Our output has included many new and essentially new instruments. Each pipe organ is tailored to the specific programmatic needs of the client. We utilize pallet and slider windchests, preferably with mechanical action where appropriate. We are happy to provide electric stop and combination action where the size warrants to enable increased service playing flexibility. Our electro-pneumatic organs primarily utilize Blackinton style slider windchests.
One of our hallmarks has been the provision of distinguished casework for our pipe organs. It is our belief that a strong but not overly dominant visual manifestation of the organ is a vital factor in its appreciation. We're reminded of the Hook's reply in the 19th c. to a customer questioning the expense of casework that "many people hear with their eyes." There have often been times that our selection as builder was to some extent based on the strength of our visual design. The large proportion of our organs located in buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places speaks eloquently to this point.
While acoustical and programmatic considerations might sometimes dictate otherwise, it is usually our aim to provide a practical service playing instrument generally falling into the "American Classic" school of thought. This has been our tonal direction since the mid 1970's, when we were one of the first to provide this emphasis on modern mechanical action pipe organs. Our tonal inspiration includes the 19th C. Work by the Hooks, Willis and Cavaillé-Coll as well as the earlier work of the Silberman's. We are pleased to offer a standard warranty of ten years on our pipe organs with the exception of electrical equipment separately warranted by the provider.
The high cost today of custom, labor-intensive work such as organbuilding often precludes the ability to consider a new pipe organ. An excellent alternative for such situations can be the relocation of an extant pipe organ of high quality. There are always a large number of such instruments available. These organs come available as a result of replacement, building closures, urban removal and the like. Some can be relocated with minimal cost and expense to give many years of adequate service. It is usually our recommendation, however, that such projects include, if at all possible, thorough and complete rebuilding. We have often worked with the Organ Clearing House to provide such instruments.
The Stuart approach to rebuilding typically involves examination of every part of the organ and bringing all parts to a standard to which we can apply our customary new organ warranty. Our warranty covers the organ, not just our own material and workmanship, with the exception of electrical equipment as noted before.
Mechanical Action Mechanical action rebuilds will usually include retabling of windchests, refurbishing and refitting of key action components, replacement of trackers, releathering of the reservoir and refinishing of console and casework. More extensive projects such as relocations might include new casework designed to complement the new location and/or a revised layout requiring restructuring and replacement of the key action, for example. A sliding continuum of services can be provided to meet the needs and budget of the client ranging on the upper end to reworking the instrument into an essentially new entity.
Electric Action While much of what was said regarding mechanical action applies equally to electric action, some special requirements present themselves. If significant rebuilding of the organ takes place it is usually necessary to rewire the organ to bring it into compliance with electrical codes. The cotton-covered wire and friction tape customarily found are not allowed by code due to the high flammability of these materials. It is usually the most expeditious course of action in a rebuild of the pipe organ to replace all of the switching apparatus and combination action in conjunction with the rewiring.
Restoration differs from rebuilding in that it places special emphasis on maintaining the instrument in its original state or returning it to that state. Depending upon the specific situation, differing degrees of diligence in striving for this aim might be appropriate. Organs of relatively recent vintage, for example, may require little study to be assured of an appropriate approach. Very old organs, on the other hand, are likely to require extensive research. For this reason it is often possible to undertake such work only on a time and materials basis. The Stuart Organ Company has been very privileged to have restored a 17th C. English chamber organ, quite possibly having belonged to Henry Purcell, and Henry Pratt organ, opus 1, 1799, the oldest surviving New England built organ. We were also involved in a major way with the restoration of the large 1871 Hook organ in Saint Mary's Church, RC, New Haven, CT.
Many existing organs are good candidates for tonal changes. This will normally be done with a specific goal in mind. Such a goal might be improving the ability of the organ to support congregational singing for example. Many organs of the 1950's and later lack sufficient bass and body to be really adequate for this purpose. There can be many reasons to make changes. We'd be pleased to meet with you to discuss your objectives and the possible remedies. Just drop us a note and we'd be pleased to set up an appointment.
Tuning and Maintenance
We welcome requests for tuning and maintenance. Organs that are in reasonably good condition will be favorably considered. We do not offer tuning and maintenance contracts. It is our belief that most organs should be tuned and maintained as little as possible. Organs that we have examined that are in the best condition have been those that have been maintained the least. Nevertheless, many situations need or desire a more hands-on approach, which we will happily accommodate. We do extend our concept of maintenance to include small projects that will further the functionality of the instrument. This is not always cost effective in the long run, but can often buy time until more appropriate remediation of problems can occur. We will be pleased to discuss questions of conservancy at any time and recommend maintaining a continuing understanding of the long-term needs of your instrument.
We are pleased to consider on a schedule availability basis subcontract services to other organbuilders.
Freelance Voicing and Tonal Finishing
As with other subcontracts, we are pleased to offer our services in this area, subject to availability. These services will be considered on a case by case basis for non-organbuilder clients not otherwise engaging us.
We welcome inquiries as to our availability as consultant both from organbuilders and those considering organ projects. Our consulting for organ projects focuses strongly on structuring the decision-making process, as we believe it is imperative that the client makes the decisions with which they will typically live with for decades to come.