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Att10 - Organ Committee


									                                    COMMITTEE REPORT

To:             All Saints Vestry

From:           Ad Hoc Organ Committee

Date:           October 14, 2010

Re:             Committee Recommendations


        The Ad Hoc Organ Committee is aware that the present financial condition of the parish is not
what it should be. The Committee’s recommendations, which call for substantial capital expenditures,
assume that the parish is restored to good financial health. We do not recommend making these
investments until the present financial situation is rectified.

        A short summary of the Committee’s work, and a statement of its recommendations, is set forth
immediately below. This is followed by a Detailed Report. Copies of the material proposals and reports
of consultation are available in the All Saints office.


        1.       The Committee considered first the history and present condition of our present Rodgers
analog organ, and reviewed the letters received from the organ technicians whom we have consulted. We
also investigated the possibilities of selling the Rodgers, with its eight ranks of pipes, to another church.

       The Committee recommends that the present Rodgers analog organ, and its ranks of pipes,
be removed and replaced as soon as a suitable replacement digital organ can be found and

        2.      Over a period of several months, the Committee investigated four digital organs of
different makes, two used, and two to be manufactured to our specifications. The Committee received a
quotation and draft purchase agreement for a Makin organ, for a purchase price of about $71,200. Of the
organs the committee looked at and heard, the Committee determined that the proposal for the Makin
organ, described in the Detailed Report, was in our view the best choice for All Saints.

       The Committee recommends that, when finances permit, All Saints contract for and
purchase a Makin Westmoreland Series Model 41 organ as specified in the Makin proposal.

        3.       The Committee discussed and investigated the problem of the choir balcony, which
extends well into the nave of the church, covering the back eight or nine rows of pews (out of a total of
twenty pews). The Committee solicited and received a proposal from Nix Construction and Consulting
Co. for removing the first two sections of the choir balcony overhang and remodeling the remaining
balcony, for not more than $74,700. For the reasons described in the Detailed Report, the Committee
determined that this is a problem important to clergy and congregants at every worship service which
must be rectified when financial conditions permit.

       The Committee recommends that the balcony project described below, removing the first
two sections of balcony over the nave and rebuilding the remainder of the choir loft for the new
configuration, be done when finances permit.
        4.      The Committee also determined that it would save a great deal of work and money, and
reduce the risk of damage in moving an organ by half, if the correction of the choir balcony overhang
were done just after the old organ is removed, and before the new organ is installed in its place.

      The Committee recommends that the balcony project be done just after the old organ is
removed, and before the new organ is installed.

         5.       The Committee requested and the Rector approved engaging a church acoustician to
examine the present All Saints church building for its acoustic properties. The Committee received a
written letter of recommendations from Terry Bird Eason Design.

        The Committee recommends that we do not consider any of the proposals of the acoustician
except the removal of the front 16 feet of the choir balcony until after the balcony has been rebuilt
and a new organ installed. It is doubtful that the Committee would recommend any of his other
proposals even at a later date.

                                               * * * * *

                                             Detailed Report

1.      The Present Situation.

        We start with two preliminary explanations:

         First, the present All Saints organ, a Rodgers analog organ, and our set of seven ranks of pipes
with it, were purchased in 1988 by John Lawless, who subsequently donated them to the church. A rank
of krumhorn pipes was added later by Nina Rodman as a gift. The pipes are now rarely used, because of
a number of limitations, principally their excessively loud voicing. For technical reasons, the present set
of pipes should not be used at all in connection with a new digital organ.
         Second, the technology. Our Rodgers is an analog electric organ, which uses technology
developed fifty to seventy-five years ago. An analog organ creates a sine wave for the key that is played,
and that sine wave is modified by the setting of the “stop” through which it is played and then sent to the
speaker or speakers. An analog electric organ has a recognizable “electric” sound which does not sound
much like the sound of a pipe organ. About fifteen or twenty years ago, organ manufacturers replaced the
analog electric organ with what is called a “digital” organ. In a digital organ, there is a digital recording
of an actual pipe from a pipe organ for each note in each stop. When a stop is pulled and a note is struck,
the organ plays the recording of an actual pipe playing that note. In very good digital organs, it is hard to
distinguish the digital sound from the sound of a pipe organ.

         The Committee’s organ project began with a set of questions sent from the Vestry to Steven
Branyon in mid-April, 2010. The Vestry asked whether All Saints would be likely to incur continually
increasing maintenance costs for our Rodgers organ in the future, and whether it would gradually become
more difficult and expensive to find parts for the organ, and technicians who can work on it. Steven
solicited advice from several former Rodgers technicians, now independent, who have serviced our organ.
The general gist of their replies was that our organ is of an obsolete technology and is wearing out.
Increasing annual maintenance costs must be expected, a reliable supply of needed parts is questionable,
and service will continue to be more difficult to obtain, and more expensive.

         In late April, the Rector appointed an Ad Hoc Organ Committee to work on this project. Marilyn
Johnson retired from the Committee when she resigned from the Vestry. Paul Kopelcheck has been very
ill and has not been able to participate in some of the meetings and trips of the committee. The remaining
committee members are Rick Lindsey, Mark Brinkmann, Steven Branyon, Kitty Ferguson, and Pat Amer.
         The Committee met on May 6 to review and consider our Rodgers organ and the letters received
from the organ technicians, and to begin our discussion of the alternatives. After discussion of the history
and the technology of our Rodgers organ, and the likelihood of steadily increasing repair and service costs
for the foreseeable future, the Committee unanimously concluded that continuing to rely on the present
organ was unwise, and that the Committee should look for a good digital organ to replace it.

         The Committee has explored the question of disposing of the present organ and pipes. Steven
advertised the present organ on various internet sites and to various other contacts of his, with no interest
generated. He discussed the organ with Kenneth Yates, our former organist, who now is organist and
choir director at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Savannah. The pastor of that parish and Ken Yates were
very interested in purchasing the Rodgers organ console, wiring, amplifiers and speakers, which were
offered to them for $3,000, as is, where is, if they also bear the full costs of removal. In addition, the
pipes presently connected to our Rodgers organ were offered to them for $44,000, their initial purchase
price. Their pastor was initially very interested in this package. However, he later told us that he was
having trouble raising the funds to do the purchase, and the Committee has not been able to prod the
pastor to commit to any purchase of anything. The disposition of the present organ, and the matter of any
funds to be realized from such disposition, is at present unresolved.

        2.      The Organ Search.

         The Grace Allen. In late April, Michael Wright, rector of Grace Church, Charleston, called Rick
Lindsey to tell him that he had an available organ. Grace Church has over the last three years undertaken
the complete rebuilding of their pipe organ, had purchased three years ago a then used digital Allen organ
(made about 1996) for services during the three-year period, and now needs to find another home for the
Allen. The Committee (except for Kitty and Paul, who were unavailable) went to Charleston on May 25
to listen to the Allen organ. Steven made a very detailed technical examination of this organ. He
determined that the digital sound quality was very good, as was the keyboard action. The organ was
limited, however. It had effectively only thirty-nine working stops, compared to about sixty on our
Rodgers, and it would require substantial upgrading to remedy this deficiency in part. The Committee
liked the sound of the Allen organ, and considered it much better than our Rodgers, but determined that it
would be an adequate service organ but never a recital or performance organ. The cost of this organ was
never really discussed, but we understood that it would probably be available for about $25,000. The
substantial upgrading and the cost of moving and installing this organ would probably bring the cost to
between $40,000 and $45,000. The Committee decided to look further and see if other options were

        The Baptist Rodgers. The Committee found that there was a five-year-old Rodgers digital organ
in storage in Atlanta, used briefly by a Baptist church which had subsequently converted to “praise
music” and had abandoned their Rodgers. Steven went to Atlanta to make a technical examination of this
organ. He reported that its technical resources were much greater than those of the Allen, and that it
would need little or no upgrading, but that neither the action nor the sound were as good as the Allen.
This organ was for sale at approximately $35,000, but we would also incur the moving, installing, and
voicing costs. With upgrading needed for the Allen, the costs of either organ would be in the range of
$40,000 to $45,000.

        The Angerstein. The Committee had several discussions with Daniel Angerstein, an organ
technician and consultant who works from Asheville, NC and who there manufactures digital organs
using Walker Organ materials and technology. (Walker organs themselves are way out of our price
range.) Steven’s technical advice to the Committee is that, in his judgment, Walker digital organs are a
grade above Makin, and two grades better than Allen and Rodgers.
        Many churches with very fine pipe organs (and large music budgets) have supplemented their
pipe organs with digital organ consoles and technology, to obtain greater variations of the available
sounds, and to support the pipe organ where the pipe organ has limitations or weaknesses. Pipe organ
builders in the United States doing so almost always use Walker digital technology and consoles to
accomplish this. Two churches which have recently done this are in Savannah: St. John’s Episcopal
Church and the Independent Presbyterian Church (the “IPC”). Dan Angerstein was in Savannah the week
of June 9, voicing the organ at the IPC.
        The Committee decided to hear the organs at St. John’s and the IPC. Kitty and Pat (both with
spouses) went to Savannah on June 9, and Rick and Mark went to Savannah on June 10, both groups
accompanied by Steven.

         At St. John’s on June 9, Steven challenged the attendant Committee members (and their spouses)
to listen to various stops and try to determine whether they were pipe, digital, or mixed sounds. We took
the test and established that none of us could determine by hearing the organ whether the sound was pipe
or digital. Steven admitted that he had previously given himself the same test, and that he could not tell
the difference between pipe and Walker digital himself. This is not true of our Rodgers, of course, nor of
the Grace Allen we heard in Charleston, where their organist, after playing the Allen, fired up the Grace
Church pipe organ and blew the Allen away. The observations made on June 10 by Rick and Mark were
essentially similar.

         The June 9 Committee members adjourned to the IPC, where we met Daniel Angerstein, who was
there voicing the combination pipe/digital organ. Once again we discovered that we could not tell the
difference between a real pipe and the Walker digital imitation. We had a discussion with Angerstein,
and then we watched him demonstrate the art of “voicing.” With each note on the scale for each of
seventy or eighty stops, the sound of the note can be adjusted in at least ten different parameters, and the
objective of the voicer is to adjust each note so that the desired sound is present, uniform within all the
notes in the stop, and balanced for the room into which the organ is played. This is true of all the organs
discussed in this report. We were amazed at the difficulty and precision of the voicing task, and we are
satisfied that finding a very good voicer is a major factor in making an organ sound good in all its ranges.

        Angerstein advised Steven that in his view the All Saints set of pipes cannot be used on a digital
organ without massive modification of the organ and its voicing, and that such modifications would
severely limit or prevent the digital organ itself from being voiced for the best sound. He concurred with
the Committee’s conclusion that All Saints should dispose of its present set of pipes along with the
Rodgers organ.

        Angerstein proposed to the Committee that he build and install a fully digital organ for All Saints,
custom built, with our sanctuary in mind, and with Walker digital technology, for about $120,000.
Unfortunately, at lunch with Steven, Rick, and Mark on June 10, Angerstein announced to all that he
needed to add an additional $20,000 to the price he had just quoted, because, he said, the price of the
Walker technology had gone up. Steven, Rick and Mark were shocked and came to the conclusions that
they could not thereafter be confident that a price quote from Angerstein would ever be firm, and that the
additional $20,000 took the Angerstein proposal out of a range that All Saints could consider.

         The Makin. The Committee contacted the dealer for Makin digital organs in North Carolina,
who covers the southeastern states from that location. Makin is a highly-regarded English organ
company. There are relatively few Makin organs in the United States. The Makin dealer visited All
Saints on June 8. Steven has overseen the installation of two Makin digital organs in South Carolina, one
in Columbia, and the other in his mother’s church. From this experience he regards the Makin as
significantly superior to Allen or Rodgers organs. He is somewhat concerned by the fact that the Makin
company has recently been acquired by Johannus Church Organs, a Dutch organ manufacturer of very
high quality, and the degree of future timely support from the manufacturer might be difficult to predict.
         The Makin dealer prepared a price and a draft purchase agreement, which he submitted in late
June, and resubmitted with a few changes and clarifications on September 28. After we received the first
of these proposals, Steven went back to the dealer to correct and clarify the list of included stops, and that
has been done, to Steven’s satisfaction. The quoted price, including shipping, delivery and installation
(excluding the cost of lifting the new organ into the choir loft, and mounting the front wall speakers) is
$71,200. (The September 28 quotation shows the total cost as $70,776, with a number of optional items
which, if chosen, would add to the purchase price. The only option we would choose is the Zimbelstern
Control, which allows the organ to operate a set of bells, the Zimbelstern, which we already have installed
and own. This brings the present total price to about $71,200. Price is subject to change caused by
fluctuation in currency exchange rates.) This includes the three-manual console, 26 speakers and
amplifiers, 78 speaker drivers, 46 digital to analog converter channels, 58 speaking stops, a ten-year parts
and labor warranty, all wiring, and complete note by note tonal voicing to Steven’s satisfaction. There is
available in the church office a copy of the September 28 Makin quotation, which includes a description
of the quoted organ and a proposed purchase contract.

        This price is much lower than Steven had expected. It is lower than that of an equivalent Rodgers
organ, and much lower than that of an equivalent Allen organ. Steven speculates that Makin wants to
penetrate the market in the southern states, and needs to have a good Makin organ in a church in our area.
If the Vestry decides to purchase the Makin organ, the terms (not the price) of the purchase contract
submitted by Makin will need to be substantially renegotiated to protect All Saints. (This is normal in
large purchase contracts, and says nothing about Makin. It is the buyer’s responsibility to set forth what
protections it needs.)

        To complete the technical evaluation, Steven went to Columbia and Charlotte to hear, examine,
and play Makin organs there which were comparable to the organ we would need for All Saints and to the
organ quoted by the Makin dealer. Steven was very favorably impressed by the quality of the sound, by
the range of stops, and by the precision of the action of these Makin organs.

        In summary, the Committee has considered these options:

         1.     Choose either the Grace Allen digital organ and modify and upgrade it, or choose the
Baptist Rodgers digital organ, either of which would give All Saints an instrument which would be
adequate for services. We would be the third owner of the Allen, twelve years old and out of warranty, or
the second owner of the Rodgers, probably five years old with maybe five remaining years of warranty.
This would be acceptable for church services, but neither of these organs would be of recital or concert
grade. Either would sound much better than our present organ, but either would still sound like an
electric organ. We could probably get ten or more years of acceptable church organ music out of either of
these, and we could rely on adequate support from the respective company, but a used organ is as
problematical as a used car.

        2.       The Angerstein proposal was considered, and it is likely that an organ produced by him
would be very good, but the price range after the adjustment seems to the Committee to put it out of our
range, even if the revised price should hold, which is not certain.

         3.      Contract for and purchase the Makin organ described in the proposed purchase
agreement, after suitable negotiation of terms. The sound would be significantly superior to that of either
the Allen or the Rodgers, and we would have an organ custom-built for our sanctuary, new and fully
warranted. This would give All Saints an organ which would pretty closely match in sound (allowing for
the differences in the naves) the organs of St. John’s Episcopal and the IPC, an organ which would sound
like a pipe organ to the congregation. All Saints would have and enjoy performance-quality organ music
at every service, and could with confidence invite guest organists to play recitals. All Saints would
probably have the best-sounding organ on the Island, notwithstanding the fact that some other churches
on the Island have spent much more and gotten less. And All Saints already has an organist who will be
able to use all the power and beauty of such an instrument.

         As the Grace Allen or the Baptist Rodgers would probably cost the church $40,000 to $45,000 by
the time we got either of them installed and voiced them for our space, the step up to the Makin organ is
only in the neighborhood of $25,000 above what we would have to spend to replace our Rodgers with an
acceptable used organ. The Makin price is less than that of a new Allen or Rodgers digital organ of
similar capabilities, and it is a superior instrument. For the additional $25,000 we get an organ which is
new, fully warranted, and custom-built for our sanctuary. In the view of the Committee, the Makin organ
at the price quoted by the Makin dealer offers the best “value for money” of all the organs we have looked

       The Committee recommends that, when finances permit, All Saints contract for and
purchase a Makin Westmoreland Series Model 41 organ as specified in the Makin proposal.

                                               * * * * *

3.      The Choir Balcony.

        The Committee discussed at several meetings the problem of the choir balcony, which overhangs
nearly half of the nave (it presently covers eight or nine of the twenty rows of pews in the church). The
problem, with which we are all familiar, is that people sitting under the balcony cannot hear the same
sound as the people sitting in the open nave. They cannot participate in the service as well, because
singing under the overhang gets lost under the low ceiling of the overhang, and because if the organ is
played loud enough so that the people under the balcony can hear it clearly, it is too loud for the rest of
the church. The choir balcony overhang affects not only the music of the worship service, but the
ministry of the spoken word as well. Rick and Mark are particularly sensitive to this. The choir balcony
overhang presents a worship liturgy problem as well as a music problem. And the air circulation under
the overhang is poor, particularly when the church is full.

        As you know, visitors to All Saints mostly sit in the back half of the nave under the choir
balcony, whether out of shyness or caution about watching others as to when to stand, when to kneel, and
so forth. They don’t know that only in the front half of the nave can one hear the music and the spoken
word clearly. They breathe the stuffy air of this somewhat enclosed section. They thus get a less
favorable impression of All Saints than they would otherwise enjoy, because of the relatively poor sound
and circulation under the balcony overhang. All this is the result of a poor design decision made when the
church was enlarged in the 1990s.

         The portion of the balcony which overhangs the nave is divided into three sections, as the
woodwork shows. The Committee determined that if the front two sections, about sixteen feet, of the
balcony were removed, the remaining overhang would be over only the last two rows of pews in the nave.
If the choir loft were then rebuilt for a thus-shortened balcony, there would still be plenty of room for the
choir. What would be lost is presently unused space. The removal of the front two sections of the
balcony would uncover two transverse steel I-beams. If it should be structurally unfeasible to remove
those beams, they could be boxed in wood and painted, and the openness of the back of the nave to the
sound of the service would still be obtained.

        While removal of the balcony overhang would move the choir back sixteen feet, it would also
mean that the congregation under the overhang would not have to listen to the footsteps of choir members
as they move about in the choir loft. The choir would be closer to the back wall of the choir loft, and this
might well enhance the projection of the choir singing to the sanctuary.
        The rector asked Nix Construction and Consulting to submit a bid to remove the front sixteen feet
of the balcony and rebuild the remaining choir loft, and a bid was received for not more than $74,700.
Copies of the bid are available in the church office. No other bids were solicited at this time.

       The Committee recommends that the balcony project, removing the first two sections of
balcony over the nave and rebuilding the remainder of the choir loft for the new configuration, be
done when finances permit.

                                               * * * * *

4.      Integrating the Organ Project and the Balcony Project.

         The Committee considers that the organ project and the balcony project are two separate projects.
Whether All Saints keeps its present organ or installs a new one, shortening the balcony overhang by
sixteen feet will materially enhance the sound of a service, whether spoken, played, or sung, for those
sitting in the back half of the nave. And whether All Saints removes the first two sections of the balcony
or not, the music of church services will be immensely improved by the purchase and installation of a
new organ of the best quality the parish can manage. The connection between the projects arises only
because of the substantial savings which would accrue from doing both projects together.

        If a new organ is installed first, and the balcony remodeling deferred, we would first have to
remove the old organ, rebuild the place in the balcony overhang for the new organ, and install the new
organ. The new organ would then have to be removed for the balcony project, the choir section rebuilt,
and the new organ reinstalled in a new and different place. This would certainly require substantial
rewiring of all the amplifiers and speakers, it might require substantial revoicing of the new organ, and it
would mean lifting the new organ up, lifting it down, and lifting it up again.

         If the balcony remodeling is done first, and the acquisition and installation of a new organ
deferred, we would first have to remove the old organ, remodel the balcony, and then move the old organ
back into the new balcony, rewiring and connecting all the speakers and amplifiers. Then the old organ
would have to be removed again for the installation of a new organ, and the new choir section again
rebuilt for the new organ space, and the balcony again dismantled for wiring all the amplifiers and
speakers, and so forth.

         The costs of disassembling, storing, and then reassembling and rewiring an organ, and the risks of
damage in subjecting either organ (and the nave) to double the number of trips on a big forklift, are very
substantial. It makes great sense and would produce considerable savings if the projects were combined,
so that the old organ would be removed from its present place after the new one is manufactured and
ready for shipping, then the choir balcony would be partially removed and partially remodeled, and
finally the new organ and its speakers would be installed and connected directly in the new choir loft.

      The Committee recommends that the balcony project be done just after the old organ is
removed, and before the new organ is installed.

                                               * * * * *

5.      The Acoustician.

        The Committee obtained an appraisal of the acoustic qualities of our sanctuary. Terry Byrd
Eason, a Chapel Hill, NC church architect and a highly-regarded church acoustician, came to All Saints
for a day in mid-July, and met with the committee the following day. Eason was favorably impressed by
our space, which he styled “a beautiful worship space.” His principal recommendation was to remove the
front sixteen feet or so of the choir balcony, as discussed above. After that project is completed, which he
thought was absolutely necessary, his remaining major recommendation was to increase the wall density
of the sanctuary, which would involve installing and gluing a second layer of drywall over the existing
drywall in the entire, or most of, the sanctuary. He had other recommendations which are even less likely
to be implemented. Eason’s report is available in the church office.

        The Committee recommends that we do not consider any of the proposals of the acoustician
except the removal of the front 16 feet of the choir balcony until after the balcony has been rebuilt
and a new organ installed. It is doubtful that the Committee would recommend any of his other
proposals even at a later date.

        Respectfully submitted,

        The Ad Hoc Organ Committee

        Richard Lindsey                                   Paul Kopelcheck
        Mark Brinkmann                                    Kitty Ferguson
        Steven Branyon                                    Patrick Amer

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