Much has transpired in the short time since my last update.
We finally got the full complement of screens in place (thanks, Mike!), fully hiding the speakers, though some color adjustment in the center section may be required of us. In all, it is 13 sections covered by about 24 yards of grille cloth. I measured a prototype panel back in the garage, and there was no detectable coloring of the sound caused by the cloth.
All of the speaker cabinets are connected to the organ rack, which is connected by a single 50′ umbilical to the console. This long, narrow, securely-locked closet behind the stage effectively masks all noise from the PA and organ amplifiers. At the bottom of the rack is the amp I settled on for driving the largest subs; it’s a Peavey CS4080HZ, which runs cool and quiet, delivers 2040 watts per channel, and has not disappointed me at all. (Yes, it’s a bit overkill, but we’ve covered that already. ☺ )
I got the keyboard/mouse drawer mounted under the console, which has worked out beautifully (thanks, Shawn!). With help (Mike again), I also addressed a few other nagging issues, including sticking keys (probably due to the difference in humidity between garage and church), a weak solenoid driver chip that would move one and only one drawknob at a time, misadjusted rocker motor springs, uneven pedal spring tension, and cobwebs interfering with the pedal contacts (another artifact of the garage).
I upgraded the Mac Pro to Snow Leopard, installing that on an 80GB SSD, which greatly speeds both boot and organ loading times. I have about half of the full complement of bone-dry samples that I need, which itself yielded a 7000-line CODM file. And it took a full day to adjust all the speaker output levels and configure all of the input & output switches in Hauptwerk. The well-diffused acoustics helped here, as all 36 of my small bipolars were within a couple dB of each other before I started adjusting anything. Next I shuffled the drawknobs around and affixed a few round adhesive labels that I printed; I’ll have proper engraving done down the road after things have settled a bit.
In a minor departure from the AGO norm, I swapped the labels on the Great and Choir drawknob sections. That was necessary to accommodate my expected complement of 24 stops on the Great. The Choir is a smaller division, which is no handicap given that I have a separate Aetherial/Solo division.
Finally, after all that, I could hear the organ in a proper acoustic, and I confess to feeling a little giddy during my first playing session. I haven’t done any fine-grained voicing / regulation since I don’t have everything yet, but I’m thrilled with how the instrument is shaping up. The reeds sound very much in the room, the Choir/Swell strings make for a wonderfully warm and fuzzy accompaniment, and others have told me that the 32′ notes literally shake the entire building. (I think we may compress 20 years of normal building settling into just a few.) An organ of any size requires a certain gravitas, which IHMO is in evidence here.
The organ still isn’t finished, but it’s still larger than many complete instruments (or sample sets), so that hasn’t stopped us from using it in services. The first time out was Palm Sunday, when I just played a simple prelude and postlude. I ended with Manz’ “God of Grace” (courtesy Rob Stefanussen), soloing on the Tuba, and the congregation was kind enough to cheer and applaud after that. Easter Sunday is the excuse for many an organist to hit the Tutti piston, and I used a fairly large registration at the end of a couple of Easter hymns. My wife, who dislikes all loud things and especially frowns upon loud organ music, loved it and remarked that this congregation had never sung so loudly. Another big postlude yielded more spontaneous applause (and one complaint about the higher-volume passages from an all-too-predictable source (no relation to me!)), so I reckon we’re off to a fine start.
I can’t help but think some of the youth in attendance have rarely or never sung with an organ, a tragedy the rectification of which is one of the most rewarding parts of this project. In the fullness of time, I hope that seeing some of those same youth with musical talents develop an interest in playing the organ will be another.
And finally, though the organ isn’t finished, it would never be done without this:
Next steps are to incorporate the next infusion of samples and do some further cosmetic work, such as refinishing the parquet platform and touching up a few of the scrapes one finds on a 22-year-old piece of furniture.