You are on page 1of 5

COVER FEATURE

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH HICKORY, NORTH CAROLINA " CASAVANTFRERES

O

rgan dedications are truly special events for everyone involved. From the very first dedication events, we

One of the main challengesfacing an organbuilder when designing an instrument
for an existing church is to place the instrument in the most favorable position in the building. Fortunately, in recent years organ committees have gained an ~nderstanding of the importance of good placement and acoustics, and the determination of the members of First Baptist Church to have a significant instrument and to "do things right" allowed the process to move forward in a positive way. The church's previous pipe organ was housed entirely in chambers on both sides of the chancel. There were no tone openings into the nave. Further investigation revealed that what appeared as tone openings on the level closest to the choir were, in reality, grilles over solid walls. What nor-

witnessed the congregation's joy in the completion of the instrument. For many years, First Baptist Church has been not only the location for performances by the Western Piedmont Symphony, a fine regional orchestra presently celebrating its 40th season, but also a performance venue for the Hickory ,Choral Society. That two of the dedication events should involve these organizations using the instrument in concerts open to the public is a demonstration of the generosity of the congregation and its belief that music, and this instrument in particular, is an important part of the outreach of First Baptist Church.
MARCH 2005

mally would have been prime organ space was fitted with cubicles used for changing clothes for baptism. Therefore, the existing organ was positioned high in the building and rather estranged from the choir. The church was built at a time when architects occasionally incorporated what is called a tone chute, which in this church consists of a curved plastered ceiling beginning at the back wall of the organ chambers, continuing into the attic and terminating in large grilles in the chancel ceiling. Normally, these tone chutes look better on paper than work in reality. However, in this instance the "chutes" were not narrow passages but were areas equal to the size of the chamber ceilings. We were able to hear the effect with the existing instrument and determined that these

Copyright 2005 by theAmerican Guild of Organists Reprintedbypermissionof TheAmericanOrganistMagazine

41

particular examples were indeed effective; therefore, we decided to retain them. In order to place this grand instrument in the building, we worked with architect Robert Clark to relocate the changing cubicles to another location in order to afford the best placement for the organ. We recommended opening the chamber walls facing the nave to their maximum. Mr. Clark designed Palladian-style tone openings that provide unimpeded tonal egressfor the Recit and Choeur. Both these divisions have separate controls for the expression shades facing the congregation, so that they can be closed when accompanying the choir in order to allow the choristers to have full benefit of the expressive effect while allowing the organist to hear the proper balance between the instrument and the singers. Dennis Fleisher served as the acoustician for the project. His recommendations included an important reshaping of the chancel sidewalls, which influenced the design of the organ casework. As is typical of most buildings, the sidewalls of the chancel are parallel to each other and project 9a degrees from the rear wall. Dr. Fleisher's recommendation was to have these walls set at an angle in order to project the sound of the choir forward. He stipulated the preferred angle, and our designer, Benoit Gendron, designed the casesusing pipes of the Grand-Orgue Violonbasse 16' to meet this criteria. The resulting visual effect is one that draws the eye toward the baptistery in the center of the rear chancel wall. Placing the cases at an angle keeps them from appearing heavy and dominating the chancel while providing a clear view of the faces of the casework from almost any position in the church. The music staff and consultant wanted a console that would place the stops in terraces at the sides of the manuals in the style of French symphonic instruments. The Casavant brothers had built terraced consoles for their early instruments, which are models of efficiency and convenience for the player. Therefore, we proposed building the new console using the construction principles of the terraced consoles that were built by Casavant up until the early 1920s. The main characteristics of this style console include terr!ices short in height and width plus the use of drawknobs with oblique faces that position the stop names at an angle that can be easily read by the organist regardless of where the stop is located. We had refurbished several older large consoles, so we studied the information taken from these instruments and built a number of models in order to evaluate the visual appearance and service-related issues. The result is a playerfriendly console that, considering the fact that it contains 135 drawknobs, is more compact and shorter by approximately four inches than a corresponding English-style drawknob console. We also took great care in discreetly integrating the controls, such as the combination system, while making sure that they are easily accessible. This project was especially stimulated by the fact that, at the same time we were celebrating our 125th anniversary, we were building an organ that can be compared both in size and tonal approach to three historically significant organs the Casavant brothers installed in Montreal; Basilique Notre-Dame (1891), Eglise Tres-Saint-Nomde-Jesus(1914), and Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste (1915). The tonal concept of the organ is based on fully developed Grand-Orgue, Recit, and Choeur divisions, plus the c°..l°rful Solo and a Pedale designed to provide a broad range of bass tones completed by appropri-

ate upperwork. In order to provide the broadest dynamic range possible, from a whisper to a full sound of heroic proportions, four of the five manual divisions are under expression. The formidable and virtually seamless crescendo that can be made from the most ethereal sound to tutti is simply breathtaking. The Antiphonal division is made entirely of pipe work from the previous instrument. The size of the division and the improvements made to the existing organ chamber and tone opening give these stops a significantly more favorable position than they had previously, therefore allowing their reincarnation as the Antiphonal Organ to be effective for congregational accompaniment and as a foil to the main organ. Acoustically, First Baptist Church can be compared to a musically friendly concert hall, with inherent qualities that enhance tonal clarity and good sound egress into the room, enabling the organ to blend well without ever being overwhelming. The cubic volume of this large sanctuary called for significant presence in the bass and mid-range registers, the stops of which represent about two-thirds of the tonal resources of the organ. The organ is installed in two chambers on either side of the chancel. The Grand-Orgue and Recit divisions are installed on two levels in the left chamber. The Pedale division is installed on the right just behind the casework, with the Choeur immediately behind on the lowest level and the Solo above. The layout of the stops of all divisions was planned to confer tonal unity to the instrument by placing the plena on the lower level, with the flutes and reeds together on the upper level. The divisional plena are designed to play a specific role in the tonal architecture of the instrument. The Grand-Orgue plenum, which is truly majestic in character, is based on a medium-scale 16' principal (Violonbasse 16') and crowned by a shimmering Cymbale m. The Recit plenum is based on a Diapason 8' and includes two mixtures pitched at 2' pitch. The Plein Jeu V is designed to work with the full resources of flues and reeds to crown the division, making it especially useful in full Swell effects, while the Fourniture m contains fewer ranks and is voiced to work with smaller ensembles of stops. Our experience in building organs with large Swell divisions has shown that having one large mixture in the division functions well in the full ensemble but does not work as well with smaller combinations of stops, for example, for use in choral accompaniment. Therefore, we have adopted this dual mixture combination, finding it more effective than providing either one large mixture or an alternative of employing one low and one high-pitched mixture. The Choeur division has a transparent, lighter plenum based on the principal scale, Salicional8', and is crowned with a Cymbale IV to echo either the Great or Swell plena. The Pedale features a solid but nevertheless clear 16' plenum. There is remarkable variety in flute colors in this instrument, including an amazing number of harmonic flutes and three quite different cornets. The Grand-Orgue Cornet V is mounted in an elevated position to speak clearly and boldly from its commanding position. By adding the Grande Tierce 3~' and Violonbasse 16', one achieves the 16' Cornet or "Grand Cornet," which contrasts with the Choeur cornet decompose made of smaller scale flutes of a more delicate tone. Interestingly, other flute mutations, i.e., Larigot lX', Septi~me lU', and Piccolo 1', are available to provide additional colorful effects in this di-

vision. The Recit Cornet is quite unique, being made of harmonic flutes to provide a full, rich sound in this large enclosed division. Actually, harmonic cornets have become a kind of "signature" in large Casavant organs of the last decade. The Recit Cornet is voiced on moderate wind pressure and contrasts with the harmonic flute chorus in the Solo, which is crowned by the Clochettes II and voiced on higher wind pressure to provide an impressively dramatic sound. Strings are found in all enclosed manual divisions of the organ. The Recit is based on a medium-scale Gambe 16'. The mediumscale Viole de Gambe 8' and Voix celeste 8' are reminiscent of French symphonic undulating string stops. A Violon 4' has been included in addition to the usual 4' principal and flute stops to provide this division with a delicate but clear 4' stop that is useful for accompanying children's voices, for example. For contrast, the Flute douce 8' and Flute celeste 8', which are made of tapered flutes in the Skinner style, provide a very ethereal sound. The Choeur division features a delicate Dulciane 8' and Unda Maris 8', while the Solo Diapason 8' and Diapason celeste 8' are broad in scale, slotted, and voiced on higher wind pressure in the symphonic/orchestral tradition to give a bold, warm sound. The instrument contains no less than 20 independent reed stops. Of particular note are the seven full-length 16' stops, all of which are quite different in tone and prove to be extremely useful in all kinds of registrations. Reed choruses can be found in all divisions. The Grand-argue reed chorus, which is bright but bold in tone, is designed in the symphonic tradition to crown the full organ. By contrast, the Recit reed chorus has a darker character. The reed resources of this division playa significant role in building the typical symphonic full Swell sound, from the "caged rage" effect when the expression shades are closed to complementing the Grand-argue when the shades are fully opened. The Choeur reed chorus is more classic in design to echo either the Grand-argue or Recit chorus. The Solo Tuba is voiced on high wind pressure, making it useful as a commanding solo voice in the main organ, while its robust, smooth sound contrasts with the brilliant Trompette-enchamade located at the other end of the sanctuary. The Pedale reed chorus, which is based on a large-scale Contre Bombarde 32', confers an impressive undergirding to the entire organ. The instrument also features a wide variety of delicate and contrasting solo reed colors: two oboes, a French Hautbois 8' and an orchestral Hautbois d'Orchestre, a playful Cromorne and Chalumeau, a woody Clarinette, a melancholic English Horn, a plaintive French Horn, and a gentle Voix humaine. The formal dedication of this instrument began with a concert by Todd Wilson and the Western Piedmont Symphony conducted by John Gordon Ross performing the Third Symphony of Saint-Saens and the Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani of Poulenc. The following afternoon, Todd Wilson played a stunning solo recital that beautifully demonstrated the many colors and possibilities of the instrument in works by Bach, Stanley, C.S. Lang, Lemare, Durufle, Dupre, and Reubke. Before playing the Variations on America by Charles Ives, he led the audience in an incredibly uplifting, roof-raising singing of "My country, 'tis of thee" that gave them a chance to participate in the performance while demonstrating the effectiveness of the instrument in stimulating and leading congregational song. On November 14, during the weekend that
THE AMERICAN ORGANIST

42

we celebrated our 125th anniversary with global performances of Dan Locklair's In Mystery and Wonder: the Casavant Diptych, which we commissioned for the occasion, Joby Bell, faculty member at Appalachian State University, played a solo recital of works that included a performance of the commissioned work. Prior to Dr. Bell's performance, Stanley Scheer, vice president of Casavant Freres, and Dan Locklair spoke about the commissioning and composition of this work for solo organ. It is interesting that this instrument, with its fascinating similarity to the work of our founders, is located only a few miles from the first Casavant installation in North Carolina, an instrument that Claver and Samuel Casavant built nearly 80 years ago. That this new instrument should be built during the celebration of our 125th anniversary gives us special pride in seeing it located in a place where members of the church and community will hear its voice as they witness the wonderful power of music in our lives.
CASAVANT FRERES

Jean-Louis Coignet Simon Couture Jacquelin Rochette Stanley Scheer From the Pastor: A Responsive Chord Our new Casavant organ has struck a responsive chord with our congregation and community. In September 2004, the congregation heard the organ play for the first time. For over two years we had been without the supporting foundation of an organ for our congregational singing. On that first Sunday, the "lift" provided by the organ was immediate. Our congregation seemed to sing our praises to God with deeper feeling and joy. On Saturday evening, October 15, our new Casavant was introduced to our community. The Western Piedmont Symphony featured concert organist Todd Wilson in two symphonic pieces that highlighted this superb instrument. Again, the response was immediate and positive. The next morning, during worship, we had the official dedication of the new organ. Our church family and the many guests gave thanks to God for this instrument and the opportunities it will give to worship God through our praise and through our living. This organ enhances the use of our church's sanctuary as a prime performance place for our community. On Sunday afternoon, October 24, the Hickory Choral Society utilized the organ for several of its choral pieces. The purchase of such a large quality instrument has been a daunting challenge for our church. It has been accomplished not by one huge lead gift but by many smaller gifts that represent the love this church has for the music of the Christian faith. The organ has been named for David O. and Dorothy Byler, a couple dear to this church. The Rev. Byler, now deceased, was our minister of music for more than 25 years. During those years, Dave Byler embodied the term "faithful and loving minister" for our church family. For our church, the support of this new organ became identified with Dave and Dottie Byler's passion for God, for self-giving in the name of Christ, and for music that connects heart and mind to the Lord. On Sunday, December 12, our interim organist, Florence Jowers, presented a 30minute recital of Christmas music as the first part of our annual Christmas concert. The heartfelt applause at the conclusion of her last piece expressed our church and community's gratitude to God for the blessing and opportunity this organ is giving us. WILLIAMW.1EATHERS Pastor m,
MARCH 2005

From the Consultant My involvement in the excellent results of this Casavant organ was in two areas: 1. the guidance and education of the organ committee toward the choice of a builder; and 2. a weekly check with the capable voicers who performed the finishing work that produced the elegant tonal beauty of the instrument. The effective organ committee worked for many years and was invaluable to the success of the project. The committee listened, read, and became educated about the purchase and installation of a pipe organ and was capable of interpreting the need and the process to the congregation. The desire for a large instrument with a wide variety in the tonal palette meant that the limitations of space and money had to be confronted. It became apparent from the beginning that changes to the front of the sanctuary would be necessary in order to maximize tonal egress, not only for the space for the organ but also for ensemble reasons with the choir. With the cooperation of the architect, acoustic consultant, church staff, and the entire congregation, the space was provided. Church members came forth with funds, and the limitations were removed. Minister of music Jim Bailiff, organist Doug Brady, and I drew up a preliminary stoplist, which was refined in consultation with the Casavant staff. Mr. Bailiff and I went to St-Hyacinthe to examine the completed instrument. In consultation with Jean-Louis Coignet and Jacquelin Rochette, Casavant's tonal directors, several alterations in the tonal balances were effected. Soon after, the organ was shipped to Hickory, and the installation went smoothly. Mr. Rochette and the voicers arrived, and we all agreed on the tonal balances that would best suit the acoustical environment. The voicers worked carefully on each pipe, and, some twelve weeks later the instrument was completed. The glorious sounds of this instrument met all of my desires and expectations for the multiple uses that this organ will provide for the church, the city of Hickory, and the entire region of North Carolina. It was my joy to work with the church and Casavant Freres to bring to fruition such an outstanding instrument. H. MAX SMITH, Consultant Professor Emeritus Appalachian State University From the Director of Music: The People's Instrument When I joined the staff of First Baptist Church in 1996, the church was well aware of its need for a new organ. For several years a fine committee had been studying options guided by the organist, Doug Brady. Three things took the new organ from a dream to reality: 1. The old Estey finally died. Forty years earlier it was brought from a smaller building but never had the strength or variety to adequately serve the new space or the expanding music program. 2. The church embraced the opportunity to honor retired minister of music David o. Byler. 3. The determination of the beautiful people of First Baptist. A project of this size in the millions of dollars usually has one or two donors or challenge gifts. Although one family gave two gifts of $25,000 each, all the rest has been week-by-week gifts in dollars and cents. One precious lady made and sold thousands of tote bags and gave the proceeds to the organ fund. This really is the people's instrument!

I had learned about the unique application of a French-Romantic organ to an evangelical church from the late William Self. A largescale principal chorus in each division, colorful reeds that blend but do not overtake the whole, mixtures that add height but break often enough not to part hair, and a truly Grand-Orgue are a few of the benchmarks that make this kind of pipe organ a handmaid to worship as well as a concert instrument. My thanks to our organ consultant, H. Max Smith, who guided the placement and the final specification of this magnificent instrument. He came to oversee the space preparation, installation, and tonal finishing. We both were pleased with Casavant's willingness to alter scaling, voicing, and build the console we wanted. The congregation of Hickory First Baptist has waited a long time for its new Casavant. It accompanies the choir and soloists, leads congregational singing in divine worship, plays the solo repertoire, and stands up to the Western Piedmont Symphony, all with equal ease. The whole town is rejoicing in this new gift to the community. Soli Deo Gloria, indeed!
JIM BAILIFF

From the Organ Committee Chair: The Byler Organ The evolution of our organ program from inception to dedication for me is a very interesting progression. Having been a member of First Baptist Church for 40 years, I had served numerous stints on the committee of deacons. Early in 1995, I was assigned as chairman of the Deacon Music Advisory Committee (DMAC). I was pleased with this assignment, because, after all, what does a DMAC do? So the four of us on the committee were very comfortable with this seemingly innocuous position. Little did we know! We had been experiencing problems for quite some time with the old Estey organ and had made numerous attempts to make it functional. After discussions with the music committee, the minister of music, and the organist, we made our report to the deacons and were charged with the responsibility of researching our problems in order to come back with a recommendation. We immediately decided to seek professional help. We invited several professional organbuilders and organists to make an inspection, and each of them came back with the same report: our instrument was irreparable. We considered many options, but they all led to the same conclusion, which was to replace the organ. We visited churches in five different states to get a feel for the type and size organ that would be appropriate for our sanctuary. Once the visits had been made, and information had been gathered, we commenced the education of our congregation. We had invaluable resources onsite, namely Jim Bailiff, the director of music, and Doug Brady, the organist. They provided much education and direction to the process. We realized that this project was a bit overwhelming for the DMAC, so it was decided that a church organ committee should be formed. This committee, made up of eight members and two ex-officio members, was elected by our congregation on April 26, 1996. Some eight years later, on October 17, 2004, the dedication service for our new Casavant organ was held. We had a very knowledgeable minister of music and organist, but we did not have a consultant. As good fortune would have it, Jim Bailiff knew Max Smith, who was professor of organ at Appalachian State University for over 20 years. His services were 43

invaluable in so many ways, Initially, he conducted town hall-type meetings to explain pipe organs to the congregation and help them understand that we had a dysfunctional instrument that needed to be replaced; and more importantly, he established an excellent rapport with our people. Our next step was to contact organbuilders we felt capable of producing the instrument we needed. We were looking for outstanding quality and good value, We also had the responsibility of directing considerable funding, and we felt compelled to practice good stewardship. After receiving the proposals, we unanimously agreed that the one from Casavant Freres best met our criteria. We have never looked back or second-guessed this decision, At the risk of sounding immodest, I feel that we over-achieved in each area. With the support of Max, Jim, and Casavant Freres, the consummation of this project has been, and is, a great experience! Our congregation has been so supportive and appreciative that we can't say enough good things about them, and how much they are appreciated py their committee. There are few projects at completion that one doesn't look back and say, "I wish we could go back and do this or change that,"

Fortunately, none of those feelings exist with us. We could not be happier with our new organ. The console and the new ex osed pipes are beautiful and blend so wel with our room that one would think they had been there forever. Even more impressive is the absolute quality you experience when you go into the organ chambers. The attention paid to detail and craftsmanship far exceeded my greatest expectations. Working with the Casavant Company has been and continues to be a wonderful experience. We are grateful to the many people from Casavant who did such a great job in bringing our dream into reality. Last, we were successful because we had such outstanding resources: Jim Bailiff, Max Smith, Doug Brady, and the Casavant team. Obviously, the work of the DMAC evolved into a substantial project, requiring many years and many hours. Was it worth it? You bet! Our committee is very proud to have been a part of the design and development of a great instrument that will glorify God, and lead the people of First Baptist Church of Hickory in worshipful experiences for many years to come. BENNINE,Chair First Baptist Hickory Organ Committee

f

SOLO 8 8 8 4 4 2 1~ 16 8 8 8 8 16 8 4

(61 notes) Diapason (slotted) Diapason celeste (slotted, TC) Flute double Octave (slotted) Flute harmonique Piccolo harmonique Clochettes II [harmonic flutes) Clarinette basse (ext.) Hautbois d'orchestre Clarinette Cor anglais Tremblant Cor fran~ais Solo Unison Off Tuba Magna (TC, ext.) Tuba Mirabilis Tuba Clairon (ext.) Chimes (existing)

ANTIPHONAL (61 notes) 16 Bourdon (ext.) 8 Diapason 8 Bourdon 8 Viole de gambe 8 Voix celeste (TC) 4 Principal 4 Flute douce 2 Octave 1~ Fourniture IV 16 Trombone (ext.) 8 Trompette Tremblant Zimbelstern (10 bells) ANTIPHONAL PEDALE 16 Bourdon (Ant.) 8 Bourdon (Ant.) 16 Trombone (Ant.) CHAMADE (floating) 16 Bombarde en chamade (TC, ext.) 8 Trompette en chamade 4 Clairon en chamade (ext.)

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
HICKORY, NORm CAROLINA

CASAVANTFRERES
ST-HYACINTHE, QUEBEC
GRAND-aRGUE (61 notes) 16 Violonbasse 8 Montre 8 Violon (exto) 8 Flute a cheminee 8 Flute harmonique 4 Prestant 4 Flute ouverte 3" Grande Tierce 2 Doublette 8 Comet V 2% Grande Foumiture II-ill 2 Foumiture V ~ Cymbale ill 16 Bombarde 8 Trompette 4 Clairon Tremblant Grand-Drgue Unison Off Chimes (Solo) RECIT (61 notes) 16 Gambe (exto) 8 Diapason 8 Cor de nuit 8 Viole de gambe (slotted) 8 Voix celeste (slotted, GG) 8 Flute douce 8 Flute celeste (TC) 4 Octave 4 Violon 4 Flute octaviante 2% Nazard harmonique 2 Octavin 1% Tierce harmonique 2 Foumiture ill (chorus mixture) 2 Plein Jeu V (full mixture) 16 Trompette (exto) 16 Basson 8 Trompette 8 Hautbois 8 Voix humaine 4 Clairon Tremblant Recit 16' Recit Unison Off Recit 4' CHOEUR (61 notes] 16 Bourdon doux (stopped wood, ext.] 8 Salicional (principal scale] 8 Bourdon (stopped wood] 8 Dulciane 8 Unda Maris (TC] 4 Octave 4 Flftte douce 2~ Nazard 2 Principal 2 Flftte 1% Tierce lIS Larigot 1* Septieme 1 Piccolo ~ Cymbale IV 16 Dou~aine (ext.] 8 Trompette 8 Cromome 4 Chalumeau Tremblant Choeur 16' Choeur Unison Off Choeur 4' Clochettes (existing] Harp (Celesta Sub] Celesta (existing, by Deagan]

PEDALE (32 notes) 32 Contre Violon (digital) 32 Contre Bourdon (digital) 16 Contrebasse (open wood) 16 Violonbasse (G.-O.) 16 Soubasse 16 Gambe (Recit) 16 Bourdon doux (Choeur) 8 Octavebasse 8 Violon (G.-O.) 8 Bourdon (ext.) 8 Bourdon doux (Choeur) 4 Octave 4 Flute 10% Theorbe 1II (derived) 2% Fourniture IV 32 Contre Bombarde (ext.) 16 Bombarde 16 Petite Bombarde (G.-O.) 16 Trompette (Recit) 16 Basson [Recit) 16 Dou~aine (Choeur) 16 Clarinette basse (Solo) 8 Trompette 8 Clarinette (Solo) 8 Tuba Mirabilis (Solo) 4 Clairon (ext.) 4 Clarinette (Solo) Chimes (Solo) DESIGN DETAILS Electropneumatic action Movable French/Casavant-style terraced console Manual naturals of bone; sharps of ebony Pedal naturals of maple; sharps of ebony Solid-state combination system, 128 levels of memory List system and four-level programmable crescendo Wind pressures: Grand-Orgue: 90 mm Recit: 100 mm Choeur: 85 mm Solo: 150 mm; Cor fran~ais: 200 mm; Tuba Mirabilis: 350 mm Antiphonal: 70 mm Chamade: 120 mm Pedale: 80, 115, 125, and 160 mm Photographs by Stanley R. Scheer

44

THE AMERICAN ORGANIST