Friday, May 28, 2010
On the Way Home
While on our way to Nebraska, we stopped in West DesMoines, Iowa, in order to take a look at a used Moller pipe organ. The instrument was built in 1978 by what was America’s most prolific organ builder. Moller had taken pipe organ construction from a hand built process to a mass production effort. Literally hundreds and hundreds of Moller Artiste organs were built and still survive. This was not an Artiste series but a unit organ that surely grew from the roots of this one size fits all idea of organ building. The Artiste could be had from 3 to a dozen ranks of pipes, it was compact, reliable, and inexpensive.
To those who insist that real pipes are a luxury in churches today, I say take a gander at a good used Moller Artiste or one of its many derivations. For a few thousand dollars they can be had. A few thousand more in transportation and installation, and you have a reliable instrument that keeps it tuning and will serve well the congregation for many, many years to come. Check out eBay or the Organ Trader or the ads in TAO magazine or the Diapason or you can look at the Organ Relocation Service. Sometimes a phone call to organ service folks or regional organ builders will help you track down one of these little gems.
Less expensive than an electronic and yet very serviceable for most organ literature, you hear the sound of real music being made and not digitally sampled music being mimicked. It is not that I am totally against electronic organs but that is not the only option open to most, make that all congregations. In the end what we were looking for was an organ for our chapel to replace and slowly dying Rodgers electronic (non-digital) from the very early 1980s. What we will end up with is a very serviceable instrument that will support the room, lead congregational song, and equip the chapel to serve its function for smaller services, weddings, and funerals (50-60 in attendance).
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Thank you for the "heads up" about this. I had no idea of such a thing.
It sounds like you decided to make the purchase.
What kind of venue was it located in (a church or something else)?
Will people of your parish move the instrument, or will you pay for a professional move/installation?
I ask this because I recall that a number of years ago, members of my home church purchased a small organ that they moved themselves and personally installed in the balcony of the church as an antiphonal organ (these were very skilled folks). This was all tied into the main organ console and playable from there. It was a magnificent result.
Yes, we will pick it up and install it with the help of our organ tech... so the cost will be minimal...
It's nice to a congregation that has interest in such things. I'm very blessed to have a pastor that takes this very seriously as well. But, I know if it wasn't for him we wouldn't have what we do.
There are so many congregations out there that just don't think it's important anymore. I'm not referring to the ones who struggle with a budget either. They feel "A good portable keyboard or music pulled up on the computer will do just fine." I suppose they are right - that it does. It serves a purpose. But, it's not the same. To me, it's like putting an AM transistor radio taped to the dashboard of a Rolls- Royce.
You have to be careful with the newer digital organs as well. I can't knock them all, but I've heard some that to me sound nothing like the real thing. In fact, they are nothing other than a glorified synthesizer keyboard disguised in an organ case.
Keep scanning the sheep for talent as well! Organists are still out there now, but it will be interesting to see where we are in another 30 years.
"Let every insturment be tuned for praise; Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise, and may God give us faith to sing always - Alleluia!"
Each week I get to play one of these Moeller unit organs with nearly an identical console. Ours is over 50+ years old, has been lovingly cared for, and expanded to include a mixture and oboes. While only having 7 ranks, I can play most any type of organ literature and lead hymn singing. It sounds larger than it actually is. And with only 7 ranks, registration is a breeze!
The one thing with older pipe organs is that their internal electronics system that controls the pipes (from the console to the pipe windchests) will often need to be replaced with a new switching system. And those aren't cheap, but still usually less expensive
than a digital organ.
I'm not knocking digital organs (I have one in my living room). Their sound has come a long way to more closely mimic actual pipes. I have a very nice Allen digital practice organ with lots of bells and whistles that allows me more convenient practice opportunities, BUT I still prefer playing the small Moeller pipe organ and its sound.
A church looking for an organ should definitely consider a pre-owned pipe organ. They often represent a fairly good value in comparison to a digital or new pipe organ.
Not to "advertise" as I don't know these people.
I just wanted to support Pr. Peters' suggestion.
This is also a great example of what's out there.......
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