Organ matters - Organs matter!

Wurlitzers . . . Cinema Organs and Fairground instruments => Cinema Organs and Fairground instruments => Topic started by: David Pinnegar on February 18, 2011, 04:48:25 PM

Title: Town hall organs
Post by: David Pinnegar on February 18, 2011, 04:48:25 PM
Hi!

Today I had reason to look at a Location Agent's website and found a couple of interesting photos:
http://location-collective.co.uk/location-detail.html?id=7644&cid=972
is an organ with an intriguing disposition - real or false pipes?
and there are one or two others that look interesting.

What really drew my attention was the photo labelled Town Halls on
http://location-collective.co.uk/index.html/public-spaces--services--buildings/250
but can't find the building concerned.

In these days of economic cuts, is the Town Hall organ more endangered than the Church Organ and what, nowadays, are most of them used for?

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: revtonynewnham on February 19, 2011, 03:29:28 PM
I wonder where these are.  They're not Battersea - (now Battersea Arts Centre) - that has a Hope-Jones 4m, recently made playable.

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: barniclecompton on February 20, 2011, 12:25:58 AM
Heres another thing on here i dont get. Why are town hall organs in with fair organs and theatre organs? Again, Im left askin the question, why are theatre organs in with fair organs?! Not good enough?!
Title: Not all Town halls with organs have "unit orchestras"
Post by: KB7DQH on February 20, 2011, 08:49:41 AM
That certainly is the case in the USA...  Most of the "municipal" organs have either been removed or simply "lost their homes"...   There are notable exceptions...   

I guess one would have to properly define a "town hall"...  Most in the USA would immediately think of
the municipal "seat of government"...  Not surprisingly most of these aren't much more than office buildings, maybe a courtroom or two... and certainly don't have the facilities to house even the smallest percentage of that municipalities' population...

That would be reserved for, in the larger cities, the "municipal auditorium"  which in some cases may be part of a public school facility in smaller towns, in some cases a structure left over from a "world's fair" (one could thus reasonably argue the Spreckel's organ in San Diego could be classified as a "fairgrounds instrument" :o :o :o)  and in a few cases a large multipurpose structure (like Boardwalk Hall)...

Could Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall fit this "narrow" definition ???  I suppose it would have to do with the "ownership" of the facility ???

For years the Seattle Symphony called the Seattle Opera House (another leftover from a World's Fair) home, but because of an increasingly "busy schedule" it got to be more and more difficult for the Symphony to schedule performances, let alone practice... so they got some money together and built their "own" concert hall.  Many Symphonies have done this across the USA, and have included some spectacular pipe organs into the bargain!  One of the newest has yet to receive their organ,
however they have hinted at its specification and builder... Most importantly the organ was no mere afterthought, space having been provided for its installation.

Can we then stretch this concept to include "government-owned" athletic exhibition facilities-- Sports Stadiums ??? ;D   Some of these at one time or in one case will in the future house pipe organs ;) ;D 8)  and do from time to time host "musical performances" ??? ::)


I suppose since this is a forum related to instruments as opposed to buildings that contain instruments  ;)  I am going to make an attempt at explaining what _I_ think the forum adminstrator had in mind by creating this particular "board"...   The first word-- Wurlitzers-- gives us a clue...
And probably not an ideal choice, but, it certainly suggests an idea not immediately apparent...

Likely a better term would have been "Unit Orchestras"... which would imply a sub-set of instruments in the "pipe organ" family...  I have seen this written, that if the Pipe Organ is the "King"
of instruments then the "Theater Pipe Organ" is the "Weird Uncle" :o ;D and I suppose one could make the argument that "fairgrounds instruments" could be called the "bastard child" (Unit Band, but orchestra) ??? :o :o ;D

Which brings us to the "Town Hall", again...  Likely the first installation of what was called by the builder of the instrument a "unit orchestra" was NOT a theater, but, you guessed it...

A Town Hall...  Years before "silent" movies...  in Denver, Colorado.

Eric
KB7DQH

Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: revtonynewnham on February 20, 2011, 02:13:35 PM
Hi

I don't know that I would have posted the topic under this heading - but then, Town Hall organs are, in many ways, the link between the older, classical organ style and theatre organs, since they were designed, in the main, to play orchestral transcriptions - and often to accompany large "Oratorio choirs" & Choral Societies.

Too many have been lost - including the organ in St George's Hall here in Bradford - it's certainly been unplayable for years, and I hear rumours that much of it has been removed.  More worryingly, the recent round of Local Authority cuts mean that Leeds City Council no longer employ a borough organist, I don't know what's happening with the  Town Hall concerts - and Birmingham is down to one a fortnight rather than weekly according to an item in one of the organ magazines.

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: organforumadmin on February 20, 2011, 08:31:21 PM
Hi!


Some aspects of this thread have been looked at before in terms of putting Wurlitzers in a category with fair organs - so no insult intended at all . . .


Eric has certainly touched on a commonality in identifying "unit orchestras" - but really one might suppose the common link to be organs for entertainment and organs for dancing. Many of the so-called fair organs are not fair organs at all but describe a category especially in Holland of the Dance Organ, of which many very sophisticated instruments were produced with at least 110 "keys" and more.


Raising "Town Hall" organs in this topic seems appropriate as they are certainly endangered by cuts, being perceived to be in the luxury, non-essential services, category .  . . and by definition exist for events of public entertainment of one sort or other . . .


A forum exists for exchanges of view, for enlightenment through discussion, and hopefully for the generation of greater enthusiasms and dissemination of ideas and the breaking down of common misperceptions . . . . so this is certainly the place to discuss such matters!


Best wishes


Forum Admin
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: Barrie Davis on February 23, 2011, 02:19:51 PM
Thank you for that and yes it is Battersea, has this organ now been restored? I think Tony said it is playing again.
There is a very neglected 3 manual J.J. Binns in Wednesfield Town Hall. I doubt if any work will be carried out on it due to lack of funds, at least the same authority keeps West Bromwich Town Hall tuned.

Best wishes

Barrie
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: revtonynewnham on February 23, 2011, 03:25:04 PM
I wonder where these are.  They're not Battersea - (now Battersea Arts Centre) - that has a Hope-Jones 4m, recently made playable.

Every Blessing

Tony

Hi - a departed former member (though still occasional reader) of this forum abusing his brother's rarely-used account... it IS Battersea. Look at http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N17247 (http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N17247) and its pictures. Identical.  :)

OK, that's me off again. Bye all!

Hi

The pictures of the exterior don't match - which is why I thought it wasn't battersea.  In fact, the NPOR shots don't show pipes across the back of the stage - but that could just be a stage curtain in the way.

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: Barrie Davis on February 23, 2011, 05:47:46 PM
Hi

I thought one did Tony with a soloist on the stage, it wasnt one of the clear ones, but the very last on npor

Barrie
Title: Re: St George's Hall Liverpool was Town hall organs
Post by: dragonser on February 23, 2011, 09:50:20 PM
Hi,
I'm not sure if St George's Hall Liverpool is a town hall ?
but there was the program on Tv Flog it ! on BBC 2 today at 3-45 pm.
this shows the Organ being played and also a short tour round Henry Willis and Sons, showing how the pipes are made .......
you should be able to see it on BBC iplayer if you are in the uk.
pleased to see one daytime TV program mentioning the Pipe Organ !

regards Peter B
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: David Pinnegar on February 24, 2011, 12:21:11 AM
Hi - a departed former member (though still occasional reader) of this forum abusing his brother's rarely-used account... it IS Battersea. Look at http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N17247 (http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N17247) and its pictures. Identical.  :)

OK, that's me off again. Bye all!

 ;) Pssss . . .  we won't tell . . .  8) but it's hardly secret on an open forum!

Thanks for this - I think the likelihood is that you're entirely right on this one.

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on February 26, 2011, 01:39:10 AM
Hmmm... Seems the Largest organ in the State of Alaska is installed in...

Davis Hall!  On the Campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks...

"Concert Hall" organs tend to be "on the Straight" side of organ construction... generally...

This concert announcement

http://www.newsminer.com/bookmark/11658618 (http://www.newsminer.com/bookmark/11658618)

brought the existence of the organ to my attention...

A Geophysicist organist???

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: Barrie Davis on February 26, 2011, 08:09:23 PM
Wednesbury and Wednesfield are 2 different Towns, the organ in Wednesbury was removed years ago, the Binns still remains, although you are quite correct it is not on NPOR and the entries for that Town are very out of date.
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: revtonynewnham on February 26, 2011, 10:52:02 PM
Hi


Updates to NPOR are always welcome!

Every Blessing

Tony
(NPOR Editor)
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: Barrie Davis on February 27, 2011, 12:09:03 AM
Hi Tony

You know I will when I have available time!!!!!!

Best wishes

Barrie
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on March 05, 2011, 07:36:08 AM
This article....http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-historic-pipe-organ-20110304,0,7490364,full.story (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-historic-pipe-organ-20110304,0,7490364,full.story)

Quote
Wagner has laid down ground rules for anyone who might want to accept the organ. The piece of local history must remain in Maryland, must be preserved and must be available to the public, he said. So far, he has had no takers. Maybe it's the relocation, which he knows can be daunting but is doable, he said.

Judging from his experience, the instrument needs an area with more than 300 square feet that is at least 8 feet high. A climate-controlled space would be ideal for the pipes and would mean less tuning. Imposing lobbies are most suitable for an instrument that requires this much space, he said. Maybe the State House in Annapolis, the courthouse in Towson or, possibly, the proposed Center for the Arts planned for Bel Air could handle a few tons of musical mechanics.

"Alaska has one at the state office building in Juneau," he said. "They play it every Friday."

His second choice might be a college or a school. Long Island University owns an original pipe organ that is raised from beneath the gymnasium floor. Such an instrument really requires theater-size space, he said.

"It does not belong in a home, but there was no other way to save it," Wagner said. "It sounds good here, but would sound even better in a theate

Quote
Most of those luxurious theaters are gone, as are the versatile Wurlitzers. The company branched out to jukeboxes and other instruments before it went out of business a few years ago.

"We have to preserve those that remain," Smith said. "Think of it as a time machine that can take you to whatever era of music you want to hear. From baroque to rock, this organ is capable of anything."

Wagner acknowledges that parting with it will be difficult, but he remains determined to return it to the public's eye and ear.

"I will miss it because it has been an extremely big piece of my life," he said. "But I want everyone to have the chance to hear the sound that can't be beat."

led to this.... ;)http://www.pstos.org/instruments/ak/juneau/state-bldg.htm (http://www.pstos.org/instruments/ak/juneau/state-bldg.htm)

Quote
The State Office Building Kimball was originally installed 1928 in Juneau's Coliseum Theatre. It was later moved to the 20th Century Theatre in 1939-1940.
 
The instrument was moved to its present location in 1976-77 by Balcom & Vaughan. Don Myers, Bill Bunch and the late Frank Butte did the installation. An opening program was given in May 1977.
 
The organ is still used frequently. In the Summer of 2000, J. Allan MacKinnon and several guest artists presented a series of Friday noontime concerts featuring classical and popular music. Occasionally other organists and visiting musicians from the cruise lines provide music on a short notice basis.

Noted in the PSTOS articles this is the last surviving cinema organ in Alaska, one of only two installed in the state...

So here's hoping ;)

Eric
KB7DQH

Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on March 11, 2011, 09:59:55 AM
The City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has purchased a complete Wurlitzer to be combined with an instrument damaged in the flooding of 2008 as part of a Theater restoration project...

Quote
The City of Cedar Rapids, in partnership with The Cedar Rapids Area Theatre Organ Society, continues to restore the Paramount Theatre and its historic Wurlitzer pipe organ. The organ was severely damaged in the Flood of 2008. The City is using proceeds from insurance agreements to rehabilitate the organ so that it will function as it did when it was originally installed in 1928 to accompany silent films.
 
The City has purchased a Wurlitzer Organ Opus 1908 as part of this project. This rare organ was originally installed in the Kenmore Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. The organ will be delivered to a warehouse in Cedar Rapids tomorrow morning. Media representatives are invited to see the organ delivery and learn more about how this organ will be used in the restoration project. Organ restoration experts will be on hand to answer questions.

Quote
For more information about the Paramount Theatre Restoration project, go to www.CRProgress.com or use this link: http://www.cedar-rapids.org/city-news/crprogress/paramount-theatre/Pages/default.aspx.
 

Original media release can be found here...http://www.easterniowagovernment.com/2011/03/10/media-briefing-tomorrow-city-purchases-rare-organ-for-paramount-theatre-restoration-project/ (http://www.easterniowagovernment.com/2011/03/10/media-briefing-tomorrow-city-purchases-rare-organ-for-paramount-theatre-restoration-project/)

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on March 15, 2011, 02:51:21 PM
This is my 500th post to this forum... :o ;D 8)

 "Found" a letter to the editor of a newspaper in Southeastern
Massachusetts about the 2005 Organ Historical Society convention... and how ironic that the hall where they held their banquet dinner contained an unplayable pipe organ...

Quote
Fall River was represented with stops at St. Anne’s, St. Joesph’s, St. Luke’s and First Congregational. But perhaps the most poignant and bittersweet moment of our visit to Fall River occurred during the evening banquet at the Abbey Grill.

Not lost in the magnificence of the great hall, but commanding attention even while silent and mute, stood the equally magnificent 1875 E and G. G. Hook organ — a fine example of the work of America’s premier organ builder of the 19th century. At every table, conversations centered on that pipe organ.

How splendid it was to be in that spectacular space and how sad we could not hear the once glorious organ.  Unfortunately there was no time to put the organ into playable condition because three other organs, St. Mary’s, Taunton (1893 Hook); St. James, New Bedford (1876 Roosevelt) and St. Joseph’s, Fall River (1883 W.K. Adams) took priority because they were in functioning parishes. 

OK... Why post this here in the Town Hall Organs subject?

Read on...

Quote
However, Fall River could, if they chose, have one of the few municipal organs and concerts halls in the state. Although it was in far worse condition than the Abbey Grill, Worcester chose to restore their Mechanics Hall and pipe organ. Springfield still retains their Municipal Auditorium and it’s organ and restoration is now under way to Soldiers and Sailors Auditorium (and organ) in Melrose.   

Aside from organ concerts (admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea) this beautiful and acoustically live room could be the site for concerts of every kind, from rock to the Fall River Symphony.
 
It will take imagination and determination. Fall River should look to New Bedford and its Waterfront Historic Area League for inspiration and perhaps assistance. That group has had nearly 50 years experience at saving what cannot be saved. 

Give it the old “We’ll Try”  Fall River. This building and what it contains is too significant to not try.
 
Bruce Gardzina

There are actually a couple photos of this space accompanying the letter...

http://www.heraldnews.com/features/x1777808589/LETTER-A-municipal-concert-hall-at-the-Abbey-Grill?img=2 (http://www.heraldnews.com/features/x1777808589/LETTER-A-municipal-concert-hall-at-the-Abbey-Grill?img=2)

Eric
KB7DQH

Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on July 19, 2011, 10:59:52 AM
Quote
Raising "Town Hall" organs in this topic seems appropriate as they are certainly endangered by cuts, being perceived to be in the luxury, non-essential services, category .   . . .

But not necessarily...

http://portlanddailysun.me/node/26752/ (http://portlanddailysun.me/node/26752/)

Quote
Ticket surcharge, donations eyed to fund historic organ renovation
By David Carkhuff
Jul 19, 2011 12:00 am

A surcharge on tickets for shows at Merrill Auditorium as well as a private fundraising effort are being weighed to pay for almost $2.6 million in repairs and renovations to the Kotzschmar Organ, a nearly century-old pipe organ that weighs in at 50 tons and boasts over 6,800 pipes.

"We're going to renovate it," said Kathleen Grammer, executive director of the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, a nonprofit group that schedules organ concerts and tends to the historic instrument. "The organ has been moved twice in its lifetime, and it's going to be 100 years old in 2012."

The Kotzschmar Organ — named for Hermann Kotzschmar, a Portland organist and music teacher who died in 1908 — is exhibiting "metal fatigue" in its pipes, and some of the leather components of the organ's "wind chests" are degraded, Grammer said.

"It's never really had a totally professional renovation," Grammer said.

"It hasn't been renovated, it's been maintained," she said.

The idea is to continue a $2 surcharge on Merrill Auditorium tickets, a holdover from a 1995 payment plan for a $2.3 million revenue bond that funded renovations to Merrill. City staff reported this week that the bond, originally due to be paid off by January 2015, now is expected to reach its final payments in the next few months, according to a report to the City Council.

The Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ have committed to raising half of the cost of renovations to the organ, while city staff proposed that the ticket surcharge be retained and used to pay for the city's half of the organ renovations.

The organ was built in 1912 and was a gift to the city by publishing magnate Cyrus Curtis, a Portland native. Curtis publications included the Ladies Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post; in Philadelphia he made his fortune in publishing, according to local historian Herb Adams.

A philanthropist, Curtis donated the Kotzschmar Organ in memory of its namesake, who was a friend of the Curtis family. Curtis's middle initials, "H.K.," are identical to the initials of Hermann Kotzschmar, an indication of the intimacy of the two families, Adams noted.

Curtis also donated an organ to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Adams said.

"He was a great devotee of music, that's why he chose to do these things, but he could not read music," Adams noted.

Descendants of the Curtis family include folk musician Gordon Bok and actress Stephanie Zimbalist.

Curtis is buried in Pennsylvania. Kotzschmar, who served as music director at the First Parish Church in Portland, was cremated and his ashes are in a marble urn near the church organ, Adams said.

When the organ in Kotzschmar's name was installed, Merrill Auditorium had to be reconfigured to accommodate the massive instrument, Adams noted. The original organ of 1912 was enlarged in 1927 by the Austin Organ Company, and the most recent addition to the organ took place in October of 2000, when Austin Organs Inc. installed a new, custom-designed five-manual console.

This console was made possible by major gifts from Anita and Charles Stickney, Sally and Malcolm White, a grant from the Theodore Presser Foundation, as well as other individual donors, the Friends group reported.

For more information about the Kotzschmar Organ, visit the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ website at www.foko.org.

Eric
KB7DQH

Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: pcnd5584 on July 19, 2011, 11:11:50 AM
Heres another thing on here i dont get. Why are town hall organs in with fair organs and theatre organs? Again, Im left askin the question, why are theatre organs in with fair organs?! Not good enough?!

Not necessarily. It may simply be that those who are responsible for producing such lists and sites, tend to group them in the category of 'entertainment venues'. I suspect that they would regard church organs (which, in any case, would be outside their purview) as fitting into the category of 'religious venues'. It may also be that they would view such places with deep suspicion....
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on July 19, 2011, 11:42:52 AM
And then there are  pipe organs installed in department stores, Art galleries, and museums...
although this is hardly a "normal" fixture in such institutions :( 

A good many cinema organs have found their way into pizza restaurants here in the USA...
One of my most memorable encounters with a pipe organ of any type was a childhood visit to Pizza and Pipes in Tacoma, Washington... Sadly, the restaurant burned  more than a decade ago, and what was left of the Wurlitzer sold to keep another going...

Moreover, many of the surviving cinema organs here in the USA which have been removed from their first home are now residence organs :o  However, one such instrument was removed from its residence, and would have been installed, playable, in the Smithsonian Institution's musical instrument section... but the Smithsonian lost interest in the project...  Guess where it lives now  ??? :o??? ??? :o :o

:o It is currently installed in... A department store...  The very same Macy's which houses the Wanamaker Grand Court organ...  in the room where Wanamaker's sold pianos...........

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on December 29, 2011, 05:04:02 AM
Quote
Year That Began Like a Dirge for San Diego’s Organist Ends in Joy


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/us/san-diegos-civic-organist-survives-to-welcome-another-year.html?_r=1 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/us/san-diegos-civic-organist-survives-to-welcome-another-year.html?_r=1)

Quote
SAN DIEGO — On the best days, loyal fans say, it is possible to hear the thundering organ three miles away. Weighing nearly 100,000 pounds with more than 4,500 pipes, it is nearly the largest outdoor organ in the world.


Devotees here puff up with pride at the unique features of the organ, which will turn 97 on New Year’s Eve. But perhaps nothing makes them prouder than the fact that their city is the only one left in America still paying for a civic organist. So this year, the birthday celebration comes with a huge sigh of relief.

Facing serious budget deficits, San Diego officials considered eliminating the job, which had been on the city payroll for nearly a century. The city chips in about $30,000 toward the $56,000 salary of the organist, who plays free concerts each Sunday afternoon in Balboa Park, the sprawling space in the center of the city.

Is the job a luxury? Carol Williams, the official organist for the last decade, says undoubtedly yes. But to her admirers, it is a luxury that would be silly to eliminate.

“You feel kind of guilty because you know how much is being cut, but this is a moneymaker for the city,” said Ms. Williams, who each week tries to shed the organ of what she calls its “dowdy” image as she plays to a broad audience, typically in the hundreds.

In the last decade, she has learned that while fugues that go on for 20 minutes may receive a standing ovation in concert halls, people in Balboa Park will simply get up and leave. “They seem to have a knack to do so just as I turn around to speak to the audience,” Ms. Williams said. “But really, I love knowing that many people would not be hearing an organ anywhere else.”

On Christmas Day, a crowd packed the organ pavilion to listen to everything from Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus to a sing-along of “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.” The young children were gripping their newly unwrapped presents, and the teenagers sported tank tops appropriate for the cloudless 75-degree weather.

On most Sundays, organizers say, about a third of the listeners are tourists, including some music aficionados who travel just to see the organ, featured in the countless travel guides sold about the sunny beach city.

Councilman Carl DeMaio does not dispute that the organ is a tourist attraction and treasured by locals. But, he said, the city needs to seriously consider what it pays for.

“We’ve decimated our basic park services, we’ve cut a third of libraries, and our roads are literally falling apart,” Mr. DeMaio said, dismissing the notion that the $30,000 is just a tiny fraction of the city’s $1 billion operating budget.

“Saying, ‘Well, it’s just a rounding error,’ that’s the government mentality,” he said. “Soon you have a lot of different rounding errors that add up to a lot of money.”

Of the $250,000 budget to put on the Sunday concerts and a Monday night series in the summer, the Spreckels Organ Society, named for the sugar heir who gave the organ to the city as a gift before the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, collects about $30,000 from members and $42,000 from the city. It raises the rest through grants and other outside donations.

Ross Porter, the administrator of the society, said he had not been surprised to be challenged this year, when “every penny is getting turned over twice.” But he was also not surprised when hundreds of supporters sent letters to the City Council and the local newspapers, saying the money was hardly different from the city’s subsidizing sports venues and development projects. And Ms. Williams, who has a doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music and is the first woman to hold the civic organist post, has built up a following that lines up to buy her CDs after shows.

In the end, Ms. Williams’s contract was renewed for 10 years, and the society raised more money than it had in some time.

“We’ve had some very lean years since 2000,” Mr. Porter said. “Our triumph this year was that we fought, which got us more attention, and that we won. We certainly didn’t take it lying down.”

That competitive ferocity can be seen in other aspects of the organ’s operations. For years, it was considered the largest outdoor organ in the world, but the benefactors of an organ in Austria recently sent an e-mail notifying the Spreckels Organ Society that it had been outdone. Ms. Williams is not worried; her supporters promised to add another batch of pipes soon enough.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 27, 2011

An earlier version of this article attributed an erroneous distinction to the Balboa Park organ. It is among the world’s largest outdoor organs; it is not “nearly the largest in the world.”

Well, arguably the "Heroes Organ" in Austria is the "loudest"... To protect the organist the console is located some hundreds of feet below the pipework in a concrete vault :o :o :o

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: Lucien Nunes on December 30, 2011, 01:33:37 PM
Quote
Ms. Williams said. “But really, I love knowing that many people would not be hearing an organ anywhere else.”

This is a crucial point that is too often overlooked by organ enthusiasts, who would hear organs wherever they happened to be. Town-hall organs have an outreach capability that is difficult to harness from within the church or cathedral setting. We have tried for example, with widely varying results that defy explanation, to bring this idea to Southampton Guildhall and its multi-function Compton that is seemingly just right for the job. A number of groups of people with no prior interest in the organ had a chance to discover its music in a way that would not have been possible in a different environment.

FWIW, Carol Williams played there not long ago, with a varied programme that seemed to have a good cross-sectional appeal. The finale could scarcely have failed to make an impact - I was in the relay room at the moment she hit the Tutti piston to round off with Widor's Toccata and the whole thing lit up like a firework display. When I returned to the auditorium I found that the entire audience had been blown to the back of the hall and were just picking themselves up. San Diego councillors presumably recognise the value in being able to broadcast these dynamics in a public setting, in a way that recorded music even now struggles to imitate.

Lucien
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: David Pinnegar on December 30, 2011, 02:53:34 PM
Quote
Ms. Williams said. “But really, I love knowing that many people would not be hearing an organ anywhere else.”
San Diego councillors presumably recognise the value in being able to broadcast these dynamics in a public setting, in a way that recorded music even now struggles to imitate.

Hi!

Providing a non ecclesiastical setting is part of what my concert platform at Hammerwood Park is all about - so if anyone can light up an audience and wants to . . . then organists are always welcome.

With regard to recorded music, compression of signals for radio is a pain in the neck. The signal, often listened to in a car, has to overcome the noise of machinery and a noise level much higher than previous generations have experienced. To them, pianissimos were audible and made impact in themselves whilst fortissimos were positively deafening, now drowned out by nightclub computermusik. Most pianists nowadays especially out of college don't know how to play pianissimo and bash the piano too hard - and modern Steinways, Yamahas, Bosendorfers and all the rest are very politely tolerant to such playing even if unmusical it remains. Adolfo Barabino is an excellent tutor for any young pianist, giving lessons in touch and hammer momentum.

Even recorded CDs are processed too much for my liking and also modern speakers with moving parts of differing mass and resulting momentum at best compress the sound and at worst sound bad unless fed by a bland diet of equalised sound levels. This is one of the reasons for my seeking perfection in speaker design as speakers are at the heart nowadays of musical enjoyment and dissemination of enthusiasm.

Whilst I recommended a member here to the Tannoy DC2000 units and that recommendation has been successful for his Hauptwerk organ, both Tannoy units and very expensive full range Manger units compress sound dynamics. Speakers should sit there requiring you to say to them "Surprise me!" and being willing to do so.

Much of Radio 3's output is a good deal less compressed than many other radio stations, but their 1.30am-6am "Through the Night" broadcasts, often of live recorded concerts, are often truly exceptional. I wish they would insert more of such programming during the day . . .

Best wishes

David P
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: revtonynewnham on December 30, 2011, 04:29:36 PM
Hi
Dynamics in recorded music is always going to be a controversial area, simply because of the range of situations that listeners are in, levels of background noise, and what is tolerable by neighbours/family etc.  Priory at one time claimed that their CD's used no dynamic manipulation - I don't know if that's still the case, but I would hope so.

However, for general listening, a degree of volume compression is pretty much essential.  I have a CD of Dupre organ music.  I've used this as a demo once or twice of the problem - I pick a fortissimo passage and get the audience to indicate a concensus volume level that they're comfortable with.  Moving to a pp passage leads to an nigh on inaudible sound.  The recording has retained at least most of the dynamics of the original organ - but in most listening situations, that dynamic range is too great for comfort, except for the real enthusiast with hi-fi equipment that will cleanly handle the extremes.

In the old days, records and radio broadcasts were a juggling act between the system noise level at the bottom end and distortion at the high volume end, and limitations of the medium meant that the dynamic range had to be reduced.  Done skillfully by a human being, it usually passed relatively unnoticed.  However, these days, much f this seems to have been replaced by, in the first place, the race to have the loudest CD (especially in the popular music world), leading to discs with very little dynamic range, and what there is around 0dBFS - and often including deliberate clipping.  Then there's the automation on most radio stations - again artificial processing that's intended to maximise the perceived signal level - some stations almost show a continuous level on an audio level meter, with maybe a few dB of variation.

Sadly, the real hi-fi/music enthusiast (and by hi-fi I mean the old definition of an attempt to get as close as possible to the real sound, not the modern so-called "hi-fi" equipment peddled by most electronics departments and non-specialist shops that's no more than a glorified radio/CD with small speakers and limited performance) is a distinct minority.  At least - given the right domestic conditions (and enough cash) we can listen to high quality material at home (as long as the ambient level/neighbour effect allows!).

The current marketing hype for data-compressed audio (mp3's etc) doesn't help either.  The average man in the street seems happy to accept quality that sometimes barely matches a cassette recorder or dication machine (with some of the lower data rates - and the same goes for DAB.

I'm not sure of the current situation, but at one time I gather that BBC radio 3 on the Sky satellite was broadcast uncompressed.

Every Blessing

Tony
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on December 30, 2011, 07:23:03 PM
I agree with everything Tony has said with the exception that it requires vast sums of money to create  accurate electronic media reproduction facilities, as I have been able to by minimizing to the greatest extent possible the purchase of new equipment... and in many cases acquiring fine components for the asking, or in some cases, I didn't have to ask :o ;D 8) but was prepared to accept the gift of the redundant components ;) 

Granted, one must accept a degree of delayed gratification as the systems (both in-home and vehicular)
have taken time to assemble...

I have occasionally joked that my effort so far has cost as much as what some have spent on their interconnect and speaker cables, however the results have proven to be most effective and entertaining for those who have foolishly made that expenditure and have had an opportunity to listen to the results of my work-in-progress...   ;D

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on February 07, 2012, 04:34:41 AM
http://www.pnj.com/article/20120205/LIFE/202050307/Saenger-organ-get-new-life?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cp (http://www.pnj.com/article/20120205/LIFE/202050307/Saenger-organ-get-new-life?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cp)

Quote
It sounds like a tuba, a saxophone, a violin, an English horn and even a bass drum.

But for years, the grand pipe organ at the Pensacola Saenger Theatre has been quiet — hushed by hurricanes that damaged its thousand-plus pipes and years of neglect.

Now, the Friends of the Saenger, the theater's fundraising group, is hoping to raise $330,000 to restore the 1925 Robert Morton Wonder organ to its former glory. When work is completed on the organ, its value could rise to $3 million, said Tom Helms, former Saenger organist and a renowned pipe organ builder who is leading the refurbishing effort.

"They couldn't have operated the Saenger Theatre in the early years without it," said Helms, 57, who has worked on pipe organs across the country. "It was such an integral part of everything that went on here."

The organ has been part of the Saenger since its opening on April 2, 1925, and in its early years produced music and sound effects for silent films and accompanied vaudeville acts.

The pipe organ is an instrument that produces sound by pushing wind through pipes by using a keyboard. The keyboard is part of the console, which includes foot pedals, pull stops and other pieces. The console is the most visible portion of the pipe organ — when it was played, it would often rise dramatically from the orchestra pit — but it is not the most important or the most expensive.

That would be the wood and metal pipes that are built into the Saenger's walls — the organ was integrated into the theater's design.

The current organ has about 1,700 pipes. When the work is completed, those pipes will be repaired or replaced, and about 1,700 new pipes will be added, doubling the pipe capacity and sound capabilities.

Organ's origin

The original console was destroyed in the 1980s, and a new one was built from scratch by Helms and Barcley Rhea, now deceased. It debuted with a performance of "The Phantom of the Opera" in 1985 with Helms at the console.

In modern times, the pipe organ was used for various musical performances and by groups such as the Pensacola Children's Chorus during the annual Christmas performances.

Quote
Saenger officials believe that Allen Pote, founder of the Children's Chorus, was the last person to play it.

"Gosh, it must have been about 15 years ago," Pote said. "I was dressed up like Santa Claus and came out of the pit playing 'Here Comes Santa Claus.' I'm telling you, when it comes out of the floor, it's a real dramatic moment."

At the time, the organ was owned by the local Theatre Organ Society, which had acquired it a decade earlier. Though the organ is built into the Saenger, Society officials were the ones who controlled access to it and were responsible for its upkeep.

But as members aged and the society's numbers dwindled, the upkeep of the organ was forgotten.

"We had to quit using it," Pote said. "Dust and grime started getting in the pipes."

Notes would shriek or not end when they were supposed to. The sound was fading.

"The hurricanes really hurt it," Helms said. "The roof leaked, and it rained on the pipe work. It would shriek and make all this noise. It was horrible."

Fundraisers planned

For years, the console sat in the basement of the Saenger, and the pipes were nearly forgotten.

Early in the 2000s, the city — now owner of the theater — acquired ownership of the organ, but its refurbishing was put on hold to concentrate on the $15 million renovation campaign that increased the size of the theater and added modern sound features, new dressing rooms, new electrical and air-conditioning units and even new theater seats.

Now is the time to rescue the organ, said Sherri Hemminghaus-Weeks, president emeritus of Friends of the Saenger.

"I feel like it's the final piece needed to bring the Saenger back," Weeks said. "It will be so awe-inspiring. It will be such an amazing enhancement to the community."

Already, fundraisers are in the works. Jim Flournay, 61, is hosting an invitation-only party at his Palafox Place home to raise money for the organ. He'll bring big donors up to his second-story residence during an upcoming Mardi Gras parade to enjoy the festivities.

"I think we have a wonderful opportunity," Flournay said. "In my view, this will make the Saenger even better — the best it can be."

Helms has been quietly preparing in recent years for the restoration. He made trips to New Orleans to pick up gold leaf for the console and is purchasing quality organ pipes from across the country.

"I'm very excited," Helms said. "We're cleaning pipes, adding new pipes. Some will be vintage from theaters that have been torn down."

He's already purchased some pipes that were part of the pipe organ that was once used in the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disney World.

"Disney is in our veins," he said.

Included in the article is a stoplist of sorts...  A "Plein Jeu" on a Theater organ ??? ???

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: AnOrganCornucopia on February 07, 2012, 11:20:55 AM
I like the idea of theatre organs having proper diapason choruses. I just hope they don't revoice it all so it sounds like one of these cobbled-together pizza organs...
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: KB7DQH on April 22, 2012, 04:54:33 AM
Quote
Kingston musician ready to give organ a Wurl


Quote


THE stunning Wurlitzer pipe organ at Kingston City Hall now has a dedicated organist.

Scott Harrison has been appointed organist for the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ at the city hall.

Mr Harrison will be the key musician for the community’s rare asset, performing at events such as the Australia Day breakfast, citizenship ceremonies and other council events.

Mr Harrison said he was honoured by the appointment.

“We at Kingston have such a rare and unique musical treasure with the Wurlitzer and I feel very privileged to be presenting it to the public on a regular basis,” he said.

http://moorabbin-leader.whereilive.com.au/lifestyle/story/kingston-musician-ready-to-give-organ-a-wurl/ (http://moorabbin-leader.whereilive.com.au/lifestyle/story/kingston-musician-ready-to-give-organ-a-wurl/)

Somewhere in Australia...

Eric
KB7DQH
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: MusingMuso on April 22, 2012, 05:41:35 PM
I like the idea of theatre organs having proper diapason choruses. I just hope they don't revoice it all so it sounds like one of these cobbled-together pizza organs...

----------------

You would therefore like the Wurlitzer organ in the Radio City Music Hall, New York, which is a more or less "straight" organ.

However, if you investigate the sonic nature of the "unit orchestra," you would soon discover that the Diapasons only combine because they are part diaphonic and elsewhere, rather "censored." The true chorus register is the Tibia, which blends perfectly with absolutely everything else.

This is why the theatre organ is such a clever invention; albeit one with very little specific repertoire, save for a few isolated pieces and the one I composed.

MM
Title: Re: Town hall organs
Post by: AnOrganCornucopia on April 23, 2012, 02:24:24 AM
I do like what I've heard of it. I believe it was originally to have been built by Kimball, but at the last minute for some reason Wurlitzer kept the contract, but Kimball's design was retained. This would also explain why it bears a marked similarity to the Atlantic City Convention Hall's 4/52 Kimball... and as a matter of fact in the last week I've done a lot of 'investigating' at the East Sussex National Hotel, Spa and Golf Course 4/32 Wurlitzer bitsa. I was at the opening concert last night, too - were any other forum members (other than "ruth alexandra") there?