Groton Hill Music Center’s astonishing facility [see my accounts HERE and HERE] includes a fascinating Meta Organworks “organ of organs, “a collection of 15 significant historical instruments sampled to a fare-the-well by Hauptwerk. Last Thursday titulaire organist Randy Steere led us through the power and charms of the virtual St. Etienne Cavaille-Coll, French romantic organ (and four other) teleported to Groton through digital magic and the brute force of 48 massive loudspeakers transmitting nearly 50,000 watts of undistorted power last Thursday. We lard this interview with video snippets from that encounter. In the fullness of time Steere promises to reveal the charms of the other 14 examples the four-manual console comprises in its memory banks. A review of the instrument’s debut with the Vista Philharmonic Orchestra is HERE. An executive slide show is HERE
FLE: So I am standing before an organ of organs.
The builder took the name Meta Organworks partly because it can encompass an almost limitless number of complete sampled instruments. So among our 15 instruments we have all of the major organ styles: Italian Renaissance; German, French and Spanish Baroque; French, English, American Romantic/Cathedral/Symphonic. We have a theater organ here. We have American eclectic, Rosales, Casavant, Æolian-Skinner, and an E.M. Skinner. So a wide variety to play all kinds of music.
RS: And what you said that interests me is that you can only use stops that belong to a particular organ at any one time.
The whole point of this, which is what makes it a virtual pipe organ, is when you load the organ you are loading just that entire instrument. I can’t take a stop from the French organ and mix it with the German organ. Because the whole design is for you to play it authentically as the organ builder intended. It is possible to have a consultant (only those that Hauptwerk has licensed) “extend” an organ. Much like we do all the time with electronic extensions to pipe organs, a consultant could take a 16’ stop and create a 32’ stop from it. They could take a trumpet, copy it and voice it into an en Chamade or Tuba. They might take the clarinet from the swell and “borrow” it to the choir. But this is still using the original sounds with the original ambiance. Some sample sets allow that, others are encrypted and locked down so that is not possible. With electronic organs it’s not that way. I could pick the French version of this flute with the German version of this reed or even pick from a generic laundry list of stops. It’s not a specific instrument, so there’s no integrity.