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Music Organ Business Puts Hype in Pipes

Cornel Zimmer walks around his organ shop and points out the different rooms where stages of constructing an organ are performed. One room consists of organ pipes, some new, some salvaged from old pieces. The pipes are cut to different sizes to achieve a desired sound when they are assembled on the wind chest. The pipes are brought into the assembly room, where they complete the organs. Zimmer’s wife, Anne, said the process of putting the organ pieces together is very delicate. “Now when I go to a concert I notice the different sounds of the organ,” she said. Located on the wall in Zimmer’s office are pictures of members of his family who started the organ business. Organ making is a family tradition, which Zimmer has continued. Cornel Zimmer Organ Builder claims to be one of Denver’s best kept secrets. Clients are located all over the U.S. from as far away as California and New Jersey. Cornel Zimmer Organ Builder has been in Denver since 1995, when it moved from its Huntersville location started in 1992. Zimmer built the shop in Denver and continued on after his father retired. The company is gearing up for Easter, one of its busiest seasons. Zimmer said Christmas is also a busy time of year. The company’s latest project is with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Westfield, N.J. Zimmer hopes to have the project completed by July or August. Once finished, a team of employees travels to the church to reassemble the organ there. “Everything is dismantled and is covered in horse blankets to be transported in a trailer,” said George Zong, a master cabinet maker. “Once we get there everything is spread on the pews,” he said. “It is like a big exploding puzzle.” Depending on the size of the organ, it can sometimes take up to two weeks to put the organ together. Before leaving for the destination, the organ is put together in the shop as well, to make sure everything is ready to go. The average cost of an organ can be from $150,000 to $200,000 depending on the size of the organ. Cost also depends on if the organ sound is made from pipes or reproduced digitally. On average, Cornel Zimmer Organ Builder makes roughly six to eight organs a year. “It can take a year to a year and a half to even put an organ together,” Zimmer said. For more information go to www.zimmerorgans.com.