatory of Music, Canada, in the US. She enjoys playing the harp and flute for fun. She is
married to David Mullenix.