St. Pius X congregation inaugurates new pipe organ photo

Organist Francis Kim with the St. Pius X festival choir.

Over the past few years St. Pius X has been undergoing renovations to make the church and surrounding buildings modern and welcoming. The late Rev. John O’Brien started this initiative, and after his passing the Rev. Francisco Sebastian Bacatan took over. So far the church has renovated the worship space, lobby, kitchenette, religious education office, and donation closets have also been renovated.

The last piece needed to bring it all together was a new organ.

Bacatan has been fundraising for years in order to make the dream of a refurbished church a reality. While parishioners have generously given what they can, the final push came from JoAnn Tursone of Hartsdale, who was a singer in the St. Pius X choir. In her will, Tursone left $600,000 for St. Pius X to use toward a new pipe organ.

The St. Pius X Pipe Organ Committee, whose board members include Scarsdale natives Mary Ingriselli and Lucy and Nicholas Brusco, interviewed five pipe organ builders and visited many churches to listen to different pipe organs for more than half a year. In May 2015, the committee chose the firm of Russell & Co. from Chester, Vermont, to build and install the new pipe organ. Costing almost $1 million, the organ has 51 stops controlling 37 sets of pipes, also called ranks, with a total of 2,105 pipes ranging from 16 feet to one quarter of an inch in length.

With the pipe organ finally finished, St. Pius held a concert Sunday, June 2 for parishioners and the wider community to come and hear the new instrument.

“Rarely do churches install a new organ,” David Schmidt, the St. Pius X music director, said, “so it was a really special thing for the community in general.”

In a church packed with people for the pipe organ’s inaugural concert, organist Francis Kim played music and songs by Bach, Bossi, Handel and Ferguson. The songs were accompanied by the St. Pius X Festival Choir, David Schmidt as baritone and Elizabeth Farnum as soprano.

Schmidt and Bacatan said that St. Pius X prides itself on its musical ministry — the music gives prayer and worship new life, which results in a deeper spiritual and communal experience for the congregation. Not only does the church have a pipe organ and cantor, but it also incorporates the St. Pius Choir, the religious education music program and guest musicians. St. Pius also holds a concert series, Concerts@SPX, which has hosted an Evening of Opera, the Harlem Gospel Choir, the Philippine Madrigal Singers and a Night of Broadway.

“I am very happy … we have an excellent music program and this organ will make it an even better program,” said Bacatan. “We also want to contribute more to the music community of Westchester and Scarsdale.”

One of the concert’s closing songs was a new piece for organ and choir based on the motto of Pope Pius X, “Renew all things in Christ,” written especially for the occasion by acclaimed composer John Ferguson, which had its world premiere performance.

“We are excited to have our own piece of music for the church,” said Schmidt.

The new organ and song, as well as the concert, have been well received by the parishioners, he added.

“The concert was magnificent, with a great engaging program that offered a wide range of music styles,” said parishioner Marina Cardillo. “Watching Francis playing was mesmerizing.”

St Pius X is located at 91 Secor Road. Daily masses are Monday through Friday at 8 and 11:30 a.m. Saturday mass is held at 9 a.m. Sunday masses are held at 8, 9:15 and 10:30 a.m., as well as noon. To learn more about St. Pius X, go to saintpiusxchurch.com or call 725-2755.

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