This is an exciting time for music at St. Stephen’s. The old pipe organ is being carefully removed from the chamber and is on its way to a new home at the Sawyer residence. In addition, the Allen electronic organ that served as our interim instrument this past year, has been sold and is off to a new church to continue its service in aiding the worship of God.
At the same time, the new Rodgers instrument has arrived and is currently being voiced to suit our space. The customized voicing process is an amazingly complex process by which every note for every single set of pipes (it may be a digital instrument, but it still has virtual “pipes”) is adjusted for volume, tone, attack (the huffing noise that precedes the actual note, caused in a real organ by the air first hitting the pipe), and tuning.
Now, you might wonder why a digital instrument needs to be tuned, after all, shouldn’t it be able to be perfectly tuned when you plug it in? The answer is “yes,” but that is not a good thing. As it turns out, if the digital organ were left to its default perfect tuning, it wouldn’t sound real. Actual pipe organs are never perfectly in tune, and if we left our organ with perfect tuning, it would sound fake. Therefore, this last step is more properly called “de-tuning” and involves making imperceptible alterations to the tuning that will give the resulting sound a depth and complexity that will make it sound real.
All of this takes a good deal of time, John Rose has already spent many hours over two days working on this process, and as you might imagine, there is more work to go. So when will you get to experience the new organ for the first time? We will first hear the softer organ stops at the Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, February 18 at 7pm. Then, on the following Sunday, February 22, we will dedicate the organ during our worship service. The musical selection for that Sunday and the choir’s anthem will highlight a few of the instrument’s many wonderful features. The service will conclude with Bach’s Gigue fugue, which should have you dancing in the aisles!
P.S. – A HUGE thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to get the new organ installed this week: Glenn, Liz, Phil, Dana, Mark P., Mark S., and anyone else I may be forgetting at the moment!