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    100 Year Old Organ Anniversary Ideas

    I'm not exactly sure what subforum this should go into, so if it needs moving, feel free.

    In October of this year, one of the churches I play for has a Wangerin pipe organ that will be 100 years old. I mentioned that to the president of the congregation this past weekend, and also that we should note fact that somehow. He thought that having an anniversary celebration / service would be a wonderful idea. I agreed, and have now been asked to make it happen ! It is not my home congregation - I'm just one of the organists who plays usually twice a month, and I play all the big festival services. I also maintain and keep it in tune. So, it is kinda "my" organ in a sense.

    I've never had the opportunity to plan such an event. I have some ideas percolating in my head though. The one thing that I know for sure I will do is write up a presentation about the organ, and the Wangerin company ( a Wisconsin company, so I have a fair amount of knowledge about them ). That would be given during the coffee and schnecks hour after the service itself.

    Another thing I would like to do is invite all the organists ( the still living ones ) who have ever played there to take part in the service, or at least be there if they don't want to play.

    The organ is a 6 rank one, so is not terribly historic really. Although it has been there all its life, it no longer has the original tubular pneumatic action. In 1990 it was converted to electro-mechanical action, and a Ztronics system was installed to run it. The Dulciana was taken out at that time and replaced with a 8' Trumpet rank. A 16' Peterson electronic Trumpet extension was added to the pedal at that time too. Those changes made it a much more versatile organ. While not completely original anymore, it is pretty darn nice for a mere 6 ranks.

    Has anyone planned such an event before ? Does anyone have ideas I have not thought of yet ?
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 ! ), E-5AR ( X 2, 1 parts, 1 not ), D80 ( parts ), FX-1, FX-20, HS-7T ( parts ), EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen organs : T12-A, T-12B, ADC-6000D. Baldwin 626. Hammond Concorde. Lowrey CH32-1. A bunch of Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ), Hammond A105, Baldwin 720T, Several small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

    #2
    An anniversary service is a great idea!
    Last year, we celebrated the 160th birthday of our organ with a special recital. We also made sure to write something about the organ in our parish newsletter.

    Comment


      #3
      I'm in the early stages of planning such a centennial for our 1925 Skinner. Recitals with current and former organists, are a good idea. A hymn sing can be fun and it can draw non congregants. It may be out of the finances, but a recital by a "well known" organist is a possibility. And the same thing about funds, but we are hoping to raise money for some antiphonal ranks. Keep thinking and talking, things will come up.

      Comment


        #4
        Are there any documents about how the instrument was celebrated when it arrived 100 years ago? If you can find a program for a dedication recital or what music was used at the initial service, people would find that interesting. Perhaps you could reenact the original service using the hymns that were sung and doing the liturgy as it would have been done at the time.
        Bill

        My home organ: Content M5800

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks for the input ! This is a SMALL congregation - normal Sunday ( non - festival ) attendance is about 15 people. So the finances for this are limited. It is also in the middle of Wisconsin ( middle of nowhere kinda ), so it wont draw much attendance from people who are not related to the church in some way.

          Because it is a rural area, I think it is likely that we could get the local weekly newspaper(s) to do an article on the event in advance. They like those sorts of stories, I'm fairly sure. And people here still actually read the printed newspaper. So that might well get more people to show up.

          I did ask the people at the church to see if they could find any information about the organ, installation, and dedication service. They are not sure there are any extant archives, but will be looking.

          I know some organists that are not quite "well known" ones, but are WAY better than I am. I will be checking to see if I can get one interested in playing. Of course, it would be a 100 mile drive for any of them ! It is just an old 6 rank organ though, so the interest might not be there. Unless the compensation is worthwhile.

          I will update this thread if / when this comes together.
          Regards, Larry

          At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 ! ), E-5AR ( X 2, 1 parts, 1 not ), D80 ( parts ), FX-1, FX-20, HS-7T ( parts ), EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen organs : T12-A, T-12B, ADC-6000D. Baldwin 626. Hammond Concorde. Lowrey CH32-1. A bunch of Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ), Hammond A105, Baldwin 720T, Several small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

          Comment


          • samibe
            samibe commented
            Editing a comment
            Larry's Wangerin is from October of 1919. Cham-ed's Skinner is from 1925. It looks like you may need to book a tour to Wisconsin this year.

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Well, it will be 100 years old for at least one year!

            Michael

          • Larrytow
            Larrytow commented
            Editing a comment
            Ya know, I never gave much thought to the fact that it will 100 for a whole year. That could make planning much easier in several ways. More info to come in a few days; I've been doing some research.

          #6
          Originally posted by Larrytow View Post
          It is just an old 6 rank organ though, so the interest might not be there.
          Don't say that. "My" small organ has 5 stops (one for the pedals only) and I had an organ professor come and play a recital together with me. Okay, he's also a good friend, but what I wand to say is that you can make wonderful music on a small organ, and a skillful organist can do really interesting stuff on such a small instrument.
          If I weren't many many miles away and would have to take an intercontinental flight and all that hassle, I would come over and play.

          Comment


          • Larrytow
            Larrytow commented
            Editing a comment
            Andi, I would love to meet you ! But, they can't afford your travel expenses. I'll bet you could make that organ SING.

          #7
          Here is a little update on the planning for a potential anniversary event for the organ. This past week I attended the church council meeting where they discussed what might be done. This church is served by a pastor who also serves two other nearby ( 15 miles radius ) small congregations. They all throw in together for paying the pastors salary, and they also do several combined services, and other functions throughout each year.

          The working idea so far is to make the organ anniversary celebration a combined service where all three congregations go to this church that day. It will be an actual Sunday service, but extended in length by some amount, depending on what sorts of things get included. It will likely be just after Christmas, in the Epiphany season. Here in WI you cannot have a extended Sunday service / brunch till after the Packers season ( this is also their 100th season anniversary ! ). If they get into the playoffs, that time of the year may yet change.

          I did some looking in church printed materials, and have a nice list of most of the people who were organists there. I will be contacting them ( the living ones ) in the next few weeks to see what sort of interest they may have. Just being there, or playing the organ, or whatever.

          The church treasurer went to their safety deposit box at the bank and looked through the paperwork accumulated over the years for anything related to the organ. She did not find the original contract, but did find the the Acceptance Letter and the Invoice. In 1919 a 6 rank Wangerin organ cost 1,603.95 ! I still need to convert that to today's value, and that should be quite interesting.

          Edit : I just did the calculation on a few sites, and in today's dollars the organ would have cost anywhere from 24,422.89 to 27,111.38 ( different sites, different results ). I have no idea what a brand new 6 rank would actually cost today, but I'm thinking more than those figures.

          Here is a link to a photo album with photos of the church and organ :

          https://photos.app.goo.gl/XJyYyBdced7k6ybz9

          I have a good friend from high school that is an exceptional organist ( WAY better than me, or anyone who has ever played at this church ), and he is willing come up here to do a concert. However, the church just does not have the funds to afford him.

          Plans are starting to take shape, but slowly. Thanks for all the input so far. The actual "Lets Do It, Go Ahead" decision will be made on October 16th. I'm pretty certain they will want to do it, and I guess I'm sorta in charge of making it happen.
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Larrytow; 09-09-2019, 11:18 PM.
          Regards, Larry

          At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 ! ), E-5AR ( X 2, 1 parts, 1 not ), D80 ( parts ), FX-1, FX-20, HS-7T ( parts ), EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen organs : T12-A, T-12B, ADC-6000D. Baldwin 626. Hammond Concorde. Lowrey CH32-1. A bunch of Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ), Hammond A105, Baldwin 720T, Several small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

          Comment


          • voet
            voet commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for the link to the photos and the embedded links. Best wishes on your celebration.

          • regeron
            regeron commented
            Editing a comment
            That all sounds very exciting! I'm so happy to hear that old organs continue to be maintained and used.

            A couple thoughts as you plan:
            - if you can create a chronological list of who played over the years, that can be fascinating. Any gaps that you find are an opportunity for old-timers to start a conversation about "I think it was Organist X for those years". And "No, Organist X was gone before we got the telephone line" [*smile]
            - Any celebrations that happen Sunday morning will likely be limited to your own congregations, present and past. Any celebrations that happen after that Sunday morning worship hour will allow people from other churches to attend their own morning worship, then attend your celebration.

          • Larrytow
            Larrytow commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, the list of organists will be in chronological order as best we are able to figure out. The idea of the gaps in it starting conversations is excellent. The trouble is that no one sticks around after a service, as there is no coffee hour or anything.

            I understand about the Sunday morning plan not getting outsiders in, and that makes sense. But if we do it as a special service in the afternoon or evening, probably a lot of the regular members will not come. Already been to church this morning, not going again this afternoon, Etc.

          #8
          Thanks for the update, Larrytow Sounds very good so far.

          Comment


            #9
            I really enjoyed the photos. Really beautiful condition and goes well with the interior of the church. I also like the 'light switch' on the console for the power, since the Austin that I've played at my Mom's church has the same feature.

            Does the 16' Trumpet on the pedal division give any sort of rumble effect when combined with the 16' Sub Bass, like a bourdon would? Somewhat surprised there wasn't a mixture stop anywhere. One final comment. While I have a lot of experience playing synths, I still say that DX-7 needs to go.
            Hammond RT-3, Estey circa 1903, Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano, Fender Rhodes Mark I 73 stage piano.

            Comment


            • Larrytow
              Larrytow commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for the compliments on the church - they are very meticulous about keeping the place in nice condition. I'll respond to your questions later tonight, as I am busy right now. But, the DX-7 needs to be there for a couple reasons.

            #10
            Originally posted by ChristopherDB113 View Post
            I really enjoyed the photos. Really beautiful condition and goes well with the interior of the church. I also like the 'light switch' on the console for the power, since the Austin that I've played at my Mom's church has the same feature.

            Does the 16' Trumpet on the pedal division give any sort of rumble effect when combined with the 16' Sub Bass, like a bourdon would? Somewhat surprised there wasn't a mixture stop anywhere. One final comment. While I have a lot of experience playing synths, I still say that DX-7 needs to go.
            The 'rumble effect' (resultant) is only achieved when a 16' rank (usually a Bourdon) is played against a 10-2/3' rank. Chances are a 10-2/3' rank will not be available on a modest size instrument, and it has been discovered that playing simultaneous fourths on one rank, more or less achieves a similar (rumble) effect. As for a mixture? That would go against a spirit of economy both of materials and of cost. Three or more ranks would need to be constructed, tuned, and activated. Way too complex and costly for an organ meant to slide under a specific budget figure.

            Comment


              #11
              That organ is small, and there is not enough of it to need any 32' bass. Back in 1919 mixtures were not the "IN" thing for little church organs, so I would never expect to see one in an organ of that era and size. And this church is pretty well out in the country, so keeping a mixture in tune would have been a problem, as tuners were / are not readily available.

              In 1990 they had the organ converted to electro-mechanical action from the original tubular pneumatic. At that time the 8' Trumpet was installed, and the electronic 16' extension. The Trumpet took the place of the original Dulciana. The celeste rank replaced an Aeoline. Those changes made it a more versatile instrument, and for the most part were well thought out from a cost / benefit standpoint.

              The one thing that it really could use, and I may do it someday, is for the 1&1/3rd to be on a different manual than the celeste and string. The way it is implemented right now you cannot use the 1&1/3rd with the stopped flute on one manual, against the celeste on the other. Someone did not quite think it through well enough, when setting up what can play from where.

              The entire organ is in the Swell box, except for the Open Diapason. And it is big in scale and loud. In this situation, I would prefer that it was enclosed as well. With a full church it would be very nice, but when the average attendance is only 15 people it is way too loud to use much. Since the Octave and Fifteenth are from that rank, the same applies to them.

              Funny you should mention the plain white light switch on the console. When I first looked at it I thought it was out of place, and Butt a## Ugly ! The second thing I did to the console is replace that white one with a nice brushed antique brass one. Much more fitting and Elegant now.

              The first thing I had to do was fix the music desk that was practically laying down horizontally, along with getting the lamp up higher so it was not shining in my face. How anybody thought that the angle of the music desk was OK or usable is beyond me. The photos show how I fixed it. A different music desk is in the works too right now. This one will be a bit wider, and mounted up an inch and towards the back by 2". The current one is too close, even with my bad eyes ! The replacement is a nice older wood one that will match the console nicely. And it won't be on hinges like the current one. No need for a fold down music desk on a console with no roll top. I can't imagine why this one is on hinges to begin with.

              I had the woodworker of the congregation build me a shelf on the balcony rail to hold a keyboard. I've done a number of funerals there, and the selection of quiet stops on the organ is limited. So the 45 minutes to an hour of pre-service music can sound pretty bland. With a keyboard for the right hand, you can use other sounds to complement the organ. I have the amp for it set up on the furthest back choir pew, facing up and out on a 45 degree angle and it blends nicely. I use it for prelude music too now and then. What really worked well is the Tubular Bells on Christmas ! They were asking " when did we get chimes ? ".

              My Yamaha DX-7 is there for a few reasons, rather than another keyboard. The first is that it is the only keyboard / synth that I own that is capable of Master Tuning down to A = 435 Hz . And that is what the organ is at, so that is a big factor in the choice. The second reason is is that the Tubular Bells / chimes patch on it is absolutely one of the best I have ever heard. And the third reason is that I was not using it for anything else anyhow, so having it on semi permanent loan there is just fine. It's Good for vintage equipment to get used now and then, rather than just sitting.

              The other organists who play there are welcome to use it also, but I don't think any of them do, or have even tried. I don't think they like the idea of playing a side keyboard setup, even if the sounds are really handy to have available. Part of my early career was playing supper club / cocktail lounges, and playing another set of keys off to the side is well ingrained in my style.

              I'm not trying to be pretentious or something like that; the DX-7 is there for the utility of having the sounds available. I know it does not really go with the decor of the church and console, but so it goes.
              Last edited by Larrytow; 09-11-2019, 07:56 PM.
              Regards, Larry

              At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 ! ), E-5AR ( X 2, 1 parts, 1 not ), D80 ( parts ), FX-1, FX-20, HS-7T ( parts ), EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen organs : T12-A, T-12B, ADC-6000D. Baldwin 626. Hammond Concorde. Lowrey CH32-1. A bunch of Synthesizers and Keyboards. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with VISTA ), Hammond A105, Baldwin 720T, Several small and medium size pipe organs of many sorts and builders.

              Comment

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