Rob Corso's musical musings.

Liturgical Music at the Cathedral Basilica in Hamilton Ontario, Canada







MARY BURJAW 1939-1968



ROBERT A. CORSO 1976-  [44 Years and still a work in progress]

44 nd  Anniversary as Cathedral Organist:  April 13th, 2020

First Mass played on Tuesday April 13th, 1976



 Info on the Cathedral Basilica organs

Built for the Cathedral Basilica by J. Steinmeyer in 1933 of Oettengen, Bavaria, Germany

Opus 1570, 1933.  The Cathedral organ’s stoplist was drawn up by the organist of Munich cathedral which also had a Steinmeyer organ. The original Steinmeyer console had 3 manuals with rocker type tabs and a non American Guild  of Organists standard pedal board which was flatter in shape.


A four manual console, replacing the original console with a  flat pedal board, North German style, and rocker tablets for stops was installed 1990 by the Denton and Son organ company, Hamilton, Ontario. It was built by the   R.A. Colbey organ company in  Johnson City, Tennesee. The console purchased from the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, was used as their temporary console during their organ’s rebuild in the late 1980’s.

The organs have 86 ranks [sets of pipes] with 4970 pipes, divided between Sanctuary Organ 22 ranks, Gallery Organ 64 ranks.


There are two other Steinmeyer organs in North America.  One is located at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona Pennsylvania which was built in 1931. The other is a small mechanical action organ in Chicago.


The sanctuary organ’s 2 manuals are “floating”.  They are available on all manuals.  The gallery console, with its French Tier stop jambs, is modelled after Eglise St. Jean Baptiste in Montreal near Mount Royal.  I chose this prototype because of its ease in pushing and pulling stops.  There are a few blank drawknobs which could be used for future additions.


Future additions could include a positive “chair” organ to be built behind the organist on the edge of the gallery.  It could include a spindle flute of spotted metal @ 4’ pitch and an Hautbois 8’ in the Casavant French tradition of voicing. An En Chamade Trumpet stop of 16', 8' and 4' would add greatly to the already formidable reeds in the Cathedral Basilica organ.  Our 16' Tuba in the great division, was made by Willis in England.  Willis and Steinmeyer were good friends and both highly regarded each other's work and pipe voicings.

All organists have wish-lists for their organs, no matter how large and comprehensive they are.  In spite of having 86 ranks on the Cathedral organ, I keep dreaming of having a beautiful Chalemeau Clarinet 8' stop.


A Note on the carpets:     Carpets do not have a tradition in gothic and church architecture in general

harboring many molds, mildew and air-borne particles which can be harmful to humans in public places. They destroy the natural acoustic of a building and muffle the song and prayers of the assembly at Mass. Ceramic tiles, marble or any hard surface should be used in the place of rugs. Steps should be taken by pastors, parish councils and renovators to remove all carpets from churches and replace them with a durable, hard surface, easily cleaned and attractive, with acoustically reverberant sound flooring.


Nelson and Janine Denton [Denton & Son organ company of Hamilton] installed the console which included a new Peterson Orgaplex solid state Switching System and a new multiple memory Combination action. The sanctuary organ has 2 manuals but no longer has a playable console.  It was dismantled and sold during the installation of the new gallery console in 1990.


The Denton family have serviced the organ from 1933 until 2013.

Between 1998-2007 , the Denton company has  re leathered 8 bellows. 

Since January 2013, The Cumberland Organ Works of Hamilton Ontario, under the direction of Bruce Cross and David Seeley, have been servicing the organ. They have improved the speech of the 16 foot case pipes in the facade and worked on the electrical system of the console.  They have releathered the swell and choir division bellows. They converted mixture rank pipes away from cone tuning. 

The 14 ranks of mixtures on the great manual is quite revolutionary for a Canadian 1933 organ.  Most organs built during this period in Canada, mainly by Warren, Legg, Mitchell and Casavant had mostly 16’, 8’ and 4’ and 2’ stops. The great manual has an unbelievable brillance and power with its mixtures and full length reed resonators.


To build a replacement for the Cathedral Basilica Organs today would probably cost over 3.5 million dollars, depending on the organ firm. Within the last decade, we have replaced the leathering on the pedal, and two great manual bellows.  Work totalling $17,000 was completed in the winter, replacing the leathering on the choir and swell bellows.  In 2011, the leathers for the operation of the two tremulants were replaced.  Janine and Nelson Denton  also rebuilt the pedal board  for $3,700 which was worn down due to the ample use the organ undergoes each weeks.  A new digital transposer was installed in the summer of 2011 on the organ. Future work projected should include a Clarinet solo stop for the choir manual.

A new Casavant console was installed in April 2016 as a four manual French terraced console with cow bone white keys and ebony sharps and flats. This was done under the supervision of Robert Hiller, president of Alan T Jackson Limited in Toronto working for Casavant. The prototypes for this console can be found in St. Jean Baptiste and Eglise Tres Saint Nom de Jesus,  both in Montreal.

The two manual Sanctuary Console, has been restored and renovated in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec by the Casavant firm.  The Bourdon 16' in the sanctuary was sent to the Casavant factory at that time where the tonal director greatly improved the volume and speech of those wooden pipes.  The console is capable of playing both the Sanctuary and Gallery organs and is placed on a moveable platform.  All the memory and pistons and crescendo programs, are playable from the Sanctuary Console except for the 250 stage sequencer.




Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King (Catholic) Steinmeyer & Company, Oettingen, Bavaria, Op. 1570, 1933/1990 [IV/84-86] 2016

All reeds, except Rankett 16’ in the swell and Krumhorn 8’ in the choir, have full length resonators
Console built in 2016 by Casavant Freres.  Ste. Hyacinthe Quebec.  4 manuals [cow bone and ebony keyboards] with French terrace stop jambs

AGO 32 note pedal board

12 generals x 100 levels of memory x 100 organist's banks

tablet with transposer, midi file recorder, 250 bank sequencer

12 general pistons with 250 levels of memory available



Diapason 16 [61 large scale zinc pipes in case] [montre= show pipes]

Diapason 8  [61 pipes]
Violoncello 8  [61 spotted metal pipes]
Gemshorn 8  [ 61 pipes ]   common metal
Gedeckt 8  [61 pipes] [1-12 wood, remainder common metal]
Octave 4 [61 pipes] spotted metal and common metal
Rohrfloete 4 [61 pipes spotted metal]
Quint 2 2/3 [61 pipes]
Super Octave 2 [61 pipes] high tin content
Cornet V [274 pipes]
Mixture V [287 pipes]
Scharf IV [244 pipes]
Tuba 16 [61 full length pipes]  [Willis built in England]
Trumpet 8 [61 full length pipes]
Clarion 4 [61 full length pipes]
Great Sub
Unison Off

Great Super
Choir/Great Transfer

Rohrgedeckt 16 wood [73 pipes]
Diapason 8 [73 pipes]
Viole 8 [73 pipes]
Viole Celeste 8 [50 pipes]
Tibia Clause 8 [73 wood pipes]
Octave 4 [73 pipes]
Salicet 4 [73 spotted metal pipes]
Twelfth 2 2/3 [61 pipes]
Nachthorn 2 [61 pipes]
Tierce 1 3/5 [61 pipes]
Plein Jeu V [305 pipes]
Cimbel III [183 pipes]
Rankett 16 [73 ¼ length pipes]
Trumpet Harmonic 8 [73 pipes]
Swell Sub
Unison Off
Swell Super

Violfloete 8 [73 spotted metal pipes]
Undamaris 8 [61 pipes]
Copper gedeckt 8 [ 73 copper pipes]
Geigenprincipal 4 [73 pipes]
Blockfloete 4 [73 pipes]
Nazard 2 2/3 [73 pipes]
Siffloete 1 [61 pipes]
Larigot II [122 pipes]
Krummhorn 8 [61 ¼ length pipes, copper resonators, zinc boots]
Choir Sub
Unison Off
Choir Super

Antiphonal (floating)
Salicional 8 [61 pipes]
Quintade 8 [61 pipes]
Prestant 4 [61 pipes]
Twelfth 2 2/3 [61 pipes]
Schwiegel 2 [61 pipes]
Cimbel III [183 pipes]
Chimes [24 tubular bells]
Cimbelstern wheel bells

Echo (floating)
Geigen Principal 8 [61 pipes]
Dulzfloete 8 [61 pipes]
Nachthorn 8 [61 pipes]
Rohrfloete 4 [61 pipes]
Octave 2 [61 pipes]
Sesquialtera II [122 pipes]

Gallery Pedal
Diapason 16 in case 32 large scale zinc  pipes [montre=show pipes]

Diapason 16 II  32 large scale zinc pipes borrowed from Great

Violone 16 zinc 32 pipes
Bourdon 16 wood 32 pipes
Gedeckt 16 (swell) wood
Quintbass 10 2/3 wood 32 pipes
Octave 8 (swell)
Gedeckt 8 (swell, wood)
Choralbass 4 spotted metal 32 pipes
Bachfloete 2 32 pipes
Mixture IV  128 pipes
Posaune 16 32 pipes full length resonators
Rankett 16 (swell)
Trumpet 8 (swell)

Antiphonal Pedal
Diapason 16 32 large scale zinc pipes
Bourdon 16 wood 32 pipes
Diapason 8  [from echo division]
Rohrfloete 4 [from echo division]
Pedal Super

Full inter-manual couplers
Solid state multi-memory combination action
Swell, Choir, Echo, and Master Swell pedals
Cresecendo pedal 

Couplers for Cathedral Basilica Steinmeyer organ 1933 Hamilton Ontario

4,937 pipes

Sanctuary Organ

Gt to Ped 8           

Gt to Ped 4

Sw to Ped 8

Sw to Ped 4

Sw to Gt 8

Sw to Gt 4

Sw 16, 8, 4

Gt 8, 4


Gallery Organ

Gt to Ped 8

Gt. to Ped 4

Sw to Ped 8

Sw to Ped 4

Ch to Ped 8

Ch to Ped 4

Pedal Super

Sw to Gt 16, 8, 4

Ch to Gt 16, 8, 4

Sw to Ch 16, 8, 4

Ch to Sw 16, 8, 4

Gt to Ch transfer

Gt 16, unison off, 4

Sw 16, unison off, 4

Ch 16, unison off, 4

Echo on Aux. 8, 4 [top manual]

Ant. on Aux. 8, 4 [top manual]

Echo on Sw 8, 4

Ant. on Gt 8, 4