November 12, 2006
Vol. VI, No. 10
"The Monster Still Lives!"
This weekend someone mentioned the "organ" down at Trinity Church here in New York City. It reminded me that I had written a Rampage around the time of that instrument's installation (see below).
The instrument in question was promoted as a "temporary long-term" solution after the existing pipe organ had been damaged on 9/11. As the stated "temporary" time frame was five years, it will be interesting to see if Trinity actually follows through and install a pipe organ in the end. For an organ to be installed in 2008, I would think a contract would have had to be signed by now.
On the contrary, it appears that efforts are being expended to legitimize the current instrument. Here is a description of an exhibit at the museum in Trinity Church:
"Although the ashes of September 11, 2001 brought the sound of the Trinity Church pipe organ to a sudden stop, Trinity soon began writing a new chapter in the history of church organs. Today, lovers of sacred music flock to hear Trinity's state-of-the-art virtual pipe organ. This exhibit enables you to hear organ music of the computer age while immersing yourself in the sometimes tumultuous, always fascinating history of organs at Trinity Church."
The title of the exhibit is "Reimagining Sacred Sounds: 9/11 and the Trinity Church Organ." Actually, I have an active imagination. Maybe that's why this monster scares me.
October 2, 2003
Vol. III, No. 28
"The Monster of Trinity Church"
I was going to let this slide, I really was. I've been pretty busy lately and they made it sound so innocent. After all, the church needed an interim instrument, didn't it? I think what finally got to me was the self-congratulatory tone of those involved, as if they were really doing something important. What I want to know is, what were they thinking? If you're unaware of the events unfolding at Trinity Church in Manhattan, here are two links to articles that will fill you in:
The digital instrument in question was installed as an "elegant interim solution." However, pre-owned organ parts are both plentiful and affordable. In terms of labor, I'm sure some builder, or even multiple builders working cooperatively, could have installed an excellent instrument in no time, especially if price really wasn't a factor. I get the impression that a pipes option wasn't ever seriously considered and that would be a slap in the face to organ builders everywhere.
>From the New York Times article: "Their goal was to produce the best instrument that could be conceived within current technological limits if price were no object." So where's the harm? First of all, in these hard times, I think it's just plain arrogant to flaunt that kind of attitude about money for an interim electronic instrument. Secondly, patronizing the refinement of digital organ technology is a complete waste of money because it will never be an acceptable alternative to the true art of pipe organ building. Why encourage futile attempts to legitimize this technology?
Those involved claim that there will one day be pipes again at Trinity. Based on their enthusiasm for the interim instrument, I wouldn't hold my breath. It's possible that these folks are just na´ve but if that's the case, they'd better wake up. They've made a deal with the devil.
It's time for the pipe organ community to stop pussyfooting around this issue as if we're going to hurt someone's feelings. These are companies who won't rest until there's a digital organ in every church. Electronic organs at the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall. What next? Should we just issue electronic keyboards to all the orchestra members and get it over with. Let's put our collective foot down and say "Enough!" Some things are worth defending.
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