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 New York Times article is not free but I do recommend reading it:
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.
Click this link to read comments and offer your own:
Articles Library page
In addition to the articles above, I've added an article on the debate over the use of technology in the art of piano tuning.
Organ Schools page
Added is a link to Organ Study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Have a great week!
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