The Murdy Family Organ Arrives

Author: Matt Haines

     If you haven’t seen it, get yourself over to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart!  There you will encounter the spectacularly beautiful Wayne and Diana Murdy Family Organ, built by Paul Fritts of Tacoma, WA. You should also enjoy the wonderful time capsule of the assembly of this great instrument prepared by photographer Barbara Johnston. It is aesthetically pleasing to see the ways the design of the capitals in the church architecture are reflected in the organ case, making the new instrument part of the whole. It looks as if it had always been there, and so what was a fairly dark and cramped organ loft, now radiates light and spiritual power. 

     What will matter even more over the years of services and celebrations that the 70-stop, 5,164-pipe organ will sustain will be its sound. Its sound will to be put in final form as the pipes are tuned and voiced in the late fall and early winter.  Some commentators have written about the organ as a replica of the City of God, with each pipe a singing, sounding voice.  Think about not only each pipe, but each worshipper who will join with this sound in praise over many centuries of time.  Rector Rev. Peter Rocca has said,

“Wayne and Diana Murdy and their wonderful family have an extraordinary love for the University of Notre Dame and, in a particular way, for the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the mother church of the Congregation of Holy Cross in North America. Their outstanding gift of the Murdy Family Organ will serve and inspire countless peoples for generations to come.”  

     Professor Craig Cramer has been able to test drive the Murdy and so to have a sense of the future beauties of its sound: “The new organ is a dream come true.  It has a wonderfully sensitive playing action, the sounds are elegant and eloquent, and the case design is magnificent.  A monument to organ building!”  The Program in Sacred Music is especially grateful to Director of Music at the Basilica Dr. Andrew McShane for his hard work on the project, and over many years of time. Our organ students are lined up, ready hear the call! 

The dedication mass and recital will be on Friday, January 20, 2017 with the mass starting at 5:15pm and a performance by Craig Cramerat at 8:15pm. More information can be found here