Cover Feature

Cover Feature

Mander Organs, London, England

West Parish Church of Barnstable, West Barnstable,
Massachusetts

In 1616, the year of William Shakespeare’s death and
probably but a stone’s throw from his Globe Theatre at Southwark just
south of the River Thames, a group of people founded the first Independent
Church to survive to the present day. “Joyning togeather they joyned both
hands with each Brother and Covenanted togeather to walk in all God’s
Ways as he had revealed or should make known to them.” The King’s
officers discovered the congregation in 1632 and imprisoned forty-two of its
members, including the pastor. On release from prison, thirty members of the
church were exiled to New England, settling initially in Scituate, moving to
Cape Cod in 1639, to found the town of Barnstable. By 1717, the town had
expanded to the point where it was split into East and West parishes and the
construction of the West Parish Meetinghouse was started. Once completed, it
served not only as a church, but as the home of the Barnstable town meetings
and later even the school. In 1852, the building was so extensively modernized
that little clue remained as to its original appearance. By the late 1930s,
however, the building was all but derelict, and it was only due to the tenacity
of one Elizabeth Crocker Jenkins that the building was not only saved, but
restored to its former glory and is well worth a visit for anybody venturing
over the bridges that join Cape Cod to the rest of Massachusetts.

With a significant historical building such as this
meetinghouse, the introduction of a new organ needs to be conceived with
extreme care. None of these meetinghouses had organs in their early years, so
there was no model on which one might call for inspiration. Our broad aim was
to create a case design such as an early to mid 18th-century English immigrant
organ builder might have envisaged for such a building. There was only one
place for the organ, and that was on the gallery with most of the instrument
contained within the space offered by the tower. This dictated the overall size
of the organ. West Parish Meetinghouse has a very nicely executed reproduction
pulpit, based closely on the few such pulpits that still exist. The mouldings
and general woodworking style were immediately recognizable as being
appropriate for an organ case, so we used this as a starting point. Of
particular interest was the material to be used for the case. There is much
reference to “Pumpkin Pine” for the interiors of such early
buildings in the New England area, but all attempts to ascertain what this
timber might actually be drew something of a blank. It would seem that the term
does not refer to a specific species of tree, but to the color of the pine once
it has matured over some years. A number of pine varieties seem to have
attracted the term “Pumpkin Pine” and we opted to use a variety
indigenous to North America.

Not only the broad outline of the case design was subject to
discussion and consultation, but the detail as well. Much thought was given to
the carving, and it was felt by the Meetinghouse Foundation that bas relief
carving would be more appropriate than the usual pierced carving. Designs were
sent back and forth, and ultimately motifs appropriate to the meetinghouse and
Cape Cod were settled upon. The scrolling above the intermediate pipe
“flats” is evocative of the waves of the sea, while the segmented
tower shades feature the indigenous rosa regosa. (Once it had been agreed to
use this flower as a decorative feature, we asked for a photograph to be sent
to use as a model, which was in due course forwarded to us--taken by the
organ committee chairman in the gardens outside the Tower of London after he
had visited our workshops!)

Notwithstanding all attempts to make the organ fit the
building visually, it was felt that musically it had to address the
requirements of a modern congregation. This could lead to a situation where the
case design leads one to expect something completely different from the sounds
emerging from inside it. The importance of the eye in assessing the sound of an
instrument is often underestimated. Just as the eye prepares the palate for a
glass of wine, so should the eye prepare one’s ears for the sound of an
organ and certainly not mislead them. A case of such characteristic design
prepares the ears for something fairly specific, most significantly the warm
broad Open Diapason sound of English organs of the period (and those by the
best emigrant builders to the New World). This style, therefore, forms the
foundation on which the organ is developed. While stops appear that would
probably not have featured in an organ of the early 18th century either in New
or Old England, they find a place here but scaled and voiced in a style that would
not have been foreign to the builders of that time. This philosophy of approach
where a core style is taken and developed within the stylistic parameters of
the original model is one we have employed often and leads, we believe, to
musical and versatile instruments. It demands a highly disciplined
implementation of artistic freedom where homogeneity of pipework treatment is
the corner stone. This is probably important for any instrument of integrity
and is not to be confused with eclecticism, a different animal altogether.

The key action is suspended, not for any reasons of dogma,
but because the layout of the instrument and the accommodation of two large
single-rise bellows suggested that suspended action would work best. Owing to
the construction of the meetinghouse, the organ is built around various beams
and trusses, which presented some interesting problems in the design. These
beams can be seen in the photograph and make photography of the instrument all
but impossible. The drawstop action is electro-mechanical with a 64-level
capture system for general and departmental pistons.

The partially completed organ was first used during Sunday
worship on February 13, less than half the stops proving adequate enough to
lead the congregational singing and for the postlude. Two Sundays later the
instrument was complete. Dedication recitals are planned, and the organ is
intended to become another facet of the outreach program of this growing
congregation. That a modest congregation such as that of West Parish in Barnstable
can, without any major donors, manage to realize a dream such as this must be
an example to many as to what can be achieved with grit and determination. But
then, a congregation founded in 1616 and still active must have such attributes
in abundance to have survived this long at all.

--John Pike Mander

Photo credit: Steve Heaslip

Great Organ (9 stops)

1.              Open
Diapason             8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              *

2.              Chimney
Flute                8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

3.              Dulciana
(T.C.)              8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            46
pipes              #

4.              Principal
            4’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

5.              Twelfth
                22/3’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>    58 pipes style='mso-tab-count:1'>              #

6.              Fifteenth
            2’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

7.              Mixture
IV          11/3’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>    232 pipes style='mso-tab-count:1'>           #

8.              Trumpet
             8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

9.              Cromorne
         8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

i)               Tremulant

ii)              Swell
to Great

Swell Organ (9 stops)

10.          Salicional
          8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

11.          Stopped
Diapason      8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              **

12.          Celeste
(T.C.)                 8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            46
pipes              #

13.          Principal
            4’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

14.          Open
Flute       4’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              +

15.          Nazard
                22/3’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>    58 pipes style='mso-tab-count:1'>              +

16.          Block
Flute       2’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              +

17.          Tierce
13/5’    58 pipes              +

18.          Hautbois
            8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            58
pipes              #

iii)             Tremulant

Pedal Organ (5 stops)

19.          Bourdon
             16’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>        30
pipes              **

20.          Principal
            8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            Gt

21.          Fifteenth
            4’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            30
pipes              #

22.          Trombone
        16’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>        30
pipes              #

23.          Trumpet
             8’ style='mso-tab-count:1'>            Gt

iv)            Great
to Pedal

v)              Swell
to Pedal

 

*                75%
tin

#               56%
tin

**              Quebec
pine

+               35%
tin

 

Temperament: Kellner

Wind pressure: 75 mm

 

Mixture IV

1-8         11/3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>       1 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               2/3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>           1/2

9-18     2 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               11/3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>        1 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               2/3

19-30  22/3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>       2 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               11/3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>       1

31-42  4 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               22/3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>        2 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               11/3

43-58  8 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               4 style='mso-tab-count:1'>               22/3 style='mso-tab-count:1'>       2

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