<![CDATA[The Yarmouth Organ Project - Blog]]>Sat, 06 Feb 2016 06:58:46 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Gerhard Brunzema - Ready to Roll again! In YARMOUTH!]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 02:34:27 GMThttp://yarmouthorganproject.weebly.com/blog/gerhard-brunzema-ready-to-roll-again-in-yarmouthThe Gerhard Brunzema Organ 
(1983-2014 in Wolfville, NS, now in Holy Trinity Anglican, Yarmouth, NS)
This is a general update on the Brunzema Organ 
and its rebuilding in Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Yarmouth.
After approximately 16 months the organ is now completely rebuilt. 
But although it is at present “playable”, 
it requires special professional adjusting 
which turns a clever mechanical machine 
that can produce sounds, 
into a subtle finely-tuned instrument 
of integrated musical beauty.
Blair Batty, the organ-builder from Fergus Ontario, 
one of the original builders with Gerhard Brunzema from 1983, 
will be in Yarmouth for a week mid-February. 

He will be here in Yarmouth in February to get the organ
- voiced 
..... adjusting the pipes so that they sound as good as possible 
in their new surroundings 
and in relation to one another 
after 16 months of disuse
- adjusted 
..... calibrating and tweaking the mechanical connections 
between the keyboard/pedal, the pipes and the mechanisms in-between 
- especially the “trackers” - and all the moving parts
- re-tuned 
..... the organ is constructed mechanically 
like an organ from the time of Johann Sebastian Bach - 1685-1750
it is built to use a similar method of tuning as at that time, 
i.e. not equal temperament
[Equal Temperament - the prevalent modern Western system of tuning, 
in which every pair of adjacent pitches/notes is separated by the same interval, 
in contrast to Just Temperament 
where intervals have their own “natural” vibratory consonance.] 
One of the peculiarities of this Brunzema organ 
is that it does not use the modern standard A3=440Hz 
(- the factory norm in digital instruments, for example)
but instead is tuned at a slightly lower pitch with A3=432Hz 
(this is the standard that Giuseppe Verdi wanted the world to adopt 
- “because it sounds gentler.”) 
Bach’s last organ in Thomaskirche, Leipzig, 
was actually tuned around A3=465Hz, 
but these days this would cause an outcry of “It’s too high!” 
when the organ would be used for congregational hymn-singing!
In celebration of the coming 
ready-to-play-and-be-heard state of the Brunzema in Holy Trinity Yarmouth, 
there has been arranged the following for the Easter weekend;
- The Vesuvius Chamber Choir and Orchestra 
will be performing Handel’s Messiah with 
an open-to-the-public run-through 
on Saturday March 26th at 3.30pm in the church, 
and a ticketed performance of Handel’s work 
on Easter Sunday March 27th - also at 3.30pm. 
The Brunzema organ will be used in these performances, 
as well as the church’s excellent Clavinova Harpsichord. 
John Bogardus is the conductor.
- The Vesuvius Chamber Choir and Orchestra 
will also be joining the choir and congregation of Holy Trinity 
at the Festal Eucharist/First Mass of Easter 
(Easter Sunday 27th March morning at 10.30) 
when the Brunzema will be blest and used in Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
- Vesuvius is part of the Halifax Music Co-op 
and members of their instrumental teaching faculty 
will be joining organist John Overton and a couple of invited guests 
for the Easter Monday 28th March Brunzema Showcase concert 
- also at 3.30pm 
(and, yes, there will be a freewill offering!)
For more information 
please contact John Overton 

(902) 774-1190.

<![CDATA[Progress Report]]>Fri, 05 Sep 2014 22:12:45 GMThttp://yarmouthorganproject.weebly.com/blog/progress-reportI wrote this to my friends in Holy Trinity, Yarmouth  about 3 weeks ago.
It seems very relevant to publicize it here now!

The Developing Yarmouth Organ Project

Progress Report 19th August 2014
The Brunzema transport went off on 31st July with hardly any problems
- finding some of the pieces since then has sometimes been challenging, but,
so far, we’ve found everything we’ve looked for!

Unfortunately there are no remaining drawings and the organ-builder Gerhard Brunzema is now dead.

However two of Brunzema’s 1983 team are still alive, and a member of Holy Trinity choir is friends with
(and yesterday talked to) one of them - Blair Batty. Blair has his own small organ workshop in Ontario.
The organist Richard Birney Smith (who Wolfville initiative-taker Freeman Dryden, of Organ Rescue-fame,
put me in touch with) knows the other - Leslie Smith - an organ-maker and “voicer” of great skill, I am told.

People from near and far seem to have heard about the Organ Project and Holy Trinity’s spearheading of it.
Those I meet after services, those I met yesterday (Monday 18/8) and people who write to me and call me
are asking about the wider aspects of the project as well as the “How long will it take to...?” question about
the re-assembly of
the Brunzema organ itself. (Ah! That question!)

The people I meet on site are fascinated, engaged, encouraging, etc.
They understand that though it may only take 3 days to disassemble such an organ as ours
- that is if one has a team of 13 who have been whipped into volunteering action
by engaged people who see a "nasty"  deadline approaching -
it actually takes considerably longer to put the organ back together in a new physical situation,
without the 13 constant volunteers, and without the benefit of IKEA-type drawings!
Admittedly we did take good photos of much of the dismantling process, and most parts are labeled! 

Our aim of making the organ look and sound as good as (or better than) it did in Wolfville meets hearty approval.

People also ask me about Yarmouth Organ Project’s organ-part repository and if this could relate to
a possible resurrection, in one form or another, of Holy Trinity’s Casavant. (The $1,000-question!)
They ask about other churches and halls needing organs.

When I explain how the (smaller) Brunzema organ’s reconstruction can teach us technical
organ-reconstruction skills and foster interest in local organ-building, tuning and voicing
as a cottage industry (similar to what is happening on the US Eastern Seaboard) their eyes light up -
I see how the common “it will never happen here” is changing into exciting possibility in these peoples’ worlds.

It is beginning to be understood
that the Yarmouth Organ Project is a vision which stands a good chance
of succeeding; this obviously thrills them!

Co-incidentally with this opening-up of the discussion about how to use the quality-pipes
and maybe other parts of the Casavant, we have just been told (Tues 19th Aug) that
another organ in Kentville (Kentville United Church changes owners at the end of September)
is facing the threat of landfill - the HRM church which was interested in taking the Kentville organ has backed out. Kentville United is very anxious to save as much of the organ as possible for posterity.

We in Yarmouth are looking into saving the pipes - if we can take them down and pack them into boxes -

and even the console (just as we did in Wolfville) & finding a way of transporting them from Kentville to Yarmouth.
Freeman Dryden (he made the pipe-boxes for our Brunzema) and some of his team are willing to
do "a Wolfville-dismantle" for this Kentville organ. (*see update below)
And those who helped to dismantle the Brunzema-organ, just for the "love and fun of it", have said
they would be interested to be part of South-west Nova projects which re-assemble
rescued pipe-organs.

At the moment, we don’t know what the Kentville pipes will be used for exactly, but our vision could be
that they become part of the to-be-rebuilt-in-another-way “once-upon-a-time-Holy-T-Casavant”
or we could help a nearby church or meeting-hall acquire an organ of great quality at minimum cost!
The Kentville pipework is fabulous (both gentle and powerful) and would work extremely well with
other pipes of any Casavant organ, or even in a newly revamped Holy Trinity organ! Who knows?!

The immediate need for an organ-pipe repository is obvious.

For Holy Trinity church
this project has become an expanding opportunity for Holy Trinity to be
part of the leading edge of a new trend in quality sacred music craftmanship - which is already increasing
our field of influence, attracting visitors, engaging the young from not-so-near and the local community,
and causing joy in many, many people!
*update 5th September 2014:
The Kentville organ's Great and Pedal were dismantled 25th August and next week, from Mon 8th Sept,
a team will start work on the Swell.
Anyone who is available to help, please call John on (902) 774-0530 asap.
<![CDATA[Starting the Project]]>Thu, 28 Aug 2014 01:13:48 GMThttp://yarmouthorganproject.weebly.com/blog/starting-the-projectTheYarmouthOrganProject - Re-vitalising,Re-storing&(Re)-building Pipeorgans & playing Real Pipe-organ Music on them.
by John Overton, Music Director
It all began when I began to consider what was written over the decades in the documents to do with Holy Trinity Yarmouth's Casavant organ (originally from 1902.) I have been involved for many years with organ-playing in Nova Scotia
and have often wondered why churches in Atlantic Canada are so reliant on organ builders and tuners from far away - where was the passion and the technical skill and the interest for pipe organs locally or even regionally?
And then I gradually began to understand that if there are are comparatively few exciting organs to play, a lack of organists to play them and few if any really good local tuners and builders to tune and build pipe-organs, then - like in other areas of life - skills and knowledge disappear and we lose important parts of our
heritage and our musical arts. We begin to lose the ability to distinguish between what is really good and what is mediocre.
Add to this, the number of orphaned pipe-organs because of church-sales/closures and demolitions, and there is a very real danger that a several
hundred-year-old tradition would disappear!
The Question became obvious - How could we engage partners to reverse this particular organ-disappearing trend, and how could we use Yarmouth’s re-emerging sense of importance as a heritage and travel destination by helping
contribute to the “upswing” using the cottage industry model?
As soon as I began to investigate and talk to artists, to community entrepreneurs and other organists in the Maritimes, I realized I was not alone - and the more I investigated the more obvious it became that Yarmouth and the region (together with partners on the US Eastern seaboard) was the ideal area to set up an Organ Project with these components;
- teaching the skills of organ-playing to young people
- introducing the older ways of making organs simply (the tracker-action/ mechanical organ which obviates many problems to do with very changeable climate and humidity) and engaging local artisans, metal-workers, carpenters, etc
- using available local warehouse space to house “orphaned organs”
- engaging in new cross-cultural possibilities and performances, thereby attracting interest and people from many different leanings.

Since this idea became known and talked about in mid-July 2014, 2 organs threatened with landfill have become available and there has been spawned a new practical interest in this old (and threatened) heritage, an interest which can give rise to a fresh generation of skilled organists, organ-tuners/voicers and builders.