Bombarde Division at First United Methodist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas
START TO FINISH
Selecting an organbuilder
Designing, building, and installing a new pipe organ is an exciting and challenging project for both the organbuilder and the institution purchasing the new instrument. If a client requests a proposal from our firm knowing that they are considering several builders we encourage them to choose their builder by visiting and listening to the work of all builders under consideration. After they have determined the builder they desire then is the time to discuss monetary aspects of the project. Organbuilding is in many ways a form of art. Each builder will have different ideas in regard to the design of the new instrument. Requesting a bid from several builders having offered them the same specification and then allowing the different bids to determine the builder of choice is an unfortunate way in which to make decisions regarding the purchase of a new instrument. This method should be avoided.
Designing the instrument
In designing a new instrument we are extremely attentive as to the desires the client. At the same time we depend on our twenty nine years of experience to carefully guide the client into making a correct decision. Such matters include the acoustic environment in which the new instrument will be installed, the placement of the instrument within the building, the space available for the instrument, and the specific tonal desires of the client. These are all carefully considered during the process of creating a specification. Another important consideration is the amount of and the basic format of casework to be incorporated in the new instrument. We always encourage the instrument to include casework and exposed pipework. This allows the listener to be excited not only by the sound of the instrument but also the visual enhancement of the space in which the instrument is installed. When we design casework with exposed pipework we start with a blank page. No two instruments are alike. We study the architectural elements of the space and the basic genre of the building and incorporate this into the design of the exposed casework. We often hear the remark, “It looks like it has always been here”. There is no higher compliment.
Construction of the instrument
Building a new instrument takes time. A large factor in determining that time is the size of the organ, where it is to be installed in the building, and the number of contracts we have for new instruments. Our backlog varies from twelve to thirty six months. Our crew of seven works together on each instrument to ensure that all components of the instrument come together to produce a cohesive final result both tonally and visually. We do not have a standard dollar amount per rank but rather determine the final cost of an instrument by completing an extensive study of the actual cost of each particular instrument. There are so many variables such as amount of casework, location of the instrument within the building, location of the installation site in regard to our Fort Worth facility, and the number of ranks to be included.
Since most of our instruments are placed in houses of worship our tonal design is based on the fact that the primary purpose of the instrument will be to have a significant role in worship. Leading the congregation in the singing of hymns is of utmost importance. The inclusion of a substantial number of foundation stops is extremely important. This allows the instrument to have a sense of warmth and power without always relying on higher pitches to obtain volume. When possible we incorporate a complete Principal chorus including Mixtures in all divisions. All manual divisions contain an 8’ Principal. Also included are a variety of flutes, mutations, and reeds. Although leading worship is our primary goal we also design our instruments as to allow them to realize organ literature from all periods of composition. The new instrument should be an important addition to the musical community.
We strive to build instruments that inspire and excite those who play and hear them both in worship and concert. Pipe organs create energy. Pipe organs create magic. We feel privileged and honored to have the opportunity to build the “King of Instruments”.