Kimmel Center OrganAmerica's Largest Concert Hall Organ is Here!
The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, Dobson organ Op. 76, ranks as the largest mechanical-action concert hall organ in the United States. With its nearly 7,000 pipes, four blowers, 300 levels of memory, 111 stops, pipe sizes ranging from about the size of a drinking straw up to two feet square by 32 feet high, this is truly the King of Instruments!
The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ
- Largest Pipe: Built of wood, the largest pipe is approximately 2 feet square by 32 feet long.
- Smallest Pipe: Built of metal, the smallest pipe is the size of a drinking straw.
- Range of Wind Pressures: Three blowers totaling 25 horsepower will supply the organ with air ranging in pressure from 41/2" to 25".
- Instrument Total Weight: The total weight of the organ and its structure will be approximately 32 tons.
- Total Number of Pipes: 6,938
- Levels of Memory: 300 (possible stop combinations that can be set and stored using "floppy disk" computer technology)
- Number of Combination Pistons: 48
- Number of Toe Pistons: 22
- Where will the Verizon Hall Organ Rank in Size?*
47th in the world (Interestingly, Philadelphia’s Wanamaker Organ is the
largest fully functional pipe organ in the world.)
*Based on total number of ranks
Organ jargon in Plain English
- Console: The large unit where the organist sits to play and control the organ. This includes the keyboard or manuals, pedal board, pistons, and drawknobs or stops.
- Division: The pipes are grouped into several separate sections called divisions such as the Great, Swell, Solo, Positive, and Pedal. Each is controlled by its own manual or the pedal board.
- Electric Key Action: In an electric key action, a wire, an electric circuit, and an electro-magnet cause the valve below each pipe to open and close. When you press the key, you close an electrical contact. Electricity flows to the circuit that causes an electro-magnet to open and close the valves under each pipe.
- Mechanical Action (Tracker Action): The key is connected to trackers (wooden, metal, or plastic strips or rods) that eventually connect to the valves that open to admit air from the wind chest into the pipe. When you press the key, you are physically opening the valve in the wind chest. In mechanical action, there is one valve for each note on the keyboard. Note: The Verizon Hall organ will have both electric and mechanical key action.
- Pipes: Organ pipes fall into one of four broad categories — principal, flute, string, and reed. The majority of organ pipes are flute pipes. Principals are a subset of flute pipes that create the familiar, traditional fundamental organ sound.
- Rank: A rank is a row of pipes all of which make the same sound, but at different pitches. For example, all the pipes for a Spire Flute (one kind of flute sound) will be in the same row. Organs are often described by the number of ranks they have. A 60 rank instrument is a fairly large size while an 18 rank instrument is small. The Verizon Hall organ will have 125 ranks.
- Reservoir: This is a spring-loaded, expandable box for storing wind. Weights and springs are used on the expandable part to keep the air under a constant pressure. If the wind going to the pipes is not under the same, constant pressure, the sound will waver.
- Stop: A sound represented by a knob at the organ console. A stop generally plays one rank of pipes, but some stops called 'mixtures' have two or more ranks, meaning that two or more pipes play from each key.
- Swell Shades: Slats that look like Venetian blinds that can be opened and closed through a pedal called the swell shoe. Opening or closing the swell shades controls the loudness of the sound.
- Windchest: The pipes sit on top of this very specially constructed wooden box. When a stop is on, air flows from the wind reservoir into the chest. When notes are played, it uses the air from the chest to make the pipes speak.
Pipes for the People Campaign
The Kimmel Center's new pipe organ debuts on May 11, 2006 and we're inviting you to purchase a pipe. Ranging in size from pencil to telephone pole, the pipes in this magnificent instrument are available to name for as little as $100. So join the Pipes for the People Fund, where Philadelphians will hear your name for years to come.
|> Use our secure online form to purchase pipes now!|
Friedrich Nietzsche said: "Life without music would be a mistake." Likewise, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts without a pipe organ would be a mistake. The undisputed "king of instruments" is an essential component in any great concert hall. Verizon Hall without an organ would deprive Philadelphia concertgoers of an entire body of musical literature.
Orchestra patrons have waited long enough to hear their orchestra’s robust, romantic "Philadelphia sound" made even richer by the addition of an organ that’s up to the task. Starting in 2006, when the orchestra presents works that include the pipe organ, an instrument of unparalleled quality, beauty, and size will sing with a voice unlike any other concert hall organ in America.
Important works for organ and orchestra number in the hundreds and span the last 450 years of musical history. Composers from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, as well as the 20th Century have all written for orchestra and organ. Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Christoph Eschenbach has promised an exciting concert to debut the organ in 2006. Likewise, several thousand compositions for organ alone become potential concert program material. Now, this vast repertoire will assume its rightful place in the Philadelphia music community.
Through a partnership that includes the Kimmel Center, its architect, general contractor, organ builder, acoustician, representatives from The Philadelphia Orchestra and the regional organ community, virtually every aspect of the organ’s role and impact will be integrated in its design, function, and programming.
An international search led to the selection of gifted organ designer and builder Lynn Dobson. "We are thrilled to have the assignment of building a world-class instrument for this extraordinary concert hall," declares Dobson. "I am keenly aware of Philadelphia’s tradition and commitment to fine music. I am convinced that the Kimmel Center, with its new organ, will become the foremost venue in America for the performance, education and presentation of organ music, cultivating existing organ aficionados, developing new audiences and encouraging young talent. We’re working hand-in-glove with all the organ project partners noted previously to accomplish the three overarching criteria that have emerged. The organ has to:
- Function as a solo instrument in recital, which requires a diversity of stops appropriate for performing the organ literature composed over the last 400 years;
- Accompany choral groups, which demand a dynamic range and stops appropriate to support singers from large and small ensembles;
- Perform orchestral literature as an ensemble instrument in small and large orchestral works.
The Organ and the Community
Consistent with the Kimmel Center’s mission, the organ will have a role in the Center’s core mandates:
- To present diverse programming of the highest quality by bringing world-class artists to the stage
- To champion access to the arts through education and community programming
- To strengthen the Greater Philadelphia arts community by providing a home for eight resident companies and a wide range of regional performance groups
In order to meet the challenge, Lynn Dobson and his artisans have studied the requirements and the space that will house the instrument and designed their opus 76 to capture the imagination, transport the listener into the ethereal dimension, and make the adrenaline flow fast in listener and performer alike.
To accomplish this in a 2,500-seat concert hall with extraordinary acoustics, where the task may be to accompany a solo singer or 150 orchestral musicians, Mr. Dobson has designed an organ of 111 stops. Simply put, a stop is a unique set of pipes that makes a particular sound. That sound can be the basic, fundamental sound we all associate with an organ, or it can be a sound that replicates a flute or string or brass instrument. The sound possibilities, within the organ itself and with other musicians, are almost endless.
For more information about the Kimmel Center Organ, or to support this endeavor, please send us a message online.
Kimmel Center Organ Committee
- Frederick R. Haas
- Randy Apgar
- Allen D. Black
- Jeffrey Brillhart
- Scott R. Childress
- Peter R. Conte
- David L. Furniss
- Robert N. Garrison
- John H. McFadden
- Alan Morrison
- Robert Mortensen
- Edith Reinhardt
- Amanda Smoot
- Michael H. Stairs
- William R. Watson
> Building The Kimmel Center Organ
> Dobson Pipe Organ Builders Web site