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Christ Church Cambridge Mass.


AJJ
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A new Schoenstein organ has recently been installed at Christ Church, Cambridge, Mass. USA to a specification devised by Stuart Forster (a former student of Thomas Murray) the DOM and Jack Bethards of Schoenstein.

 

http://www.cccambridge.org/schoenstein_specs.pdf

 

The instrument is in a chamber to with two openings on the right hand side, front of a building which is not in fact very large - rather in size and style like one of the London 'Wren' churches. For historical reasons great care had to be taken that the organ fitted visually as well as 'soundwise' and in consequence both chamber openings have casework fronts to blend in with the rest of the building. The Great and Choir divisions both have swell shutter fronts directly behind one of the cases while the Swell has a double enclosed section and a further set of shutters linked to the other case via a tone chute (shades of Audsley). In consequence wind pressures are high - Great 4-1/2'' and 5'', Choir 5'' with the Tuba on 15'', Swell 5'' with 10'' for the double enclosed section and 22'' for the 32' Pedal extension of the 16' Swell Fagotto. The whole instrument operates on electric-pneumatic action typical of the builder concerned. The elements from a typical Schoenstein stoplist are all there - double enclosure of the quietest and loudest Swell stops, duplexing of stops to various divisions, a variety of characterful strings, flutes and reeds, bright but warm voicing of the main chorus work designed to fill a very dry acoustic with acceptably judged sound, the ability to achieve a seemless crescendo from pp to ff and an efficiently gadgeted but not over endowed console. If other similar instruments by this builder are anything to go by (St Paul, K Street, Washington etc.) the organ should not only be incredibly versatile for its primary role as a liturgical instrument but also marvellous for the mainstream repertoire.

However, this whole arrangement seems to fly in the face of what we are told is best these days and certainly in the UK organs tend to come out of chambers and have wind pressures reduced. Indeed one suspects that if the church had been over here then it might have aquired a mechanical action organ of a fraction of the size. What are opinions on this and why is it unlikely (seemingly) that a project like this would ever happen (at present at least) in the UK?

 

AJJ

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