Next Performance Calendar

Recordings

Home

 

Alexander  Frederick  Fleet  Memorial  Organ

M. P. Möller;  Opus 8168, 1951; Fabry, Inc. 2006 and beyond; 59 ranks, 3,698 pipes

For more details on the recent major work, see Recent Renovation and Photo Gallery.

Winter 2008: We added a new rank, a Doppelflöte. Click  for details.

A Flûte Céleste was added, along with other enhancements, in 2011. Click for details.

The console went in early in November of 2006. The software upgrades to the system came in gradually, and were finished February 16, 2007.  Its many elaborate and arcane features include the "smart tremolos," Sostenuto (on Swell and on Pedal), Pedal Divide, and the Pizzicato Bass stop. The capabilities are amazing! What a thrill to play this organ!  Culver continues to serve as a "beta test" site for ongoing refinements to the ICS software, as well as occasional tweaks to its actual capabilities. 

The re-leathering work was completed in 2006. The three new ranks of pipes were installed the week of February 12 (2007), and all was up and running by February 16. Pictures of the pipes going in are posted to the photo gallery pageThe final regulation of new ranks (as well as regulating some existing stops that had been moved around) was completed March 1. The rededication recital was presented on April 15, 2007. Mr. Gouwens presents an annual recital in mid-April each year.

Here's a testimonial from Thomas Murray, one of America's foremost recitalists, who performed on the Culver organ in 2005, just before the major overhaul, and performed again in October of 2011:

My heartiest thanks for the pleasure of playing at Culver again!  I remembered the Moller at Culver as a particularly fine instrument, but the improvements you have made, particularly in making the organ so much more versatile in controlling registration, are fantastic!  Tonally, there is a richly expanded range of color as well, of course, and exploring it all was truly an exhilarating adventure.  Bravo and congratulations!

 

Notes:

† Original 1951 pipework
* Pipes replaced by Daniel Keller (1968-1972, source unknown) - details
‡ 1972 Möller pipes (replacements) installed by Burger and Shafer 
§ 1982-85 pipe replacements installed by Fabry, Inc., Antioch , Illinois - details
∞  Additions (1982-85)   details
Ω Additions installed 2007 and 2011

PEDAL

Ω  De Profundis 32'  (Resultant, from Bourdon and Flûte Conique)

†  Contra Basse 16’ (wood – 44 pipes)

†  Diapason 16’ (ext. Gt. – 12 pipes)

†  Bourdon 16’ (wood, 44 pipes)

    Quintaton 16’ (from Great)

    Flûte Conique 16’ (from Swell)

  Quint 10 2/3’ (open metal – 44 p.)

   Octave 8’ (from Contra Basse)

  Principal 8’ (32 pipes)

    Bourdon 8’ (from 16’)

    Quintaton 8’ (from Great)

     Flûte Conique 8’ (from Swell)

Ω  Grosse Tierce 6 2/5' (for now, borrowed from Bourdon)

     Octave Quint 5 1/3’ (from 10 2/3’)

Ω  Grosse Septieme 4 4/7’ (for now, borrowed from Flûte Conique)

§   Nachthorn 4’ (32 pipes)

   Mixture III (96 pipes)

Ω  Voix de l'Abîme 32' (Resultant, from Oboe and Cor d'Amour)

   Bombarde 16’ (full length, – 56 p.)

     Contra Oboe 16’ (from Swell)

Ω  Cor d'Amour 16' (Choir)

     Bombarde 8’ (from 16’)

Ω  Oboe 8' (Swell)

     Clarion 4’ (from 16’)

  Chimes (Swell)

     Zimbelstern

    Sostenuto 

CHOIR (Manual I)

  Flûte Conique 16' (Swell)

   Viola 8’ (73 pipes)

Ω  Viola Celeste 8' (73 pipes, new)

*   Cor de Nuit 8’ (73 pipes)

   Erzähler 8’ (73 pipes)

   Erzähler Celeste 8’ (T.C., 61 pipes)

*   Prestant 4’ (73 pipes)

*   Koppelflöte 4’ (73 pipes)

   Nasard 2 2/3’ (61 pipes)

*   Blockflöte 2’ (61 pipes)

   Tierce 1 3/5’ (61 pipes)

Ω  Contra Oboe 16' (Swell)

Ω  Cor d'Amour 16' (85 pipes, new)

Ω  Cor d'Amour 8' (from 16')

Ω  English Horn 8' (73 pipes, new)

   Clarinet 8’ (73 pipes)

   Military Trumpet 8’ (73 pipes)

  Bombarde 8’ (from Pedal, 17 pipes)

  Harp 8’ (T.C.) (Deagan, 49 bars)

     Tremolo

 

GREAT (Manual II)

   Quintaton 16’ (61 pipes)

*   Diapason 8’ (61 pipes)

§   Bourdon 8’ (61 pipes)  

  Doppelflöte 8' (73 pipes, Choir Expression)

  Viola 8’ (Choir)

   Gemshorn 8’ (61 pipes)

*    Octave 4’ (61 pipes)

    Harmonic Flute 4’ (61 pipes)

    Super Octave 2’ (61 pipes)

§    Piccolo 2’ (61 pipes)

    Fourniture IV (244 pipes)

    Cymbel III (183 pipes)

      Military Trumpet 8’ (from Choir)

   Tremolo

   Chimes (Swell)

 

SWELL (Manual III)

    Flûte Conique 16’ (85 pipes)

    Geigen Diapason 8’ (73 pipes)

§    Rohrflöte 8’ (73 pipes)

      Flûte Conique 8’ (from 16’)
    Flûte Céleste 8’ (73 pipes) - installed

    Viole de Gambe 8’ (73 pipes)

    Viole Céleste 8’ (73 pipes)

    Salicional 8’ (73 pipes)

    Voix céleste 8’ (T. C., 61 pipes)

    Principal 4’ (73 pipes)

    Flûte Triangulaire 4’ (73 pipes)

    Fifteenth 2’ (61 pipes)

§    Plein Jeu IV (244 pipes)

    Contra Oboe 16’ (85 pipes)

    Trompette 8’ (73 pipes)

      Oboe 8’ (from 16’)

    Vox Humana 8’ (61 pipes)

    Clarion 4’ (73 pipes)

  Chimes (Deagan, 21 tubes)

      Tremolo
    Sostenuto

 

SOLO (New: Floating - all duplexes of other stops)

   Viola 8' (Choir)

   Viola Celeste 8' (Choir)  

   Doppelflöte 8' (Great, Choir Expression)

   Flûte Céleste 8’ II (Swell)
   Clarinet (Choir)
- In progress

   Cor d'Amour 8' (Choir)

   English Horn 8' (Choir)

   Military Trumpet 8' (Choir)

   Bombarde 8' (Pedal)

   Harp (Choir)

   Tremolo (see details about "smart tremolos")

 

 

COUPLERS and ACCESSORIES  (new items in italics)

Swell to Pedal 8, 4; Great to Pedal 8, 4; Choir to Pedal 8, 4; Solo to Pedal 8, 4 

Swell to Great 16, 8, 4; Choir to Great 16, 8, 4; Solo to Great 16, 8, 4, and 8' Melody

Swell to Choir 16, 8, 4; Solo to Choir 16, 8, 4, and 8' Melody; Great to Choir 8; Pedal to Choir 

Choir to Swell 16, 8, 4; Solo to Swell 16, 8, 4

All manuals have their own 16’, Unison Off, and 4’ Couplers

Pedal Divide (adjustable divide point)  

Three adjustable reversible pistons (toe and thumb)

Ventil Reversible system

Momentary "accent" functions assigned to Pedal 1 & 6 divisional toe studs when active.

The Swell and Choir divisions are enclosed in large boxes with 38 expression shades on each. (The renovations to the Choir chest have increased that shade number to 40.) The individual shade pneumatic actions have been replaced by a set of three 16-stage shade actions on each side, offering a still broader dynamic range and level of responsiveness. Separate enclosure with four-position shutter action for Vox Humana.

Downloadable Stoplist Document

More about the console features.

The organ is under the continued excellent care of Fabry, Inc., Antioch , Illinois .

So, just what is a Cor d'Amour?

More About the Evolution of this Organ

The organ was donated by Major Reuben Fleet, a descendent of Culver’s first Superintendent. Reuben Fleet’s son, Preston Fleet – a cadet at Culver at the time the organ was installed – was a lifelong organ enthusiast, and served at one time as president of the American Theatre Organ Society. Coincidentally, Kevin M. Möller, of the organbuilding family, had graduated from Culver in 1948.

The Culver organ stood out from the beginning as a special instrument. Installed in the new building in 1951, Möller’s Opus 8168 had 54 ranks, speaking from spacious side chambers into a room seating just over 800 people, with just under four seconds’ reverberation. This was one of the late examples of Möller’s romantic-leaning instruments, totally different from the “Ernest White” Möllers that appeared later in that decade. It included four mixtures but also copious warm, full 8’ tone, and seven ranks at 16’ pitch. At the time, there were ten “borrows” of various ranks, which provided considerable variety for finding just the right balance, especially in the Pedal. It was still entirely possible, however, to draw a full principal or flute chorus built entirely of independent stops. The organ was designed in consultation with Van Denman Thompson, of De Pauw University, who played the dedicatory recital. Culver’s first organist, Alan Ross, had been a student of Thompson. The onsite tonal finishing (final refinements in pipe speech in the actual room) was overseen by Gustav Fabry – one of Möller’s chief tonal finishers. In 1956, Gustav Fabry settled in the Chicago area, and he provided service to the instrument for many years.

In 1967, Daniel Keller, the newly-hired organist – who had some experience with organbuilding – undertook to modify the instrument. Several ranks were replaced, others relocated within the instrument, and efforts were made to re-voice much of what remained. Most of the principal chorus ranks were converted from slotted tops to tuning collars, and the grille cloth was removed from the organ chamber openings. Some key ranks of pipes (including the Great Diapason and Octave) were replaced with pipes of another (unidentified) manufacturer. Some efforts to re-voice original pipes were not so successful. By the time of Keller’s departure in 1972, eight ranks of pipes were missing entirely (no replacements in place). The Möller company was contacted, and significant repairs were made, with all missing pipes being replaced, usually to original specifications. Many non-Möller pipes remained, some integrating more successfully than others into the rest of the instrument. In the mean time, Gustav Fabry’s sons had succeeded their father, servicing Möller organs as well as instruments by other builders across five states. In 1978, Culver renewed its affiliation with the Fabry company. There was some discussion (initiated by the organist at that time) about the idea of trying to recover the original sound of the instrument, replacing all non-Möller pipes. Gustav Fabry, retired from the business, was brought in to survey the instrument and make recommendations. Pressing maintenance needs, including re-leathering reservoirs and pneumatic contact switches, had to be addressed first. A few months later, a severe roof leak destroyed one of the chests in the Swell division, which then had to be replaced (and pipes cleaned and repaired).

The 1980s

I was appointed Organist and Carillonneur of The Academies in 1980, drawn by the combination of this impressive instrument and the magnificent 51-bell Gillett & Johnston carillon in the chapel tower. The repairs from the water damage had just been completed the previous year, and there was much confusion at the school about what tonal changes had and had not been done. A thorough study of the pipework and the engraving thereon revealed that 31 of the original 54 ranks were still present in their original locations. It turned out that in the 1968-1972 period, six of the Möller ranks (mostly principals) had been exchanged with others in the organ, usually at different pitch levels. Plainly, the historical integrity of the instrument was long gone, and any attempt to return it to its original character would be speculative and complicated indeed; no recent tonal changes had been made.

Some of the non-Möller pipework was indeed effective, though in most cases only part of a rank had been changed, and the transition to original pipework was abrupt. Much of the principal chorus and reeds had at one time or another been “pushed” to such a loudness that the overall sound was “forced,” though certainly impressive in its way. A particular villain was the Swell Plein Jeu, which, due the modifications made to the pipes, was the loudest stop in the organ!

Thanks to generous donations, mostly by the late John L. Bell, Jr. and the late Thomas G. McClain, work was gradually undertaken from 1982 to 1985. Eight ranks were replaced during that period, most of them being original ranks that had been unevenly cut and modified to the point of being irretrievably unsteady in speech, pitch, and regulation. The 2’ Flute on the Great was one of these, and its pipes were actually the original 2’ Blockflöte in the Choir. We replaced it with an attractive but penetrating capped harmonic rank, which is fully effective as a solo voice, and gives remarkable definition to the ensemble. One may easily lead hymn singing with the full flute chorus, the total effect of which is warm, colorful, and bright - quite unique to this organ.

This work was followed by re-regulation of the entire instrument, carried out by Philip Fabry with my input. In the process, we were able to smooth the transition from non-Möller pipes to original bass pipes in several ranks, such as the Great Octave and the 8’ an 4’ flutes in the Choir. This work somewhat reduced the total volume of the full organ, but the overall sound was far more cohesive and refined – certainly effective in the room. Fortunately, the funding also made it possible to add two percussions – a 49-note Deagan harp from a 1930 Möller then being removed from Calvin Christian Reformed Church  in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and a fine 21-note set of Deagan Class A chimes, fitted with a new electric striking action. There was enough money at the end of the project to permit one more extension which proved to be a very economical way to meet a significant need. The Military Trumpet – originally the only powerful solo reed in the manuals – is harmonic from middle c up; it is effective as a moderate solo voice or a strong chorus reed, but it is not strong enough to stand out  in the many “Trumpet Voluntary” pieces used not only for weddings but also for academic convocations. After adding 17 pipes to the Pedal Bombarde rank, that unit rank was made playable as a manual 8’ stop. Leaning toward Tuba character in its upper range, the Bombarde is particularly effective when used together with the Military Trumpet for voluntaries and fanfare pieces. Such a combination holds its own against the rest of the instrument. When the Bombarde is drawn only in the Pedal, both ranks integrate into the overall ensemble – in decided contrast to most “en chamade” reeds – the more usual means of providing a fanfare reed.

The original remote combination action was well-equipped for its time, complete with three coupler pistons (surely not common in 1951). In recent years, the combination action began to show its age, as settings become less reliable and some knobs were moving with increasing reluctance. Moreover, contact wires on the pneumatic switches (units and stations) became so brittle that dead notes became a constant problem. My repertoire, which began including orchestral transcriptions in recital early on (well ahead of the common acceptance of the practice today) had outgrown the capabilities of the remote combination action. The Chimes, Harp and Bombarde additions had been appended to the console with various combinations of toggle switches, as they were not fully operable by the 1951 combination action. (The 1951 combination action had no provision for later additions to the specification.) It was obvious that for many reasons this organ was a prime candidate for a solid-state upgrade.

The expense and magnitude of this project delayed it for several years, while failing contacts and related parts were repaired as they failed in order to keep the organ functioning. Fortuitously, it was during this period that the Peterson ICS 4000 was developed. This offers a single, “Integrated Control System” for a versatile combination action, contact and unit switches, and MIDI functions, while supporting an impressive range of advanced features. This organ partakes heavily of the more specialized capabilities along with the more standard equipment. The combination action supports 256  levels of memory, with the ability to save individual memory levels to a memory stick for backup and storage. Any divisional pistons may be “compassed” to work any combination of stops (such as pedal stops and couplers), or they may be converted to additional generals beyond the twenty provided. Fabry, Incorporated has extensive experience doing solid-state conversions of existing organs, mostly using Peterson equipment, and carried out the “beta testing” and installation of one of the first ICS 4000 systems.

Meanwhile, problems were beginning to surface with the leather of pouches and primaries – these leathers were original from 1951 – and it was clear that replacement was becoming a serious necessity before ciphers and dead notes became constant occurrences.

The Renovation Now Finished

Mrs. James Henderson, wife of the Chairman of Culver’s Board of Trustees, took a strong interest in the organ; ultimately the Hendersons gave a substantial donation sufficient not only to address the by-now serious maintenance needs but also to augment the capabilities of the instrument considerably, including adding three new ranks.

Since the Culver organ was well-equipped with the basic principal and reed choruses in addition to a fine flute chorus, additional ranks could be directed toward adding new colors, expanding the range of solo stops, developing the organ in a more orchestral direction without compromising the existing ensemble. The instrument already had three celestes. The Viola in the Choir, though recognizably a string, has enough body to its sound to serve the role of a light Principal in the Choir division. By adding a Viola Celeste to pair with the existing Viola, bold string celestes are available in “opposable” boxes, permitting each division to accompany a solo on the other, or to carry out a splendid orchestral crescendo by coordinated use of the two expression systems while adding stops. Of course, the additional string also provides a stronger overall orchestral “chorus” where desired. The new celeste rank is scaled smaller than the Viola, to bring out the string character of the latter more when they are used together. Like the original Viole Céleste in the Swell, this rank extends down to low C, and like most of the ranks in the Swell and Choir, has a full 73-note range for use with super couplers.

The Culver organ has always had beautiful orchestral flute stops, of which the Flûte Triangulaire in particular is a movingly lovely example. (The 2’ Piccolo in the Great installed in the 1980s contributed markedly to this palette.) Over the years, the reeds throughout the organ were re-voiced (having been rebuilt at A.R.Schopp’s Sons in Alliance, Ohio ). The Swell Trompette was voiced on the gentle side (for Franck solo registrations) and the Oboe was voiced as a bright, singing, lyric sound, regulated to work especially well with the tremolo engaged. The Clarinet is also a fine specimen. In the end, though, this was really a rather basic palette of reed sounds, not nearly as distinctive and colorful as the flutes. To this end, two solo reeds were added to the Choir, both patterned after the work of E.M. Skinner from around 1930: an English Horn (with the late Skinner “kopfregal” or double-belled construction) and a Cor d’Amour (sometimes also called Corno d’Amore or, with less regard to linguistic consistency, Corno d’Amour).

Long after I had decided that these two reeds would offer the best additions to the organ, I encountered a pertinent passage by E.M. Skinner himself in a 1922 issue of Stop, Open, and Reed (a periodical published by the Skinner company in the 1920s), in his description of a small residence organ. Interestingly, in that 11-rank organ, two of the ranks were celestes and the three reed ranks were a Vox Humana, an English Horn, and a “Corno d’Amour.” Mr. Skinner’s comments follow:

The Corno d’Amour is a singer. It has the warmth and temperamental qualities peculiar to the violin although it is not imitative of this instrument except in the upper register. It is an ideal solo voice and at the same time useful in the ensemble and as a soft Trumpet. It has a very helpful influence in the quality of the full organ. . . . . . . The English Horn . . .  is the aristocrat of organ stops. . . . . The English Horn and the Corno d’Amour form an unusual blend of great beauty when used in combination; something indefinable but full of dramatic suggestion that contributes a touch of mystery. [This may sound rather over-the-top, but I can assure you, the effect of the two stops together is breathtaking! - JG]

The Cor d’Amour was indeed invented by Skinner: a relative of the Oboe, but capped, with a sweeter tone, favoring a French Horn character in the tenor range. It is a somewhat more lyric, treble-ascendant variation on the Skinner Flügel Horn (which is usually voiced more along the lines of a Fagotto or Bassoon) and is a particularly striking solo voice when used with the tremolo. In Skinner's later book, "The Composition of the Organ,"  he defined a Flügel Horn as A Cor d'Amour of larger scale than normal, having shallots like those of the conventional Oboe, with bodies of slender Trumpet form, closed at the top and tuned in the regular manner. Developed by the writer. (See photos of our new Cor d'Amour pipes.) This corroborates the generalization that a more "typical" Cor d'Amour would be scaled smaller.  (Information on either of these two rare stops is difficult to find.) A few organs of the 1920s and early 1930s by other builders included a stop by one of those names, including Austin, Möller, and Aeolian, but by far the largest number were by Skinner. 

Interestingly, there is one much earlier occurrence of a "Corno d'amour." The United Methodist Church in Rupert , Vermont has an organ by Johnson & Son, Op. 629, built in 1884, with such a stop. That rank of pipes is open, rather than capped, though it is largely similar to a small-scaled trumpet. (I haven't heard it, so cannot attest to the musical result.) Johnson's example (quite possibly his only one) is quite probably earliest use of the name, though Skinner certainly was the one who put such a voice into production regularly. Our pipes are patterned after Skinner examples. The latest example we could find of a Cor d'Amour was the work of Ernest M. Skinner & Son in 1952 (First Congregational Church, Watertown, Connecticut). (Unfortunately, that organ was removed from the church years ago and it is unknown whether it still exists.)

We are not aware of another organ that includes a new Cor d’Amour rank, though Eastern Organ Pipes, which has rebuilt several Skinner examples, was well up to the task of making it. This voice is such a “chameleon,” it is surprising that it is so overlooked in new organs, despite the welcome reappearance of orchestrally-oriented organs by many builders throughout North America. Maybe this organ will start a trend!

It was desirable to extend one of the new reeds to 16’ pitch. The English Horn would have been the most obvious candidate, but such a rank has some tendency to be unstable in pitch and regulation in that range. Since the Swell Oboe was already extended to 16’, a somewhat smoother reed would offer greater variety. Extending the Cor d’Amour offered the solution, providing a gentle but solid reed underpinning, independent of the Swell reeds. E.M. Skinner apparently never (or at least rarely) extended a Cor d’Amour to the 16’ range, but there are several fine 16’ examples of the somewhat similar Flügel Horn in recent Schoenstein organs (large and small); thus, this solution was not entirely untested.

The Console: A Powerful User Interface

I have encountered many organs in which several stops were duplexed to more than one manual, permitting a dialogue between solo stops within the same division, or possibly drawing both a solo sound and its accompaniment from the same division, among numerous other advantages. Some E.M. Skinner organs duplexed whole divisions, from the small residence organs (such as the one described above) up to the mammoth instrument in Woolsey Hall at Yale University, where the Orchestral division, duplexed in full on the Swell and the Choir, offers an amazing range of possibilities.

Two approaches to duplexing are used in this instrument. For some Vierne pieces, and especially for the music of Franck, it is often desirable to avoid using the 16’ stops in the Swell, but those voices are indeed desirable on the Choir or Great. Like most 3-manual American organs, the Choir division lacked 16’ stops, but since the two 16’ stops in the Swell were both already on unit actions, it was a simple matter, with the ICS system particularly, to duplex both Swell 16’ stops to the Choir for use on those occasions. This duplexing immediately proved to be very useful in meeting the demands of pieces conceived for organs with larger Choir (or Positif) divisions. 

The deployment of solo voices called for a more flexible approach, namely assembling several duplexes into a Solo “division” that could be coupled to any manual and to the pedal. For similar reasons, the Choir Viola was moved to a new unit chest, along with the new Viola Celeste. This allows the Viola to be used in a solo capacity (or to fortify one of the solo reeds), and also allows it to be duplexed to the Great to complete the French “Fonds 8” combination, freeing the rest of the division for other uses. Given the limitations of the existing three-manual console, the unusually broad range of couplers and the Great-Choir Transfer enable the player to arrange the resources in whatever manual order would be must useful. The space on the main chest once occupied by the pipes of the Viola was retrofitted with a unit action, and re-configured to accommodate the addition of a new solo flute, the Doppelflöte. 

For improvisations and transcriptions, it is often handy to have a “Pedal Divide,” in which the lower range of the pedalboard plays only the stops belonging to the Pedal division and the upper range plays only the stops coupled to it from the manuals. Since there are many duplexes to the Pedal from manual divisions, there is still a considerable variety available in both sections when Pedal Divide is engaged. It is surprising how often one encounters passages in the music of Franck, Liszt, Dethier, and others where the pedals are playing “double-duty,” with both the bass and a solo voice. How much more effectively those two roles can be met with the divide engaged! Since this device is certainly not something composers wrote for (ordinarily), the divide point may be adjusted from low A up to tenor E. This feature is useful for anthem accompaniment as well, especially when the original accompaniment was orchestral. The Pizzicato Bass is applied to the 8’ pitch of the open wood Contra Basse, providing an additional – and quite useful – orchestral flavor.

 Unique Feature: "Smart Tremolos"

A special feature, so far unique to this organ, is what I call “smart tremolos.” Due to its size, the Swell division was from the beginning placed on two chests, winded independently of one another. In the original installation, each chest had its own tremolo, and when the tremolo knob was drawn, if stops were drawn from only one of the chests, the tremolo for the other remained idle. This reduced noise, but it also suggested some interesting possibilities. The new solo reeds in the Choir, being on 7 inches of wind pressure (most of the organ is on four), are of necessity winded separately from the rest of the Choir division, and therefore have their own tremolo. We set up the Choir tremolos in the same manner. So far, this is not too unusual (though it is unusual in newer organs).

As the plans for this renovation were taking shape, I realized that this principle could also be applied to the Solo. The tremolo knob on the Solo activates the tremolo units associated with whatever stops are drawn on the Solo, from any division. This permits, for example, using the Cor d’Amour with the tremolo on the Solo, coupled to the Swell or Great, accompanied by the Choir flutes without tremolo. Likewise, if the Oboe is drawn on the Solo without the tremolo, the Vox Humana or Swell string celestes (or any other ranks on the other main chest) may be drawn and played (with the tremolo) on the Swell without engaging the tremolo for the Oboe. To use this feature fully, the organist really has to know which stops are on which chest and winding; however, from the player’s point of view, the tremolos of the main divisions function normally, so one may easily use the full resources of the organ without drawing on the Solo “division” at all. The normal “user interface” is not compromised.

My repertoire has always favored the French romantic school, so addressing the sometimes specialized needs of the music of Franck, Vierne, Widor, Guilmant, and Tournemire was a high priority. Such literature (along with some Belgian romantic music) was written for instruments in which the reeds and usually the mixtures and other upperwork could be engaged and retired by “ventils” – hitch pedals that permitted cutting off or engaging wind to those stops. The ICS 4000 provides the equivalent function with reversibles operating blind silencers. To be useful, ventil controls must be in easily accessible locations as toe studs. For any other literature, combination toe studs should be in those same convenient locations – not displaced by dedicated ventil toe studs. This was easily arranged by configuring some toe studs to do double-duty. By engaging the “Ventil Function On” rocker tab, the toe studs (but not the thumb pistons) for Pedal 1-5 become “ventils” for the five divisions. Offering a ventil for the Solo division adds another gradation to the dynamic increases or decreases using that feature, particularly since it includes some of the softest as well as the loudest reeds in the organ. Each ventil may also be individually set to include or not include upperwork in its control (by selector switches). LED lights serve as warnings when the ventils are engaged to silence any stops. Pedal 1 toe stud may also (when another rocker tablet is engaged) be used as a momentary “accent” pedal. Normally, this would be used to bring on a loud combination for a sforzando effect, but since it is fully adjustable on each memory level, it may also be set to engage the tremolo on select longer notes in a solo passage, to add the chimes on a single note, to engage the Great Cymbel and Military Trumpet for brief moments, as in some Franck works – whatever the player might find useful. The accent feature has proven wonderfully useful as a way to bring on a "tremolo" on long notes in solo passages, much as a violinist would do in playing long notes. With the ventil and accent rocker tabs off, the Pedal toe studs function as normal divisionals. The primary and secondary functions of all toe studs are clearly indicated (and color coded) on the console.

When the piston sequencer is engaged, “next” and “previous” functions are assigned to convenient locations (Choir, Great, and Swell 1 & 2, General toe studs for 12 & 11, respectively) and likewise when the sequencer is disengaged, the pistons are still in their traditional positions, rather than being displaced by dedicated “next” and “previous” buttons. Additional flexibility is gained by the provision of three “setable reversibles,” most useful in situations when rapid alternation between two particular settings is desired, or to engage and retire a selected tremolo in a slow solo passage.

A few organists may raise eyebrows about the “Pedal to Choir” coupler, but there are occasions, particularly in transcriptions, when this feature can indeed be useful. It has turned out to be handy, also, when tuning and regulating is being done on Pedal stops. The two melody couplers apply to more specialized uses, and are associated with the versatile Solo division.

The Swell and Choir boxes were each enclosed behind walls of 38 shades, operated by the Möller individual shade pneumatic system – rapid, effective, and exceptionally smooth. They were functioning well, but when undertaken at this time, it was not a terribly expensive proposition to replace these shade actions with new Peterson electric shade actions, reducing further the need for other re-leathering projects in the near future. Since we didn’t want to lose the smoothness the 38-stage action had offered, each enclosure was fitted with three 16-stage Peterson units, upgrading the expression to 48 stages! The Möller individual shade actions opened to 45 degrees. The Peterson actions open the shades to a full 90 degrees, so both the dynamic range and the smoothness of the expression have been dramatically increased.

LED warning lights are provided for all functions that alter the normal function of the instrument (Pedal Divide, Transposer, Manual Transfer, Ventil System, as well as the Crescendo Pedal and Tutti). The stopknobs were re-arranged so that related choruses are intuitively arranged in columns. As with the original controls, unison couplers are lettered in black, while octave couplers are lettered in red, making it a simple matter to locate the unison couplers quickly. More unusual features, such as the Pedal Divide, Manual Transfer, Accent Pedal, and Ventils are lettered in Green and are grouped separately from the couplers for easy identification of such “specialized” controls. 

Once the console was in the shop, it became apparent, upon close scrutiny, that the majority of the woodwork was seriously cracked (in part due to humidity fluctuations over time). The frame of the console was reinforced significantly, and all new paneling was made to fit it. The condition of the pedalboard was also precarious, as some split wood and structural problems were starting to show. The console was fitted with a rebuilt pedalboard with new key tops. The structure supporting the keyboards was already reinforced with steel, though the wood on the keyboard cheeks needed to be replaced. The majority of the console is therefore new, and beautifully crafted.  

Doppelflöte; Vox Humana Shades; Resultants - Winter 2008 Project

The long-range plans for the organ expansion included provision for adding a new solo flute at 8' (unison) pitch. The 4' flutes (Harmonic Flute, Koppelflöte, Flûte Triangulaire) make lovely solo stops, and are indeed often used that way, but a good, solid solo flute sound is needed as part of the 8' foundation tone as well, and of course when one needs notes below "tenor c," a 4' flute doesn't offer them. So, there were some blank knobs in place for the eventual addition of another flute. The console also includes a control for opening and closing shutters on the box housing the pipes of the Vox Humana stop in the Swell. A further (!) generous gift from the Hendersons has made it possible to proceed with these enhancements. We considered several possibilities for what type of flute might make the best addition to the existing resources. The obvious choice would probably have been a French-style Flûte Harmonique, but the existing Harmonic Flute on the Great division already offered essentially this sound. Fortunately, a rare opportunity presented itself. An organ in Fort Wayne, which recently underwent an overhaul, had a Doppelflöte, stop, but the Fort Wayne instrument had evolved in a direction in which that sound really no longer fit. (There were some real problems with placement of the pipes as well in that organ.) The Fort Wayne organ (Emmanuel Lutheran) was originally built in 1892 by William King & Son of New York City. Therefore, a fine set of pipes became available to us. As a temporary measure, the Doppelflöte pipes were placed on the old Viola position on the main chest. The pipes, being of an odd size and shape, wouldn't fit in the positions for the  appropriate notes, so to play on it, one had to transpose down a minor sixth - no easy trick when the hands and feet are playing  in some other key. However, this provided an excellent chance to assess the effect in relation to the rest of the organ. It  turned out to be a strong, full sound, but with a beautiful lyric quality as well. The character of the sound is quite different from the other flutes in the organ, though wholly compatible with them. So, it passed the test! In March 2008, Doppelflöte was installed and nicely regulated. Additional bass and treble pipes were supplied from an old Möller Melodia - very effective, bringing the rank to a full 73-note range! 

The Doppelflöte stop was invented in Germany ("double flute"), and features pipes that are stopped at the top, with two mouths - at opposite sides. The result is that the pipes have the harmonic series of a stopped flute (such as the Bourdon or the Cor de Nuit), but with a far broader, fuller tone. There are descriptions of such a stop design - at least in theory - dating back to the early Seventeenth Century, though the earliest extant Doppelflöte stops we know of today are from the early Nineteenth Century. By the 1890s, Doppelflötes were pretty much "standard equipment" on high-quality organs, especially those by the leading builders such as Hutchings and Hilborne & Frank Roosevelt. (Practically every Roosevelt organ of 15 or more stops included a Doppelflöte, which was one of their favorite sounds, and one they made beautifully!) On very rare occasions, a few pipe suppliers will produce a new set of Doppelflöte pipes, but it is nearly a lost art. Finding a lovely antique example was truly a stroke of good fortune! This is a magnificent addition to the already-impressive range of colors our organ can create! 

The Vox Humana is a stop supposedly resembling the human voice (though nobody would ever be fooled). Interestingly, this rather exotic sound has been common on organs going back at least to the 16th century, and can be found on historic organs in Spain, Germany, France, and The Netherlands, and in modern organs of all nationalities. The pipe design needed to produce the desired tone tends to produce a somewhat assertive volume, however. For this reason many organs, including the Culver instrument, house the Vox Humana in a separate box within the confines of an already-expressive division. The Vox Humana enclosures on Möller organs usually included doors that could be opened or closed; when closed, the effect was very distant and ethereal, but that effect is too soft for the larger "orchestral" combinations for which the Vox Humana is also useful. We used ours both ways, but usually had it open for the louder effect. To open or close the shutters meant going up a couple of ladders into the pipe chamber to change their position manually. In the 2006 renovation, a four-position switch was added to the console, and the appropriate connections were provided, to allow the player to make quick changes to the shutters right from the console, and to offer two intermediate positions as well. Costs ran high enough in the 2006 renovation - especially in the work done on the console, which ended up needing major work - so that the mechanism to move the shutters was not installed at that time. It is all operational now. As usual David G. Fabry made a splendid enclosure for it, and it works admirably! 

Two Resultants were connected in February 2008. In the pipe organ, a "resultant" is a stop in which notes are sounded making up the overtones or harmonics of pitches unavailable in full-fledged form in a given organ. As an example, a typical Principal resultant to create the effect of a 32' Principal would play the 16' Principal pipes an octave low down to second ("tenor") c. Below  that point the bottom twelve notes would repeat, with a Bourdon or other softer 16' pipe playing a fifth higher (10 2/3' pitch). Some resultants, however, include more of the harmonic series for a greater effect. The combination of tones produces the "outline" of the 32' pitch, and to some extent, the interaction of the related harmonics have a cumulative effect to produce the 32' pitch. Using the notational standard of CC representing 16' pitch, and C representing low C on an 8' stop, Tenor C and Low C notes are given for each of our two resultants is given below as examples:

De Profundis 32' Voix de l'Abîme 32'

CCC=

CC (Pedal Bourdon)

GG (Bourdon)

C (Bourdon)

E (Bourdon)

G (Bourdon)

A# (Flûte Conique)

CCC=

CC (Contra Oboe and Cor d'Amour)

GG (Cor d'Amour)

C (Contra Oboe and Cor d'Amour)

E (Cor d;Amour)

G (Cor d'Amour)

A# (Cor d'Amour)

CC=

CC (Bourdon)

C (Bourdon)

G (Bourdon)

(Bourdon)

(Flûte Conique)

(Flûte Conique)

CC=

CC (Contra Oboe and Cor d'Amour)

C (Cor d'Amour)

G (Flûte Conique)

(Flûte Conique)

(Flûte Conique)

a#  (Flûte Conique)

Many resultants are given somewhat humorous names, including ours! De Profundis is Latin for "From the depths," the beginning of Psalm 130. Voix de l'Abîme means "Voice from the Abyss" (a reference to a terrifying organ piece by Olivier Messiaen, "Les Mains de l'Abîme:" "Hands from the Abyss"). The link takes you to a "Complete Works" collection, then select disk 5, track 3. 

Neither resultant dominates the overall sound when used properly. A resultant that is aggressive in character tends to be less effective at creating the illusion of 32-foot pipes. With the acoustics in the Chapel, and the substantial scale of many of these ranks, the effect is one one of an added but somewhat subtle grandeur. The reason, incidentally, for beginning the harmonic reinforcement a few notes above the bottom twelve is so that the transition from actual pipes of the appropriate pitch to harmonics only would be smoother, so the harmonic reinforcements don't suddenly jump in. From EE on up (note #17) only the fundamental note is used. 

2011 Project: Flûte Céleste, Sostenuto, Second Accent Stop

Through the continued, extraordinary continued generosity of the Hendersons, some finishing touches were put on the instrument. For organists who improvise, it is sometimes very handy to have a "Sostenuto" feature available, which can sustain one or more notes, while leaving hands (and feet) free to play additional notes, work expression pedals, etc. In consultation with the Peterson company, we worked out a practical way to add this feature. The Pedal and the Swell divisions each have a drawknob for the Sostenuto. When either (or both) is drawn, Pedal divisional toe stud #2 functions as a "momentary sostenuto," much like the sostenuto pedal on a piano, releasing the notes when the toe stud is released. Pedal divisional toe stud #3 locks whatever notes you are playing (on the Swell or on the Pedal, as appropriate) until it is pressed a second time. There are actually a few unusual pieces in the organ repertoire where this feature is needed, but mostly, it is a tool for improvisation. The Accent feature (described earlier on this page) had proven so very useful that we added a second one, so now when the "Accent" rocker tab is engaged, Pedal divisional toe studs 1 and 6 both become accent stops (with different settings on them). All these functions are clearly marked on the label plates beneath the toe studs. Finally, we added a Flûte Céleste stop to go with the Flûte Conique in the Swell. The organ is used frequently for meditative, quiet music in various worship settings, so there are always good ways to use another ethereal-sounding celeste stop. The Flûte Céleste was carefully matched to the Flûte Conique pipes, but scaled slightly smaller, with a narrower mouth, so the character is related but a bit more overtly "flutey." This also helps the effect of the the interaction with the "celeste" tuning. We decided to add a full-compass, 73-note celeste rank, so that the effect is carried all the way to the bottom note. Since the Flûte Conique is already extended to 16', there are some unique effects the matching celeste stop offers by going down to 8' C. The Flûte Céleste and the Flûte Conique may also be drawn from the Solo, in that instance the two ranks being combined on one drawknob.

The Clarinet stop, which is from the original 1951 installation, is a lovely example of its type, and useful in music of many periods. Like many American organs of the period, the Clarinet was placed in the same division as the mutation stops (Nazard and Tierce). In subsequesnt years, organists have taken an increasing interest in playing music of 17th and 18th-century French organ composers in the manner intended. Many pieces from that school call for a Cornet (flutes at 8', 4', and 2' along with the Nazard and the Tierce) in the right hand and a Clarinet (or Cromorne) in the left. This wasn't possible with the the organ configured as it was. In order to allow this and other more flexibility, a unit action was fitted to the Clarinet, making it possible to duplex it to the Solo, and couple it to any manual. Also, this way, all the "color reeds," (Cor d'Amour, English Horn, Oboe, Clarinet) are available in the Solo, allowing them to be used wherever needed, and in many combinations.

In May of 2012, the original blower, which had been showing signs of deterioration, and was a notoriously inefficient design - difficult to balance and service, was replaced with a new blower (involving the external casing of a vintage Spencer blower, with all new fan blades, motor, bearings, and shaft).

Overall Perspective

Though the goal in all this work never has been to resurrect the untouched 1951 sound of the instrument, much of what has been done still remains tied to the organ’s roots. The overall project was overseen by company president David J. Fabry (son of Gustav Fabry), and the renovation of the console, with several custom hand-carved touches in the woodwork, was carried out by David Gustav Fabry (grandson of Gustav). The new stop knobs, rocker tablets, and labels were made by Hesco of Hagerstown, Maryland , who provided knobs, tabs, and other engraved items for Möller for over forty years, though ours are in a newer style, and with a different type font, unlike the traditional “Möller look.” The new pipe ranks installed in 2007 were made by Eastern Organ Pipes, located in the former Möller factory in Hagerstown, staffed largely by veterans of Möller’s pipe shop. The Flûte Céleste was made by A.R. Schopp's Sons of Alliance, Ohio, since by that time Eastern Organ Pipes had sadly closed its doors. We are greatly indebted to the superb workmanship and knowledge brought to this project by the above four companies as well as by Peterson Electro-Musical Products, whose versatile equipment and willingness to try new ideas made the extraordinary flexibility of this organ possible.

The result of all this is an instrument of outstanding tonal beauty, breathtaking expressiveness, and a highly individual character. Colleagues passing through the area are welcome to come and try this unique and thrilling instrument for themselves. The general public is welcome to attend upcoming recitals as well.

 

Links: Organ Photo Gallery | Organ and CarillonRecordings | Next Performance | Index | John Gouwens