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  • Johannus organ used in St. Olaf Choir program from Norway

    Watching the lovely Christmas music program broadcast last night on PBS, the St. Olaf Choir performing at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway. The organ in use looks like a stock model Johannus to me, complete with lighted drawknobs, and not even a particularly large one. Although the camera sometimes pans across the organ pipes, I'm quite sure the sounds I'm hearing are pure digital, and quite wonderful too.

    Anybody know the reason why there would be a digital organ in use for this program here? There obviously is a pipe organ in the cathedral, or at least there are a large number of visible pipes. Perhaps the pipe organ is being renovated, or maybe it was built to something other than standard pitch and couldn't be used with the orchestra and choir.

    At any rate, the Johannus sounds stunning whenever it gets a solo part, at least in the recording. Being so close to the factory, no doubt the Johannus people did a bang-up job installing it there, whether it's a temporary or permanent setup.

    And of course the acoustical setting in that place is the most perfect this side of heaven, and as we all know, that help any kind of organ greatly.
    Last edited by jbird604; 12-24-2013, 11:29 AM. Reason: add
    John
    ----------
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  • #2
    Hi John and gang,
    The organ in Norway is a Johannus Monarke Praeludium, custom made for this cathedral, this info is from the Johannus website published a few months ago.
    It says that the Steinmeyer pipe organ is out for renovation, there is also an old Baroque tracker in this church.
    Since the church owns the Monarke it will most likely remain in the cathedral but we're not sure.
    We also saw the St. Olaf program yesterday on the PBS channel and agree that the Johannus sounded supurb and yes, acoustics always help any organ making it sound the best it can be. We have played million dollar pipe organs in acoustically dead churches and think that the sound of those is abysmal and the organs a waste of money.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone on this list.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for that info. I didn't even think about checking the Johannus site. Sounds like it might be a pretty good size instrument. I never got a look at the entire console, just the occasional camera shot of the keyboards and sometimes the knobs.

      If it sounds as good in person as it does in the recording, it is a prime example of how good a digital can be when all the details are attended to -- properly sized spec, adequate amps and speakers, top-notch voicing, and superb acoustics.
      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

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      • #4
        John,

        My wife and I saw the same program, and I was also intrigued by the instrument. It took a while to hear anything other than 8' or 4' stops, but that was appropriate for the pieces the choirs performed. However, in one piece the organist used either a 32' or 16' Pedal reed, and it sounded a bit brash/bright--both for the piece in which it was used, but also for the space. I wonder if that was a voicing preference, for example, European vs. American, or something else.

        Our favorite piece of the program was The Rose coupled with Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming. It was an interesting mix of meters. Personally, I heard other ways to combine the pieces, but liked what was performed. Great arrangement!

        Michael
        Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
        • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
        • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
        • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

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        • #5
          I had to pause in the middle of it to do some prep for the Christmas Eve service. Maybe I'll get back to it this week.

          My wife was actually watching it before I was and I was listening from another room. Hearing the organ at the beginning I just assumed it was the pipe organ, so I was quite surprised when I began watching and the camera revealed the "Johannus" nameplate after a while!

          Merry Christmas!
          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

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          • #6
            I am a bit surprised that the church would order a custom organ of that size with lighted drawknobs. Moving drawknobs are available and do not add that much to the overall cost, certainly not on a percentage basis. I know some organists prefer the lighted stops, though. The two major benefits in my mind are quieter operation and the ability to show the exact status of the crescendo sequence when the pedal is open.

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            • #7
              It is a little surprising they'd not specify moving knobs when spending that kind of money. I suppose they may have preferred the silence of the lights, especially with the lively acoustic where the clunk of moving knobs might have been quite audible.

              I've played many organs of both types, and don't know that one is clearly better. Various lighted actions, whether Rodgers or Johannus knobs, lighted rocker tabs, the little LED windows in 80's Rodgers analogs, Allen Lumitech "jewels" -- the absolute silence is nice as compared to the fairly loud clunk of many moving stop actions. I even got nicely accustomed to a push-on push-off LED analog Rodgers when I had one, and I had always thought that would be very hard to accept.

              When I was playing the Galanti at my church before bringing in the Allen, I became aware of one lighted action drawback though -- people in the pews could see the tabs putting on their "light show" so I had to be careful about making changes or fiddling with my pistons when not playing.

              Now that I have the Allen with its luxurious moving drawknobs, I really enjoy the silky smooth feel and the positive assurance that a stop is engaged when I pull the knob, no "springy" feel like a lighted knob. But I find myself doing a lot of hand cancelling and hand registration between hymns so I can avoid the clunk of hitting a piston and having the magnets move those knobs.
              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!

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              • #8
                I have heard a number of organists worry about the visibility of lighted stops in a darkened sanctuary. It is a legitimate concern, especially in churches that place the organ at the front. Johannus once fitted a dimmer control on their consoles, but apparently no longer does. Rodgers organs still have this feature. Couldn't the builders include a photocell to make the lamps auto-dimming? Now that would be a useful feature.

                As to the noise of moving stops, a refinement there would be to use micro motors rather than dual solenoids so that the mechanisms move more smoothly and accelerate/decelerate more gently. I notice that the power locks on my "new" car work this way, in contrast to the old-fashioned solenoid driven locks.

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                • #9
                  Interesting thought on the micro motors. There everywhere these days, frequently replacing a previous solenoid applications. They also have the advantage of having much lower voltage and current requirements, avoiding costly protected high-current drive circuits.

                  I have experimented with PWM drive on my own prototype drawknob solenoid driver boards with some success in creating ramped motion that minimizes the classic 'thump' for a high-end client, but some vendor's products work better than others due to the design of the magnetics.

                  --- Tom
                  Rodgers 660 with additional analog rack sets (practice), 36D/C in digital conversion, Yamaha CVP-107

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                  • #10
                    personally, I like the aural feedback provided by moving stops. Most Hauptwerk organs include the mechanical sounds of the organ as well as the tones produced from the pipes and these noises can be turned on or off and even adjusted in level. Maybe it's just what I'm accustomed to, but hearing the stops actuate when a piston is pressed is reassuring.

                    In a recent discussion of pneumatically actuated stops vs electrically actuated ones on a theatre organ discussion group, the consensus seemed to be that the louder thump of the wind actuated tabs was more desirable than the mechanical clack of the solenoid actuated ones.

                    Micromotor actuated stops is a promising idea provided that a silent actuating ramp provides a fast enough change and the that the sound of a bunch of motors actuating at the same time doesn't sound like R2D2
                    -Admin

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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                      It is a little surprising they'd not specify moving knobs when spending that kind of money. I suppose they may have preferred the silence of the lights, especially with the lively acoustic where the clunk of moving knobs might have been quite audible.
                      John,

                      I quite agree. Further, if they could eliminate that annoying puff of air when the pipes speak (I believe some call it chiff), that would be WONDERFUL!!!:devil:

                      [sarcasm filter off]

                      One needs to evaluate what is desirable in the imitation of a pipe organ's operation. What about out-of-tune notes, slipped caps/stoppers, the tracker sound of actuating or removing stops, a noisy shallot, the thump-thump-thump sound of the Tremolo when engaged, etc.? The possibilities are endless, yet organists are constantly making judgement calls when it comes to what they reproduce while playing.

                      Somewhat related--I played my first pipe/electronic combination today. It was a bit unnerving to see so many stop possibilities (over 40 stops) out of what was clearly a 10-12 rank space for pipes (all under expression). What was even more disconcerting for me is that I couldn't tell the difference between pipe & electronic! In my defense, though, there was too much ambient noise in the church to hear the pipe mechanisms speak, or even chiff. I was disappointed that the Swell 8' Oboe was reproduced at the 4' pitch as a Chalmeau. While perhaps related, they are distinctly different stops. Someone clearly took liberties. If I ever get a chance, I'll have to evaluate it more--maybe after the wedding tomorrow. The pastor was lobbying to get me to play for his 2 churches, but I had to tell him I am already taken with 2 other churches. Sad commentary on the state of church musicians!:'(

                      Michael
                      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        More info, please, Michael, about this hybrid instrument! Would enjoy reading anything you have to say about it after you get to spend some time with it.
                        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

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                        • #13
                          Hi,

                          I listened to the PBS recording of the concert in Nidaros Cathedral in Norway. The Johannus Monarke I thought acquitted itself very nicely.

                          For those who don't know the Johannus method of models, just to say anything they make with the Monarke nameplate on it, is basically Johannus' best efforts in organ-building. The Monarke nameplate does not mean "custom design", although many "Monarkes" are custom organs. Monarke is more of a technical platform, meaning long samples for every note of every rank are used, and the ratio of audio channels to number of stops is higher. Also, typically, the customer (or consultant on the project) will have input as to which samples are put in the organ. When one sees the term "Monarke Praludium" that means a template typically for a 3 manual, 37 stop, 24 audio channel instrument. It can be a 2 manual as well, and can have up to 45 stops. Generally this instrument will have a console that resembles a Rembrandt or Ecclesia organ, and have at least keyboards with wood core keys, or even wooden keyboards. Of course, Johannus also builds completely custom Monarkes. Generally, the price of Monarke Praludiums are not exorbitant, certainly not anywhere near what Allen or Rodgers would command for doing customized organs.

                          As to lighted stop controls, I agree, they are not as nice as moving stop controls. But moving stop controls are more expensive, add weight, and one needs a much bigger power supply. Since Syndyne came out with their unit, which was much lighter, lower cost, and very compact, I'm surprised that not more electronic organs have them. Harris precision also has come out with a much smaller unit, which is very nice. With a good control system, the noise produced by hitting a piston and moving drawstops should be a soft thud, not a big bang. I personally don't like lighted drawstops, as they are hard to deal with when pulling out a cluster, or turning off a number of stops at the same time. I have less of an opinion on lighted rockers. I realize that at the lower end of organbuilding, space, weight and cost are a serious part of the equation.

                          As for hybrid organs, I have done a number of jobs, going back to when I worked at Classic Organs. Even 30 years ago, in analog days, there were stops that were electronically produced, that sounded quite remarkable beside some pipe ranks. Then with digital things improved somewhat. More recently I did some jobs with Ahlborn units, the Viscount CM-100, and they sounded in generally even better. I have done a number of jobs where Walker generators were used, and they are very hard to detect as being electronically generated.
                          Even so, when one has no pipes, just electronics, the resulting sound is usually somewhat or more obviously electronic or speakered.

                          One type of hybrid I never cared for much, was what Rodgers did plenty of in the 80s. They would sell a small analog organs and add 1 or 2 ranks of pipes, usually starting at tenor C 8'. These packages were sold because some churches could get pipes on the cheap. They were generally poorly installed, scheme poorly executed, and generally not musical. I still think the hybrid solution should begin with pipes- as the bread and butter of the organ, and digital voices to add colour. And to do it properly, it will require good audio , and careful voicing of both pipes and digital.

                          As for articulation on organ tone, it is very important, as it tells one what kind of sound is being reproduced. If there is one thing that modern digital organs do better than old analog organs it is the attack transients.

                          Other sounds such as action noise, swell shade noise, blower noise, all help to mimic the sound of a real wind blown organ. These are things that make Marshall & Ogletree, Walker Tech, Hauptwerk sound so real.

                          Anyways, should stop before this becomes a literary work.

                          AV

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                          • #14
                            Good point, Arie--Monarke does feature a more advanced sound engine than the other Johannus products.

                            At one time, the name simply referred to their top-of-the-line organs within their regular product lines. But I believe that all Monarkes today are indeed built as custom instruments. Here is the statement to that effect from the Johannus Web site:

                            "Each Monarke organ is tailor made from start to finish. The casework, the size, the colours, the layout, the console, the sound, the stops, the sound system, the tuning… The specialists of Monarke are able to design and build organs that meet every need and requirement."

                            I would guess that Johannus decided to go this route to create a direct competitor to the Allen Elite series.They would appear to have had good success in this effort, since the Monarke brochure (almost a thin book, actually) depicts numerous installations, certainly more than all of the Elite series put together.

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                            • #15
                              Interesting discussions, however, the Allen Elite is a relative newcomer whereas the Monarke Custom has been around for
                              20 years already perhaps longer. That being the case, it appears that the Elite was created to compete with the Monarke and also the products of M & O and Walker and not the other way around. There are far more Monarkes installed than all the other three combined.
                              Hauptwerk too is a newcomer and I am impressed with the sound but they still have a-ways to go to make the console more user friendly.
                              A "new style" of organ entered the market recently, I think it is Hauptwerk based at least it sounds like it and the console is more what most people would find acceptable (maybe ?), check out www.mixtuur.com. We found out about mixtuur organs through that young Dutch fellow (Gert ?) playing one in his Youtubes, great sound also.

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