An Old Model for a New Organ

Building Cornell’s baroque organ has been a huge international project, made possible by email, scanners, cell phones and fax machines. Yet at the same time the project has followed a 17th-century organizational style. Organ building in Germany originated in the guild system, according to Anette Schwartz, chair of German Studies. Master builders such as Arp … Continue reading “An Old Model for a New Organ”

A Different Way of Listening

Until the middle of the eighteenth century, many organs were designed with the console and organist hidden away. “One of the reasons for the very elaborate beauty of many organ cases is that what the listener is looking at is not the performer but the case,” explains Annette Richards, professor of music and university organist. … Continue reading “A Different Way of Listening”

A Research Experiment that Worked

“Cornell is known not to be afraid to engage in research experiments,” says Anette Schwartz, chair of German Studies, “and this organ is a great success. This experiment has worked.” “It was initiated by our wonderful organist Annette Richards,” adds Schwartz. “But it’s not just Annette Richards alone, it’s the university that supports these international … Continue reading “A Research Experiment that Worked”

The Charlottenburg Organ Reborn

Part 2 of University Organist David Yearsley’s profile of Munetaka Yokota and the Cornell organ. The shining apogee of technological advance in the pre-industrial world, the organ, was more often likened to the human form than to a “Wondrous Machine,” as it is styled in Henry Purcell’s Ode for St. Cecila’s Day. In such anthropomorphized … Continue reading “The Charlottenburg Organ Reborn”

New Video Gives Unique Look at Organ Project

A new video produced by the College of Arts and Sciences and Cornell’s Video Production Group gives a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the organ project, from conception to completion.

Focus on Volunteers

“I’m a pipe organ nut,” says Maureen Chapman, a semi-retired technician in Cornell’s Food Science Lab. Working on the organ has fulfilled a lifelong dream. “My experience has been nothing short of fantastic,” she said. Chapman helped paint the sizing on the pipe hooks and “beards,” metal protrusions around some of the pipe mouths. She … Continue reading “Focus on Volunteers”

Organ Festival and Conference All-Bach Concert

8:30 p.m. Jacques van Oortmerssen, professor of organ at the Amsterdam Conservatory, performs an all-J. S. Bach program at Anabel Taylor Chapel. All festival events are free and open to the public, but concerts require tickets. Please call the music department (607-255-4097) to reserve.

Sustainable Wood

Most of the organ’s wood is quarter-sawn domestic white oak, from the Ohio River Valley. But Chris Lowe, case builder, couldn’t find quarter sawn white oak domestically that was long enough for the 18-foot long petal tower frames or for the main big timbers by the keyboard. He finally found the right oak from a … Continue reading “Sustainable Wood”

Organ Debuts to Lavish Praise

Audience members heaped lavish praise on Cornell’s new baroque organ at its debut public performances on November 21, using words like “phenomenal” and “fantastic” to describe the experience. Hedvig Lockwood, a local resident, called the concert “thrilling,” adding, “I found things happening in my spine.” “It’s a fantastically exciting organ and three brilliant organists. It … Continue reading “Organ Debuts to Lavish Praise”

CU Music Unveils Organ

Cornell’s new baroque organ will be unveiled on Sunday, November 21, with its first public performances, at 3 PM and 5:30 PM in Anabel Taylor Chapel. (Note that all tickets for both concerts have now been given out; no more tickets are available.) The concerts open with university organists Annette Richards and David Yearsley playing … Continue reading “CU Music Unveils Organ”

History Comes Alive

“When I first heard Cornell’s new baroque organ played, I got goose bumps because history really does come alive in this extraordinary project,” writes Leslie A. Adelson, Professor of German Studies and Director of the Institute for German Cultural Studies at Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences. “For the study of German culture it offers … Continue reading “History Comes Alive”

Why Cornell?

“A great university deserves to have a really great organ,” says Annette Richards, university organist and project manager. Although Cornell had a number of organs already, it lacked an instrument of the style and scope appropriate to the music of the noted German organist composers of the 17th and 18th centuries. “There was no great … Continue reading “Why Cornell?”

Voicing the Organ

Voicing the organ–giving each pipe the correct volume and timbre and ensuring that it responds correctly to the pressure and speed of the performer’s touch–will take about half a year, says Munetaka Yokota, organ designer, builder, and pipe voicer. Although Yokota took into account the acoustics of Anabel Taylor Chapel when he designed the organ, … Continue reading “Voicing the Organ”

Story Behind the Tonal Design

The Cornell organists wanted to build an instrument appropriate to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, but also to the great repertoire of older music that he had encountered during his youth. A difficult request, says designer Munetaka Yokota, because Bach had a strong connection to organs for most of his life. So you could … Continue reading “Story Behind the Tonal Design”

How the Pieces Came Together

Around the same time in 2001 that Annette Richards, university organist, began thinking about a baroque organ for Cornell, the Goteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt) at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, celebrated the first results of their recently-founded organ research workshop with the completion of a large 17th-century north German-style organ. “We began to hatch … Continue reading “How the Pieces Came Together”

Building a Case

The organ case was created by local cabinet maker Christopher Lowe, who’d never before created anything of this magnitude. “It was a challenge just to get my mind around the scale of it at first,” says Lowe. “But I realized there was nothing that I didn’t know how to do, I just had to be … Continue reading “Building a Case”