Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

St Peter's Basilica

Guest stevecbournias

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 77
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I think we may be safe, Paul!


There are two other States in-between: New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I would guess that the State of Connecticut is roughly five hundred miles from Ohio....


Just as long as Nathan does not post schemes for enormous instruments....


....Apart from that, I would also like to welcome him to this board!




Of course, if Nathan has relatives in Ohio....




Just kidding.


Welcome, Nathan!




I am not particularly interested in large schemes for a variety of reasons, but my largest objection is that these instruments do not seem to "act" or "feel" like a pipe organ. My opinion is that there is something to be said for an instrument that follows at least some sort of convention. In any corporate or public context, be it a Church or Concert Hall, there should be a reasonable expectation that guest recitalists will play the instrument, and that the instrument should be able to at least play a decent amount of the literature out there. By creating an instrument that "acts" and "feels" extraordinarily different than what is common to the organ, one is in fact creating an extra layer of translation over that organ that the musician must adapt to. Granted, organists are the most adaptable instrumentalists on the planet; but even so, if one is an organ builder and would like to hear their instrument put to the greatest use, it would be in their best interest to specify the organ to be at least understood from a general point of view.


This is not to say that the instrument should not be of the builders' design, and have their own stamp and personality embodied in it; however it is important to both identify and remember who this organ will belong to, what its purpose will be, and how well it can serve both. It is one thing if one's own fortune is footing the bill, but it is a whole different matter when spending someone else's money.


The Atlantic City instrument is an interesting example of a large scheme coming to be. I dare say that the instrument is arguably the most hated organ on the planet, and I can't say that I blame those that have bad feelings concerning it. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to truly conceptualize how to register the instrument, and how to understand which ranks are unified and not, and what they will sound like - imagine trying to do this as a guest recitalist! I suspect that if there were a Willis organ installed instead of the current instrument, I would not be mentioning it in this context, or in light of its silence. Whatever it is and turns out to be, it was a terribly wasteful exercise by an individual who was unwilling to recognize that he had almost no practical experience whatsoever.


The Wanamaker instrument is a different ball of wax entirely, being funded by a private individual for a private space according to his wishes. Whatever one feels about the instrument, it was not installed out of any intentional disregard for its owners or audience. The Wanamaker Organ was crafted by professionals to a high standard, and as such is a legitimate instrument. More importantly, the organ is wonderful, and is truly used to full advantage by Mr. Conte and guests. It is also worth mentioning that the Wanamaker instrument, and its similarly-sized cousin the Cadet Chapel instrument, are both maintained, funded, and given full support by their owners; so it is difficult to argue against their legitimacy.


I believe that if one is interested in creating schemes, particularly for instructive purposes, that they would do well to take into account and communicate the realities behind the installation - time, money, space, accoustics, literature, architecture, etc... Otherwise, what is the purpose of creating a scheme? Who does the scheme serve?


The greatest pipe organs are those that serve people, and invite those people to experience something that truly blurs the line between earthly life and spirit. Without people, a pipe organ is nothing more than a ridiculous eccentricity that should be passed over in favor of an electronic instrument having "95% of the effect for half the price". A pipe organ, or a pipe organ scheme that ostensibly sets out to serve the enjoyment of an individual or select few should neither command nor expect support or understanding, particularly when its defense requires the marginalization and intimidation of people; which the organ simply cannot afford to lose.


Best Regards,



Link to comment
Share on other sites



I think in light of the sort of ongoing situation here I should make some effort to identify myself. My name is Nathan Smith, I live/work in and around New Haven, CT as a pipe organ tuner and restorer for the A. Thompson-Allen Co. I am sure that anyone you know on some of the other pipe organ services can vouch for this.


At any rate, it was through the current ugliness here being transmitted to other forums that I was made aware of this forum. Since I consider my organic tastes to be largely English with a bit of Skinner and Casavant here and there, I thought that this would be a great place to absorb so to speak.


Best Regards,



Link to comment
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...