Magazine article The Tracker

In the Tracker 50 Years Ago

Magazine article The Tracker

In the Tracker 50 Years Ago

Article excerpt

VOLUME VI, NUMBER 2, JANUARY, 1961

THE COVER ARTICLE by Robert J. Reich was titled "FIRE!" A quarter century before, lightning struck the tower of the Congregational Church in Orwell, Vermont, home of the particularly splendid one-manual 1865 E. & G.G. Hook organ, Opus 358. The cry of fire brought out the townspeople of this close-knit picturesque village who organized a bucket brigade to pass water up the narrow stairs to the bell tower to quell the fire - the empty buckets were then tumbled down the roof for refilling. This quick action confined the fire to its place of origin and saved this elegant building and its magnificent organ from certain destruction. The charred timbers in the bell tower remain a visible reminder of the narrow escape. The previous summer, in August 1961, the Andover Organ Company completed renovating the organ, which was a model of conservative restoration at this early time, and the article described the renovation, including the scaling documentation for the metal pipework, and extolled the tonal virtues of this surprisingly powerful organ of only ten ranks. This organ continues to astound all who hear it today with the power and brilliance of its ensemble. During this period immediately following the Civil War, the Hook firm produced organs of two qualities - one gentle, evoking the firm's characteristic work from the previous decade, and the other pointing in a new tonal direction that increasingly characterized the firm's work from this point onwards. The author suggested the title of the article could just as easily refer to the organ's character as to the narrowly averted disaster.

In another feature article, the virtues were extolled of the landmark new tracker organ dedicated in October I96ibuilt by the Andover company for Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore under the direction of Charles Fisk. The church's organist, Arthur Howes, soon to become famous for his landmark tours to the great Baroque organs of Europe, was the visionary behind this monumental project - the largest mechanical action organ built by a United States firm in modern times. Dirk Flentrop served as a technical adviser (but later was known to say he had little to do with the project as he had total confidence in Fisk and the Andover company to produce an instrument of the highest quality) and his firm supplied two ranks of pipes for the project, along with the company's elegant ebony drawknobs. Two ranks of pipes were built in the Andover shop, two ranks came from Rieger in Austria, two ranks from Muhleisen in Strasbourg, and the balance came from Jacques Stinkens in Holland. The organ was dedicated in a celebratory series of concerts by Howes, Donald Mackey from Montreal, Piet Kee (organist of the famed Laurenskerk in Alkmaar, Holland), and Heinz Wunderlich (organist of Arp Schnitger's largest instrument at the Jacobikirche in Hamburg, Germany). The organ still stands as a remarkable testament to American organbuilding of the Baroque-revival period, and last year a series of events celebrated the organ's enduring legacy.

An announcement was made of plans for the Society's upcoming seventh annual convention to be held in Skaneateles, New York, on the edge of the Finger Lakes region (July, 1962). In a way, that is somehow fitting and the closing of a circle: we have plans to revisit this area in 2014 for a similar event, visiting many of the same instruments first seen in 1962. …

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