Dobbs Chapel at Trinity Presbyterian Church Atlanta, Georgia Petty-Madden Organbuilders

The American Organist, August 2007 | Go to article overview

Dobbs Chapel at Trinity Presbyterian Church Atlanta, Georgia Petty-Madden Organbuilders


An Introduction

Trinity Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, has had a rich musical tradition from its founding. With the arrival of Norman Mackenzie in the early 1980s, this paradigm continued and was fostered not only by this extraordinarily talented young man but also by his mentor and fellow parishioner Robert Shaw. By the mid-'80s, Trinity Church commissioned Petty-Madden to build a new organ, one that was radically different from the previous Austin organ installed there in the '5Os. This new instrument broke ground with its bold singing chorus, its endless palette of tonal color, and its consistently vocal voicing. In a handwritten letter to Bynum Petty, Mr. Shaw praised the organ as "... a superb accomplishment: at one and the same time capable of extreme ranges of color and sonority-yet perceiving a unique human and collaborative quality with both voices and orchestral instruments."

In the ensuing years, numerous concerts have featured this unrepentant "American eclectic" instrument; Stephen Paulus's first organ concerto was written specifically for this organ; the organ played a solo role in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's recording of JaneCek's Glagolitic Mass; and it was featured in two concerts at the 1994 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.

That the client should commission a second instrument almost 20 years later is indeed a rewarding experience for the builder. From Opus 22 we leap to Opus 53 with the tonal concept being little changed. The principal chorus is at the same time bold yet gentle; there is a certain vocal breathiness in the speech of the flue pipes; the reeds are colorful, quick, and consistent in attack and timbre; the ensembles are tight and cohesive; and the tonal style eclectic.

All of this is wrapped into a tidy case of painted and stained hardwoods, topped off with a silky-smooth mechanical key action. In order to meet the church design team's vision of an organ with minimal visual intrusion into the chancel, the organ case is unusually deep-18 feet to be exact-with the Swell division located behind the Great and Pedal. Since most of the organ is tucked behind a false wall, its physical massiveness is not apparent to the unsuspecting eye.

A Collaborative Process

Planning, designing, and producing an organ typically present new challenges for the organbuilder. If one adds to this list that the client church is one of the country's pre-eminent Presbyterian institutions, that its music director is one of the world's greatest choral conductors-he has two (or is it three?) Grammy awards for his recordings with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus-and that at the time the chapel was only an idea on paper, there could be considerable cause for trepidation. To the contrary and throughout the entire project, mutual trust and respect proved to be the coin of the realm, making working conditions exceedingly pleasant and rewarding. The quality of talent and cooperation gathered around the conference table produced extraordinary results. The chapel architecture is lavishly elegant in its simplicity; the acoustics-even for a space that seats barely more than 200-are as good as it gets; and the organ is ideally suitedboth visually and aurally-for its home.

A Closer Look

Yes, the sounds of the two organs at Trinity Church are the same in concept but radically different in reality. The older of the two exhibits a youthful exuberance and a certain confident impudence that is tempered whenever a moderate-sized audience is present. Speaking on electro-pneumatic (pitman) windchests from two chancel chambers, the 1987 organ boldly asserts its presence in a favorable acoustical environment.

Completely encased, the new tracker organ in Trinity's Dobbs Chapel eloquently displays the effect of time and experience on the core values of Petty-Madden's tonal style. Each voice sings with the beauty of a solo stop, yet each contributes anonymously to its respective ensemble. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dobbs Chapel at Trinity Presbyterian Church Atlanta, Georgia Petty-Madden Organbuilders
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.