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Castro Symphonic Organ

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  • Castro Symphonic Organ

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ID:	718232Has anyone heard of the giant Castro Symphonic Organ to be finished soon? https://www.castroorgan.org/CastroOrgan/Home.html

  • #2
    I have heard of it. Maybe Peter R. Conte can get more music out of it than most, because he has long experience with the Wanamaker instrument. Anyone else? As a musical device to bring extensive tonal resources under the control of a single player, instruments like this fail miserably. Maybe two organists with Conte's talent and experience AND repertoire composed or arranged with that complement in mind. Actually, no kidding, 3 or 4 organists at one time would be a fair pitting of the human side against that kind of technological tour de force. Now consider the shock and awe that a sufficiently talented theater organist can get using no more (or less) than a 3 Manual 14 rank instrument.

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    • #3
      How are you even supposed to reach those pistons and toe studs on the sides during performance? Whilst, and at the same time, reaching for that top manual. O.o

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      • #4
        In reading about this console design I saw that they studied the ergonomics of the Atlantic City organ while developing the layout. Having spent a lot of time sitting at the AC console, I can say that everything is within an easy arm's reach. It's interesting that they decided to borrow the idea of an 85-note extended compass keyboard from the AC organ (which has two of them).

        On the other hand, I have no idea how you are supposed to reach the side toe studs on the Castro Symphonic Organ console without major contortions of your body on the bench.

        The Wanamaker Organ is played by multiple people who substitute for Peter when he is not available, including Rudy Lucente and the late Harry Wilkinson. Many of them have been music students from Curtis Institute in Philly. It takes a while to get adjusted to it, but again the layout is quite ergonomic and there are a lot of modern performance aids available with the new combination action and relay system.

        It's really not that difficult to play, console-wise. The time delay from when you press a key to when you hear the sound of the pipe is what visiting organists find challenging. Nothing you can do about that since the distance from the console to the pipe chambers is large and sound only travels so fast through the air.
        Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

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        • #5
          This is a case where bigger is not better. The historical Wanamaker and ACCH organs that this instrument is intended to emulate are in huge spaces. The Castro is 1400 seat movie palace. Putting an organ with 450 digital ranks and 30 pipe ranks in a space that size is nonsensical as the scale of the instrument and the venue are completely mismatched. A perfectly restored Wurlitzer pipe organ could have been purchased and installed for less than cost of the console. But putting those objections aside, why seven manuals when the same functionality can be had with half that number and a modern combination action?

          While one can admire the vision and grand scope of this project, it is the wrong instrument for the venue. I know that many in the theatre organ community have expressed their dismay regarding this instrument, even going so far as characterizing it as a vanity project. Several deadlines for completion and installation have passed due to lack of funding, and I note that this information is now missing from their website.
          -Admin

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

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Admin View Post
            ...characterizing it as a vanity project.
            Given the scope of the project and the mismatch, it seems impossible to consider it anything else. The Alan Harrah instrument in the Forrest Burdette Memorial United Methodist Church in Hurricane, West Virginia (which is the "godfather" of this instrument), falls into the same category. But at least that one got finished.

            R.A. Colby certainly has produced other large consoles that rival Wanamaker but not as big as the Chicago Stadium or A.C. The FB UMC console is said to be the largest drawknob console ever built. It controls a combination of pipes and Walker electronic ranks.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	Forrest Burdette console.jpg Views:	0 Size:	358.1 KB ID:	718346

            Click image for larger version  Name:	Forrest Burdette console-2.jpg Views:	0 Size:	347.5 KB ID:	718349

            Forrest Burdette-Specification.pdf
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            Last edited by AllenAnalog; 01-14-2020, 09:43 AM.
            Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

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            • Organist2020
              Organist2020 commented
              Editing a comment
              This organ is wonderfully colossal in an aesthetic sense. However, I was disappointed when first learning of this organ how most of it is digital.

          • #7
            Admin:
            This is so true. Organs need to match their space. If you place an enormous organ in a small space, most of it will sit unused because of the overwhelming volume that would result.

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