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Walt Disney Hall Organ.


Anthony Poole
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I wondered whether any of the participants in this forum have listened to or played the new Walt Disney Hall organ. I've not heard or seen it yet, so probably shouldn't really comment as my only impressions of it are the photographs I've seen and one review I've read. But when I first saw a schematic of it, my first thought was that it could have been something conjoured by the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

 

I find the debate about the concert hall pipe organ fascinating. On the one hand I understand and even sympathise with those who have hang ups for all sorts of legitimate reasons and associate the organ with the church. But I wish people could consider it first as a musical instrument, which is what it was before it went into the church in the first place. Unlike any other musical instrument, the organ is so large that it becomes a part of the fabric of the building and becomes an architectural feature of it, whether it is in a concert hall or a church. Even the consoles of the 'Might' Wurlitzer's were a visual asset to a building, even if you couldn't see the rest of the organ. Personally I'm against the idea of hiding organs behind a screen, especially in a concert hall, as it negates the purpose of going to experience live music. The live performance experience is just as much visual as it is aural, and that does not even take account the aural aspect of front display pipes. I've only heard one good organ behind a screen, which is at Westminster Cathedral, although that is a remarkable and exceptional instrument for a variety of reasons.

 

So back to my original question, does the Walt Disney Hall organ sound like it looks? And do people think this visual and tonal eclectic approach is right for a concert hall, as opposed to a church, given the huge demands of a concert hall instrument as opposed to the equally large, but different, demands of a church instrument?

 

I should say that what I have read about the organ describes the sound as powerful, bucking the trend of more recent thin toned concert hall instruments. And the review I read describesthe tonal approach as eclectic. My impression of the visual approach is that it is unconventional, which is stating the obvious, against what looks like a relatively conventional concert hall backdrop - again, judging by photographs, rather than seeing the beast in the flesh.

 

I've just had an idea for a cartoon, with the music especially composed for the organ. It's a shame I can't draw.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Anthony,

 

The Walt Disney Hall organ in Los Angeles opened last weekend. You can find out more about the events and some background on the organ itself by going to:

 

http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=24510

 

Unlike the bitty relaunch of the Royal Albert Hall organ, Disney Hall have got a proper programme of events, including four solo recitals. One can't vouchsafe for what the organ sounds like, but I certainly like their style in launching the instrument. Perhaps something for us in the UK to learn about why it's impotant to blow our own trumpet when a new instrument or important rebuild is launched.

 

Jeremy Jones

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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw most of this organ in Caspar Glatter-Götz's shop. Those wooden front front pipes are so sensuous you want to stroke them.

 

The interior of the organ is however quite conventional. Manuel Rosales' scales are enormous, helping him, he thinks, produce massive tone even in acoustically unfavourable environments. He cuts his pipes up fairly high and gives them lots of wind at moderate pressures. His voicing style is, in his own words "assertive", you couldn't really call his organs soft, although his celestes are magical.

 

Unfortunately I haven't heard this one yet. In spite of the nomenclature of the "Llamaradas", it is a fairly conventional organ - but, says Joseph Adam, who played a part of the opening recital, it "sets new standards for concert hall organs in America".

 

The facade is only fairly loosely integrated in the organ's desigh and was, as is well known, designed by the hall's architect Frank Gehry, who wanted to make a kind of sculpture out of it. Actually he wanted the curved pipes of metal, until he could be convinced that there might well be problems associated with that......

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  • 11 months later...

Sorry to post this one season late but here is some information you may find useful regarding the Disney Concert Hall organ. It was one of three new organs featured on a Pipedreams show last year. You will have to fast forward to 54:30 for the portion featuring the Disney organ. Pipedreams #0444

 

Music were by Vierne, Reger and Hakim. The organist was Joseph Adam.

 

The Walt Disney Concert Hall organ (built by Glatter-Götz, tonal design and voicing by Rosales) was first played during the 2004 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.

 

For more pictures and interesting facts, visit the Rosales website Opus 24, or the Glatter-Götz website here. Personally, I think the organ looks like a bag of fries, from afar (as in this photo) but I think it looks great nevertheless.

 

losangeles_disneyglatter3.jpg

 

Mind you, the front wooden pipes are each secured by two stainless steel rods with joints so they can move during earth quakes. Here is a four-page article about the story of the organ, complete with stop list and analyses of the mixtures from The American Organist. Or if you do not want to read, here are two videos: inside the organ and inside the hall (they require Quick Time).

 

Enjoy and let us know what you think.

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Guest Barry Oakley

I heard the Disney Hall organ on Pipedreams maybe a month or so ago. As you say, the organ does look like a cone of fries, but I, too, thought it made a fine sound.

 

There are many fine contemporary organs in the USA and Canada and I sometimes wonder, given the dollar exchange rate, why American/Canadian builders might not find a market in the UK.

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I saw most of this organ in Caspar Glatter-Götz's shop. Those wooden front front pipes are so sensuous you want to stroke them.

 

The interior of the organ is however quite conventional. Manuel Rosales' scales are enormous, helping him, he thinks, produce massive tone even in acoustically unfavourable environments. He cuts his pipes up fairly high and gives them lots of wind at moderate pressures. His voicing style is, in his own words "assertive", you couldn't really call his organs soft, although his celestes are magical.

Well, well!

 

A man who thinks classical but keeps Wurlitzer in mind......finally!

 

It's the ONLY way of doing it right in a modern concert hall!

 

As for stroking wooden pipes Barry, I suppose it's the organist's equivalent to hugging trees. I personally adored those velvet-curtains around the organ consoles in old Methodist chapels.......they made wonderful cloth-mothers.

:lol:

 

MM

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It's interesting that recent discussion about concert-hall acoustics now find a relevant focal point with the new Rosales/Glatter-Glotz instrument at the Walt Disney concert hall, some miles away.

 

It's also been interesting to note from the specification that the wind-pressures vary from between 4" and 17", with the Great being on 5" pressure throughout.

Perhaps this means, that in combination with big scaling, the voicer had a certain control over the final outcome, and tonal balance could be achieved successfully right across the audible spectrum.

 

I think it was Nick Bennett who suggested that the Bridgewater was good for orchestral music. I wonder if this is simply a reflection on the skills of orchestral players, who can quite easily compensate for defective acoustics simply by listening to what bounces back. Once in place, an organ can't be instantly adjusted like a choir or an orchestra can be.

 

Perhaps the lesson is maybe being learned, that baroque organs sound wonderful in the right building, but seldom (if ever) in modern concert halls.

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis
The Walt Disney Concert Hall organ (built by Glatter-Götz, tonal design and voicing by Rosales) was first played during the 2004 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.  ... Personally, I think the organ looks like a bag of fries, from afar (as in this photo) but I think it looks great nevertheless.  ...

 

Enjoy and let us know what you think.

 

It looks ridicuolously gimmicky for my taste, I can well imagine Cruella de Ville at that!!!

 

Quote shortened by moderator, out of kindness to people on dial-up ...

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There are many fine contemporary organs in the USA and Canada and I sometimes wonder, given the dollar exchange rate, why American/Canadian builders might not find a market in the UK.

I am not too sure about American organs, but some Canadian organs have already made it to the UK, especially from the Létourneau Organs company. Orgues Létourneau is the work of Fernand Letourneau, who founded the firm in 1979 after working for the Casavant Frères for 14 years and touring in Europe. Here is a list of his works in the UK:

  • The Damon Wells Chapel, Pembroke College, Oxford Opus 43
  • Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula, H.M. Tower of London Opus 70
  • Royal Academy of Music (continuo), London Opus 71
  • The Dutch Church (continuo), London Opus 72

A small selection of their recordings are available on thier website here. It is the last button on the left hand side labelled “Music”. If you would like to hear more, here are two CDs you may want:

  • The Létourneau Organ at Pembroke College, Oxford played by David Titterington (The Classical Recording Company CRC 901-2)
  • Music for Organ from the Tower of London played by Colm Carey (London Independent Records LIR004)

Two of the music samples on the website are from the Pembroke CD. If you would like to hear more Canadian organs, the Pole and Kingham Pipe Organs website have some samples from the three-manual organ at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Chatham, Ontario.

These were recorded live at a recital given by Marty Smyth.

 

Enjoy these recordings and let us know what you think about Canadian organs.

 

opus70_a2.jpg

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"Perhaps the lesson is maybe being learned, that baroque organs sound wonderful in the right building, but seldom (if ever) in modern concert halls."

 

(Quote)

 

This may be a little overdone as a shortcut; the northern european baroque organ

may be in little, carved churches, while the spanish is in huge, stone churches.

Widely variable conditions also...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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"Perhaps the lesson is maybe being learned, that baroque organs sound wonderful in the right building, but seldom (if ever) in modern concert halls."

 

(Quote)

 

This may be a little overdone as a shortcut; the northern european baroque organ

may be in little, carved churches, while the spanish is in huge, stone churches.

Widely variable conditions also...

 

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

 

It can't be overdone as a statement without re-writing the English language Pierre.

 

Anyway, I've played an awful lot of them in Holland, where I go most years, and I don't actually think I have ever played a bad baroque organ there. One had my teeth slightly on edge, but it was in a poor state and suffering tin-worm, but I've just marvelled at the sonic beauty of the Schnitgers, Muller, Hinsz, and other baroque instruments of the period, and even revelled in the later instruments of Batz, for example.

 

Even in small churches with a modest acoustic but a wooden interior, the effect of an old Hagabeer was wonderful, and the same can be said for many of the 1960's and 70's Flentrops. Even the street organs are gems.

 

The point I make is simply that of a "natural" acoustic with natural materials, as compared to modern materials and an "engineered" acoustic such as we hear in concert-halls to-day.

 

It's a relatively new problem, and if the organ at the Walt Disney Hall works well, and the indications are that it does, there are lessons to be learned from the Rosales/Glatter-Glotz approach to building a concert-hall organ in a new hall.

 

MM

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I think it was Nick Bennett who suggested that the Bridgewater was good for orchestral music. I wonder if this is simply a reflection on the skills of orchestral players, who can quite easily compensate for defective acoustics simply by listening to what bounces back. Once in place, an organ can't be instantly adjusted like a choir or an orchestra can be.

 

Perhaps the lesson is maybe being learned, that baroque organs sound wonderful in the right building, but seldom (if ever)  in modern concert halls.

 

MM

 

I'm afraid it's much simpler than that: an orchestra can make enough sound to fill the hall (a performance of the Turangalila Stmphony by the BBC Philharmonic under Tortelier comes to mind as a particularly ear-splitting experience) whereas the organ simply doesn't make enough noise.

 

What that hall needs is a Binns instrument.

 

Nick

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I'm afraid it's much simpler than that: an orchestra can make enough sound to fill the hall (a performance of the Turangalila Stmphony by the BBC Philharmonic under Tortelier comes to mind as a particularly ear-splitting experience) whereas the organ simply doesn't make enough noise.

 

What that hall needs is a Binns instrument.

 

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

 

 

Why on earth should anyone want a Binns instrument?

 

They were quite average but thoroughly capable instruments;definitely nothing special; built as they were to a predictable formula.

 

MM

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At this point it might be interesting to have a little glance

to what Charles Anneessens did as a concert-Hall organ in 1888

(Bradford's year? Yes.)

 

This thing was built 1888 for the "Kursaal" Hall in Ostend, a mixture

of a casino and a Concert-Hall intended for the upper "leisure" class of the

time.

 

(Building and organ reduced in ashes during WW II)

 

Grand-orgue

 

Gros Diapason ouvert 16'

Bourdon 16'

Principal 8'

Flûte harmonique 8'

Violon 8'

Flûte octaviante 4'

Doublette 2'

Cornet progressif 2-3-4 ranks

Bombarde 16'

Trompette 8'

Clarinette 8' (free reeds)

 

Positif expressif

 

Montre 8'

Flûte d'orchestre 8'

Gambe 8'

Voix célestes 8'

Flûte octaviante 4'

Octavin 2'

Cornet 4 ranks

Trompette 8'

Tubason 8' ( as it spells: between bassoon and Tuba!)

 

Récit expressif

 

Hohlflûte 8'

Bourdon 8'

Carillon 3 ranks (the absence of a 4' is no transcription error)

Basson-Hautbois 8'

Voix humaine 8'

 

Pedale

 

Contrebasse 16'

Soubasse 16'

Octave basse 8'

Bombardon 16'

Tuba 8'

 

All usual couplers plus swell and choir suboctaves.

 

This quite unconventionnal design may still have something to learn to us today.

Noteworthy too are the Cornets used as mixture substitutes.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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At this point it might be interesting to have a little glance

to what Charles Anneessens did as a concert-Hall organ in 1888

(Bradford's year? Yes.)

 

This thing was built 1888 for the "Kursaal" Hall in Ostend, a mixture

of a casino and a Concert-Hall intended for the upper "leisure" class of the

time.

 

(Building and organ reduced in ashes during WW II)

 

Grand-orgue

 

Gros Diapason ouvert 16'

Bourdon 16'

Principal 8'

Flûte harmonique 8'

Violon 8'

Flûte octaviante 4'

Doublette 2'

Cornet progressif 2-3-4 ranks

Bombarde 16'

Trompette 8'

Clarinette 8' (free reeds)

 

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

 

 

I can't recall who shot me out of the air when I suggested that the organ of St.Joseph's RC church, Bradford, by Anneessens might have had a free reed Clarinette, but here we see exactly that on an instrument of the same period by the same builder; also more or less contemporary with St.Mary's, Bradford where Jaques Lemmens gave the opening recital.

 

Anneessens got into hot-water in the UK, because the workmanship was not only lamentable, but he used an early, rather unreliable type of electric action (Mols patent?) and was not averse to having a common windchest for Great and Choir organs. Sometimes, a rank of pipes would be used twice as a duplex stop, but with a different name, and certain people thought this made him something of a con-man; such electric duplexing being a new idea more normally associated with the likes of Hope-Jones.

 

Across the mists of time, I recall some rather beautiful flutes, some nice sounding chorus reeds and a rather sombre pleno. The Bradford Clarinette really was quite a special sound, but overall, I don't think the Anneessens approach has anything much to teach us to-day, and certainly not in the dreadful quality of the workmanship.

 

It isn't much fun when reeds and flue basses buckle and collapse under their own weight, and much of the rest start to lean over like drunken soldiers because the metal is so soft.

 

MM

 

MM

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The quality was indeed quite variable with Anneessens.

There is a preserved example in Clermond-Ferrand, France,

where the pipes were too soft and need a torough restoration.

 

The reason: a too high lead proportion for heavy, very tick pipes

(tickness that is a part of this style).

A high tin proportion is inappropriate for tick pipes;

 

So the obvious solution was to use zinc for the lower pitched

pipes. When this was used, like in Ieper Cathedral, there obtains

absolutely no problem...But often the customers did not want zinc, and

so had flawed, too soft big bass pipes!

 

-Free reed stops were extremely common in Belgium up until at least 1920, whereas

in France they dissepeared as early as about 1850.

Anneessens did use relatively few of them, because he was a flemish, western Belgium's builder, non-german speaking. But as nearly all belgian organs, his were

synthesis of french, german and british styles (the latter less frequent, tough).

 

As an "Orgellandschaft", Belgium is a frontier, a border area between north-german/dutch style, south german style and the french style.

An incredible mixture -to which some english influences must be added with Annessens in the 19th century- that lead us here to a somewhat interesting

experience with would-be "eclectic" organs -because all ancient organs here

are precisely that-.

 

-Anneessens, like his competitor Kerkhoff (from Brussels), used a slightly modified

Roosevelt chest; just different enough to avoid patents rights.

 

-Anneessens's style has indeed something for us to learn from. I'd give my two

cents (or Pence) we shall not wait 20 years more before the first reconstitutions

of this kind of organ see the light of day in Belgium. Just wait a bit and queue here,

ladies and gentlemen.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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I wondered whether any of the participants in this forum have listened to or played the new Walt Disney Hall organ.

 

I know I'm weighing in late here on this topic (sorry, that's what happens when you're a newbie on a BB!)

 

I had the privilege to be in the audience for the 2004 premiere during the American Guild of Organists convention.

 

I sat WAAAAY in the back up in the nose-bleed section, and even from that vantage, the organ filled the room gloriously - never strident but having a very warm and full voice (and the room was PACKED with people!).

 

On many organ BBS and email lists I have heard indignant comments from organists who hate the looks... I'll only say that it _does_ work (for me) in that building, and if you dislike the looks, you are free to close your eyes - the sound more than makes up for it....

 

One more comment - the Sowerby Concerto played at that concert deserves a wider hearing - I believe this was the first performance in something like 60 or 70 years (!).... it sounded very much like Gershwin might have written had he lived another 20 years and continued maturing as a composer...

 

Cheers,

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I sat WAAAAY in the back up in the nose-bleed section, and even from that vantage, the organ filled the room gloriously - never strident but having a very warm and full voice (and the room was PACKED with people!).

I can believe that without difficulty. Afterall, there is a whole division whose main purpose is to reinforce other stops and to fill the room.

On many organ BBS and email lists I have heard indignant comments from organists who hate the looks...  I'll only say that it _does_ work (for me) in that building, and if you dislike the looks, you are free to close your eyes - the sound more than makes up for it....

Who's to say that musical instruments have to have a certain look? In many cases, the appearance makes a statement about the instrument as well. This organ's appearance tells me that it is modern, but not ugly, warm, yet powerful.

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