Rosales Organ Builders Opus 16

Manuel Rosales (with Jonathan Ambrosino)

Rosales Organ Builders’ Opus 16, for the First Presbyterian Church in Oakland, is both a milestone and a celebration for this company, the largest and most significant organ we have built to date. Its completion coincides with our 20th anniversary, a second milestone and celebration. After twenty years, it is natural to become introspective, compelling oneself to take a candid look at how his company has arrived at this point. Additionally, this article provides an opportunity for us to thank our clients and my co-workers, to describe our largest organ and to share some thoughts about the philosophy which led to its construction.

Organbuilders have convictions which are often irrational. The more charismatic the builder, the more mythical his convictions seem to become. There tends to be a notion that any design principle, in and of itself, is the key to a successful organ—or worse, that the absence of that same design principle will be an organ’s downfall. We hear this all the time, and have been guilty of it ourselves: for the perfect organ, you must use lead pipes, not tin, or lead with antimony as opposed to lead without, or manuals with short keys instead of long, or flat pedalboards instead of AGO—pick anything, and you are bound to find an argument before long. Such debate is hardly wrong; in fact, it’s a natural and often enjoyable byproduct of so complex an instrument.

However, we feel that many of these issues are secondary, sidetracking rather than sharpening our focus. Over the last two decades, we have spent much effort trying to explode myths for our own benefit, in order to become practical organbuilders. Even when a myth and a truth reach the same conclusion, we feel we are being more honest with ourselves and the organ by trying to purge the myth and mystique from organbuilding. Our experience repeatedly proves that there is no recipe for the perfect organ. Almost every tradition and style of organ building has given us superb instruments—regardless of action, pressures, pipe construction, scaling, voicing, placement, encasement—a fact which clearly tells us that a single answer is as useless as a single question. By learning from others and exploring our desires, this company has tried to reach general conclusions rather than firm decisions, to develop an underlying rationale which guides everything we do.

Take the issue of action. So much dogma surrounds tracker organs that it is perhaps necessary to define how we arrive at our conclusion to build them. More than for any other reason, we are motivated to employ this action because it is simple, sturdy and long-lived. For us, there is one further benefit: the direct connection to the valve. Even when the action is not in perfect adjustment, the organist will still know exactly when the valve is going to open in the course of depressing the key. With highly sensitive actions, there is the occasional opportunity to control a pipe’s articulation, an aspect which has been raised to mythical status in recent decades. Personally, such subtle control holds little or no interest. If an action is actually that sensitive, the player may have to concentrate more on avoiding ugly attacks and releases than creating beautiful ones. An organist with good rhythm will know how to play well on any instrument. Ultimately, I leave it to the organists, as they are the ones who must be pleased first, or they will not please the listener.

Where I find tracker action’s speech-control to be of genuine value, however, is in the voicing and finishing process. Since the key can be struck in so many different ways, and the pipe heard doing a variety of things, I have greater certainty about what the pipes can do, and therefore can more directly coax them to sound as I wish. I do not want to imply that excellent results are unobtainable with other actions, merely that in my own work I find the tracker action an excellent voicing tool. Ultimately, when organists sit down at one of our consoles, we want them to have an action that feels good and gives a sense of connectedness. If a player is interested in color and voicing, an exploration of the organ will reveal the same differences in sound that we experienced in the voicing—offering a direct connection not only to the windchests, but in a higher sense, to my intentions. (This is, of course, the case with all organbuilding.)

Slider chests are a logical extension of tracker action, since they are simple, they last, and they take advantage of everything a good tracker action offers. Naturally, any well-made chest will last indefinitely if well-maintained. All things being equal, however, a slider chest will endure the longest before it requires overhaul, and at that point will need less of it. From a tonal standpoint, I do find it simpler to make a chorus cohere on a slider chest, since all the pipes are supplied from a common tone channel. There is no doubt that with care, similar results can be had on other types of chests; from my standpoint, it is simply easier with slider chests. This blending aid comes at a price, however, as certain stops can interfere with each other. In our chests, we try to minimize such problems by inserting dividers in the note channels, grouping the pipes on the chest and then separating how the wind reaches them. Much experimentation and modeling of windchests, as well as observation of other builders’ designs, has guided us to our design solutions.

Still, many people associate tracker action with one kind of sound, usually unison-deprived, mixture-dominated ensembles, or literature-specific copy instruments. This is hardly tracker action’s only domain. However, it was one I became familiar with during my apprenticeship with Herman Schlicker from 1969 to 1973. Upon returning to Los Angeles, I secured several rebuilding contracts which helped to establish my own firm. This work involved instruments by Skinner, Murray M. Harris, and Woodberry & Harris. Perhaps most important was the restoration and relocation of an 1852 Simmons organ to a church in Long Beach, a project our firm completed in 1977. This organ gave us our best introduction yet to tracker action: how nice an action could feel, how cohesive an ensemble could be with an abundant amount of unison tone, even in a chorus with two mixtures. This organ solidified our decision to explore tracker action as the focus of our new instruments.

To put this in perspective, I had played and helped to build my share of small tracker organs, the size of Volkswagens but with truck-like actions. The overall experience left no doubt in my mind as to the one of the reasons tracker action was so cheerfully abandoned in the later 19th-century. The Simmons, however, seemed a real exception, especially in light of having played other Simmons, as well as Hooks and Johnsons, in the Northeast. The essence of the action’s efficiency was its narrow, long pallets, scaled from bass to treble in such a way that the action never seemed to demand more effort than was necessary.

Hands-on experience with American organs such as these formed the foundation of my being “historically informed,” a process begun in my teens when I was listening to as many recordings as I could find. (In fact, this was my introduction to the pipe organ.) More recently, I have been able to study foreign instruments in France, Holland, Germany and Mexico. Of course, studying a French organ is hardly the same as building one, but the first-hand experience was a tremendous extension of my earlier experience from recordings. I find much to admire in almost all these old organs, from the drama of the Rouen and Toulouse Cavaillé-Colls, to the shimmering intensity of the old German organs, the warm, solid and cheerful choruses in the Dutch organs to the outright fanfare of the Spanish and Mexican instruments. The Iberian style remains of particular interest, not only because of its efficiency and beauty, but because these organs are such good and simple fun.

Where our tonal design is concerned, we have gradually developed a style which attempts to blend qualities found in the American, French and north German schools. I am intrigued with the French romantic method of varied unison registers which, when drawn together, yield a rich foundation effect. As the vertical chorus ascends, the emphasis becomes more “classical,” culminating in mixtures of hammered lead pipes. For reeds, we try to be especially sensitive to the space, since more than any other tone, reeds depend on acoustics. Our chorus reeds are mostly patterned after French models, but modified by using sufficiently large scales to yield a strong fundamental tone better suited to the typical American acoustic. Properly done, the use of the modified French reeds allows one to register a “Cavaillé-Coll” tutti without mixtures, letting the reeds and the mutations supply all the characteristic treble color. Where the acoustics are less friendly, we use modified German trumpets, which do not depend on the room to develop a broad fundamental tone.

This general tonal style coalesced in our Opus 11, the 52-stop organ for Trinity Church (now Cathedral) in Portland, Oregon. In this instrument, we were able to develop several essential concepts: a responsive, enjoyable action; three varied and distinct flue choruses; a wide range of mutation color; ample foundation tone at the unison and sub-unison level; a delicate development of brilliant reed tone for an essentially dry acoustic; and finally, a wind supply which could be very flexible for the literature which benefits from it, but also solidly stable for most cases. (Please note that on our instruments, one does not draw a knob to get steady wind; one draws a Wind stabilizer cut-out to make it flexible—a small but indicative point.)

I doubt we could have made a success of the Portland organ had we not built four moderately-sized two manual organs and a larger three-manual, which had allowed us to test certain ideas. In smaller instruments, our philosophy reverts more to the mid-19th century American ideals, but again, as much as possible, no less exciting than what we were able to achieve in Portland. These instruments still bring me much joy, even if they do not enjoy the luxury of exploring the varied colors and ensembles found in the larger organs.

After Portland, we turned to Opus 15, a 32-stop two-manual organ for University United Methodist Church in San Antonio. This was to be radically different from our other two-manual instruments: a large sound disguised in a small specification. In this case, I felt strongly that in this enormous room (which seats over a thousand), we would do better to distill a large organ than to pad a small one. Therefore, the Great and Pedal form one very large ensemble, supported and augmented by the Swell. The room helped every step of the way, with acoustics so even in dispersion that stops sound virtually the same anywhere in the room. For the trumpets, we were also able to develop the Clicquot style shallots to their maximum, something we would be highly reluctant to attempt in any less welcoming environment. The reeds blaze away, but the church’s superb acoustic does its job to round them out. The result is fiery but still warm.

After we finished work in San Antonio in 1990, our shop began building the Oakland organ. This church originally contained a 1914 Kimball, at that time their largest instrument on the West Coast. With four manuals and 56 ranks, it must have been a real showpiece. Its specification was unusual for the period, in particular the Pedal which boasted ten entirely independent ranks. (Ours has eight.) Its action, however, was tubular pneumatic, already considered obsolete when the organ was new. In the late ‘20s, the organ was electrified, some pipes added and others changed. Kimball factory personnel carried out this work, and as far as we could tell, it was of a quality consistent with the original installation.

Over the next fifty years many changes were made to the fabric of the instrument. Modifications to the tonal design, mechanical alterations and changes in the basic structure were made, as well as the addition of several stops. In many ways a victim of the neo-Baroque revival, the instrument bore little resemblance to the original by the time we came to it. Pipes from many sources had been added, some from other local churches, some brought across the country, and even those for which there was clearly no space (namely two huge wooden ranks, a 32’ Diapason and 32’ Bombarde).

In an effort to determine the best route to take with the rebuilding of the instrument, the church’s Session sought the counsel of several authorities. Among them were Jack Bethards of Schoenstein & Co., Joseph Dzeda, Associate Curator of Organs at Yale University, and Edward Millington Stout III, well known Bay Area organ restorer. Their reports lead the Organ Committee to the conclusion that a major revision or replacement of the instrument was needed.

Rosales Organ Builders’ first contact with First Presbyterian Church was in January of 1987, at the time we were completing the Portland organ. After many committee meetings, much discussion and a lot of hard work on all sides, the church signed a contract with our firm in June of 1988. In formulating a concept for the instrument’s design, the committee, organist Ron McKean and I examine the project from many angles. First, the existing instrument had some fine pipework and the makings of an elegant case. Second, the Church is a grand edifice; entering it creates an expectation in the visitor’s eyes and ears which the organ must satisfy. Third, as the Bay Area abounds with fine organs, we knew ours needed be different, offering its own unique contribution. And fourth, this organ had to make an unmistakable sonic impact. The concept of the tutti was fairly well established from the start; had this organ been twenty stops smaller, we still would have included the same chorus registers we ended up with, in order to produce the tutti this big room demands.

When we began the working drawings in 1988, we started from the perspective of providing an earthquake-resistant structure for the organ. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake dramatically confirmed the necessity of such precautions. The structural elements have included a new floor and elaborate steel framing and reinforcement, which not only hold up the organ but strengthen the façade. Most obviously still present are the carvings, mouldings and cornices of the 1914 façade. We also recycled four bass registers, most notably the enormous Open Wood and Bombarde. The old organ also possessed a complement of magnificent double-rise bellows, whose copious wind capacity and elegant construction invited their inclusion in the new organ. The four largest have been refurbished and regulate the majority of the organ’s wind supply. These big bellows impart a certain personality to the wind, further modulated by eight wind stabilizers, which, of course, can be controlled by the organist.

From this foundation, our tonal design developed along the lines of Trinity, Portland, at least on paper. Like Portland, our aim was to produce an uncomplicated stoplist whose colors were highly sophisticated, in the hopes that the sounds themselves—as well as the design—would distinguish the instrument. But for this large space and essentially dry acoustic, yet new territory had to be explored in the scaling, in every case, bigger. My conclusions were based largely on experience with the old organ and hearing it on many occasions. This was an invaluable education process, because it allowed us to test which scales worked best for this challenging acoustic. It may be of interest that the original Solo Stentorphone (the sole remaining manual Diapason from the Kimball) was the only stop which addressed the acoustical needs of the building, especially when coupled at 16, 8 and 4. When I demonstrated this to Ron McKean, he was at first astonished—not because the sound itself was wrong, but the concept of a lead Stentorphone chorus seemed incredible to him. Upon explanation, the example proved its point. We did not wish to copy the precise tone of this stop, but we did want to emulate its impact in the room. The scale of our Great 8’ Principal ended up just one note shy of this Stentorphone, but of 90% tin.

As its name suggests, the Great is the division of first importance. Its Principal Chorus from 32’ to Mixture is the backbone of the entire ensemble. Some of its pipes are in the façade, and the others are directly behind the center of the case. We had many goals. One was for a chorus with body, clarity and articulation, on which the music of J.S. Bach could be played naturally and without affectation. Nor does the chorus need to be drawn only in obvious ways. 8’-4’-2’ yields one variation, while 16’-8’-4’ and 32’-16'-8’ offer two more, each useful in its own range. Also, we wanted the individual ranks to be strong enough that the entire chorus would not always be required to support congregational singing. A more relaxed hymn might be led with 8’ and 4’ (or 8’ alone), while the full chorus lies in reserve for larger effects. The chorus is further amplified by the 16’ Prestant which gives gravity, and the 32’ Prestant, which imparts heaviness. Next, we sought a horizontal expansion of the ensemble through the quartet of foundation registers: Principal, Gamba, Flûte harmonique and Chimney Flute. Though inspired by Cavaillé-Coll, these four ranks are not mere copies of any existing stops. We have attempted to provide a new twist on an old recipe: the Principal is much more a Diapason than a French montre; the Gamba is in fact more of a second open; the Flûte harmonique is an enveloping stop which does not go overboard in its treble ascendency; and the Chimney Flute is large, buoyant and highly colorful. While the colors may not be precisely Cavaillé-Coll’s, we have sought the same rich effect when they are drawn together. Completing the Great are energetic trumpets at 16’, 8’ and 4’, bridging the gap between the more lively Positive reeds and the somewhat darker Swell stops. As the flue and reed choruses are built up to form the massed ensemble, the Chamade adds an extra level of brilliance, while still blending into the full organ—a final chorus reed rather than a dominating solo trumpet. (While not a true Spanish reed, it does hint at the builder’s Iberian ancestry.)

The Positive is next in prominence, located behind and above the Great. Its placement directly against the rear wall of the organ actually gives the division an enhanced presence over the Great, although its pipes are farther away. A complete secondary chorus is found here, darker than the Great’s through 2’. Adding the upperwork and trumpets, however, transforms the Positive into a brilliant, splashy ensemble, with greater drive than the Great’s, but still subordinate in power. The Positive is further distinguished by its array of mutations. Of particular interest, the 31&Mac218;5’ Grosse Tierce completes a 16’ jeu de tierce. Historically, stops of this variety are found on the Great. However, it is essential that they be in combined with a 16’ Bourdon and wide-scale nasard and unison flutes, which are found in the Positive. Where the 16’ jeu de tierce would historically dialogue against the minor cornet in the Positive, on this organ the Positive provides the bass line while the Swell cornet provides the soprano.

The Swell is conceived as a large auxiliary division. Placed at the top of the instrument (approximately 30 feet above the choir loft), the faceted ceiling kindly reflects sound downward, so that the sound is distinct and present in the loft. The stoplist here is conceived to supplement the other departments with expressive color. The Geigen and Principal are the instrument’s brightest and cleanest diapasons. The Flûte traversière is a delicate, mellow harmonic flute (and the organ’s softest stop), providing the foundation for the Flûte octaviante and Octavin, also harmonic flutes. Useful in organ literature, these colors are also ideal for choral accompaniment, as their definite pitch in every octave provides excellent leadership for singers. The Céleste is so voiced and placed to undulate with not merely the Viole de Gambe, but all the unison flues. In fact, we were delighted to find that the Céleste and Flûte traversière provide a pleasant, softer variation. The Bombarde and Trumpet are broad reeds of definite energy, taking into consideration the drama they must provide when coupled through to the other manuals. In this instance, we decided to forego a clarion and mixture in order to provide a clarinet and a complete family of mutations. However, a mixture is prepared for, and the clarinet chest can accept a clarion, should these later be deemed necessary. Perhaps the most important Swell stop is the box itself, an enclosure of considerable density to ensure a true pianissimo when tightly shut.

There are common elements which run through all three manual divisions. We were especially keen to develop a high degree of color in the stopped flutes. The six stopped registers vary widely in color and harmonic development, from the cool and calm Positive Gedeckt, to the quiet but highly complex 16’ Swell Bourdon, to the cheeky Great Chimney Flute. Color stops are found in the generous selection of mutations and solo reeds. The development of mutation color was especially in accord with organist Ron McKean’s wishes and style of improvisation and composition. There are two nasards and four tierces, each different and distinctive. The mounted Cornet V is elevated six feet above the Great, giving it the most favorable position of any stop. It is effective not only for leading out melodies in hymn-playing, but also as an ensemble mate with the Chamade, lending extra clang to the tutti. The Swell mutations, 2-2/3’, 1-3/5’ and 1’, replicate the Carillon stop as found in French organs, intended to give a bell-like effect when drawn together, but also useful individually. The Great 2-2/3’ and 1-3/5’ create the German-style Sesquialtera, a quintessential solo voice in much Baroque literature. The pungent, racy Cromorne is contrasted by the quieter and more refined Clarinet. The Hautbois is patterned after French examples, playing a vital role in chorus combinations and as the solo stop of first choice.

More than in any other organ we have built, the Pedal provides a solid foundation. At the 16’ level, we wanted to provide a like proportion of fundamental tone as found on the Great at 8’. The Open Wood is not only effective at 32’, where it shakes the room to its foundations, but equally at 16’ and 8’, where it always defines the Pedal line. The 8’ Octave and 4’ Super Octave fulfill their expected roles, in solos, trios or in ensemble with the 16’ Prestant. The Pedal Posaune, Trumpet and Clarion relate to the high-pressure Bombarde in a similar way that the Great reeds relate to the Chamade. The German-style Posaune is smooth and buttery, transformed by the addition of the more developed Trumpet and Clarion. But just as the Chamade and mounted Cornet create a dramatic finality in the soprano, the Bombarde does the same, if not more, in the bass. Revoiced on 17” wind and measuring two feet square at low CCCC, this is the perfect tone and effect for pedal melodies under full organ, providing an unmistakable power and drama.

The majority of the instrument plays from a direct mechanical action. Some of the manual basses play from tubular-pneumatic action, while electric action is used for the four largest pedal stops and the Chamade. The Antiphonal Organ has also been retained with its existing pitman chest. All other windchests were built in our shops to our own designs. Once again, we felt the need to choose the best action for each particular application. This aesthetic especially extends to the console, which has state-of-the-art registration aids, a piston sequencer and MIDI capability.

Grandeur, majesty and awe, balanced with clarity, delicacy and refinement; to create an organ which could respect tradition while developing its own statement—these are the concepts we have pursued. We have been fortunate to have a supportive church, supremely energetic volunteers, the help of countless friends and colleagues, and an organist whose playing has provided a daily inspiration—not to mention challenge!—to produce the finest organ we know how. I shall always be grateful for this rare opportunity.

Other organs currently under contract span an interesting gamut. At present, we are installing Opus 17 for King of Glory Lutheran Church in Dallas, our first mechanical-action organ with a detached console. Although conceived in a similar style to our large two-manual organs with a 16’ Great chorus, Opus 17 has a third manual which plays a Mounted Cornet and can eventually control a complete division. Later this year we will install Opus 23 for St. Cyril of Jerusalem Church in Encino, California. Our original concept was for a tracker instrument, but structural considerations and the divided gallery cases would have necessitated a highly unfavorable position for the organist. Therefore, we ultimately decided upon electric action, favoring the organist and allowing the flexibility of a movable console. Additionally, the organ features separate enclosures for Great and Swell, genuine harp and chimes, MIDI capability, and two horizontal trumpets. The divided arrangement permits two big ensembles of equal strength but different color. Other upcoming contracts include instruments for historic East Coast churches (Opus 22 for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Opus 25 for Church of the Holy Apostles, New York City), a special smaller organ (Opus 26 for Resurrection Lutheran Church, Chicago), and our first major instrument in an academic setting (Opus 27 for Indiana University). We are also in the design stage of our first concert hall organ (tentatively slated as Opus 24 for Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles).

One especially exciting project is our collaboration with C.B. Fisk on a new 68-stop organ with three 32's for the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston. We invited our longtime colleague firm of C.B. Fisk to collaborate in the design and construction of this instrument, which has become their Opus 109. I am looking forward to the renewal of a working friendship which began fifteen years ago in the planning and finishing of Fisk Opus 85 for Stanford University.

Such a backlog is an extremely fortunate position, one we scarcely dreamed of when we began building our first new organ in 1975. For this, we thank our clients above all else, without whose support and faith we could never have arrived at this point. They have shown patience and support during the building process, they have offered ongoing feedback about what works and what doesn’t in the organs once the organs have been installed, and they have never failed to share their enthusiasm with visitors.

Our success is also the result of an excellent staff who have been loyal, supportive, highly talented, and especially patient with their employer. In particular, Bruno Lagarcé has been our principal woodworker for 13 years, an extremely talented man whose skills extend to wood pipes. Most of the beautiful woodwork you see is his, and sitting at one of his consoles is an elegant experience. We have also been gratified to have had fine workers continue from our shops to form their own businesses, such as Richard Bond (Portland, Oregon) who helped begin the company; Steuart Goodwin (San Bernardino, California) who designed the several cases and is an especially sensitive voicer; William Visscher (Santa Cruz, California) who expanded the working capabilities of this shop; Karl Nelson (Göthenburg, Sweden) who I had the pleasure of introducing to organbuilding; and Trent Buhr (Wisconsin) who among other skills, is an excellent pipemaker.

A somewhat different association, and my longest relationship, however, has been with John DeCamp, an organbuilder who also trained at Schlicker. While he has never actually joined the staff, John has had a hand in almost every project, particularly in the voicing and finishing stages. From our first project together more than twenty years ago, we realized that we were seeking different results than those we had been trained to produce. Ever since then, we have engaged in an ongoing, ever-growing collaboration in our voicing work, each man sharing his new knowledge and experience and bringing it to bear on the work at hand. His involvement is invaluable to me, and even when we don’t agree, I can always rely on his judgment and ear.

One of the most important staff members was the late David Dickson, my partner from 1975 to 1985. David played a vital role in leading us to our conclusion to build tracker organs. He also apprenticed at Schlicker, which gave us a common ground. Unlike myself, he was terrific with mathematics and formulae, and was keen to experiment with how to make efficient, effective chests and actions. Most of what makes our actions successful today is based on the results of David’s early research. He first came on board during the Simmons restoration in Long Beach mentioned earlier. Those things I could see in the action and wished to emulate, David was able to absorb and translate into mathematical terms and objective criteria. During his time with us, David was our primary designer, and he worked on seven two-manual instruments ranging in size from 12 to 31 stops, and one larger three-manual organ.

Most important is my right-hand man Kevin Gilchrist, who has worked here for 17 years. Strongly musical and dexterous, Kevin came to us with a background as a designer and builder of lighting fixtures. He took to voicing naturally, and has developed into an ideal, well-rounded organbuilder, more recently settling into the position of chief designer as an accomplished specialist with CAD. But even these skills are secondary compared to Kevin’s intuitive understanding of my ideas; from the simplest and most undeveloped concept, he can conceive an entire organ, always patient with my desire to explore and test. One could not ask for a finer comrade.

In the larger fraternity of organbuilding, the friendship and support of other organbuilding colleagues has been invaluable, particularly that of Charles Fisk, Steve Dieck, John Brombaugh, Richard Houghten and Mark Lively. Not only have these gentlemen provided support all along, most have actually helped on-site at critical moments. Quite individually, they have all taught a common lesson: that knowledge knows its greatest good in sharing, and through sharing, the teacher always learns again. This can be as innocent as suggesting one element of a good key action to offering a life’s-worth of insight into larger issues of organbuilding. Often, just being able to call these fellows has been a source of encouragement and relief.

Coupled with this technical support, much musical insight has been gained through friendships with organists. There have been many; a few who come to mind are Robert Anderson, whose open-mindedness and willingness to explore inspires others to do the same; the late David Britton, a dear friend whose constant questioning led to much re-assessment of our organs; David Craighead, whose gentle demeanor and thoughtfully-worded comments never fail to provide insight into the musical challenges of organ playing; the late Douglas Butler, a brilliant player whose unstoppable determination that we should build the Portland organ beat down every other consideration (including common sense); and George Baker, friend and advisor, who paid me the highest compliment when he said that Opus 11 had renewed his faith in American organbuilding.

From this vantage point, it is thrilling to be an active organbuilder in America. We enjoy the most thriving organbuilding culture in the world, with wonderful minds, plentiful talent, and an astonishing diversity. Whatever your interest, you are bound to find a builder thinking along your lines. While we all compete, there seems a greater camaraderie than ever before, fostered by the development of such organizations as the American Institute of Organbuilders and APOBA (Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America). After almost two centuries of following in European footsteps, America is now leading the way. To participate in that ongoing development is a gift, a challenge and an honor.