Opus 54: A Documentary Film

Four years ago, Caleb Bassett and I set out to make a documentary about the organ in the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary chapel in Mequon, WI. This was to fulfill the requirements of our senior church history project by recording the historical and immediate impact of this grand instrument in the context of Lutheranism in America. But what started as a rudimentary chronicle of the planning and construction of the organ, quickly became something much more.

It was quite apparent after studying the organ, playing it, and listening to the heartfelt interviews with those directly tied to its history, that this project would transcend our course requirements and perhaps our initial expectations. For me personally, I have grown to appreciate organs and their role in worship considerably. Walking inside (yes, inside) the organ made me value the sheer engineering skill it takes to make a mechanical organ of this scale. Listening to the performances of expert musicians left me in awe at the colors of sound such an instrument could produce. Their expertise and words of praise for the organ created in me an ambition to encourage the best in worship, especially within my own congregation. Hearing from the various people who planned and made the organ gave me the knowledge I might someday need when my church considers purchasing a pipe organ. My hope for those who watch this movie, is that they experience and embrace all these things that I still carry with me today.

I'm always delighted and humbled when pastors and committee members tell me how beneficial this documentary and website has been in their preparations and planning for a new organ. Through the story of Opus 54, you will be well-equipped with the knowledge to tackle an organ-building project of your own, as well as a zeal to encourage the arts in worship. Opus 54 is made for pastors, teachers, musicians, organ committee members, and all those who wish to learn more about organs and their blessing to the church.

Please help support Caleb and me by going to our website below and browsing the wealth of information found there. You will find various documents, short films, photos, and audio and video of performances on the organ. The DVD is currently on sale for only $8 (US) on Amazon. We'd love to hear what you think of the film. It was an incredible journey that resulted in something that we are incredibly proud of. 

Ian Welch