PipeChat Digest #5479 - Saturday, July 30, 2005
A visit to Mexico (Monday and Tuesday; long)
  by "Stephen Roberts" <sroberts01@snet.net>
Re: Temperament for practice organ
  by <TubaMagna@aol.com>
Re: Digitals.
  by "David H. Hawkins" <davehawk@bellatlantic.net>
Re: eBay insanity du jour
  by "Mac Hayes" <mach37@comcast.net>
Re: Digitals
  by "Nathan Smith" <erzahler@sbcglobal.net>

(back) Subject: A visit to Mexico (Monday and Tuesday; long) From: "Stephen Roberts" <sroberts01@snet.net> Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 18:08:26 -0700 (PDT)   Dear List Friends, While OHS conventioners were melting in Massachusetts, I was enjoying = beautiful 70 degree weather in Mexico. On Sunday, July 10 I boarded an = Aeromexico Flight in New York City and arrived in the Mexico City airport = in the evening. My good friend, Rossina Vrionides Gomez met me in the = airport and dropped me off at my hotel in the Zona Rosa. The Zona Rosa is = a pleasant area of shops, restaurants, and hotels popular with tourists. = I found it to be really charming and very convenient. On Monday Rossina picked me up at my hotel and we went to see the fabled = pyramids at Teotihuacan. I had read about this place and seen many = documentaries on television, but nothing prepared me for its immensity. = Teotihuacan flourished in the first few centuries after Christ, but was = largely abandoned by A.D. 1000. I climbed up to the first level of the = huge Pyramid of the Sun, which rivals the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt. = Between the Pyramid of the Sun and the smaller Pyramid of the Moon there = is a grand avenue, now called the Avenue of the Dead. The ruins of a = large number of sizeable buildings flank the avenue; some of them have the = remnants of friezes and painted murals. Archaelogy is a interest of = mine--my students no doubt think I'm an old fossil myself :) -- and = Teotihuacan was one of the most impressive archaeological sites I have = ever visted. It's right up there with the Roman forum and the = Graeco-Roman city of Paestum in Italy in my book. After the visit to Teotihuacan Rossina and her husband Antonio had invited = me for lunch at their beautiful home in the hills outside of Mexico City. = A spectacular meal of Mexican specialities had been prepared, and I loved = everything that was served. Rossina and her husband are very charming = company, and we had a grand old time together. Monday evening I was scheduled to practice at the Basilica of Our Lady of = Guadalupe in Mexico City, where I was scheduled to play a recital on = Friday. As things often happen in places like Mexico and in big Catholic = churches and cathedrals, at the last minute my practice was cancelled. = There had been a scheduling glitch, and an all night prayer vigil had been = scheduled in conflict. I became a little worried, since I hadn't = practiced on Sunday except for running through difficult passages on the = piano between Masses at church. No practice on Monday meant that I was to = go two days without a full practice session. I was annoyed, but there was = nothing that could be done. I took a little stroll in the Zona Rosa = around my hotel, and then went to bed. On Tuesday I was scheduled to give a master class on the organ Masses of = Couperin for the "Organistas de Mexico", the Mexican organists' = association. The class was held at the German church, which has a German = tracker organ in neoclassical style from the late 1950's. I was told that = the organ was actually by Laukhuff, but I don't recall who had put his = name plate on it. The organ was in very good condition, and though it was = very Germanic in character, the Couperin works sounded tolerably well on = it. Maestro Rodrigo Trevino de Uribe was our very congenial host; Mtro = Trevino is organist of the German church and teaches organ at UNAM, the = gigantic state university located in Mexico City. About 20 organists were = in attendance, and many of them had prepared movements of the Couperin = Masses to play for me. My Chilean student at WCSU, Juan Mesa, had very = kindly translated my handout for everyone; Juan did a splendid job of the = translation, and I was very grateful to him. The handout contained various introductory remarks; a diagram of the layout of a = typical French classical organ; stoplists of St. Gervais, the church = where the Couperin family served as organists for about 150 years, and the = 1730 Clicquot at Houdan; a table from the Cappus treatise that lists the = note values in various time signatures that are eligible for inequality; = another table that listed various terms that demanded or forbade the use = of inequality; the table of ornaments from Couperin's <L'Art de toucher le = Clavecin>; and the registration and performance directions by Raison and = Corrette. Several members of the audience translated my remarks for the = other students, including Maestro Trevino. I described the handout to the = students as a "do it yourself Couperin kit"; we then talked a bit about = the various issues raised by the handout, and something about the Organ = Mass as it would have been celebrated and performed in Couperin's day. As some of you may recall, I now take my students to Europe on study tours = every January. In 2003 Daniel Roth had invited me to play a recital at = St-Sulpice, and I had decided to take my class along. During that week we = visited several famous organs, including the French classical organs at = St-Gervais and Houdan. I had made a video of our tour, which gives one a = bit of the flavor of visiting those places. One gets to see the organs in = detail, see how a performer must play on them, hear some examples of = music, and get some idea of what the organs are like in context. It's a = very amateurish video, but it serves the purpose. I also got a snippet of = my recital at St-Sulpice on the tape; the video was made in the Tribune = during the recital, and one gets to see the kinds of choreography that = goes on behind the scenes there. I played this video for the Mexican = organists, who seemed to enjoy it very much. I have found that the videos = I have made of our tours have been a very useful and helpful teaching tool. We all went to lunch together at a nice restaurant; Mexicans generally = take lunch a little later than we do, and the main meal is eaten in the = middle of the day. The same was true in the South of my childhood. I had = a wonderful time with this very friendly and hospitable group. After = lunch we went back to the church, where students played various movements = of the two Couperin Masses for my comments. It was clear that for most of = them, this was their first experience with French classical music. After = I got them over their fear of playing this music, they all seemed to adapt = quite well. I had a glorious time with them, and I hope that they learned = a little bit from me, too. That evening I finally got to practice at the Basilica. The Basilica of = Our Lady of Guadalupe is generally regarded as the most important Roman = Catholic church in Latin America. In numbers of pilgrims it is surpassed = only by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Thousands of visitors stream in and = out of the enormous modern Basilica every day. The present Basilica was = built in the early 1970's when the old Baroque Basilica was declared = unsafe. Like much of Mexico City the land on which the old Basilica = stands is fill. The old Basilica is still there, though some parts of it = seem on the verge of imminent collapse. The culmination of a pilgrimage = here is viewing the painting of the Virgin. Slow motorized walkways = similar to those used in airports go back and forth in front of the image = of the Virgin; these keep the pilgrims moving, otherwise such large = numbers of pilgrims could never be accomodated. Because of the throngs of pilgrims, I could only practice after the = Basilica closed at 9 p.m. I am not a night owl, but an early bird, so = practicing late at night is not something I enjoy. My spirits lifted a = great deal when Rossina and I were met at the door by a smiling Maestro = Manuel Rosillo Segura, the Music Director at the Basilica. Maestro = Rosillo radiated warmth and hospitality, and his presence made me feel = very welcome and excited about my practice session. I should also mention = the Basilica organist, Maestro Alex Mendez, who was also very friendly and = congenial to me during my visit. Organ recitals at the Basilica have been very rare up until now. I was = told that my recital was only the second recital that had occurred there = since the organ was installed in the 1970's! The fact that the clergy = there consented to a full blown festival of organ music was nothing short = of a miracle. I think that Our Lady must have smiled on us organists to = bring about this miracle. The organ is a five manual Casavant. It was one = of the first instruments by Casavant's tonal Director Coignet after the = Phelps and Brunzema eras. The stoplist looks quite French, but the organ = is mostly neoclassical in sound. I had been told that the organ had been = in quite poor condition, mainly due to the fact that it wasn't used very = much, and because of Mexico City's infamous air pollution. Over the past = year or so a great deal of money had been spent to put the organ back in = good working order. Unfortunately it is still only used for one Mass per = week, and that lack of use caused some problems, as I later discovered. The organ suffers from a limitation = similar to that at Woolsey Hall at Yale: there are only 8 general pistons = for an enormous five manual organ, and there is only one level of memory. = I had chosen my program carefully to prepare for this limitation. My = friend Rossina had kindly agreed to serve as my page turner and = registrant. I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the middle of the = program changing pistons. Since this was the first organ recital there in = a very long time, I didn't want to turn people off by making them wait in = the middle of the recital. I got everything registered and written down = in about two hours, thanks to some hard work and Rossina's great help. = The organ console stands very near to the image of the Virgin of = Guadalupe, and I think that she must have been aiding us in our efforts = that night. Next installment: bus tour to the historic cities of Puebla and Tlaxcala, = a fantastic al fresco lunch, and my recital at the Basilica.  
(back) Subject: Re: Temperament for practice organ From: <TubaMagna@aol.com> Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 21:52:46 EDT     In a message dated 07/29/05 1:45:24 PM, RonSeverin@aol.com writes:   << Sebastian sometimes likes to pull legs. Fifteenth Century is a bit of = a stretch for equal tuning. >>   I was not tugging anybody's gamba here. For AGO members who read their TAO when it arrives, you will find the reference and the date in my article on the concept of temperament that = was published in recent months.   Sebastian    
(back) Subject: Re: Digitals. From: "David H. Hawkins" <davehawk@bellatlantic.net> Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 22:35:11 -0400   I have read much about the Marshall & Ogletree organ at Trinity Church Wall St. So far, the only reasonably accurate reactions have been from those who have actually played it. I have YET to hear an unfavorable comment from anyone who has actually played it.   Although, I am not an organist, I was involved in the development of the prototype of that organ and would like to set a few things straight. First, the organ IS sampled. Glorious samples, 20 GIGABYTES worth of samples in that single instrument. No other electronic instrument, to my knowledge, uses samples of that length and accuracy. In hours of listening to this organ in the lab, I have noticed three things about its sound:   1) When played with heavy registration, it does not get "muddy". The individual voiced are still clean and discernable. Unlike many other instruments, this organ does not run out of polyphony and have to throw away pipes from the mix. (This organ has about 16000 "notes" of polyphony. That equates to 4000 simultaneously sounding pipes. It is virtually impossible to "overplay" this organ.)   2) When played with light registration (one stop per division), the sound is still rich enough to be satisfying. Most electronic organs of my acquaintence sound very "thin" when played this way. Every time I here the solo Oboe on this organ it makes me weep, it is so beautiful.   3) When played in a smallish room (as in the showroom at M&O), it sounds like a PIPE ORGAN played in a small room. NO other electronic manages to sound this reallistic.   As mentioned before, one of the secrets of its success is its extensive speaker system. Many organs use inferior speakers and then try to voice the organ "around" the speaker shortcomings. This is a doomed approach.   Finally, people make comments about the "Pipesound" environmental sounds (blowers, sliders, etc.). These sounds are also samples from real organs. Since this is a custom instrument, it would be no difficulty at all to remove or disable these "noises". But I note that of the MANY organists I have seen sit down to this instrument, NOT ONE has requested they be removed. In fact, we were asked to INCREASE the level of a couple of the sounds at Trinity It was always interesting to watch pipe organists sit down to this instrument for the first time. Invariably, they would start to play and after a few seconds, they would stop and turn to us with a look of wonder on their faces and say, "This doesn't feel like and electronic." They were right. One of the fundamental goals of the design of this instrument was to restore the "feel" of the pipe organ to the performer. It just make it so much more enjoyable to play the instrument, and whereas, your church is concerned with how it sounds, you might as well get something that remains fun to play after the novelty wears off.   If a church can affort to buy AND MAINTAIN a pipe organ, by all means go for it. But if you have a space restriction in your church, this is the instrument to go with.   If your church is serious about a new organ, you should:   1) Get the demo CD from Torrence & Yeager and listen to it THROUGH GOOD HEADPHONES to prove to yourself that it qualifies for consideration.   2) Call Torrence & Yeager, talk to them, make and appointment and take a trip to NY to play it yourself. Its a real eye opener. If you are putting together an organ budget, it should include enough to allow you to go and audition the organs you have under consideration. This is a "must hear" instrument.   3) By all mean, audition all your prospective instruments this way. The Marshall & Ogletree will win any "side by side" comparison with any other electonic out there, and even some pipe organs.   David H. Hawkins  
(back) Subject: Re: eBay insanity du jour From: "Mac Hayes" <mach37@comcast.net> Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 21:25:25 -0600   Tim Bovard wrote:   > Gotta give 'em credit for originality, at least..., I guess...? > > = http://cgi.ebay.com/Mother-Maybelle-Carters-Estey-Pump-Organ_W0QQitemZ75322= 34039QQcategoryZ108742QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem     Uh-oh... I saw the word "provenance" somewhere in the middle of all that text - a sure sign they have a virulent case of antique fever.   Mac Hayes Riverton, UT  
(back) Subject: Re: Digitals From: "Nathan Smith" <erzahler@sbcglobal.net> Date: Sat, 30 Jul 2005 02:05:05 -0400   Good morning,   I think that digitals should have either knob-controlled or seasonal wind leakage.   - N