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  • #46
    And with the first webcast now up of Friday's dedication recital, there's a variety of demonstration and color demonstration by Daniel Hyde, with his Star Spangled Banner concert/variations opening things up considerably;

    http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/cal...ecital#webcast

    - - - Updated - - -

    Originally posted by michaelhoddy View Post
    I attended the inaugural dedicatory recital tonight for the new St. Thomas Dobson, and in short summary, it is a fantastic instrument, absolutely a work of art. Marvelously dynamic and colorful in a way the previous instrument at least hasn't been for many, many years. It will be a treasure for generations to come.
    I won't say say "I told you so" even after reading so many nay-sayers's comments over the years in various venues, but the fact that you were there in person makes a huge difference over listening to the shortfalls inherent with any webcast or recorded version, especially since most microphones and computer speakers are not up to the task of working with such dynamics and power.

    The aged, worn out console was completely and totally rebuilt and refinished, the old keys were in poor and sloppy condition, a lot of work, hundreds of hours went into those keyboards to get them working like new while keeping them original, I seem to remember they even had the Skinner name stamped on them, or "Saint Thomas Church" I don't remember.

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    • #47
      Here's a photo of the bottom "slice" of one of the 32' pedal bourdons, the lumber- clear sugar pine from all of them was salvaged and used to make the replacements, they had large, long cracks like the one shown but worse, and someone installed 3 cleats with screws as well as steel rods like the 2 shown and previously detailed- to try and keep them from further falling apart as the glue joints had failed.
      Age and everything else was NOT kind to these pipes at all.

      You know there's a big problem when they have to resort to using steel rods to hold wood pipes together! SInce they used those old square nuts they were probably installed decades ago, meaning they were starting to fail early on, maybe by the 1930s


      Click image for larger version

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      • #48
        He used pipes from Riverside Church and also Waldorf-Astoria hotel it has been said... I heard that organ several times...some of it sounded good but I didn't care for some of the rest of it...

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        • #49
          I don't think I ever doubted, in any of the many threads about the subject over the past seven years or so, that the new Dobson would be anything less than spectacular. And it is! What I have bemoaned rather constantly is the state of affairs, circumstances, and decisions made that brought previous instrument to the point where a full replacement was the best and most viable option.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by michaelhoddy View Post
            I don't think I ever doubted, in any of the many threads about the subject over the past seven years or so, that the new Dobson would be anything less than spectacular. And it is!
            True, but I've seen comments from others in various venues over the years on this that bordered well beyond anger and into hostility, and making spurious claims they were making money head over heels on this after supposedly "gleefully ripping out and trashing the historic, valuable SKINNER organ that sounded fine to replace it with his own new organ"


            Originally posted by michaelhoddy View Post
            What I have bemoaned rather constantly is the state of affairs, circumstances, and decisions made that brought previous instrument to the point where a full replacement was the best and most viable option.
            Unfortunately that is the commonality on almost every church committe, church and organist out there, a new organist comes in and doesn't like the organ and wants the church to "update" or replace it. Or the church doesn't want to or cant afford to maintain the organ let alone a large building, so the roof repairs are let go and water leaks in on the organ unseen- that happened at a large church where I removed a 3m Kilgen for parts, the roof leaked over the organ for so long that the wood pedal pipes behind the swell box turned a weathered GREY and the glue had all come apart to the point lifting them out of the racking made them fall apart, block and all, and you know those hadn't been tuned in decades.
            The organist wanted a NEW organ, and the old organ was in bad shape, so one day the organ mysteriously "shorted out" wink, wink, and no longer worked, so the church decided to get a dumpster and just get volunteers to heave the whole thing into it.

            I heard about it and gave them $300 for the organ, I needed the blower and some replacement pipes, and I went up and removed the whole organ by myself from the choir loft, including the 600# orgoblow that was in the bell tower.
            Before that point they had allowed congregation members to take "souvenir pipes" and of course they used the center walkboards in the two boxes to get pipes from both sides of it- from almost EVERY rank, thus ruining almost every rank in the organ by taking a dozen to 2 dozen pipes out of the middle of every rank.
            The Doppelflute was missing 17 pipes but I wanted that rank for my organ and wound up replicating the 17 from the existing and reusing some of the same lumber from the large pedal pipes after planing the boards down.
            The windchests had all been rebuilt at some point, but instead of using leather for gasketing toeboards, bottomboards etc they used red FELT, and I could see the leak from the roof had gotten water inside all the chests.
            The ceiling over the organ had fallen down onto the roofs of the two boxes, plaster, mortar and lathe.

            The church discovered that they could not afford a new pipe organ after all, so they brought in a piano... but realistically, if a church can't afford to maintain the organ or to make basic roof repairs to keep their existing organ from swimming in the rain, even if they could raise funds for a new organ, it will probably see the SAME historical course of neglect as the previous organ did.
            The thing is, one older couple at St Thomas, Irene and Bill Miller donated a large sum for a new organ, I never saw how much but they were the lead donors and had their portraits carved on the organ case as well as named after them, they wanted to see the church have a new organ. Bill is in an extensive article on Wikipedia, he was well off, accomplished a lot, and donated lots of money to numerous causes and charities.

            The organ clearinghouse and others have warehouses full of removed organs that just sit there in storage for YEARS, due to demolition, closings, changes in congregations etc.
            I recently saw a video of a really nice, fairly large Conacher tracker organ ca 1900 at a church in Swansea, UK in some videos that was for sale- because the building was closed around 2012 and offered to be sold to become a residence or something, and the organ and ALL contents had to go. I never saw an update on the organ, so whether it was trashed or not I don't know, but it worked perfectly and sounded great;

            Gurnos Chapel Ystalyfera Swansea

            Organ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_zac-TLq-Y
            Organ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph_A64amp6E

            Building and some on the organ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS0tA8iwcFE
            http://www.rowlandjones.co.uk/pdf/Gurnos%20Chapel.pdf

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            • #51
              Originally posted by michaelhoddy View Post
              is the state of affairs, circumstances, and decisions made that brought previous instrument to the point where a full replacement was the best and most viable option.
              Think about how few buildings we have in this country from before 1800, and how every year more are lost to fire, floods, disasters, demolition and alterations, we don't have buildings and churches from the 1500s like they do in the UK, Americans don't want "old, outdated" that's why almost every small town that still has some remaining 19th century stores on Main St almost invariably have the bottom floors of every one of them "modernized" with some crazy new paneling, stucco, mirrors, or some other bizarre treatment. The city was going to demolish THIS 19th century building in the 1960s because it was "old and outdated" and it was ONLY saved because one woman started a campaign to save it because of the CLOCK, that was the only reason it wasn't demolished. It is now a public library;

              Click image for larger version

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              When it's not buildings, it's contents that get trashed, like this one-of-a-kind 1897 mechanical clock in a building on Broadway the city sold to a developer, the building is landmarked and cant be demolished, but that protection didn't extend to the CLOCK, the developer renovated to make condos in the building, he wanted to remove and SCRAP this clock to put another condo in, it went to a court battle. The developer was thinking the clock could be easily replaced with an all electric clock to serve the same time display properties, basically replacing a Rolex watch with a $5.99 battery operated plastic watch from Walmart, it was all the same to him as long as the time was displayed;

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xqprf45HBpE

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              • #52
                Published on Jul 18, 2011
                Jon Meacham explains the need for a new great organ for Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue.
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uf2uUzABZQ



                Someone like Jon was best equipped to detail and know the problems to speak to the public, and the organists and people who fixed problems in the old organ that were not obvious to those sitting in the pews or listening on-line over computer speakers who did not have the "key" to the organ chamber and worked on it personally were also best equipped to know what the public didn't see or hear.

                To-day (sunday) a couple of events at St Thomas using the new organ, for those who can't be there, they will have their live (I believe) webcast and the recorded version of them uploaded afterwards;

                Included in this Choral Eucharist are hymns sung by the congregation and choir, additional music sung exclusively by the choir, lessons, prayers, a sermon, and a Rite I Mass;
                http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/cal...lemn-eucharist

                Then;

                Sunday, October 7, 2018
                5:15 pm Saint Thomas Church
                Organ Recital: Benjamin Sheen
                Inaugural Recital Series on the new Miller-Scott Organ played by the Associate Organist at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue.


                The Saint Thomas Organ Recital Series is free and open to the public. Usually starting at approximately 5:15pm, it follows the 4pm service on most Sundays from September through May.

                Mr. Sheen will present the following program:
                March for ‘A History of the English-Speaking Peoples’
                William Walton (1902-1983)
                transcribed by Tom Winpenny (b. 1983)
                Intermezzo lirico
                Marco Enrico Bossi Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
                • Naiades
                • Carillon de Westminster

                Concert Etude: Saint Francois de Paule marchant sur les flots
                Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
                transcribed by Lionel Rogg (b. 1936)
                Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue, Op. 149
                Healey Willan (1880-1968)



                http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/cal...benjamin-sheen
                Last edited by Sculptor2; 10-07-2018, 01:14 AM.

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                • #53
                  This concert would be worth attending if only for the Willan, which is a great piece.
                  Bill

                  My home organ: Content M5800

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by voet View Post
                    This concert would be worth attending if only for the Willan, which is a great piece.
                    Absolutely. And Benjamin Sheen is a great young organist. In the link below is the audio from the livestream, which is quite an enjoyable listen:

                    http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/cal...benjamin-sheen

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                    • #55
                      I gave myself a week to process the new Dobson organ, having now heard it in person last week at the recital, in comparison to the previous Arents (Aeolian-Skinner/Adams) organ it replaced. Here are some of my observations, in no particular order:

                      1. As I previously stated, the new Dobson is marvelous: visually and tonally. Absolutely a gem.

                      2. The new Dobson is colorful and dynamic in ways the Arents was not, especially between mp and mf. Overall, the new organ is much smoother through its dynamics and seems more integrated tonally and in terms of blend, whereas the Arents was rougher around the edges, so to speak.

                      3. That said, I still feel the Arents was more thrilling at full tilt. Brilliant and bombastic, with a full ensemble and pedal that rolled around the nave in grand fashion. The Dobson does not have the steely brilliance of the Arents (if for no other reason than the fact that the Dobson has 19 ranks of chorus mixtures vs the Arents having 48!). The Dobson emphasizes midrange sounds more while the Arents. If I had to make a blanket judgement, the Arents was an impressive effect at fortissimo dynamics, while the Dobson makes a better impression at every other dynamic. The other specialty of the Arents was the big blended "fonds" effect of massed foundation flues and enveloping pedal diapasons (think the opening of the Franck Choral in E or the middle section of the Choral in A), and the Dobson doesn't quite match this, in my opinion.

                      3. If the Arents organ spoke with a French accent, the new Dobson speaks with an English accent. French works sounded a little better on the previous organ in my opinion, but most everything else I've heard so far works to better effect on the Dobson, especially "orchestral" type works. Daniel Hyde played the Karg-Elert Valse Mignonne to wonderful effect last week, something I can't imagine translating nearly as well on the previous organ.

                      4. The new south organ case is visually stunning and a true work of art that will last generations. The visual effect of the organ is far superior to the previous Aeolian-Skinner configuration, with the incongruous combination of the 1913 Goodhue case in the northeast bay, with exposed 1950's-style "window box" chests next to it in the northwest bay and in both locations on the south wall (with chambers behind). I know one of the stated reasons for the new south case besides aesthetics was to better project sound out of the chancel and down the nave. I actually think it might have the opposite effect, as the new Great seems comparatively muted especially in the treble at the back of the nave. I suspect the totally exposed Aeolian-Skinner divisions actually got more sound directly into the nave, rather than it having to get out of the case and around the corner first! Some of this may have been due to the preponderance of aggressive mixtures in the previous organ, but it seemed more present at the back of the church than the current one does.

                      One additional observation: it is wonderful to attend an organ concert that was SOLD OUT. Every single seat in the nave occupied, and we were packed in like sardines!

                      In summary, the new organ is wonderful, but with different strengths, and happily much more reliable. Hopefully it has the good fortune to exist untouched by music director whims and stylistic fads for many years
                      Last edited by michaelhoddy; 10-12-2018, 08:16 PM.

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                      • #56
                        Michael,

                        Thank you for your experienced ear and assessment of the new organ. Certainly the Dobson is a change in tonal philosophy from before. However, it will be interesting to see how it survives over time (as already stated). Of course, we know from John's observations of the organs on his most recent trip to the UK, the listening location in the space can make quite a difference as well. It will be nice to hear different observations from differing vantage points in the church.

                        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)
                        • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

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                        • #57
                          Micahel,

                          I really appreciate your assessment of the new Dobson. Thanks for taking the time to share it. You mentioned that you every seat was occupied and you were "packed in like sardines!" I wonder how that might have impacted the sound. I have frequently had the experience that when a venue is filled to capacity it can have a damping effect on the organ. It would be interesting to compare to a time when the church has fewer people.
                          Bill

                          My home organ: Content M5800

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