Diligent Selection process for the best church organ
I do not believe that we have had any customer more diligent in the process of selecting the manufacturer of their new digital organ or indeed taking more care in designing the installation. It has been a pleasure to work with a group including their Diocesan Organ Advisor, so interested in making the very best of their new instrument.
The pipe organ had already been replaced with a purpose built 2 manual instrument by Copeman Hart in 1987. While still in working order the church were concerned that reliability would become an issue and took the unusual step of seeking a replacement well before problems became disruptive to church life. So the issue of pipe or digital instrument did not arise.
We were amongst 6 companies approached and 3 who made the short list providing our first quotation in the September of 2014. A critical component of the invitation involved using a console made by Renatus of Bideford with whom we do all our custom consoles. They are rightly regarded as joiners and cabinet makers of very high quality and each instrument we create with them is a very rewarding process.
We were selected as preferred supplier early in 2015 when the church committee gave much consideration to the speaker location and our suggestions had been an important part of the final decision process. To verify and fine tune the advice we set up a temporary instrument and over the course of a month 3 different speaker locations were tested in the Sunday services. A detailed questionnaire was completed by each attendee recording where they sat and their impression of the organ and its loudness with a scoring system for many of the impressions measured. All this then fed back and used for the final speaker positions.
The Copeman Hart spoke exclusively from the west end and many felt it too loud when needing to make its presence felt in the chancel. You will see from the picture below, taken from behind the altar to the west end, what the distance involved is.
Organ Installation and Speaker locations
Our instrument was laid out on 14 speakers in 4 different locations to better spread the sound in the building. We utilised space on the wall plates behind the ashlar posts so all but 4 speakers are completely invisible in the building.
The organ now mainly speaks from the wall plate on the north and south sides of the lady chapel. As this area is partitioned so sound can not directly enter the chancel we placed two monitor speakers that carry the full organ high up on the east side of the chancel arch to allow the choir a more direct sound source. You can see one of these choir monitor speakers pictured right.
The only other visible speakers are at the rear of the church. There 2 speakers high on the roof trusses carry the nave division of the great. These allow a direct sound source to be heard in the centre of the building and also provide a direct sound for choir accompaniment when they are stood at the west end. For good measure we also provided a monitor speaker in the ringing chamber so the bell ringers can hear the organ when at work and they can also switch it off when not needed.
Custom Designed Organ
The organ has 47 speaking stops including 7 for the nave division. The console is in natural English oak with a 4 panel back moulded side panels and moulded sides to the bench. There are all the usual playing aids including a crescendo pedal. The draw knod heads are in mahogany as are the pedal board sharps.
The organ has a conventional roll top as opposed to the glass doors on the Copeman Hart console. The music desk is solid wood and hinged to fold under the roll top. It has provision for horizontal adjustment allowing the musician to bring the music closer to him if required.
Here are some more pictures for you:
We set a target of All Souls Day for the new organ and we achieved this having the new instrument playing on October 30th. The Copeman Hart was removed by us as part of the contract the week before so for just a single Sunday service the church had to make do with their digital piano. Not bad going!
You can listen to the organ played just an hour after installation here:
Are you are interested in talking to us about replacing the organ in your church, or perhaps hiring one while your pipe organ is being renovated, then please feel free to get in contact with us. Call on +44 (0) 1869 323 747 or send an email.
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Regent Classic Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.