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  • Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



    Hi,</p>

    The other night, actually this Tuesday past, Hector came to town (Toronto, Canada), and played a concert on a new Trillium masterpiece organ. It was a model 1038, a 4 manual job. According to the blurb it had 12 audio channels, a 64' Gravissima stop (really!) and a XI rank Mixture on the Great ( no guff).</p>

    A gal from the church welcomed us all, and told us we would be "moved", when Hector played.</p>

    Was I moved? In what way was I moved?</p>

    Let me know if you want to read "the rest of the story".</p>

    AV</p>

    </p>

  • #2
    Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



    By all means, do tell! </P>

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



      Yes, carry on with the story.</p>

      How does a top-of-the-range Trillium compare in sound to say, an equally equipped Allen Quantum Renaissance?
      </p>
      1971 Allen Organ TC-3S (#42904) w/sequential capture system.
      Speakers: x1 Model 100 Gyro, x1 Model 105 & x3 Model 108.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



        Arie,</P>


        Please let your journalistic juices flow and write us a complete account! What kind of church, acoustics, size? Was the installation well done, good speaker placement, enough power for the room? Did you feel the voicing and finishing were done properly?</P>


        And tell usif you were "moved" and in what way!</P>


        John</P>
        <P mce_keep="true"></P>
        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


        • #5
          Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



          BTW, the 1038 you heard must have been very close size-wise to the Allen Q405 I heard Carlo Curley play this summer. It too had 12 channels, and the spec included a 64' pedal stop. It would be interesting to compare the two side by side, but alas there's no venue in which to do that.</P>


          John</P>
          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


          • #6
            Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers

            [quote user="jbird604"]


            BTW, the 1038 you heard must have been very close size-wise to the Allen Q405 I heard Carlo Curley play this summer. It too had 12 channels, and the spec included a 64' pedal stop. It would be interesting to compare the two side by side, but alas there's no venue in which to do that.</P>


            John</P>


            [/quote]</P>


            Hector's organ is supposed to be very French with many Cavaille-Coll samples. I have been wondering why he hasn't made a recording of it yet.</P>

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



              ARIE . . . Please finish the story! [:P]</P>


              This recital has been reported on in the Rodgers Owners forum by two or three who attended it. Evidently the installation is seriously flawed by the shape of the room and the decision tolocate the organ and speakers in such a way as to make it quite impossible for the listeners in the pews to fully enjoy it.</P>


              Iposted a crazy rant to that forumabout installers and architects and others who don't seem to give a rip about how the organ sounds out in the pews. I can't believe -- if it's as bad as reported -- that they'd put no more thought than that into installingan organ of that size and cost.</P>


              Is it really all that bad? I'll give your opinion more credence than others I've read, as I consider you a knowledgeable and dedicated tech and installer.</P>


              John</P>
              <P mce_keep="true"></P>
              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


              • #8
                Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



                John, </p>

                Here goes, or is it here comes the review.</p>

                The simple reason I went to this concert was I had nothing else to do that night and it was close to me. Also you can gather that I have a passing interest in digi organs. But let me say from the onset, I really do prefer pipes. I also wanted to hear this installation because I had heard from folks who heard it and got various opinions, and also I had heard from someone who had heard a large 3-manual Rodgers in London, Ont., and was exceedingly disappointed.</p>

                I will divide this review into chapters.</p>

                Chapter 1. - the location</p>

                This Rodgers install was in a newly built Roman Catholic Church in the north end of Toronto. The previous church building was torn down to make way for a condo development, so the new building is situated behind (if looking from the street) the condo towers going up. The church is St. Gabriel's RC, and they have a web-site -- www.stgabrielsparish.ca. On the site you can see some pictures. The windows end of the building is the south face, so they get the morning sun. The sanctuary is roughly 90' square and the flat ceiling is maybe as high as 20', certainly no more. All surfaces are hard, the walls are concrete, south face mostly glass (angled), and the ceiling looked to be a hard surface painted white. The floor was reflective surfaces of large panels that seemed to sit in some sort of frame. Not entirely a rigid setup. The pews were not padded. The sound is somewhat echoey even with people in it. The whole building, including the sanctuary did not strike me as looking or feeling like a church. Maybe more like a cultural centre, a civic building, a library, or corporate site. There is no great cross on the building, and inside, the stations of the cross just looked like little postage stamps stuck on the wall. Seating was toward the centre that ran along the north/south axis. The altar and lecturn were in this massive centre isle. So the congregation ends up facing each other, with the priest doing his thing in the middle. Very unusual. I know one person who is a parishioner, and he told me that as the doors are on the east side, the pews on the east side fill up first. Latecomers end up having to traverse the perimeter of the building, along the window end to the other side if the first side is full. So you can't be discreet finding a seat when coming late. Maybe it will teach folks to come on time! Seating capacity is roughly 750. For the concert there were maybe 350 maximum.
                </p>

                </p>

                Chapter 2. - the organ and install</p>

                This organ was a Rodgers 1038, a 4 manual organ of 70+ stops, including a 64' stop and a XI rank mixture on the great. The handout informed us that the organ had 12 audio channels. My guess is that there were 10 main audio channels and 2 for the ambience. In any case there was plenty of volume. I was told by the sound system guy, that he was putting in a speaker that had a response to 6 or 7 hz. It may very well have been possible that they had this speaker hooked up to the organ, as bass especially deep bass was overwhelming much of the time. The main speakers were at the end of the church opposite the windows (north end), most likely divided in 2 sections on each side of the centre isle. They were behind screens. There were 4 little speakers (2 on each side of the windows) fairly high up on the wall, and these were clearly ambience speakers. BTW, I was sitting about about 60' away from the main speakers and about 30-35' away from the ambience speakers. Sitting normally in the pew I sat in, you hear the main speakers through one ear, and the ambience speakers through the other. Needless to say, I had my head cranked towards the front speakers quite often. The console was placed maybe 30' away from the speakers in the centre isle area.</p>

                This model is a compact 4 manual console, that has Hector Olivera's fingerprints on it. He made mention of it at one point. His own touring organ is a variant of this instrument, painted black. His version of Black Beauty I guess. A relatively handsome console, as these things go. </p>

                </p>

                Chapter 3. - the performer, the program
                </p>

                Hector Olivera needs no introduction from me. He is well known, has a prodigious technique, and knows how to operate an organ console. He played mostly a classical program, and kept obvious MIDI noises to a reasonable amount, which suited me just fine.</p>

                He played among other things, Air on the G-string, Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod), Prelude and Fugue in E flat (BWV 552), Franck Chorale #1, an improv on a hymn tune, and an encore, Now Thank We All Our God- probably arranged by himself. Oh yes, I forgot he played the Trumpet tunes by Purcell and Clarke with the usual little Air in the middle. I think he played some other stuff, but am having a brain cramp momentarily.</p>

                It must be said, that the evening was mostly about Hector and the Rodgers. Less important was homage to the music and the composers. Maybe that is why H. Olivera is known as a fabulous organist, but not a great interpreter of organ literature. Even so, I thought his program was better than I have heard him in the past (all on brand "R" instruments), was interesting and varied. His playing was very good with some caveats.</p>

                "break time"</p>

                Have I said enough. Or do you want to really read the rest of the story? Just tell me.</p>

                AV
                </p>


                </p>

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers

                  [quote user="arie v"]


                  Have I said enough. Or do you want to really read the rest of the story? Just tell me.</P>


                  AV
                  </P>


                  [/quote]</P>


                  I can guess where this is going.</P>

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



                    Arie,</p>

                    What I'm wanting to know is -- is this installation as
                    poorly conceived as I've been led to believe? From the reports on the
                    R**** forum, I take it that more than one attendee was quite
                    unimpressed with the placement of the organ all at one end with the
                    ambiance at the other end. That the effect was not pleasing. You
                    mentioned turning your head sideways much of the time, and I guess
                    that's a criticism of the weird sideways seating. Perhaps that's what
                    is really wrong, more so than the organ placement.</p>

                    But, setting
                    aside for the moment your preference for pipes, could you enjoy going
                    to church there all the time with the organ set up as it is? Or would
                    it drive you nuts? Would you call this a "successful" digital installation or a bummer?

                    </p>

                    John</p>
                    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


                    • #11
                      Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



                      Or maybe I've over-reacted. Just now a post appeared on the R*** forum from the installer of that organ himself. He offered some fairly convincing rebuttal to the perceptions of the organ that had been discussed. I felt it necessary to offer him an apology myself for the posting I had made after reading what I did from some who attended.</P>


                      Anyway, I'd still like to have your unvarnished impression, and if you feel free, your answer to the last question I posted.</P>


                      Thank you, most noble advocate of the KOI!</P>


                      John</P>
                      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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                      • #12
                        Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



                        .....my wee epistle to the organ faithful, continued.</p>

                        </p>

                        Chapter 4. - some of my views on organs</p>

                        Before going into a critique of the install and concert, some of my thoughts on organ voicing and installs, and design.</p>

                        It is my conviction that if an electronic organ is to be successful, it should look to the pipe organ as it's model, and also the literature written for it. It seems to me that of late, electronic organ manufacturers are going out of their way trying to out-spec, out feature each other.</p>

                        Does a pipe organ need a 64' stop to be successful? Do electronic organs need Does it need a fancy "ambience" system in a room that is not dead acoustically, even with quite a number of people in it? Is an organ just an instrument for making a variety of sounds? Ought it to be vocal, melodic, etc? What kind of ensemble should an organ have?</p>

                        Personally, I am a minimalist. I prefer less processing, less gimmickry, and more of what is basic to making music. Therefore, the organs I designed when I was at Classic Organs tended to have fewer stops, more audio channels, and reverb when used was minimal. I realize that this approach may not have the same "WOW" factor, but plays the music better and wears better in the long run.</p>

                        I realize too, that one's ideas of the ideal sound is quite subjective. There are those who like the British Cathedral sound, other the Cavaille Coll style, others the Dutch, or German baroque, etc. But even so, to be a good musical instrument the intonation has to be correct.</p>

                        One aspect of organs that interests me, is how vocal and melodic they are. Pipe organs struggle here quite often, but pipes are naturally more vocal sounding than what emminates from speakers. Most electronic organs just do not make you want to sing, no matter who plays. When I do tonal finishing, I spend considerable time working on this so the organ sings, rather than just produce organ sound.
                        </p>

                        </p>

                        Chapter 5. - the organ install and the sound</p>

                        As to where the main organ speakers, I would have put them in the same place. It was logical. However, I would not have put in the ambience speakers at the other end of the sanctuary. A room that live just doesn't need it. Plus there was plenty of volume from the main speakers from where I sat. What they did do, from where I sat, was add odd delayed sound, on top of reflections that came off the windows. It made for a confusing kind of sound. Because seating was at right angles, you had to turn your head toward the main speakers, otherwise it was a little people talking to you on each side of you. Maybe, the Rodgers folks believe that their organs just don't sound good without this extra processing, I don't know.
                        </p>

                        a few thoughts on the sound or sounds........</p>

                        1) some individual stops were quite beautiful. They may not have had the visceral quality of Walker &amp; Ogletree, but were more than acceptable</p>

                        2) the pedal section, sounded like it came from just sub-woofers. A lot of bass boom, little to no tonal colour. Pedal division had no sense of tunefulness at all. Mostly it was loud as well.
                        </p>

                        3) the higher pitched stops or pipes if you will - seemed to have very little high frequency content. There was no "air" around the tone. I'm not sure the reason for this, but it could be any of the following, samples themselves have no high frequency content, the sample rate is not very high, strong anti-aliasing filter, compressed wave files, or the audio - amps or speakers can't produce frequencies above say 12 or 15Khz. The treble just sounded dried out, very little character. (A lot of digitally sampled organs seem to have this problem to a degree)
                        </p>

                        4) when a large number of stops were used on a division, the sound field kind of collapsed. The resulting sound was muddy and opaque. My guess is this particular setup had a stereo pair of speakers for each division. What kind of blending or processing that is going on I don't know, but as stops were added clarity and tonal distinctiveness went down. Possibly, if the organ had many more audio channels the overall sound would have had more clarity.
                        </p>

                        </p>

                        Chapter 6. - Hector's performance on the organ</p>

                        Hector's playing was fine, even though he may not be my favorite interpreter. The following comments are based on where I was sitting. The organ may have sounded different, closer to the main speakers.
                        </p>

                        Pieces like the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, Air on the G-string, the Trumpet Tunes were the nicest sounding to me. He showed off the individual colours of the organ nicely.
                        </p>

                        The problem came in the heavier pieces. The constant heavy ponderous pedal division hurt the overall sound of the organ big-time. Hector so often had all but 2 of the pedal division lit up. There was an almost constant subterranean drone. Hector must like his bass, but it sure blurred the pedal line. The large Bach Prelude and Fugue in E flat, was perhaps the low point of the concert. Since I sort of play this piece and am quite familiar with it, I hardly recognized it. The linearity and transparency of the choruses including a clear pedal point just wasn't there. I'm not sure Bach would have recognized or approved it. The Franck Chorale #1, started out rather authentic sounded, but as he built it up, same problem. It just became sort of a generic organ tone. </p>

                        </p>

                        Chapter 7 - Was I moved?</p>

                        The whole concert gave me a feeling that I was in a theatre. Lights turned down, Hector shown on a couple of big screens, and the sound of the organ sounded like theatre sound system. Actually the overall ensemble was a little like the pipe organ stop on a digital piano, only times 3 or 4 and without the phase shift/slow vibrato. Massive effect, but little detail.</p>

                        So, was I moved. Well at times I was. A lot of the time I wasn't. </p>

                        Almost right away, I could tell I wasn't listening to a pipe organ. In fact, I have never heard a pipe organ with that kind of tone. The heavier the sound, the greater the volume, it just sounded like pseudo-organ noise to me.</p>

                        I have never voiced a digital Rodgers organ, so I don't know what can be done, but I can tell you my tonal finishing doesn't sound like that at all. I would re-do the pedal division first, to get some sense of pedal line in it. The mixtures didn't sound like they did much either.</p>

                        This was the 3rd of 4th time I have heard Hector Olivera on a Rodgers. Each time I had the same emotion regarding his playing and the sound of Rodgers organs. To me they don't sound different or better than say what they did 10 years ago. I'm sure Rodgers thinks that they have improved, but soniclly I didn't hear it. One thing with this one, I didn't hear too much out-of-tune-ness in the high pitch region. Earlier ones sounded chronically bad at times in this regard.
                        </p>

                        </p>

                        Chapter 8 - Is there still room for the pipe organ, or competitors?</p>

                        Last Saturday I went to another concert, featuring a pipe organ of about 30 ranks, with the pan flute. The pipe organ was basically put together by an amateur using re-cycled pipe work. Really an instrument of no great distinction. But it was more satisfying to the ear than the Rodgers. Makes me think that there is still wisdom in buying the real deal. Recently near Toronto, another RC church decided to toss a Rodgers with pipes from the late 80s, and buy a full pipe organ. No they are not getting a 100 rank, 4 manual pipe-wonder. Just a 25 stop, 2 manual L'etourneau. A good choice in my books.
                        </p>

                        How does what I heard compare to other digi manufacturers? Well it is hard to say, but from what I heard there is reason why some purchasers prefer other brands. I still think Walker, Marshall &amp; Ogletree and Veritas sound noticeably better.</p>

                        I do think what I heard may appeal to certain folks. As familiarity with a real pipe organ decreases, folks who want an organ are impressed by # of keyboards, large stop lists, special effects stops like a 64' stop, the total number of features. It is the "WOW" factor of the brand that sells.</p>

                        So, do I think this install was poorly conceived? Not really. Some re-voicing and maybe a change of some speakers could make it much better. </p>

                        What would I have done? Well, to me a 50 stop custom organ with Walker samples, with 3 manuals and 24 audio channels properly voiced would be better than what they have right now.</p>

                        Oh well, in 25 or so years they will be in the market again............</p>

                        AV</p>

                        </p>

                        </p>

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



                          I could not agree with you more, Arie!</P>


                          About a mile from my home, the local Episcopal church had aIII/30-something Austin. Recently they installed a large, custom Rodgers with a gorgeous console and had most of the Austin rebuilt and incorporated into the Rodgers. The Controller of the church lives across the street from me and when asked he told me that they spent about $375,000 for this project. I went to hear Hector play a concert on this instrument. His playing was excellent. The instrument sounded like a recording of a pipe organ played through a large, high-quality, expensive, stereo or home theatre system. It gave the impression that I was hearing the acoustics from the original recording venue.</P>


                          In fairness to the church, I will add that they have space, placement, and acoustical issues that are very challenging.</P>

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



                            Arie,</P>


                            Thank you for sharing your story. More than once I have made the same observations and drawn similar conclusions. Too often in my opinion, these instruments fail to live up to their potential due to a poorunderstanding of acoustical science and inadequate tonal finishing. </P>


                            Last year a friend of mine took the organist job at a church with a new top-of-the-line 3 manual model from this company. According to the pastor, the tonal finishing was done by the head voicer from the factory. The room has almost ideal acoustical properties and the speakers are placed in a highly reflective shallow chamberin the front wall of the room. My reaction after hearing the organ was that it didn't sound any better overall than the miserable 12 year old Viscount in my church. Some individual stops were convincing but the overall effect was more like a cell-phone ring tone at rock concert volume thanthe reputed "prestigious Aeolian-Skinner."</P>


                            At their request I totally rearranged the speakers and suggested what to ask for in additional voicing work. The improvement was dramatic. Why aren'tmore optimalresults sought routinely in the first place?(The pastor and organist both suggested that the company should hire me tosupervise their installations. My reply to them is not printable.)</P>


                            I havebeen to two recitals given by Mr. Olivera. The first, on a theatre organ, was outstanding. The second, on a newly installeddigital church organ was a mixed bag. He exhibited extraordinarytechnique in a wide range of literature and the closing improvisation was most entertaining. The instrument didn't fare so well.He hadthe volume raised considerably andthe random detuning set to"comical." The resident musician was mightly embarrassed to say the least.</P>


                            One last remark. Your description of the recital, Arie, (lighting, projection screens, booming sound etc.,) brought to mind an irreverent and I hope not too offensive allusion to a certain movie scene; "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain..."</P>

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Hector Olivera on a new Rodgers



                              --- post deleted -- Decided to start a new thread with what I'd posted here, as it concerned an entirely different topic.</P>


                              John</P>
                              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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