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Do you remember your first 32'?

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  • Do you remember your first 32'?

    Maybe I'm being sentimental, but do you remember hearing your first 32' reed stop in person?

    For me, it happened like so:

    Performer: Calvin Hampton
    Piece: Franck, Grand Piece Symphonique, final page
    Location: Calvary Episcopal Church, NYC   http://nycago.org/Organs/NYC/html/CalvaryEpis.html
     
    The Contra Trombone was originally from the old Casavant at the Juilliard School; it was installed in the rear gallery along with the Juilliard 32' Contra Bourdon, an immense Skinner Tuba Magna, and some other stops.

    When that ocean of sound issued from the rear of the church, I thought I was going to fall on the floor!  [:D]  It was a moment I'll never forget.

  • #2
    Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



    Yes indeed. I heard my first 32-foot reed at my first organ concert. (This was also my first time hearing a "real" pipe organ rather than the funeral parlor models typical of RC churches in my neighborhood at that time.) I was about 15 and some famous French organist whose name escapes me came to southern California. This was around 1969. It may have been Dupre or perhaps even Vierne. I seem to remember someone saying he was blind.




    He was playing a newly-installed 88-rank Schlicker in downtown Pasadena. Yes a French organist playing French repertoire on a 1960's Schlicker. The first thing that impressed the "H" out of me was the horizontal copper trumpets in the rear gallery. The organ itself was in the chancel. But when I heard that large pedal division with the 32-foot reed, WOW! Would you believe that this was a typical Schlicker German Kontrafagot? It mayeven behalf-length. The organ is still well-maintained. I played it a few times in my late teens. When played alone in the bottom octave, this Kontrafagot sounds almost like someone is outside the church using an air hammer todig into a concrete sidewalk. But it sure worked well in the ensemble.




    I have been dedicated to the cause of "real" pipe organs ever since. The inspiration provided by that Schlicker mayhave been instrumental (pun very much intended) in the recent installation of our refurbished Schantz III/72 at church.The Schantz has a very nice Kontraposaune 32. The bottom 12 notes are half length, but are thick zinc on 5-inches with leathered shallots and sound almost likefull-length pipes.




    Hallelujah! [<:o)]

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    • #3
      Re: Do you remember your first 32'?

      My first 32 was a Contra Posaune. It sounded aswesome! The organist was Stanley King and he became my first organ teacher. I learnt so much from him, and he could play ANYTHING. I will always miss him, as God called him home a few years ago.

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      • #4
        Re: Do you remember your first 32'?

        Menschenstimme, you've given me an interesting mystery to solve.  [:p]

        Vierne died in '32, and Dupré wasn't blind.  There were two concertizing blind French organists that immediately come to mind: André Marchal and Jean Langlais.

        My bet is that you heard Jean Langlais in person - a real honor!  Marchal was also a fantastic organist.

        Back to 32' reeds...

        I play an organ that has a full length 32' wooden Bombarde on 6" of pressure.  It can generate some seismic waves along the floorboards [:D] but under the full organ it balances perfectly.  It 'purrs' and rolls grandly rather than having that jackhammer effect (which can be exciting in the right acoustic).

        When I heard that first recital I never imagined I'd be lucky enough to someday have access to such a stop!

        I heard Calvin Hampton play many midnight (!) recitals at that church - I even asked him for organ lessons once!  He asked me if I had access to a church for practicing; when I said "no", that was the end of that story.  [:(]  I could have started my organist career several years earlier had the answer been different, and it would have been an honor to have his name on my resumé.  Oh well.

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        • #5
          Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



          Ah Soubasse32,




          When you talked about not having a church to practice in you reminded me ofsomething. Iremember trying to find a local church to practice in a couple of years ago. My current post although it has a lovely Casavant, is not close to home and with the price of gas, etc.




          I tried several churches. Many didn't even so much as give me an answer. It was as if I had never contacted them. After asking several, I finally got an answer from a church and I've been practicing there ever since. They were so kind to me they even gave me a key so that I could practice there whenever I liked as much as I liked. I intend to give them a free organ concert with the proceeds to go to their music program or whatever need that church may have as a thank you. Seems as thoughone has to hit many walls before one finally comes to a bridge.




          Whenever we go on vacation, I like to visit churches and see if I just might get lucky enough to try the organ just for the joy of it. IBut I always ask first. 've contacted a couple of places already and same story: no reply. Maybe they are on vacation. Or maybe as before they'll never reply. It makes me really sad. I have no intention of displacing anyone or taking anyone's job from them. For heaven's sake I live miles and miles away! Iwish I knew what it was that I was doing wrong. Maybe I'm missing something here. I do not know.




          No wonder there is a shortage of people my age and younger learning the organ. Oh well. I wonder if when I'm down there if I should visit anyway. I'd just hate to drive there only to be turned away, when I could be doing something else. C'est la vie, I suppose.

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          • #6
            Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



            Thanks, Soubasse32! I bet it was indeed Jean Langlais. Whoever it was blew me away and left quite an impression.




            Reedguy: I have telephoned churches while on an out-of-town vacation and found it rather easy to visit their organs. It is just a matter of the right person being available to communicate with you. But I have always used the telephone. Perhaps that makes a difference? Good luck!




            [Y]

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            • #7
              Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



              Until I was about 10, i never thought that pipes would go longer than 16 feet! Then we visited Norwich Cathedral (Norfolk UK) and I got a booklet about the organ, and found that it had THREE 32' stops on it, and I was amazed at how huge these pipes must be! Of course at my school we were never taught about feet and inches, so I couldn't exactly picture it in my mind. A few months later, I read in a book about Worcester (UK) cathedral having a 64' stop, and I was completely amazed. It was until that long ago that I realised it wasn't exactly real, I thought EVERY 64' stop was real! [:$]




              But the first organ must have ever heard in person a 32' stop was perhaps on the organ at my school. I started there in September 2003 and it was probably the previous June when I went over there to see the director of music and have a go on their bigMakin electric [:(] organ, which is still there today. There is/was a Bombardon and Contra Violone, but I don't remember feeling that excited about playing with them oddly enough...




              Jezza

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              • #8
                Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



                A few years back, when climbing up to the octagon at Ely Cathedral, we passed by the 32's which, for obvious reasons, are installed horizontally. A clueless tourist (I won't say from which country) could only exclaim: "why would they do that?"



                The first 32 I remember hearing was in a recital at St. Paul's when I was about 10 years old. At the climax of the great fugue in the Liszt Ad nos, the 32's thundered in and I shall simply never forget the impact it had on me. I just knew someday I was going to play the organ. (I had already begun piano study.)

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                • #9
                  Re: Do you remember your first 32'?

                  I seem to recall that the Contra Trombone at Calvary Episcopal was full-length.  The entire rank was exposed in the rear gallery, and you could see the immensity of the pipes.  They were mitered in a big loop.

                  The church was like a small parish church; hard surfaces made for a live acoustic but the space was quite intimate.  A loud sound coming from the rear gallery makes quite an impression!

                  That Franck piece is perfect, as you can add the 32' stop as you are playing the last pedal bit - it starts up rather high, and works its way down to 32' F#.

                  After nearly being vibrated out of the pew [:D] I remember a distinct feeling of weak knees when stood up!  I had heard 32' stops on LP records (through puny speakers) but nothing prepared me for what I experienced that day.

                  I still get goosebumps from a good 32' reed, though am considerably more jaded these days.  [:|]

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                  • #10
                    Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



                    The first live 32' reed I heard was at St. Thomas during the recent NYC AGO convention. John Scott played a heck of a concert and full organ was used quite a few times.




                    The most impressive 32' reed, or sound, rather, that I have heard to date is at Ocean Grove near me. The organ has 4 32' stops, and between the diaphone and the contra bombarde, you get a seriously massive rumble that I got to hear in one of the summer concerts when he played the Passacaglia and Fugue in Cm. You can feel the sound resonating below and in your seat even.




                    I have yet to go to Smokey Mary's in New York, though. I'm sure there that my hunger for 32' reeds will be cured based on a recent recording I got of that church.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Do you remember your first 32'?

                      I find it rather funny that you guys find there stops attractive. Probably says a lot about US taste. The times I heard one you could only deduce from the rattling windows that they were pulled. Absolutely no musical quality about them.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



                        I'm surely too old to remember my "first" anything. But I do have some particular 32' memories. One negative memory goes back to the 80's when I was an Allen salesman. I was taking a tour of the factory and the guy leading it sat down at a console and attempted to demonstrate some of the new ADC technology sounds. I remember that he wanted to impress us with the "attack" of the 32' Contra-Bombarde. To me it was more like the attack of the mutant locusts or something. I just didn't think it was very musical, but this guy seemed rather excited about it. You could barely stomp a pedal and get this grotesque clacking/rattling noise that apparently preceded thefull sustainedtone.




                        Visiting the UK in 1998 and hearing truly glorious organs in the major cathedrals was a real eye-opener (ear-opener?)for me. The sound of 32' stops, reed and flue, was far more enthralling than anything I had heardbefore, though my experience in the US is extremely limited, living in small-town Arkansas and not having traveled to the major organs in this country.




                        Rarely do I hear (or feel) a 32' that moves me with the chesting-pounding impact of those I heard in England. But, believe it or not, the few really wonderful ones I've heard around here have been electronic! (Ducking to avoid tomatoes and other veggies.) We all know that a number of pipe organ companies routinely use 32' electronic stops for all kinds of reasons. While that may be a compromise for the sake of space and money, if correctly done with the right samples, plenty of amp power, and a speaker that can move tons of air at 16 Hz, the effect can be incredibly good. I'd dare to say that many "real" 32' pipe stops (by the poorer builders at least) are rather ineffectual due to poor design, lack of wind, poor voicing and regulation, unstudied placement, etc. But a builder who is knowledgeable aboutelectronic 32's can place the speaker system on the floor in a corner so as to maximize it's power in the room and get more body-shaking room-rattling power than he could with typicalbadly done pipes. This simply must be heard to be believed. Words cannot convey it.




                        Though many of you on this forum feel that an electronic organ is a maimed step-child of the KOIand could never impress you, I have heard a few -- only a few, but some -- electronic installations with all the right characteristics, top technology, ample audio power, quality speakers, and proper speaker placement, a few with monumental pedal departments including awesome 32' tone. These are the few thatprove tome that one can really have a good organ with this technology properly applied.




                        And I guess that's why I can accept things like Wall Street Trinity and University of Vermont as easily as I do.




                        John


                        John
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                        • #13
                          Re: Do you remember your first 32'?



                          Contra Tuba, Annessens, Bridlington Priory UK, (largest scaled pedal reed in the UK,although on modest pressure) in the late 1960s (organ recently restored by Nicholsons of Worcester, which has resulted in this lovely stop being toned down). In the mid-60s rebuild by Laycock and Bannister, the organ also acquired a superb Tuba Mirablilis - shame that rebuild left it rather unbalanced and lumpy. The Nicholson rebuild makes it sound much more homogeneous - but I mourn the emasculation of the Contra Tuba!





                          Paul

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