geek out!

attention all instrument aficionados!  i’ve got the skinny on both the organ and the trumpet that will be used during today and tomorrow’s messiah concerts.  warning: much fascinating detail ahead.

“Our organ has tracker action, meaning there is a direct connection between the player’s fingers and the organ pipes.  The cabinet is filled with 3 sets of metal and wood pipes, which sound as the air blows through them.  There is nothing electronic in it. It is a real organ.  As we say in the trade: “Real organs have pipes!”  By the way, this little organ is one of a series of four instruments which we have built. We are finishing organ #4 in the shop right now, and it will be offered for sale soon.  The others have been sold – one is at Reed College, and another in a church in Palo Alto.”

– Roberta Bond, Bond Organ Builders

“I’ve been experimenting with different instruments and mouthpieces all week.  The typical modern trumpet for this type of repertoire is called a ‘piccolo trumpet’ and such a trumpet is pitched nearly an octave higher than a regular ol’ trumpet.  Funny thing however: a regular ol’ modern trumpet is itself almost an octave higher than the trumpets of Handel’s day.  So, when players today use a piccolo trumpet, the instrument’s length is tiny compared to a period instrument.  Many would say, rightly in my opinion, that the sound of a piccolo trumpet is tinny, small, and too bright.  My decision attempts to achieve the best of both worlds – I’ll be using a modern piccolo trumpet, and a very bright one at that, coupled with an unusually large and old-style mouthpiece.  The mouthpiece has a surprisingly large effect on the end result.  It also is quite difficult to play!  But, it allows me to have a beautiful, full, and dark tone quality alongside the benefits of a modern high trumpet.  Even though it’s difficult to play, the mouthpiece does make some aspects easier.  The soft dynamics are no problem at all, even though when I need real brilliance (as in the Hallelujah chorus), I can still get there.  So, my hope is that I can do all things: sound truly distant in Glory to God, electrify the room at certain points in the Hallelujah chorus, blend without covering the bass-baritone in The Trumpet Shall Sound while still raising the dead, and fit into the texture of Worthy is the Lamb.  Whew.  As you can see, there are lots of things to think about before even the first rehearsal!”

– Jeffrey Work, Principal Trumpet, Oregon Symphony


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