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Vandalism in upstate NY


DHM

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If reports on another list are to believed, it seems that the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury, NY (RC Diocese of Albany) is currently demolishing the church's 7 (yes, only seven)-year-old 3P/48 tracker organ and depositing it in a dumpster! See the postings which started here http://www.facebook.com/stevebest#!/stevebest?v=wall about "20 hours ago".

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If reports on another list are to believed, it seems that the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury, NY (RC Diocese of Albany) is currently demolishing the church's 7 (yes, only seven)-year-old 3P/48 tracker organ and depositing it in a dumpster! See the postings which started here http://www.facebook.com/stevebest#!/stevebest?v=wall about "20 hours ago".

The deed has been done, sadly. From what I've read, it appears that the church's Pastor, thinks he can get away with it. I sense that this is where all of us need to use the power of the Internet to spread the word about this shocking piece of destruction, and to make our disgust known. The Pastor's contact details may be found here, but this may prove fruitless. His Bishop is the Very Revd Howard Hubbard who can be contacted here. I wonder what will be the reaction of the 300 or so donors who helped to raise funds the instrument?

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I just got a link to Facebook but can't see anything further. What am I missing? There's nothing mentioned on the church website. A bit of Googling suggested that a former priest had done some nasty things, is this a means of the church having a clean sweep or raising money to pay for damages perhaps? But it does sound a rather strange way to treat a new organ, though there are others that have lasted less long.

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The Facebook link is correct; check the 'Wall' carefully. Searching 'The Post-Star' there will also yield more.

For those who can't access the Facebook links: the deed is now done - virtually overnight, before anyone could do anything about it - and the organ is no more. One or more other churches wanted it, but weren't allowed to see or hear it in time. It hasn't been used or maintained for some time. The Priest has bought an electric keyboard. 300 parishioners donated funds for organ, hundreds of children donated pipes, and the organ builder (formerly, but no longer, organist of said church) donated his labour, apparently intending it to be his "showroom" instrument.

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For those who can't access the Facebook links: the deed is now done - virtually overnight, before anyone could do anything about it - and the organ is no more. One or more other churches wanted it, but weren't allowed to see or hear it in time. It hasn't been used or maintained for some time. The Priest has bought an electric keyboard. 300 parishioners donated funds for organ, hundreds of children donated pipes, and the organ builder (formerly, but no longer, organist of said church) donated his labour, apparently intending it to be his "showroom" instrument.

 

I'm afraid I don't belong to Facebook, so can't see this. Is there another way we can verify this dreadful tale? I'd recommend board members write to the Pastor, his ordinary & the Congregation for Divine Worship: Palazzo delle Congregazioni, 00193 Roma, Piazza Pio XII, 10.

 

It might be worth quoting the following, from Sacrosanctum Concillium, the document of Vatican II dealing with liturgy & worship: 'The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, for it is the traditional musical instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up men's minds to God and higher things.'

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Thanks, DHM; you beat me to it. There you are, HarmonicsV. The dreadful tale has been truly verified.

I'm on Facebook but couldn't access the Wall linked to above, only the Info page.

 

Is this the church? Fairly lacklustre website, and someone is listed as organist!

 

Quite gratifying that this discussion is about the fourth hit on a google search for the church.

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I'm on Facebook but couldn't access the Wall linked to above, only the Info page.

 

Is this the church? Fairly lacklustre website, and someone is listed as organist!

 

Quite gratifying that this discussion is about the fourth hit on a google search for the church.

Yes, that would appear to be the church. They may have someone listed as "Organist", but posts on the other lists imply this is a keyboard player.

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Whatever I've said before about God's Local Representatives, this story breaks totally new ground.

 

This case seems (to me) not just almost literally unbelievable, but startlingly, undeniably 'world-class' OTT. What possible rationale could that priest have? Even, for instance, if the basic reason was inability to pay for it faced by the unwillingness of the builder to take it away, even if the parish was totally broke, to destroy it rather than pass it on to someone else has got to be one of the most utterly destructive and reprehensible things I have ever seen. The fact that some of the parishioners had raised money for it makes this worse.

 

Well if one thing's certain, the organbuilder/organist will receive plenty of publicity for his case and that priest...

... how could he possibly remain in the church?

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It seems incomprehensible to me that there could ever be a reason to totally destroy an instrument of this size. Various parts of the Facebook discussion (listed previously) point to problems with the organ regarding build quality and also the structural integrity of the gallery it stands on, it may be that this hasn't been the happiest of organ installations. HOWEVER.... for so many reasons this organ could have been use to someone else if the church no longer wanted it. To list a few, it has wonderful case work, beautiful case pipes and it's essentially free standing on the gallery meaning that rehousing it would be easier than for an organ installed in a chamber. Surely there is no question that this instrument had some value?

 

According to the author of the facebook profile 'the Priest doesn't want it, nor does he want anyone else to have it'. What an utterly selfish and rediculous situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever I've said before about God's Local Representatives, this story breaks totally new ground.

 

This case seems (to me) not just almost literally unbelievable, but startlingly, undeniably 'world-class' OTT. What possible rationale could that priest have? Even, for instance, if the basic reason was inability to pay for it faced by the unwillingness of the builder to take it away, even if the parish was totally broke, to destroy it rather than pass it on to someone else has got to be one of the most utterly destructive and reprehensible things I have ever seen. The fact that some of the parishioners had raised money for it makes this worse.

 

Well if one thing's certain, the organbuilder/organist will receive plenty of publicity for his case and that priest...

... how could he possibly remain in the church?

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This is truly appalling and waste on a scale unimaginable. However, here's something to ponder. What would happen if that had been over here? What recourse, legal or otherwise, would a congregation have if the minister (let's say Anglican on this occasion) just decided to do what this chap has done? What if we had been a 'major donor' to the project?

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This is truly appalling and waste on a scale unimaginable. However, here's something to ponder. What would happen if that had been over here? What recourse, legal or otherwise, would a congregation have if the minister (let's say Anglican on this occasion) just decided to do what this chap has done? What if we had been a 'major donor' to the project?

Ahhh... how we complain in the UK about Faculty procedure.... and how essential it is! And this thread is abundant proof of that fact.

 

I would never have said this ten years ago, but now things look very different. :huh:

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Quite gratifying that this discussion is about the fourth hit on a google search for the church.

Has anyone found any independent verification of this on Google, please? You'd think someone somewhere in the media would see some mileage in this story, yet I can find nothing except the Facebook discussions (I don't subscribe to email lists). Maybe this vandalism really has happened, but the lack of comment elsewhere does strike me as strange. I've seen the photo of the dumpster, but what marks the contents out as an organ? In any case, I've seen cleverer things done with Photoshop. I do think more conslusive proof is desirable before sending off a volley of hate mail.

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Has anyone found any independent verification of this on Google, please? You'd think someone somewhere in the media would see some mileage in this story, yet I can find nothing except the Facebook discussions (I don't subscribe to email lists). Maybe this vandelism really has happened, but the lack of comment elsewhere does strike me as strange.

There are six photographs to be seen in the local newspaper, the Queensbury Post-Star, if you make a search there. A careful study of all the posts and comments on Stephen Best's Facebook page will yield a good deal of additional information to that posted above. It is perfectly evident that the Pastor arranged for an organ-building firm (it is named several times in the Facebook posts) to remove the organ in some sort of undercover operation. The pipework appears to have been salvaged, but much of the mechanism was discarded in the skip, as the newspaper's photographs attest all too clearly.

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Ah. Thank you for that, Wolsey. I wonder what the safety concerns were and why they necessitated such apparently precipitous action that other interested parties had no opportunity to acquire the instrument. All very strange - if not downright suspicious. Does this smack of a "done deal" between the removal firm and the pastor?

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Ah. Thank you for that, Wolsey. I wonder what the safety concerns were and why they necessitated such apparently precipitous action that other interested parties had no opportunity to acquire the instrument. All very strange - if not downright suspicious. Does this smack of a "done deal" between the removal firm and the pastor?

 

 

In some of the photos Wolsey kindly found for us you can see a small painting tower assembled under the gallery, no doubt to assist the removal. What cannot be seen is any kind of temporary (additional) support. If the gallery was deemed insufficiently strong to support the organ, where are the additional props that any responsible authority would insist upon to make it safe until the organ has gone?

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I find the news about the destruction of this organ distressing. I wondered whether the church might have good grounds for legal action and compensation against the pastor for this wanton - and, it seems, unilateral - destruction of one of their assets?

 

Even if the church decided they did not want the organ any longer, they have now lost the opportunity to sell it, so this action has incurred financial loss to the church.

 

Knowing the American appetite for a legal battle, I am sure the lawyers are already sharpening their claws...

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Well - going solely by this one picture it does appear particularly nastily made. For the local paper to carry absolutely nothing in outraged tones does rather suggest that this may not have been a great work of art.

 

On edit - the only other reference I can find to this organ builder concerns a Dutch instrument, which of which it is said "in 2007 he completely rebuilt the organ's wind chest, and "voices" the organ annually."

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This is truly appalling and waste on a scale unimaginable. However, here's something to ponder. What would happen if that had been over here? What recourse, legal or otherwise, would a congregation have if the minister (let's say Anglican on this occasion) just decided to do what this chap has done? What if we had been a 'major donor' to the project?

 

Hi

 

I gather that once appointed, Roman Catholic priests have a very large say in what goes on in their churches, including the fabric (from what I hear, virtually a dictatorship if mishandled). The UK Catholic church does have an organ advisor - but I don't know how much say he has on specific projects.

 

UK Anglicans have a faculty system that should at least prevent the worst excesses. Methodists in the UK also have organ advisers - but I think the local church (plus perhaps the circuit meeting) have a good deal of sway. In the UK, the real problem denominations are those that have congregational church government (mainly Congregational and Baptist as far as possession of pipe organs is concerned). A significant faction in the Baptist church is anti-organ - and a good many viable instruments have been disposed of - the ultimate decision is in the hands of the Church (members) Meeting - but the whims of the pastor often hold a great deal of sway. Thankfully, there are some Baptists who appreciate the organ still - but it sometimes feels like a lone "voice calling in the wilderness" (to misquote scripture).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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If reports on another list are to believed, it seems that the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury, NY (RC Diocese of Albany) is currently demolishing the church's 7 (yes, only seven)-year-old 3P/48 tracker organ and depositing it in a dumpster! See the postings which started here http://www.facebook.com/stevebest#!/stevebest?v=wall about "20 hours ago".

 

 

===============

 

Even if this is simply vandalism on the part of one priest, it pales into insignificance when compared with the destruction of instruments in the UK.

 

We got off to a bad start with Oliver Cromwell, but actually, the sheer indifference towards the organ-maker's art has seen the destruction of hundreds, if not thousands of instruments in the UK; making Oliver Cromwell just the warm-up act for the real party.

 

It may not be a complete tragedy if a two manual Bogbrush & Scraper ends up in a skip, but many of the losses have been very important ones. The Hill organ at Great George Street Congregationals, Liverpool, is often cited, but that was just one important instrument among many.

 

Just in my home town, we have lost two notable Harrison instruments, (one of outstanding historical significance), a fine Forster & Andrews, possibly a dozen smaller, less significant instruments and a curious Aeolian organ, complete with player-rolls. If one were to multiply that across every major town and city, the cull has been disastrous in the past 50 years or so. It is further compounded by the apparent neglect of many civic instruments; some of which have remained silent for decades.

 

Broadly speaking, America has far more respect for churches, and religion continues to flourish, thus ensuring the likely survival of most instruments (good and bad).

 

I wonder, has any other country in the world gained such a bad reputation as the UK when it comes to the destruction of instruments?

 

I somehow doubt it.

 

MM

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Well - going solely by this one picture it does appear particularly nastily made. For the local paper to carry absolutely nothing in outraged tones does rather suggest that this may not have been a great work of art.

Leaving aside impressions gained from photographs, one poster on Stephen Best's Facebook wall writes,

 

"Six organ companies were consulted - including Andover in Methuen, MA. where I apprenticed. Five of them had positive things to say about the organ. It was ONLY [builder named] who used such glaring words of disapproval over the status and construction of the organ. According to David Vredenburg [organ consultant for the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Architecture and Building Commission] in my phone conversation with him yesterday, Fr. Busch accused all the other builders of "being in-bed together". Sounds more like Busch and [builder named] were the bed-fellows."

 

There have also been recent Facebook posts highlighting errors in the photograph captions.

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