David E. Wallace & Co., LLC, Gorham, Maine
Wallace & Co.’s Opus 73 is a portable instrument designed for both demonstrations and concerts. It was first showcased in the exhibition hall during the 2014 American Guild of Organists’ national convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Opus 73 made its concert debut in March of 2015 when it was used for two concerts by the Maine Music Society (www.mainemusicsociety.org). The organ was well received in these performances and was successful in accompanying a large chorus and orchestra.
Opus 73 is moved easily in two large sections. The top section holds only the pipes, which have been carefully racked for optimal stability. Pipe racking was accomplished in the traditional manner using red-hot burning irons to cauterize and taper the rack holes for a more supportive fit. Each pipe also has a hook soldered onto the foot just above the rackboard that fits over a pin that prevents the pipe from turning while being transported. All of the largest metal pipes have reinforced feet for durability. The bottom section of the organ contains the windchest, key action, and wind system. For safe transport the keyboard slides in, the pedalboard pulls out, and the decorative cornice lifts off. Assembly takes less than ten minutes and involves setting the upper half gently on top of the lower half and pulling out the keyboard. Opus 73’s careful design allows the organ to be rugged and transportable with minimal effort while providing an instrument with a full and rich voice.
When fully set up, the organ measures 7 feet 10 inches tall, 46 inches wide, and 21 inches deep (excluding pedalboard). The higher placement of the pipes allows the organ to speak freely when used with large ensembles and in large rooms. This is a distinct difference from the smaller portable box organs. Generous scaling of the pipework has allowed Opus 73 to perform well with large ensembles without being overpowered or sounding forced. By closing the panels and front doors, the sound of the organ can be diminished appropriately for quieter settings while still remaining present and warm.
While the instrument was not designed to be a replica of any ancient instrument, inspiration for all aspects of the organ came from the study of older organs. The design of the organ case is simple, yet elegant with delicate moldings that catch the eye but do not distract. The casework, bench, and pedalboard are made of reclaimed quartersawn white oak. All joinery was executed in the traditional manner with hand-cut dovetails and either pinned or wedged mortise and tenon joints. All interior parts, to include the wind system, slider windchest, and key action are of reclaimed white pine. The key desk is of black walnut with horizontal stop bars of solid brass. Natural key coverings are ebony with flamed maple sharps.
Opus 73’s key action is balanced and self regulating with a floating backfall. The front end of the backfall rests passively on the key tails while the back end is directly connected to the pulldown wires from the pallets. This mechanical design permits the keyboard to slide in, as there is no hard connection between the backfall and the keys. All parts of the key action are made to ensure that there is little unwanted friction. The result is key action that is light and responsive and promotes careful articulation. The pedal is attached to the key action by a coupler, and having the pedalboard in place is optional.
The organ is winded by a .18hp Ventola blower, which feeds into a double fold, parallel rise reservoir. The organ has an ample supply of wind at 3″ pressure set primarily by the weight of the blower itself. All panels on the organ are removable for maintenance and for demonstrations. During educational events, spectators can easily view the inner workings of the organ as all the components are in full view. The pallet box has a polycarbonate bungboard so that the pallets are visible while the organ is being demonstrated.
All parts of Opus 73 were designed and built in the Wallace shop, with the exception of the pipes. The 8′ Stopped Diapason is from E. & G.G. Hook Opus 266 and was restored by the Wallace crew. The metal pipework was commissioned from Organ Supply Industries, Erie, Pennsylvania. To better accommodate a mobile lifestyle, the 2′ Principal and 11⁄3′ Quinte are cone tuned (scroll tuned in the bass) and the 4′ Chimney Flute is tuned on the ears. The tonal finishing was completed by David Wallace and Nick Wallace.
Photo credits: Nick Wallace
David E. Wallace & Co., LLC
Pipe Organ Builders
147 County Road
Gorham, Maine 04038