Dan Garland and the Hilltop–Selecting a Winner
The fantastic new organ now being installed in the St. George’s School Chapel has been designed and built by the Garland Organ Company of Fort Worth, Texas. But – how did a company from Texas end up doing a job like this for a private school in New England?
When the possibility of creating a new organ first arose, at least half a dozen different organ makers were invited to visit the Hill- top, view the chapel and the existing instrument and make a presentation to a rather large selection committee with the possibility of an exclusive contract as the ultimate prize. The committee heard a wide variety of suggestions, most of which were so far away from what would have been the right fit for St. George’s that most committee mothers had difficulty paying attention to what was being said.
After all of the presentations were finished it boiled down to just two companies as potential creators of a new organ. Garland in Texas and one other, just outside Chicago.
Schedules were set for visits to both companies with certain very specific conditions identified well in advance, The sub-committee making the visits were to be shown individual instruments built by both firms, along with the opportunity to interview the organists at each such location. These visits also included organs that were maintained by the companies.
In addition, one member of the sub-committee insisted that an opportunity be provided to interview the crews of both companies, without the presence of the owner. In one case, this seemed to be a problem even though it was finally acceded to.
After the second of the two visits (to Texas) was over, the members
of the sub-committee were unanimous in their enthusiastic support for awarding the contract to Garland.
Not only did he and his employees seem do be a well-oiled team they also seemed to be very dedicated to their fields of expertise and to each other. They all seemed to be totally dedicated to insuring that the customer WOULD BE SATISFIED. It was truly a refreshing trip.
Even during the ultimate installation of the new instrument several years after the contract had been signed, the members of the Garland team were still just as enthusiastic.
They approached the installation as though they were each a graduate of the school. Maintaining the integrity of the chapel while still filling the structure with pipes, wood work and other pieces of what was do come, their reverence to the space within which they were working was obvious to all – faculty, staff and students. Garland and crew had become an integral part of the Hilltop.
They delighted in allowing groups of students to walk through the work area – even though it more than shut down the work while they were there. The members of the team seemed to truly enjoy having the opportunity to show the students what they were doing and how each specific operation added to what was to come.
With what has happened so far, for once it seems that St. George’s school not only got the best company to do a specific job but – also gained some very unique new members of almost alums.
St. George’s School, Newport Rhode Island, 2005