Jump to content
Mander Organs
DHM

Vandalism in upstate NY

Recommended Posts

That's pretty descriptive, Mr H! But weren't regals stand-alone instruments, in addition to (or maybe prior to) their incorporation into church organs? I have this memory of Henry VIII having several. I'm speaking purely from an authentic point of view here. :rolleyes:

 

If they uncover evidence that Henry VIII favoured regals played with plastic-topped sharps via an aluminium action and MDF soundboard then unfortunately the opportunity to create an authentic performance has been placed tenderly in a landfill site somewhere near Norwich.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was seriously questioning whether we could do away with the bellows altogether and retrofit a Schimmer system, though I have no idea if that would work with a tubular pneumatic action.

 

There's no reason other than aesthetic and space ones why you couldn't economically fit external Schwimmers where the wind trunks go in and perhaps just keep one single rise reservoir somewhere for safety, and for action wind in the common event it's seperate from the soundboard wind. I've done it on two instruments where concussions had been removed altogether and double-rise reservoirs had been rebuilt as single rise for economic reasons (both by a now-defunct West Country firm).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Given the latest information perhaps it would be a good idea to end this thread, and maybe for our hosts to remove it.

 

It does show how easy it is to create a witch hunt over cyberspace...

 

 

I hope this thread remains.... the freedom of speech surrounding this issue is important. Congregations and priests can and do make some horrible mistakes regarding installations and throwing things out. Even if everyone was in agreement at this church about the action to be taken it doesn't mean what they did was right in the eyes of others. In my opinion I still think there were some serious misjudgements made in this case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fact: this was Mr. DeMarse's opus 7; he offered to build the organ free of charge if the church paid the cost of material

Fact: about 400 contributors underwrote the cost of this organ; another 180 children each bought one pipe; about 40 volunteers assisted in organ builder as needed

Fact: the organ was unfinished at the time of its dedicatory recital, but was later used successfully for a recital as part of an AGO convention, and was in regular use until Mr. DeMarse's tenure as the church music director ended

Fact: there was a problem with sagging facade pipes; these pipes had been built specifically for the organ by well known firm; proposals to remedy the problem ranged from repair to replacement

Fact: only the firm that ultimately destroyed the organ proclaimed the instrument was beyond salvation

Fact: the direction of the church's music program changed significantly after Mr. DeMarse left as music director

Fact: another church in the same diocese wanted the organ and was prepared spend whatever was required to remove it, store it, and reinstall it; that church had already been in contact with a fine organ builder regarding the project

Fact: there were 48 ranks of pipes, made mostly by Stinkens, some by Letourneau

Fact: there was some extraordinarily fine craftsmanship in this organ; even the keyboards were personally made by Mr. DeMarse

Fact: the recommendations/opinions of David Vredenberg, Diocesan Organ Consultant, were ignored; Mr. Vredenberg has made this fact public knowledge

Fact: only the firm that removed the organ condemned it as beyond saving

Fact: members of the church that wanted the organ, and the organist who had been asked to demonstrate the organ for them, were denied access to the building to see the organ; the following day the dumpster was delivered; the day after that, the organ was destroyed

 

Perhaps the rest is conjecture. But that much is absolutely true.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for joining this discussion Steve! The facts you list were outlined in your facebook page but not all members would have been able to access it, so your information here is most helpful to the discussion.

 

 

It appears their is some rather bad foul play going on... what is stated in the letter from the Church's DM is at great contrast to the information you have provided. It's a shame the author of the letter doesn't go into more explicit details to explain the why these actions were taken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for joining this discussion Steve! The facts you list were outlined in your facebook page but not all members would have been able to access it, so your information here is most helpful to the discussion.

 

 

It appears their is some rather bad foul play going on... what is stated in the letter from the Church's DM is at great contrast to the information you have provided. It's a shame the author of the letter doesn't go into more explicit details to explain the why these actions were taken.

 

 

The following post is from the Diocesan Organ Consultant, David Vredenburg. It speaks for itself:

 

"The whole affair is an outrage. The pastor took a personal offense to its builder (and the former director of music of the parish) and vowed to get it "trashed and dumped on the builder's lawn" from the start of this whole process. His mind made up, he proceeded to ignore the evaluations of 5 reputable firms that lauded the instrument highly and side with the one firm he convinced, it seems, to trash it verbally.

 

"He then presented his cooked figures and manipulated facts directly to the Chancellor of the Diocese, bypassing me as the organ consultant (he "didn't trust" my evaluation, since I hadn't sided with him) and obtaining her and the chief financial officer's permission to proceed with the instrument's removal. He was not, however, given permission to "trash" it or prevent its being examined and obtained by any interested parishes.

 

"I suggest you express your outrage directly to the bishop: The Very Rev. Howard J. Hubbard, D. D.,

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, 40 N. Main Ave., Albany, NY 12203-1422.

 

"It is, in any case, too late for the organ. I understand it has been totally disassembled, and divided between the dumpster and the Foley-Baker truck. I shall never trust that company again, since it is with their slanted collusion that this has come to pass.

 

David A. Vredenburg"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"It is, in any case, too late for the organ. I understand it has been totally disassembled, and divided between the dumpster and the Foley-Baker truck. I shall never trust that company again, since it is with their slanted collusion that this has come to pass.

 

I came across a further account of this organ at:

http://poststar.com/news/local/article_a47...1cc4c03286.html

 

Foley-Baker were the firm who salvaged what they considered to be any parts of value (the blower!), apparently dumping the lead pipes in a hazardous waste facility. From their website:

 

"Your Pipe Organ ~ An Investment Worth Preserving"

 

"Foley-Baker specializes in tuning and “saving” troubled instruments. We take great pride in identifying, troubleshooting, and solving problems that often plague pipe organs."

 

Clearly so!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Foley-Baker were the firm who salvaged what they considered to be any parts of value (the blower!), apparently dumping the lead pipes in a hazardous waste facility.

Exactly what sort of an organ-building firm considers lead (or, probably more exactly in this case, pipe metal) to be hazardous waste?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Exactly what sort of an organ-building firm considers lead (or, probably more exactly in this case, pipe metal) to be hazardous waste?

 

 

I bring to your attention the new article from the Glens Falls newspaper. And no, I had NOTHING to do with this article.

 

http://poststar.com/news/local/article_a47...1cc4c03286.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I hope this thread remains.... the freedom of speech surrounding this issue is important. ... In my opinion I still think there were some serious misjudgements made in this case.

 

 

Hi all

 

I've been asked to look at this topic, and I think that it should remain (ie not be deleted) but I will delete the remaining quotes of Sue Wright's e-mail. If you want to know what it said, please refer to "Justadad".

 

Rachel Mawhood

Moderator, Mander Organs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Exactly what sort of an organ-building firm considers lead (or, probably more exactly in this case, pipe metal) to be hazardous waste?

I wonder how long it will be before we see serviceable pipe organs being scrapped on spurious health & safety grounds?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder how long it will be before we see serviceable pipe organs being scrapped on spurious health & safety grounds?

:mellow:

 

Well, there are plenty of potential reasons one could ban organs on health and safety. Accessing tall pipes for tuning can be hazardous, and one celebrated tuner fell to his death in Westminster Cathedral doing just that.

 

There's the weight of the instrument. Putting a multi-ton monster on a fragile gallery is asking for trouble, and whilst you might get away with external steel girders in say Nairobi Cathedral, that's not really an option in Grade 1-listed cathedrals.

 

Then there are the humidifiers that can potentially harbour Legionnaire's disease. I've never heard of a documented case of Legionaire's caused by an organ humidifier, but it only takes one to lead to all sorts of restrictions.

 

And of course the famous EU ban on lead in any electrically-operated items. (Though there can't be many electric-action organs that couldn't if necessary have been rebuilt with tubular pneumatic action - with miles of lead tubing to prove a point - and hand blowing, hydralic or gas powered blowers)!

 

There is a serious point to this post - there are dangers with anything, including organs, and one must never lightly ignore sensible health and safety concerns. In any case, for all the risks that organs potentially pose, there are plenty of mitigating mechanisms to ensure they are not a risk to the public, the performer or the builder, and constructing something that is potentially hazardous or allowing something to deteriorate to the point of becoming a danger is grossly irresponsible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder how long it will be before we see serviceable pipe organs being scrapped on spurious health & safety grounds?

Those with wind pressures above 3"? Some stops I know in the UK needed to have a Govt Health Warning for decades.

 

Best wishes,

N

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Those with wind pressures above 3"? Some stops I know in the UK needed to have a Govt Health Warning for decades.

 

Best wishes,

N

 

 

OOPS! That's us completely in the bin then! :mellow:

 

DW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I read all the builder's report quotes, which are selective to say the least and don't deal with the nitty gritty about what each firm would *do*. What they mostly have in common is an earnest belief that the organ is really very nearly finished, a great deal of flattery for the person who made it (whom they will all know was a recent or current organist of that church) - oh, and by the way, there isn't much work about at the moment and could we have the job please?

 

As one of the builders who inspected the instrument and submitted a quote, I disagree with much of the above statement. Below please find examples from my quote letter.

 

Regarding the flattery:

 

"The repairs necessary to bring the organ into top playing order are, for the most part,

details that obscure a reasonably well-built organ. The organ looks handsome and is in a visual

style suited to the church. While the Great Trumpet may be considered bold enough to warrant

limited use for wedding processionals and hymn melodies, in general the organ is voiced with a

full but not aggressive tone quality. The many stops and division locations give the organist a

variety of ways to play at different volume levels and tone colors. I would have made some

different choices if I were building an organ for this church and the current music style, but the

organ as built has a good variety of resources to support the liturgy."

 

Some background. When I visited the church early this year, one thing the pastor told me was that they "had been told that what they had was a European Concert Organ, and this is not what we need." Some of the above paragraph was an attempt to explain why there are multiple stops and multiple manuals.

 

Regarding the nitty gritty:

 

1. Collapsing front pipes.

"Now that I understand [and explained in previous paragraphs, a combination of thin metal and insufficient

racking for the suspension system] what led to the distortion of the Great and Positive pipes it may be

possible to replace just the largest 5 pipes in each division, but below I quote a price for

replacing all of the façade pipes in the organ. This would be a prudent and conclusive choice.

The cost to replace the Great, Positive, and Pedal Principal façade pipes, supplied by [highly regarded

North American pipemaking shop] would be $x including installation with new racks

and voicing. The 10 Pedal Principal pipes would be replaced with polished zinc pipes, the Great

and Positive Principal pipes would be replaced with tin pipes that have copper liners in the feet

for pipes larger than 2’ C."

 

Note: If closer inspection of the smaller front pipes showed that they were in reasonable condition and the church trusted my judgment on that point, I would have been happy to only replace the center tower pipes. My sense was that they were looking for solutions that would remove all doubt for future repairs.

 

2. Sagging Chamade pipes:

The same pipemaking shop "recommended either replacing the largest 24 Trumpet pipes with polished

zinc or re-rounding the pipes and soldering copper liners inside the pipe. Replacing the

resonators with new polished zinc resonators is the less-expensive choice, at a cost of $y.

Another option suggested by a colleague ... would be to re-round the existing pipes

and build a new support system that cradles the pipes from below. This would be more of a

visual change but it would be less expensive and retain the existing pipes. I estimate this option

would cost $0.5y."

 

3. Electric combination action, piggybacked on a full mechanical stop action:

"I have spoken with the ... representative for ... the maker of the combination action. He

assures me that the system and its installation can be made to function correctly and he will, in

fact, be in the Glens Falls area after Easter. He suggested budgeting $z to have him assess

the installation and make any necessary modifications to make the system function properly."

 

4. Mechanical key action:

"In playing the instrument I noted that the Great keydip was a bit deep. On further investigation I

found that the pallets (valves) of the Great were only moving 1/8”, about half the typical

distance, so there is a chance (especially in the bass) that the pipes would not get full wind when

all of the stops are drawn on the Great. The Swell pallets were moving the typical 1/4". The

supplier from which Mr. DeMarse purchased small action components sells roller arms of

different lengths to allow builders to adjust the ratio between the key travel and pallet movement.

I have yet to see Mr. DeMarse’s drawings from which he built the keyboards and coupler

mechanisms. Once I have seen them and am assured that a more substantial fix is not necessary,

I would recommend replacing one or both roller arms for each key to allow the keydip to be

reduced and insure the pallets travel the typical 1/4". I estimate it will cost $q to replace

Great roller arms and regulate the action. As part of the action regulation, I would label

adjustment points in the console so a layperson can fix the occasional late-speaking note or

cipher (note that stays on) between regular maintenance visits."

 

5. Three points brought up by the church during the visit:

"The blower makes more noise than is desirable, and access for oiling is difficult, but moving it

outside the lower case of the organ presents the obstacle of unwanted steps. I recommend

rebuilding the blower box for easier access, making sure the blower is mechanically isolated

from the box with springs and flexible output tubing, and installing an intake duct that is lined

with sound absorbing material to minimize the blower noise, at a cost of $r.

 

Replacing all of the locks to ones that are keyed alike is something that either a locksmith or an

organ builder can do. I estimate it would cost $s to find appropriate locks, purchase them and

install them.

 

The flexible ducts used to connect the windchests to the main reservoir are not ideal because they

reduce wind flow for their given diameter and they will deteriorate over the next decade or so. I

do not think their replacement is urgent, but for budgeting purposes, the price for installing new

plywood ducts wherever possible would cost $t. Some organ builders use PVC pipe, which

may be appropriate here and would be less expensive."

 

Finally, regarding the structure:

"Regarding the weight of the organ, Mr. DeMarse says that he told the original structural engineer

for the balcony expansion that the organ would weigh 30,000 pounds and that the balcony was

built to accommodate this weight. I haven’t seen the drawings for the floor structure, but from

the look of the floor, I believe it is possible that some of the load points of the organ are not

directly over the steel installed for the balcony expansion, but it should be possible to add steel

running side-to-side attached to the organ case to let the existing balcony steel do its job. I would

be happy to consult with a structural engineer regarding support of the organ." I did not hear back from the church on this.

 

The organ was not a perfect organ. Some aspects of tuning and maintenance would always have been difficult. The voicing was not the most refined or engaging, but it was not bad. With the above items fixed, the organ would have been a good instrument.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, I'm always happy to stand corrected. Always suspicious of a witch hunt, I felt the quotes provided by the 'against' team were far too short to be of any real value. You have provided a most comprehensive description of an organ which certainly appeared to have its issues. Thank you for that.

 

It is nevertheless easy to understand why a parish confronted with an organ less than ten years old with problems in winding, structural support, action, pipework, stop control and - well, what else is there? - would find it difficult to believe that an end to the problems could be in sight.

 

[edited]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You seem to suggest yourself that it is not as though one of the great wonders of the world has been lost, and in some ways perhaps it is better to have it gone than remaining, unwanted, unloved, unappreciated - and unfinished.

 

That's a pretty outrageous statement. How many organs qualify as "great wonders of the world"? For that matter, how many musical instruments fit into that category?

 

The organ was most assuredly not "unloved" or "unwanted." It's been made clear that another church was prepared to have the organ removed, stored until a space for it was ready, and re-erected in its new home. As to "unloved", consider the 400+ donors who contributed to facilitate its building, the 180 children who bought one pipe each, the 40 volunteers who assisted the builder with several labor intensive tasks. Think of the one individual who contributed $50,000.00 US toward the cost of the project. Consider the organ builder who gave 6 years of his life to build this instrument, all at no cost other than for materials, and who personally crafted the windchests, keyboards, action parts, coupler assembly, rollerboards, stop knobs, stop knob engraving, stop action, casework, zimbelstern (including gold-leafed star), rossignol, and pipe shades, right down to the wooden buttons that hold the panels in place.

 

As to being "unfinished," the organ was in good working condition when the builder left his position as director of music at the church in 2006. He even offered to continue maintaining the organ FREE OF CHARGE, as he had been doing for the previous three years.

 

Once Mr. DeMarse left the church as its music director, the nature of the church's music program change radically. Perhaps there were those who believed that a fine organ was no longer important to the church's liturgy. As sad as that may be, we've seen other similar occurrences in the US, even in a couple of mega-churches with iconic organs that MIGHT fall into the "great wonders of the world" category. Nonetheless, there was a church which didn't want the organ, and another that did. Now no one will have it. Mission accomplished.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Consider the organ builder who gave 6 years of his life to build this instrument, all at no cost other than for materials, and who personally crafted the windchests, keyboards, action parts, coupler assembly, rollerboards, stop knobs, stop knob engraving, stop action, casework, zimbelstern (including gold-leafed star), rossignol, and pipe shades, right down to the wooden buttons that hold the panels in place.

 

As to being "unfinished," the organ was in good working condition when the builder left his position as director of music at the church in 2006.

 

I fully accept that part of my posting was ill thought out and inflamatory, for which I apologise. Of course the organ should have lived on elsewhere.

 

Your claim that the organ builder personally crafted the list of items runs contrary to the words of a respected organ builder who has posted here, and knows the supplier from which small action parts were purchased.

 

As to being "unfinished" - in my narrow cave-man definition of the word, an organ with excessively soft and sagging pipes, insufficient and inadequate racking, temperamental action in need of substantial redesigning and remedial work, revisions to winding and blower arrangements, and major repairs to electric combination action is one which is, quite clearly, not finished, since these are all faults which are routinely eliminated in the earliest days of design stage. This is not stuff which should be still hanging about ten years later.

 

[edited]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You seem to suggest yourself that it is not as though one of the great wonders of the world has been lost, and in some ways perhaps it is better to have it gone than remaining, unwanted, unloved, unappreciated - and unfinished.

If that is the interpretation you take from my post, I will need to be even more careful with my words should I submit posts in the future. In a complicated situation like this where it is easy to overstate a case, I am afraid I erred on the overly cautious side.

 

The organ would never be a Stade or a Caen or any other pilgrimage instrument you care to name, but even as it was, it was better than many pipe organs in the area, and far better than the electronics I have heard.

 

I cannot speak for the mood of the congregation, as I only spent several hours at the church and do not care to speculate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If that is the interpretation you take from my post, I will need to be even more careful with my words should I submit posts in the future. In a complicated situation like this where it is easy to overstate a case, I am afraid I erred on the overly cautious side.

 

The organ would never be a Stade or a Caen or any other pilgrimage instrument you care to name, but even as it was, it was better than many pipe organs in the area, and far better than the electronics I have heard.

 

I cannot speak for the mood of the congregation, as I only spent several hours at the church and do not care to speculate.

 

You're absolutely right, and I apologise to you too, as I did to Mr Best, for posting something which wasn't properly thought through. Since it has now been quoted twice there is little point in my removing it, although I would like to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Therein lies the problem.

 

If I had spent the best part of $1 million on a substantial brand new organ that after a few years was suffering from sinking pipes (as an aside, I thought it was said that the pipes were supplied by an external contractor, not by the gentleman who build the organ as a whole, in which case could the subcontractor have recitifed the problem?), plus various mechanical issues, underwinding and an unsafe balcony, that would cost tens of thousands to fix, I'd be somewhat annoyed and expect the builder to put things right.

 

If I had spent that amount of money and after a few years a few of the keys were slightly too heavy and needed re-regulating, I wouldn't probably feel too hard on the organist if they asked for a few hundred dollars to get it fixed during a regular tuning. Equally if the only problem with the organ was that the priest objected to ever spending any money tuning it and justified an electronic on those grounds alone, one might understandably hit the roof.

 

Obviously it becomes more complicated when the organ is built or provided essentially as a gift, in which case the giving stops at the initial installation and subsequent problems often have to be paid for. Sometimes gifts that are free actually end up costing a small fortune to maintain, and if the church neither had the interest nor the money to fix the issues, one might sympathize with their predicament. But to destroy it without permitting anyone else to take their chances with the instrument seems vindictive to say the least.

 

As for the suggestion that it was unfinished, there are countless "unfinished" organs dotted around, if you include organs with holes in the jambs for "prepared-for" stops, organs with inadequate winding, or experimental design features that didn't work. Just because it isn't "finished" to the level one would expect from a major firm doesn't stop if from being good enough if it serves the main purpose of providing the music for which it was designed to provide without compromise. And this was evidently an early work and one would expect that all new builders have a learning curve, though that might mean risking a higher proportion of issues to later fix in earlier organs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I fully accept that part of my posting was ill thought out and inflamatory, for which I apologise. Of course the organ should have lived on elsewhere.

 

Your claim that the organ builder personally crafted the list of items runs contrary to the words of a respected organ builder who has posted here, and knows the supplier from which small action parts were purchased.

 

As to being "unfinished" - in my narrow cave-man definition of the word, an organ with excessively soft and sagging pipes, insufficient and inadequate racking, temperamental action in need of substantial redesigning and remedial work, revisions to winding and blower arrangements, and major repairs to electric combination action is one which is, quite clearly, not finished, since these are all faults which are routinely eliminated in the earliest days of design stage. This is not stuff which should be still hanging about ten years later.

 

[edited]

 

Of course, Mr. DeMarse didn't fabricate small metal parts of the action, but he is quite capable of making ANY organ parts that involve woodworking skills. Pipework was by Stinkens, Letourneau, and Organ Supply Industries (larger wooden pipes). The blower, combination action (computer controller and electric solenoids) and small hardware parts were purchased from August Laukuff.

 

Perhaps more telling, however, is the following quotation from the Glens Falls (NY) Post Star: "The removal of the organ was completed last week by Foley-Baker Inc., which will salvage some parts like the blower and send the pipes to a hazard waste facility due to a lead issue, according to Busch." Joseph Busch is the church's pastor. I trust that I am not the only one who finds it difficult to imagine that 48 ranks of Stinkens and Letourneau pipework will be discarded in this manner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I trust that I am not the only one who finds it difficult to imagine that 48 ranks of Stinkens and Letourneau pipework will be discarded in this manner.

I'm not an organ builder, so forgive me if I'm being a little naive and more than a little blunt, but what the **** does it matter who made the pipes? Isn't the voicing more important? As ever, perfectly happy to be corrected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Cynic
I'm not an organ builder, so forgive me if I'm being a little naive and more than a little blunt, but what the **** does it matter who made the pipes? Isn't the voicing more important? As ever, perfectly happy to be corrected.

 

 

I think Steve Best is only trying to clear from our minds any thought that Pastor Busch may be right and there is something suspect or unusually dangerous about the materials those pipes were made from.

 

The more one hears of the story, the more obvious the situation seems to me. Priest and Organist did not particularly get on, as a result of this the organist has left and this not perfectly finished but generally high quality instrument, 'his baby' has been left behind. The sort of music for which it was built is no longer required - how often have we heard that?!! - so the instrument's problems (and there have been some, but dear friends I could list you organs by well-known firms over here that have had similar problems) were more than enough for it to be condemned. Note that the descriptions given by 'the anti brigade' are extremely alarmist - suggestions that the electrics were so bad that the church could burn down, that the organ was too heavy so the gallery was unsafe, the pipes were made of toxic materials etc. etc.

 

I have already pointed out from evidence we have seen that nobody had bothered to shore up the gallery to be on the safe side so we can take the weight problem as probably just alarmist. Organ electrics even in the USA will not be that different to here. A combination action requires rectified smoothed current of not more than 18 volts. Some of the more modern solid-state requires considerably less. We have been told that the contractors who supplied this part were prepared to come back and sort them out anyway....

 

No, IMHO that organ was doomed from the moment Harold Demase left his post. I wish him solace in a more Christian church and hope that he gets over the public loss of all that virtually unpaid work. He has at least the comfort that his antagonist is not exactly benefiting from this decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...