The Symphonic Organ is the Spice of Life
As we age, it can be easy to fall into a comfortable rhythm of sameness. Work, home, and even social life can take the form of a routine. What to do when we feel stuck in this holding pattern? Seek some variety. And what’s one of the best ways to add color and variety to our lives? Why, the symphonic organ, of course!
Residents at Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community, like many of us, are seeking a mix of comfort and excitement. Their programs range from gourmet culinary experiences to full-service salons to a working woodshop. Their website proclaims, “Live an extraordinary life!” Their chapel mirrors this desire for variety in its programming: from services to concerts and events, the chapel plays a central role in the community’s spiritual and community life.
Our challenge was to build an organ that could satisfy these wide-ranging musical needs and remain small in size. We devised a three manual scheme with the bottom manual (Solo) as a home for solo stops, accompaniment stops, and ensemble stops from other divisions. This, coupled with our double expression system, offers the organist maximum versatility. Rather than being limited to three discrete divisions, with clever use of double expression the Solo manual can change identity. For practical purposes, this gives the organist the equivalent capabilities of six divisions in a 16-rank organ!
Even though the chapel has a warm, resonant acoustic, it’s an intimate space with the organ very close to the listener. It would be a mistake to seek variety in loud upper work or exotic voices. Instead, the variety comes from 8’ stops of many timbres and volumes. Contrasting color reeds and complimentary foundations are placed in different divisions to allow maximum timbral differences, especially when using the Solo manual.
The versatility of this small organ was demonstrated perfectly in its dedication performances. Nigel Potts of Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, SC, and Jeffrey Smith of Saint Paul’s Parish, K Street, Washington, D.C., both played recital programs, services, and led hymn singing with rousing, enthusiastic participation. Chapel organist Clara Godshall leads the community music program in the Anglican tradition. It is our hope that this small organ will continue to offer big returns for years to come, giving residents one more way to have variety, color – spice – throughout their lives.
Schoenstein & Co.