Here’s a video about Ken Kavanaugh. The organists, especially the ones called “performers” and “artists,” get most of the public’s attention. Rarely does anyone call attention to a technical person except at the dedication. I have had some exposure to the technical side of the organ, the best and the worst of building (garden hose), repair (duct tape), and rebuilding (new console specified because of profit). I helped in the rebuilding of an Aeolian-Skinner decades ago, and have admired the profession and the many skills required ever since. If you know the difference in chests and actions, then you know a little; if you know the difference between an Aeolian-Skinner magnet and an Austin magnet and why and when each should replaced, then you are on your way to understanding a little of these unsung workers do.
Kenneth B. Kavanaugh has been the serviceman for the Missouri United Methodist Church’s pipe organ since 1968. Kavanaugh learned the trade form assisting his father. He has been repairing and maintaining pipe organs for almost fifty years. “The organs themselves get to be your friends after a while,” Kavanaugh says. ” You know them upside down and backwards, just like you know your good friends. And who walks out on their good friends?”
There is generous article at The Missourian’s website, but it is behind a paywall. If you are reading the blog near April 2014, then Google’s cache will show you the text. Below the link is a sample.
If the pipe organ that needed looking after was in St. Louis or southern Illinois, Ken Kavanaugh would grab one set of keys. If the job was in the opposite direction or close to home in Columbia, he’d grab the other. There were days when he’d have to take both.
Over the years, some churches closed, some jobs dried up, and some keys stopped getting turned. Nowadays, east and west fit mostly on the same ring. The pipe organ business changes, like anything else. Kavanaugh was never in it to get rich, though. George B. Kavanaugh Pipe Organs and Belfry Service, the company his father built and which he eventually took over, has always been a family operation, and Ken Kavanaugh likes it that way.