organ renovation - please help me learn
  • I've been asked to serve on a committee (which currently consists of our DM and me) to begin exploring renovation of our pipe organ. The builders come later this month to look it over, and then to meet with us. It's all very preliminary. (We don't have the money yet.)

    The organ (currently disused and I'm told that the last time it was used it was in very poor voice) is a Ruffatti, built in the 1950s, I think. That's all I know.

    I am a musician, not an organist (but a decent pianist), not afraid to read and learn, not afraid to get my hands dirty, and mechanically inclined (I have built somewhat decent classical guitars and a reasonably nice harpsichord). How do I educate myself so that I can be possibly useful and not just a warm body? (They want me to be useful, not a warm body.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,514
    Talk to other organists in the area - AGO is a good place to start. Listen to other instruments to determine what you like and don't like about them. You didn't say who will be doing the renovation. Evaluate projects they have done and if customers were satisfied with the quality of the rebuild. Or you could always turn it over to Ruffatti - a fine company that does excellent work.

    Money: haven't we all experienced the lack of it. I certainly don't want anyone to pass on, but a bequest allowed rebuilding the console of my instrument. It would not have been done without it. It is always possible to start a fund and begin asking for donations. Publicize what you are doing to get the congregation involved.
  • Ruffati is coming, right?
  • CharlesW - thanks.
    Noel -Yes.
  • Ruffati should be your first choice for this work. They will know what they did in the past and how best to rebuild and/or expand their instrument. Above all, get someone who will respect the workmanship and the original tonal design of your instrument. Some 'reputable' builders may show no regard for the tonal design of your instrument and show no respect for the original builder's intentions. I can testify that the reuter company, for one, gutted most of the original pipework of an historic Holtkamp and drowned the original instrument in a multitude of new pipework, leaving an instrument that bore no likeness to its original self. Do your homework on whomever you entrust your organ to.

    The advice to contact members of your local AGO is good.
    If you have a nearby Episcopalian cathedral, its choirmaster-organist would be a good place to start.
    Also, if you have a nearby university, you may want to get its organ professor as a consultant.