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A new VPO in actual use in a church -- This is intriguing!

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    A new VPO in actual use in a church -- This is intriguing!

    Here's an article (admittedly sketchy because it's in a regular newspaper rather than in a music journal) about the installation of a very elaborate Hauptwerk setup in a church. A "labor of love" by a local hobbyist (who is pretty well qualified, having a music degree and also a career in the computer business), this VPO setup is said to have 56 audio channels. Sample sets from a number of the world's finest organs are available on this organ. Touch screens are used for stop selection rather than hardware knobs (probably a good choice in this case, given the great diversity of sample sets installed).

    I have often wondered what it would be like to play and hear a big VPO like this in a church. Questions arise -- are the sample sets wet or dry? Where do you get 56-channel audio cards for a computer? And how do you go about distributing the stops of an organ amongst all those channels? Or do you?

    Does it sound like this would actually "work" -- having the exact stop list of the organ in St. Etienne Abbey of Normandy, France transported into a 1960's A-frame Methodist Church in Indiana? I wonder if they have arranged the 56 audio channels so that people sitting in various spots around that Methodist sanctuary (presumably a fairly small one) are hearing the ambiance of St. Etienne -- can you close your eyes and feel transported to France? If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    Yes, I could've put this post in the Virtual Organ forum, but I'm more interested in just chatting about it in general terms than in the technical details, so thought it might get more attention here in General Chat.

    http://www.dailyjournal.net/2019/06/...m37I0.facebook

    John
    ----------
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    #2
    Digging a little deeper, I found the Greenwood UMC website, a lot of photos from the organ dedication (which took place just yesterday), and a lot of commentary from the pastor and other folks in the church. Apparently the dedication drew a HUGE crowd in this small town of about 50,000. Looking at the photos you see very ordinary looking "local" people in their everyday clothes, bluejeans and overalls, thronging into the church to hear this new marvel of technology! If a new VPO can draw a crowd like this in a small town in the heart of the US rust belt, maybe there is hope for the church!

    Also found a TV interview by the individual behind this project, and he stated that the money for the organ was actually raised in about four weeks. Yes four WEEKS. It was obviously done on a shoestring budget, but of course that's part of the appeal of the VPO approach. Makes you wonder...

    Also found a few youtube videos of the theater organ sample set being played, but so far no uploads of the dedication itself or of any of the classical sounds.

    John
    ----------
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

    Comment


      #3
      Given the huge amount of press and local attention that this organ installation is receiving, after an expenditure of just a few thousand dollars, you have to wonder why a church that installs a half-million-dollar pipe organ or a big $200K digital can hardly draw enough people to the dedication to justify making coffee and having donuts?

      I wish I could go and check this situation out in person and find out why there is so much excitement over this new organ. If we could figure out what this church did "right" and then use that same strategy in other new organ situations, we could generate a lot of enthusiasm for the organ!
      John
      ----------
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
        . Questions arise -- are the sample sets wet or dry? Where do you get 56-channel audio cards for a computer? And how do you go about distributing the stops of an organ amongst all those channels? Or do you?
        There are a number of manufacturers of multi-channel audio interfaces. You're not going to get that many channels on a computer card and these interfaces are external units that connect via Firewire or, more commonly today, via USB. This one, with 10 outputs from Focusrite is recommended by many Hauptwerk users: https://amzn.to/2XnKuE3. I have a ten channel M-Audio 610 (no longer manufactured) that interfaces via firewire. Just add multiple units for more channels. Hauptwerk supports up to 512 channels.

        Hauptwerk provides a great deal of flexibility in how the stops are distributed among the various channels by implementing speaker groups and various routing algorithms to distribute stops at the note level to the various channels within those groupings.

        By far, there are more wet sample sets available than dry, but I think the dry sets work better in configurations with a large number of channels. There are stereo and surround sample sets, as well as sample sets that are recorded from two positions, close up and in the reverberant field, that enable the ratio of the two to be adjusted to taste.
        -Admin

        Allen 965
        Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
        Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
        Hauptwerk 4.2

        Comment


          #5
          It would be interesting to learn what their final price tag was on the project. I bet he donated a lot of the labor since he is on staff at the church. That labor would be another factor that financially would have to enter into the calculation for a church that would want to duplicate something like this.
          Until The Next Dimension,
          Admiral Coluch.

          -1929 Wangerin Pipe Organ Historian
          -Owner 1982 Rogers Specification 990

          Comment


            #6
            I'll bet that organ sounds really nice in that room. It looks to be big enough that some wet sample sets would not sound way out of place. Too much reverb in a very small room can sorta confuse the ears / mind, and make you wonder ( and I like a lot of reverb ! ) what is wrong with the music. But I'll bet they have pretty well sorted out what works there, with a lot of experimentation obviously.

            There is a Hauptwerk organ in a RC church here in West Allis WI ( Milwaukee suburb ) that sounded pretty good when I visited it a couple years ago. As far as I know they use it regularly, and are pleased with it. That one is a Rodgers console ( pretty sure ) with drawknobs, and touchscreens. The organist there is a member here.

            It seems that this Hauptwerk conversion organ thing is happening slowly but surely in some places. For the regular organist(s) I'm thinking it is a lot of fun to have all the options one of those has. For instance, I could see playing the majority of the service on a nice church organ sample set, but for the offertory music set it to be a theater organ, and the switch back to a different church organ for the rest of the service.

            As an organist who does a lot of sub work, I wonder how subs will get along with one of these. Seems to me you have to really Know the system from using it a Lot to make it work well ? When you first turn it on does it boot up with a usable generic church organ sample set ? And a set of graduated General piston settings ? Can an organist who knows nothing about Hauptwerk sit down, turn it on, hit a General, and start playing a service ? And just how "touchy" are those touchscreens, if you should want to hand register everything ?
            Attached Files
            Regards, Larry

            At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

            Comment


            • jbird604
              jbird604 commented
              Editing a comment
              Actually, that console appears to be an old Baldwin of the D-400 series, a pretty decent model from the late 80's or early 90's. The big brother to the two-manual D-4XX that I once had for a practice organ. Didn't sound too bad for an early digital, but I'm sure the Hauptwerk sounds are far superior and vastly more varied and colorful.

            #7
            As the creator of this organ, I am always thrilled to have folks come check it out. I just happened to be browsing this forum - looking for info on Fatar keyboards - and stumbled across this thread talking about the organ I built for GUMC. I'm flattered, honestly. But I love getting visitors and I'm always happy to answer questions. I had to join the Organ Forum just to respond to this thread.

            As fate would have it, jbird604, you actually used to tune my pianos when I was a kid growing up in Pine Bluff, AR! We actually "know" each other! Please, you're all welcome to come take the organ for a spin anytime you're in the area and feel free to write me anytime. I don't check this (or the Hauptwerk forum) very regularly, so emailing me directly would be faster.

            For those interested, this build is described in detail on the Hauptwerk forum at the link below:

            http://forum.hauptwerk.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=15009

            I am also the church's website admin, so if you contact me through there (my contact email is on the Hauptwerk Organ page in the music section). Always happy to talk Hauptwerk.

            Comment


            • jbird604
              jbird604 commented
              Editing a comment
              So delighted to re-connect with you, Drew, and see that you have taken your interest in music to such a height. I certainly do remember tuning your piano in Pine Bluff when we were both a lot younger!

              Please stay with the Organ Forum and make it a regular part of your browsing. We are an interesting community. Through this forum I have come to know several guys around the country and around the world well enough to exchange emails and phone calls. I've even had visits from a few of the regulars here. And the guy who is now my business associate in the organ shop first contacted me through this forum. So I consider it a valuable social medium that has meant a lot to me over the past 12 or 15 years.

              Perhaps one day I'll be able to travel to Greenwood and hear this fantastic instrument. I plan on reading the hauptwerk link you provided so I can get the details. Hope to stay in touch with you too and have a visit some day.

            #8
            If anyone is interested, you can watch some videos of the organ, including the full-length dedication concert on the church YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe if you want to be notified when new recordings are posted. We have a few concerts a year - or at least we try to - and I always try to record and upload them.

            https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2v..._as=subscriber

            Full length dedication concert video:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rxA...t=2488s&fmt=18

            Comment


            • myorgan
              myorgan commented
              Editing a comment
              Drew,

              Thank you for joining the Forum and contributing here. You'll be a valuable resource for the VPO community. Welcome!

              Michael

            #9
            Originally posted by jbird604
            ...the money for the organ was actually raised in about four weeks. Yes four WEEKS.
            I once accepted a job at a church that had a horrible electronic organ. I would not normally have considered the position, but the rector assured me that they wanted to get a pipe organ to replace it. However, after I arrived, it seemed they were always raising money for other things. I had decided to leave when I saw an ad for a small used pipe organ at a very good price. I mentioned that an opportunity like this is very rare and strongly urged them to see if they could obtain it.

            People got really excited and started saying things like "I'll give $500," I'll give $1,000." Without even starting a fund drive, people volunteered their support.

            We did not get the original organ. It was a great opportunity at a great price and someone else snapped it up. However, the momentum had been established. We ended up getting an instrument from the Organ Clearing House and had a builder restore and install it.

            After the organ was in, people in the neighborhood started dropping into the church. "I heard you got a pipe organ." This proved to me the appeal of pipe organs to the general public.
            Last edited by myorgan; 01-14-2020, 05:16 PM. Reason: Fix quote.
            Bill

            My home organ: Content M5800

            Comment


              #10
              That's essentially what happened here, Bill. We scheduled our first fundraising event, but we had 99% of the funds before we actually got to have the event. Great folks, here. The congregation is slowly dwindling, unfortunately, but we will continue to sing and make music until we can't anymore.

              Comment


                #11
                I did not see an answer to the question about whether the GUMC VPO was a "turn on" instrument. Can a visiting organist just turn it on and play it?

                David

                Comment


                  #12
                  Originally posted by davidecasteel View Post
                  I did not see an answer to the question about whether the GUMC VPO was a "turn on" instrument. Can a visiting organist just turn it on and play it?

                  David
                  The short answer is "maybe."

                  There are detailed instructions on the console - a "quick start" guide if you will. But ultimately, most people are too timid to risk it.

                  That being said, the organ stays powered on 99% of the time and is therefore almost always ready to go. Since the machine is 100% solid state, there are no moving parts to wear out.

                  The entire rack has a main power switch that turns everything on in one click. After the MOTU interfaces do their AVB sync (wait about 15 seconds), then the computer can be powered on. It boots straight into Hauptwerk, with no additional input needed from the user. The Individual speaker circuits need to be turned on at this point, which are clearly labeled in the breaker box next to the rack. To turn it off, just go in the opposite order and switch everything off.

                  It's a VERY simple process if you do it one time you'll have the hang of it. It would have been possible to put all of that on sequencers and relays, but that's just one more thing to go wrong, and a lot of added expense. I am there 100% of the time - I take maybe 1 vacation day a year, and our other organist is also there every Sunday, and takes care of it in my absence, as she's familiar with the process.

                  I could see where this could be a sticking point for some folks.

                  Comment


                  • myorgan
                    myorgan commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Drew,

                    Thank you for the nice description of how the VPO boot-sequence works. For me, as a visiting organist, I might find difficulty finding the breaker box to turn the speakers on–if you do not also have the specific location listed as well, but otherwise it sounds like you've prepared well.

                    Thank you for sharing this information.

                    Michael

                  #13
                  I would like to mention, that the organ will be an optional tour during the ATOS National Convention this year - July 9th and 10th.

                  https://www.atos.org/convention

                  Official times aren't listed, yet, but if you happen to be attending, or in the area, I hope you'll come hear Justin Nimmo play, and help yourself to some open console time. If you are planning to attend, I would appreciate it if you RSVP (though it certainly isn't required) at this link: https://www.greenwoodumc.org/hauptwerk-organ

                  RSVP-ing just gives me some idea as to how many people to expect - I want everyone to get time on the console if they want - but also gives me/us a way to contact everyone when an official time is set, as well as reach out to you in case of an emergency/cancellation etc. (God forbid!)

                  Hope to see you there.

                  Comment

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