Collegeville Holtkamp to be expanded by Pasi
  • Gamba
    Posts: 97
    Pasi Organ Builders is pleased to announce the construction of an organ to complement the existing "historic" 3-manual Holtkamp organ from 1960 at St. John's Abbey Church in Collegeville, Minnesota.

    The idea of the instrument is to preserve Walter Holtkamp's last organ. It is a very elegant sounding instrument but has never had adequate power for the large room. The challenge of this exciting project will be to create a new organ large enough to fill the room in a majestic way, but also to blend with and complement the Holtkamp.

    The instrument will be located behind a large silk screen with plenty of room for this major addition. The stunning Church will let the organ make beautiful sounds.


    http://www.pasiorgans.com/instruments/opus27.html

    It appears they are adding to the pedal, and creating new Grand Great and Grand Swell divisions, to supply richer 16’ and 8’ tone not in fashion when the Holtkamp went in in 1961.
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 39
    "Everything old is new again". "What goes around, comes around".

    Yes indeed! We are truly coming FULL CIRCLE in tonal design.

    In 1961 organs such as these were all the rage..."cutting edge"...the great rediscovery of bright, silvery classical specifications. "Get rid of all that heavy 8 foot tone, harmonic flutes, lush strings & celestes. No wind pressures higher than 3" or nicking of any languids! Reeds? Get rid of the trumpets, bombardes, clarinets, and vox humanas...now we want knopfregals, thin buzzy krummhorns, half-length fagotti and grunting posaunen in our pedal divisions." It was all over the pages of "The Diapason" back in the day (as they say).

    Now comes the restorative action, the "backlash" against the excesses of the '60s and '70s. Now we're REPLACING those organs (or at least modifying them) to BRING BACK "warmth", "grandeur", etc. Just in the last few years alone I have seen DOLCANS and BASSET HORNS making a return along with lots and lots of 8' on the Great, wind pressures regularly hitting 5-5 1/2 on main choruses, and entire bombarde choruses even on some of the otherwise more moderate instruments being built.

    As Holtkamp overwhelmed Skinner, now Skinner overwhelms Holtkamp.

    This is a fascinating development at Collegeville. I will be VERY interested to see the results!

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!

    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Gamba
    Posts: 97
    And every week I play a II/30 1890 tracker that isn’t “exactly right” for Buxtehude or Messiaen or Vierne or Reger, but plays the heck out of all of them, because 1) every stop contributes something to the chorus, 2) nothing is voiced to an extreme (the trumpet isn’t faux-French or a horizontal death horn), 3) there was no agenda to it to be either “historic” or “eclectic”, 4) the 8s are neither puny nor woofy, and each plays a distinct part in the very warm jeux des fonds, and 5) there is enough wind for each pipe to sing, not manifest signs of COPD like most 50s/60s/70s jobs.

    So much was lost with each step into the future...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    In 1973, my city hosted an AGO Regional Convention. A few short years before, one of the main Protestant churches had installed a sixties vintage Casavant. Robert Noehren came and played an all Baroque program. I still think he was one of the better organists of the age.

    The Casavant had a Salicional Celeste - only in hell could such a thing be imagined. The reeds were raucous, the principals grated, and the mixtures shrieked. All the AGO queens, snobs, and curmudgeons were there proclaiming how wonderful it was to finally have an authentic organ to play Bach. I don't think Bach would have liked that organ at all.

    Fast forward to our day, and the organ is being rebuilt and revoiced. The builder says the instrument was so bright it gave him a migraine every time he heard it. What the neo-Baroque purists never seemed to realize is that organs of that vintage sounded really bad. Those instruments probably turned a sizable part of the public off to the organ in general.

    So much was lost with each step into the future...


    God save us from the anointed who do so much damage in their self-righteousness.
    Thanked by 1RMSawicki
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 39
    There is an argument promoted by some of my organbuilding colleagues that a few select specimens of '60s neo-classic extremism should be preserved, if only to show future generations how crazy things got, how bad these instruments were, and how NOT to build organs in the future. - ;-)

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    We still have in my town what was a Kilgen 8' organ, but some 4' and 2' stops were added many years later. I thought that instrument should have been preserved intact to show period organ builder craziness. I do realize, however, the builders produce what fanatic organists will buy.

    BTW, heard a CD of a large Kimball playing a Bach selection. It sounded fine with no screeching mixtures and no congested nasal reeds. Fancy that, especially when you realize so many of those superbly built instruments were destroyed to humor the tin eared among us.
  • ...argument promoted...

    Whilst we are preserving (and rightly so) examples of those old tubs with the utterly boring tones of all their 8' stops, with (maybe) a mutation here and there (though certainly not a larigot!) and their colourless reeds (if any) and lack of mixtures on which no real literature, baroque, romantic, or otherwise, could rightly be played, - well it's not altogether preposterous that we should preserve some early examples of the neo-baroque movement which didn't quite 'get it right', but were more exciting to play than the old tubs. The early neo-baroque failures are no more (and perhaps less) awful than the dull and hooty old tubs they replaced. They paved the way for Mander, Pasi, Fritts, and all the other fine builders we have today.

    There seem to be those who love to wail and rail against the neo-baroque examples that weren't particularly good. This is hardly wise or fair. All of them were not bad. As some would hasten to point out, there are fads in the tonal design of organs, and each has its own cultural validity. Some of all should be preserved. The beauty of our own times is that we have romantic revival organs of great integrity, and we have baroque revival organs of great integrity. Being who we are, it is fortuitous for us that we live when we do and can have and hear whatever we prefer. Once upon a time there were no choices - just tubs for a milieu who never heard of or cared about Frescobaldi, Titelouze, or Bruhns - or even Franck or Tournemire.
    ________________________________________________

    It gladdens me that Pasi was chosen to expand this Holtkamp. Pasi is an artist. It will surely be carried out with a conscientious respect for Holtkamp's work whilst resulting in a work that has tonal integrity and artful beauty. I know of another historic Holtkamp (here in Houston) which was much less fortunate in being recently 'renovated' by the reuter company, who (to the tune of $800,000) destroyed the instrument.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    Everything by Holtkamp didn't sound magnificent. There are some in rooms that don't do the instruments any favors.

    There were bad Romantic organs to be sure. There were some by great builders that still sound great. Really good instruments were built by Kimball, Austin, and Skinner. Harrison and Harrison still builds magnificent organs.

    Maybe it was the fascination with electric blowers, but some of the early 20th century organs were a bit overblown. Maybe the organists of the time felt the need for, if not speed, power.

    I don't understand the glut of North European Neo-Baroque instruments built in the sixties, since many of them didn't and don't sound that great. I heard a good organist last week play Widor on one of them, and the harshness in the instrument did not do Widor justice, although she played extremely well.

    What I find most missing are French organs both Baroque and Romantic. Plenty of everything else, but little that resembles French organs in my region.
  • Gamba
    Posts: 97
    But dontcha know, dropping one Harmonic Flute into a specification makes it “versatile and eminently suited for French Romantic Music”....


    I really think cost/cheapness has a lot to do with it. We can’t have good Germanic instruments with just a rohrflote and principal at 8 and a stopped 16’ flute, because 8s and 16s cost money....never mind that the notable 18th century organs all had their plenum founded on a 16 open and several 8s.

    We won’t have anything that sounds like Cavaille-Coille until we have an understanding that his chorus depends on harmonic cornets AND mixtures AND reeds that are actually double-length and overblowing pipes, sitting above at least 4 8’ flies per manual, on fairly high wind, necessitating a Barker-type assisted key action. But that’s all very expensive; harmonic=2x as much metal, so we have these big “French” organs with American dinnerfork mixtures and no coherence at all....

    We won’t have the Eton College Hill because it’s always better to waste money on a floating Allen string division and chimes and MIDI and an antiphonal mess than to do something coherent with itself and meticulously voiced and in a good useful case.

    /rant

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    Oh yeah, money is the thing. Unless you are blessed with a donor who has deep pockets, compromises will be made.

    Cavaillé-Coll: I have read that he didn't like mixtures, and Guilmant had to persuade him to include them in the Trocadero organ.
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 39
    Regarding Cavaille-Coll:

    Well, his instruments were never exactly "mixture heavy", so it is possible.

    That is actually very interesting, as I've never heard that opinion being explicitly attributed to him, and on reflection, it now makes me want to revisit just about every one of his specs.

    Regarding the money issue: One thing Cavaille-Coll definitely did not like was leaving instruments incomplete, or to put it another way, he did not like failing to have a job "done right". As a result he frequently took financial losses on instruments, spending more than the client paid, which is why he was always on the edge of bankruptcy. His masterpiece at Saint-Ouen in Rouen is a perfect case in point. The church paid (I think) 90,000 francs, but it ultimately cost 108,000 to build. Ol' Aristede's devotion to fine artistry, while leaving us with some of the world's most glorious instruments, guaranteed he'd never get rich in organ business!

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    As a result he frequently took financial losses on instruments, spending more than the client paid, ...


    I have been told by some "old heads," even older than I, that Pilcher did the same.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 994
    Yes, I know a builder in Texas, that when an organ,was finished, decided to add a complete principal in the swell at entirely his own cost.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW RMSawicki
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 39
    "...decided to add a complete principal in the swell at entirely his own cost."...

    Nice!

    Blessed be the organ builder who can afford to do such things.

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,466
    Church committees and folks in general don't understand how organs are priced to begin with. There's a good article in the current, "The Diapason," on that. It notes that while a Larigot may cost less than a thousand, a 32' open diapason is a $400,000. plus stop which adds a few tons to the organ's weight. The common error is taking the organ's total cost, dividing by the number of ranks, and concluding the organ cost so many dollars per rank. If you have a builder who adds a flute at his own expense, that's one thing. If he adds an oboe, that involves far more expense to the builder.

    I recommend the article to anyone interested in such things.
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 39
    This thread is bringing up a few memories from my early days in the business.

    There was one rather sneaky builder I used to work for (20+ years ago) who LOVED to say that he was "donating" this or that stop (or stops) to each church that was about to sign a contract with him.

    What he didn't tell them (and what I as a worker in the shop didn't realize until much later) was that these "donations" were merely the PIPES for the rank (or ranks) in question which he already had lying around in storage from old organs he'd taken out of other churches. The cost of the windchest actions, wiring, relay pins, stop action solenoids, engraving of tabs/drawknobs, etc., etc., was all FULL PRICE. It just sounded so nice and noble to brag about these "donations".

    (Bleah!)

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
    Thanked by 1CharlesW