PipeChat Digest #4680 - Saturday, August 7, 2004
Re: "experienced" pipe organs
  by <RMB10@aol.com>
OHS 2004 Buffalo - 3rd Full Day - 7-17-04
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Re: "experienced" pipe organs
  by "jch" <opus1100@catoe.org>

(back) Subject: Re: "experienced" pipe organs From: <RMB10@aol.com> Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2004 07:44:43 EDT   >> There are one-manual tracker pipe organs on Organ Clearing House (and >> elsewhere ... I know of an orphan one in Northern California) that = will >> serve the AVERAGE church and the AVERAGE organist WELL for the better >> part of a hundred years without major repairs, once they're restored. >> >> There is virtually NEVER a reason to settle for an electronic >> substitute, other than ORGANISTS. >>   >Yes, this is true in theory. However, the key point is "once they're >restored". Most "average" community churches simply cannot afford to = pay >the mega $$$ involved in the purchase and restoration of an = "experienced" >organ. That is why many are opting for state of the art digitals with a >dispostion that will meet the needs of the church. Sorry, but a 1 = manual >organ with a few stops isn't likely to meet the needs of the "average" >church. Not even remotely. And News Flash: most church organists are >rarely involved in the choice of an organ. In most cases, it's the = Vestry, >Parrish Board, Organ Committee and/or Consultants that have a hand in = the >decision regarding the purchase of an organ ... pipe or digital. At = least >that has been my (organist) experience over the past 40 years or so. = You >get what "they" give you, and you're expected NOT to complain about it! ><grin> Give me the choice, there'd be a shining new Ruffatti over ANY >digital, any place, any time! Real life can be so unfair .... I could have gotten an "experienced" organ for our new church building, = but the mindset of our church was that they wanted everything "brand spankin' = new" for the new building. They didn't want a used instrument. We could = have saved a few dollars, but by the time we spent either having new chests = built or having existing chests releathered and rebuilt, we would have spent a = lot of money. And who is to say that the organ would have been scaled to = properly fit our new room. We would have probably had to rework the original spec = to work into our needs. I would have loved the Emmanuel Church organ, but = we didn't have enough room in the rear gallery to fit the antiphonal = divisions. I would have had to have more organ up front, but then I would have run = into a lot of duplication of stops up front. Having a new console built would =   have run at least $100,000, on top of the cost of buying the organ, = packing, shipping, rebuilding, installing, tonal work, etc. In the long run, = would WE have come out much cheaper? It's hard to say. At least I have a pastor who said "we will not have an electronic organ in = the new church, nor will we have a praise band leading worship. The only suitable instrument in a church is the pipe organ." Hey, who can argue = with that! Of course, we augment our service with other instruments, but his = philosphy is the pipe organ is the foundation, everything else is icing on the = cake. Monty Bennett Friendship Baptist Church Charlotte, NC (waiting on our shiny new Ruffatti)  
(back) Subject: OHS 2004 Buffalo - 3rd Full Day - 7-17-04 From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2004 08:57:19 -0400   This was the Saturday that was - a day that generated more mail than any convention day in living memory, and even spawned a subject heading that just would not go away! Over and over, it came up in e-mails for days, but = I won't spoil the whole thing by telling you yet what that heading was, if = you don't already know. I will, rather, leave you in suspense as, of course, = at first light on this day, I had no idea where we were heading. So, on to = the day:   At 8 a.m., Charles Kegg delivered a lecture entitled: "Difficulties in = Organ Restoration." The written description goes on to say: "Mr. Kegg will = duscuss the practical matters that arise in restoration projects, with particular reference to the 1934 W. W. Kimball at Church of the Ascension, heard Thursday, presently undergoing restoration by Mr. Kegg and his firm."   *****   Stephen Schnurr, Trinity Episcopal Church, Buffalo Saturday, July 17th, 2004 - 9:30 a.m.   In the morning light which bathed us all in magnificent color, courtesy = of a remarkable collection of twenty magnificent windows, and with an Organ that began its active life during my second year at Oberlin (1954), I was about as mellow as one could possibly be at this time of the morning. = (Anent the windows: 10 by LaFarge, five by Tiffany, 1 by Mayer of Munich, 2 by Hardman of London, and 1 by Willet of Philadelphia.) In the splendid Handbook article about the church and the Organ, possibly written by the recitalist himself, as is much of the material in the book, we read: = "Today, such an Organ as Trinity's is at its lowest cycle of regard - part originality, part reaction to a previous generation's excesses . . . . . part period piece. It is precisely such inventive and risk-taking acts = that demand the best attentions of players and preservationists alike." Whether Stephen wrote those words or not, he certainly gave this instrument his "best attentions."   Who built this thing, you might well say. Buffalo's own Hermann Schlicker, and a great monument to him it may well be. When we arrived in the church, = I (of course) turned around and looked upon what I realized was just the = kind of Organ I Organically grew up with, although most of my early experience was with works of Walter Holtkamp, Sr. This instrument has one not-insignificant difference from the works of Holtkamp. There are two reflecting panels, one each behind the Great and Ruckpositif. These were afterthoughts (added when projection proved insufficient), moving in the direction of what soon became commonplace, although never with Holtkamp, Sr. - the complete encasement of the divisions of the Organ. Almost a trademark with Organs of Walter Holtkamp, Sr. were magnificent displays in gorgeous designs of exposed pipework. He tried, where possible, to site these Organs where above, behind, and to the sides, there were reflecting surfaces. This was not always possible.   So, having had acting upon us wonderful feasts for the eyes: windows, the Organ, and the church itself, we were treated, in the strongest terms, to = a recital which paid total tribute to the Organbuilder and to the composers represented in the program. The program opened with splendid chance to = hear a solid Plenum that fit the building wonderfully, and did no damage to the ear drums, unlike something that lay before us, later on this day. The musical vehicle was the Bach Fantasia on Komm, Heiliger Geist (651), and = in its careful articulation, there was immense excitement and exuberance. I = was enthralled by it.   Here followed a Toccata in D Minor by my friend and yours, DidiBux, beginning with another glorious Plenum, then a consort of Flutes, then perhaps the Ruckpositif with Scharf or the Choir with its three rank Cymbel - very gentle, whatever it was. Then a small Principal Chorus with = a gentle Mixture, with finally the addition of some Reed color.   Balletto del granduca, attr. to Sweelinck. This was so elegant! The = opening used a large Reed chorus, with a most gentle chorus with a sweet 16' Reed = as a foil. We heard many different combinations, well-chosen, all restrained and gentle but clear. The ending allowed itself more power.   This trips off the tongue so nicely: "Concerto del Sigr. Meck, appropriato all'Organo" by Johann Gottfried Walther. I am reminded by the opening Allegro to = commend to you again the clear articulate playing of Mr. Schnurr. The registration of the opening was sturdy and fully satisfying but not overpowering. As I wrote those words, I did not yet know what was in store later in the day, but I was still hurting from the Whiteford Westminster Organ of the day before. Part of my pleasure in this recital was the restraint of the instrument as it fit in its building, but also the use of it by this = player. The second movement (Adagio) used a collection of lovely Flutes, and the Allegro Finale a full and rich registration. A lovely performance of this charming work.   For some reason, I have no recollection of the singing of "Look, O look, = the sight is glorious" to the altogether glorious tune, "Bryn Calfaria," and this is mainly because I took no notes, as I usually do - about the Organ = as accompaniment and the Organist as accompanist. Only coincidentally, our excellent Hymn Supplement erred with this one hymn, leaving off the entire last half, which would have been overleaf. We were, however, in an = Episcopal Church with the 1982 Hymnal - oops - alas, Bryn Calfaria is there but not the text. I guess we had a sheet given us, and I guess it was splendid, I know it was sensitively accompanied, and I hope we sang in lots of = harmony! Someone please tell me something different.   The Wednesday after Convention's end, which will be the 21st, I shall be = at Methuen, along with a gang of POE students from Worcester. The Organist = will be my good Australian friend, Michael Murray, and one of the pieces on the program will be the Bonnet Concert Variations, Opus 1. Talk about a study = in contrasts - today's program ended with the same Bonnet, but on a 1954 Schlicker, not on the great behemoth of an Organ by E. F. Walcker and Aeolian-Skinner! This piece fits all, and today's spectacular performance = of it reminded me so much of hearing it in the old Warner Concert Hall at Oberlin, a Holtkamp Great and Positif super-imposed upon E. M. Skinner = Opus 667 of 1927. I thought at the time, rightly or not, that Holtkamp's Great was really wonderful, and who could resist the Skinner colors of the Choir and Swell, all of it undergirded by one of those Holtkamp 16' Posaunen everyone loved to make fun of. The 1954 Schlicker we are hearing today is not a Holtkamp of that earlier period, but with clarity and a precious = color all its own, and with lots of power, mostly held until near the end, it = made short work of the Bonnet, and brought down the house. It was a great = ending to a great recital.   Stephen Schnurr has the DMA, MMA, and Master of Music degrees from The = Yale School of Music and the Institute of Sacred Music, and a Bachelor's from Duke. He has been active in the OHS for years, and took on the monumental job of chairing the OHS Chicago Convention in 2002, failing only to gain control of the temperatures that week! He is also active in the Chicago = and Mid-West OHS Chapter, one of the most active chapters in the country. This was a wonderful recital, if I have not made that clear!   *******   Will Headlee, St. Louis R. C. Church, Buffalo Saturday, July 17th - 10:50 a.m.   Will lives in Syracuse, so this has perhaps been the convention closest to home for him, at least in recent memory. I always have to think about = this, after seeing him arrive in North Carolina for that fine convention in 2001 on a motor cycle. In terms of Organ and venue, this year he hit pay dirt, and he responded in kind. We all hit that same pay dirt, just being in = this magnificent building. It was built before the turn of the century, = beginning in around 1885. It seats over 2000 people, and has enough acoustic for all of them. The exterior is also wonderful, built of Red Sandstone, in what = is described as "14th Century continental Gothic style." Unusually, I am Organist in a church designed by an excellent local architect, also an Organist. The Organ placement is perfect, and the building is an original, much loved by those of us who worship in it. However, most of North = America worships in buildings derived from the styles of another time and place. Often, this derivation is not so good, but sometimes, as in St. Louis Church, Buffalo, it is beautiful to breathtaking. The Organ is by Kimball, from 1903. It has been altered in various ways over the years, most = notably in 1952 by Tellers. In the 1980s and 1990s, William Kurzdorfer worked at restoration, and at reversing some of the tonal changes made by Tellers. What we heard, enhanced by a glorious acoustic, was pretty impressive, whoever gets the credit.   Will began with two of the three Preludes and Fugues from Opus 7 of Dupre, with the B Major for starters. I have never heard this work in a very = close approximation of the spacious acoustic to be found in a French church or cathedral. Some detail is lost, although, if you know the work, you know what is actually there and self-supply the details. What is heard is glorious, with the shifting harmonies and textures a wonderful wash. Then, there was the F Minor, the second of the three Preludes and Fugues, which = I met for the first time at the hands of Andrew Mills, at St. Agnes Church, New York only a few months ago. It's something completely different from = the rest of its opus, and a lovely thing it is, most comfortable with a sheen = of the acoustic of real church. At St. Agnes, New York, I recall thinking how much the performance benefited from the olfactory delights of the ever-present smell of incense. I don't recall this about St. Louis Church.   The 1963 Air for Organ of Gerre Hancock followed, a fine piece beginning with a beautiful Oboe, and then a build up to this Organ's phenomenal 16' Great Chorus. All tapers away into loveliness.   Will then played the opening choral and three variations (1, 7, and 11) of the "Sei gegruesset" Partita. Had he been taking requests, I would have pleaded for the 10th variation, a glorious choral prelude which moves me powerfully, but I was happy with what I got, and the last variation is = such a magnificent and intricate harmonization of the choral. Nothing in this partita is less than the best of Bach, and it was all the best of Headlee, too.   The Reger Intoduction and Passacaglia in D Minor simply rocked! I think everyone was spellbound by the performance, the music, and the ambiance = that surrounded it.   Anyone who was not under some sort of spell by this time was either a = pillar of salt or just needed one more push. Here it came, in the form of the = hymn "Round the Lord in glory seated cherubim and seraphim . . . " to the wonderful Parry tune "Rustington." Will wound us up with a gorgeous introduction, and off we went, certainly one of the great hymn-singing episodes of this convention. (O Lord, think of what is coming!) Will's accompaniment was uplifting - I was practically levitating - and he gave = us the middle stanza in harmony, and, well, I and several hundred others were clearly at the emotional brink by the time this whole event came to a = close. There were whoops and cheers for a long time, and our short bus ride to = the next venue was full of happy chatter.   *******   James Bigham, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Buffalo Saturday, July 17th, 1:30 p.m. Hymn Festival - to be announced.   This event caused really remarkable reactions even for the days after the end of the convention. The Internet Organ lists were full of postings = using the subject heading coined by some clever soul, "Buffaloud." Well, it was like this. We were handed a sheet as we entered, announcing that this = would be "The Traditional Hymn Sing," and listing 8 hymns from the Lutheran Book of Worship, "the Green Book in the pew racks." There were some simple instructions about what we would sing in unison and what in harmony.   In the U.K., there are workplace regulations about the maximum number of decibels to which workers can be exposed. I believe it is 100, but I am = not certain of that. The Mander Organ in Peachtree Road U.M.C. in Atlanta has = a quite loud Solo Division, complete with Tuba and Trompette en Chamade. The Organists like it that way, thank you, but more for fun than anything = else, John Mander produced a Decibel Meter one day, and found that the Solo Division was NOT in compliance, and I won't say how far out it was.   I frankly think this whole show that was coming at us was non-compliant. I was hurting, and stayed only because I thought I needed to be around to faithfully write about it. Several responses to it all, of great interest, were duly reported via the Intenet. One intrepid soul abandoned ship, heading for a pub he found just across the way. He did not miss a note, = the music only slightly diminished by the intervention of two sets of walls, = and certainly helped along by a glass of nice wine. As the event progressed, = one well-known member of OHS was seen waving a large white flag of surrender. And then, there was an intrepid Englishman of excellent breeding who, = toward the end, simply began shouting BOO quite loudly. What we got for this "Traditional Hymn Sing" was really a very loud, slick and essentially continuous miasma of an accompaniment into which we were to insert the singing of the eight hymns. For me, a lover of hymn singing, there was no pleasure in this. It was a recital of a sort of a performer clever at interludes and modulations, and absolutely expert in loudness. I got = nothing but mad. One letter about this event reminded me that the writer and I had had a conversation, after hearing what was acknowledged by all to have = been a frightfully loud Organ at the North Carolina Convention. His thesis was that there are no loud Organs, only loud Organists. He wrote this time to say that he had just changed his mind. There ARE loud Organs after all, = and some of them have loud Organists on the bench - double jeopardy.   James Bigham has a Bachelor's Degree from Erskine College (he did not = learn this stuff on the little Holtkamp there!), and the Artists' Diploma from = Cur tis under Alexander McCurdy. He holds the MSM from Union Seminary, where = he was a student of Robert Baker. He spent a year abroad studying with George Thalben-Ball in London and Michael Schneider in Cologne.   The Organ, a big Moller, Opus 7852, much fiddled with, much added to, including, ultimately, a great number of digital stops which complete the overpowering effect. There are now 152 Ranks over 12 Divisions. There are eight pages of detail about this instrument, so you can understand that I cannot begin to give you the complete picture. The fact that eight pages have been required for a reasonable description gives you some idea of non-stop activity since the first Moller was installed in 1949.   So, I've not painted a very pretty picture, and I have a still, small feeling that there may be someone out there who loved it all, and I hope = we may hear from them. Safe passage is guaranteed!   ******* A forty minute bus ride took us to hear:   Randy Bourne, at Jordan River Missionary Baptist Church. Saturday, July 17th , 2004 - 3 p.m.   I can't imagine that this juxtaposition was premeditated, but somehow, the very loudest Organ of the convention was followed immediately by the very quietest. We were about to hear a gentle little Organ (ten stops) by Votteler-Holtkamp-Sparling, Opus 1343 of 1919, and it was Randy Bourne who took the assignment and gave us a pleasant program of four transcriptions and one Organ work, plus, of course, a hymn.   He began with the Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream of Mendelssohn, transcribed by Edward Shippen Barnes. This was followed by a wonderful performance of Caspar Koch's transcription of the Adagio = sostenuto of the Beethoven "Moonlight Sonata."   Here followed two representations of works of Bach, the first, a transcription by William Felton of the Air (on the G-String) from = Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, followed by, from the Eight Little, the G Minor Prelude and Fugue - possibly Bach!   Here followed a Harry Burleigh arrangement of the spiritual "Deep River," transcribed for Organ by Richard Keys Biggs.   I am guessing that this program might well represent something of what = might have been played for church goers of perhaps the first half of the 20th Century. Not many would know the tunes of great Organ music, and so were perhaps better served by transcriptions of tunes they knew. Really, they would likely know every tune on this program except the Little G Minor. = They would probably have known also the hymn which we now struggled with a bit: "I've just come from the fountain." There were directions for alternation between men and women, with one of the responses being taken by Randy himself. It was a good bit of fun, if not a melodic treasure.   I think Randy served the Organ well, demonstrating its virtues and its limitations. It has only ten stops, and there are two double pressure devices that at one time were quite common in small Organs. The Pedal = Flute FF 16', a Bourdon, gets full wind. A Pedal Flute M 16' is the same rank, = but fed through special ductwork with lower pressure. There is on the Great a Flute 8' M, (no pipes), really an Unda Maris. When drawn, this stop draws = a Viole 8' P and the Flute 8' MF, AND a toeboard slider that starves the = Flute 8' for wind, to the point that it makes a Flat Celeste with the Viole. On the Swell, there is a Vox-in-a-Box, PP, 49 pipes.   Randy Bourne is Organist at Calvary Lutheran Church, Edina, Minnesota, and freelances as Organist, harpsichordist, conductor, and consultant. He graduated from Oberlin in 1970 (under David Boe and Haskell Thomson), and then, in post-graduate studies in Germany, was the first student of Harold Vogel! In 1974, he began a 17 year tenure at Minnesota Public Radio as Associate Music Director, creating and producing "Baroque and Beyond." In 1984, he founded The Lyra Concert, a period-instrument orchestra, which he served for sixteen years as Artistic Director. His performance here today = is his second for OHS.   After dinner, it was time to walk to 7:30 Evensong at St. Paul's = (Episcopal) Cathedral. What a treat this was. Under the direction of Andrew Cantrill, there are two Cathedral choirs, one of Men and Boys, and the Cathedral = Girls ' Choir, the latter of which sang wonderfully for us with presumably men = who sing with the Choir of Men and Boys acting as Tenors and Basses. Assistant Organist and Choirmaster is Andrew Scanlon, about whom more later, other than to say now that he is a fine player, one whom I have heard on several occasions. During the service, I did not have a sufficient view of the console to actually know who was on the bench. Someone played the Howells Sarabande (in modo elegiaco) as a prelude wonderfully well. I thought I could see one bit of Andrew Cantrill conducting at some points in the service, meaning that Andrew S was accompanying. My concern about this = comes from having heard that Andrew Scanlon was ill enough to be running a reasonably high fever. In any case, whoever did what at Evensong, Andrew Scanlon's recital that followed showed him, possibly in the throes of illness, to be a consummate trouper.   Anyway, following the Howells Sarabande, the choir sang the William McKie = We wait for thy loving kindness. The nice Responses were by Radcliffe - which one of a few possible Radcliffes, I am unsure. Psalm 42 was sung to a Howells chant. The Mag. and Nunc. were from Evening Service No. 2 in E = Flat, by Charles Wood. The Anthem: "Blessed City, heavenly Salem" by Bairstow. This was all nicely rounded off with the Voluntary: Master Tallis's Testament of Howells.   Andrew Scanlon, St. Paul's Cathedral (Episcopal), Buffalo, New York Saturday, July 17th, 2004 - 8:40 p.m.   Taken right from the Organ Handbook: "Andrew Scanlon is Assistant Organist and Choirmaster at St. Paul's Cathedral. He holds degrees from Duquesne = and Yale universities, where he studied with Ann Labounsky and Thomas Murray, respectively. He has also studied with John Skelton, John Walker, and = David Craighead. During his time at Yale, he was the Fellow in Church Music at Christ and Saint Stephen's Church in New York City; and Organist for Marquand Chapel at the Yale Divinity School. Upon graduating from = Duquesne, he was awarded the Andre Marchal Prize for Excellence in Performance. . . = .. .. He has won first prizes in the 2002 West Chester Organ Competition and = the 1999 Boston A.G.O. Competition."   In an introduction, Andrew Cantrill made mention of his delight at discovering that the job came with Andrew Scanlon, a wonderful assistant = and accompanist, only troublesome in having the same first name. He did not = say that last bit - that was me. Andrew 1, Andrew 2 - I am sure there are ways around it. In any case, Andrew 2 has learned his way around this possibly most confusing of cathedral Organs. It requires nine pages in the Organ Handbook to say all that can be said about it. I would give here a very brief history in sentence form, as it appears at the beginning of the article about the Organ in the Handbook. I think it will give you some = idea of its complex history:   1. Hope-Jones Organ Company, 1908 - Gallery Organ 2. Wurlitzer - 1916 repairs to Gallery Organ 3. Wurlitzer - 1926 - New Chancel Organ 4. Schlicker Organ Company, 1952 - New Chancel Organ and Console controlling both. 5. Schlicker - 1960 - Trompeta Real 6. Schlicker - 1967 - Changes to the Chancel Organ 7. Schlicker - 1975 - New Gallery Organ Consolidate Hope-Jones voices into a Solo Division 8. Ralph Richards, Bruce Fowkes - New Chancel Organ 9. Robert Turner 2004, New Consoles.   It is everywhere and from everywhere.   Andrew 2 began his program splendidly with the Mendelssohn 3rd Sonata. = What a palette of Organic stuff to choose from. He chose wisely and well - the opening Maestoso came with wonderful noises. For me, the second movement = was just a tad quick and unyielding, but some would, I know, find what I do = too warm and fuzzy, and so it goes.   Thank goodness for those who play the Hindemith Sonatas and thus keep this wonderful music alive! I think maybe Yalees like Andrew2 help with this, = as it was Yale that provided Hindemith with a place to teach (for almost 15 years), once he left exile in Switzerland to come to the U.S. in February = of 1940. His wife, who apparently had some Jewish blood flowing in her veins, finally managed to escape in September of 1940. I get chills thinking = about all of this, and this incredible affirming music - an imprecise = description but I think it means something - needs to be heard, taught, and played. Andrew2 "did it proud," with a fine performance of Sonata No. 2 (written = in 1937 - already a time of trouble).   Andrew closed with the thousands of notes of the Jongen Sonata Eroica of 1930, all of them in just the right place! It was a thrilling performance.   I have not said anything about Andrew1 (Cantrill) because he did not play = an Organ recital, but let me summarize a bit. He was born in Hamphire, = England, Graduated from Durham University in 1992, was appointed to St. George's, Belfast, and two years later to Grimsby Parish Church. In 1999, he was appointed to Wellington Cathedral of St. Paul, in New Zealand, and in February 2003, he was appointed to St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo. = Accepting an appointment in Buffalo in February of any year represents major determination! "The Snow lay on the ground" takes on a new meaning at Christmas time.   The choir sounded wonderful, and the Organ playing, whoever it was doing = it, was equally fine. Joe and the convention committee again get high marks = for having the resourcefulness to go after this opportunity and for making it happen. Another great OHS day ends.   Malcolm Wechsler www.mander-organs.com      
(back) Subject: Re: "experienced" pipe organs From: "jch" <opus1100@catoe.org> Date: Sat, 07 Aug 2004 08:38:33 -0500   At 04:40 PM 8/6/2004, you wrote: >Sorry, but a 1 manual >organ with a few stops isn't likely to meet the needs of the "average" >church. Not even remotely.   Here's a newsflash for you....a one manual organ can and in many cases has =   for many years met the needs of averages churches. It is obvious that you have never been to an OHS Convention or you would never had made that statement, Before my first experience of hearing one manual organs, I would probably have been the first to agree with you. You are correct in one respect...the decision to buy an organ is often left to folks with tin ears and tight purse strings. Judging from the number of = new pipe organ installations that is not the whole case     Jon