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What college has the best organ music program?

A discussion forum for anything even marginally Hauptwerk-related.

What college has the best organ music program?

Postby M. Qualley » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:29 pm

Cast your vote!

I'm looking to the forum for opinions! If you have a favorite please share. Also let me know why you think it is the best. Did you attend there? Is it by reputation?

No wrong answers here!

Thanks so much!!
Michelle
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby engrssc » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:41 pm

Along those same lines, I would be curious to know which, if any colleges may have a Hauptwerk organ ? Maybe as a (headset equipped) practice instrument. Has anyone installed one?

Seems it could be a possible market :wink:

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby Romanos » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:04 pm

I would have said the American organ institute at the university of Oklahoma but unfortunately the new @$$ of a president just shut down the pipe shop. It once was the only program in the country that had its own pipe shop and every student did internships restoring instruments... I’m told they’re are still machinations behind closed doors to save it but a change in administration would be necessary, I think.

John Schwandt is still an amazing Professor and one hell of an improviser (has a prodigious memory too) so it would still be great to study there. (I once witnessed him improvise a TRIPLE FUGUE LIVE IN PERFORMANCE and combine the themes to boot.) It’s also one of the only programs in the country that teaches classical, improvisation AND theatre organ (and has a 3m theatre organ in a concert hall). They do silent films every year with live accompaniment too. All in all, it’s still an amazing place to study. There is a phenomenal 3m Fisk in gothic hall, which is a tremendous reverberant space that is about 5 stories tall, and has a full European-scale acoustic—something that is pretty rare for the states! (And I sure wish the Fisk would be sampled for HW!). I was fortunate enough to go through at the height of its glory. Schwandt regularly brings in big names as concertizers too. While I was there I met David Briggs, Stephen Tharp, Diane Bish, Jelanni Eddington, and Walt Strony, among others.
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby blueband95 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:33 pm

Currently in the US, the Curtis Institute, University of Iowa, Yale, Michigan, St. Olaf and Peabody (Johns Hopkins) all have excellent reputations. I attended Penn State, George Mason University and Peabody, so I'm a little biased--but neither PSU nor GMU have viable organ programs any more. Sadly, many of the traditional powerhouses of organ study (Ivy league schools, Big Ten universities, Westminster Choir College, many others) are shadows of what they used to be, if they haven't dropped their programs entirely. As an example, Penn State's School of Music had full-time organ faculty up until the early 2000s, but no longer. Even worse, they recently sold their recital hall organ at surplus, and no longer own a single concert-capable instrument.

Where I live now, here in Europe, there are many more options. Here in Germany, all of the church musician schools (both Katholisch and Evangelisch) and the secular conservatories are very good. There is also a thriving state-supported organ building school in Ludwigsburg. Paris is naturally a hotbed for organ study (I currently take lessons there), and the UK has many organ scholar programs at its universities and cathedrals. There are smaller countries with excellent traditions, too; the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the three Baltic states all have thriving organ scenes.
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby smfrank » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:41 pm

Nice diversion.
What about HW-V?
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby Romanos » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:54 pm

smfrank wrote:Nice diversion.
What about HW-V?
Steve

Right? Lol. At this point, just cut losses and release it via the current website and fix the servers as you can. This is becoming legitimately irksome. Sad we didn’t even get an update today.
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby david515mi » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:07 pm

The Eastman School of Music absolutely must be included... though I’m biased, being a graduate of that program. Nathan Laube, a faculty member of that department, has a Hauptwerk instrument in his home.

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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby M. Qualley » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:17 pm

Along those same lines, I would be curious to know which, if any colleges may have a Hauptwerk organ ? Maybe as a (headset equipped) practice instrument. Has anyone installed one?


Ed,

You are on my page. We think Hauptwerk would make a great tool for students. I am investigating how we can help our next generation of organists at the higher education level.

I'm not sure if you knew this but Brett got into this business because he started sampling the organ at school (he has a double Masters: Musical Arts in Organ Performance and Musical Arts in Piano Performance). He made his own samples so he could take it home and practice on his keyboard.

So helping college students is something we want to pursue. It is very near and dear to Brett to say the least.

Thanks to all for any insight!
Michelle

PS. I posted an update on V.
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby giwro » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:36 pm

I second the AIO, but also sad about the shenanigans of the administration to shut it down. Politics. Ugh.

I’ve been in talks with a couple of universities to sample their instruments - in many cases, access to the “big” concert instruments is limited because the hall is used for other things, and often busy. Allowing the students to practice on a HW clone gives them the opportunity to set stops and assess balances - then their practice time in the real venue can be simply actual practice of notes. I even have a colleague who will create a duplicate console, if that is something they are interested in.
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby engrssc » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:52 pm

Yes, I was aware of some Brett's background. If I'm not mistaken, I believe Martin also had an impelling desire along similar "needs" that were "not available". Could be a better descriptive word is passion. which has "given" us the Hauptwerk that we enjoy today. :D Just maybe this assimilates to the power of positive thinking.

Just casually "wanting something" would not have been enough to persevere. I greatly admire folks that keep going no matter what.

As a reminding incentive, I have a small version of the EverReady bunny on my desk. :) Helps me to see the donut and not the hole. 8)

Rgds,
Ed

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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby engrssc » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:09 pm

giwro wrote:I’ve been in talks with a couple of universities to sample their instruments - in many cases, access to the “big” concert instruments is limited because the hall is used for other things, and often busy. Allowing the students to practice on a HW clone gives them the opportunity to set stops and assess balances - then their practice time in the real venue can be simply actual practice of notes. I even have a colleague who will create a duplicate console, if that is something they are interested in.


Possibly dreaming a little (yet possible) would be the ability to transfer settings (registrations) from a Hauptwerk clone to the real (pipe) instrument as being quite useful.

For example, I just ordered another Redlands sample set from Jonathan so I could practice and set up regs on my home (practice) organ and transfer them to the (Redlands) we have at church. Should be at least convenient if not permitting me to be able to do a better job.

There are so many possibilities available. 8) I guess I look at not available as a temporary state or condition. If we want something bad enough most of the time we'll find a way. A person I admire once told me - Something difficult we'll do right away while the impossible may take a little longer. Anything to re-invigorate organs and organ music is for sure steps in the right direction.

If you have been following Drew Worthen's Large Church thread, you may have heard him say at the organ dedication that he was very surprised to see such a large number of folks in attendance. Whereas he had anticipated just a few, something around 300 came to experience great music played on a beautiful Hauptwerk instrument.

https://youtu.be/4rxA2of7tcQ?t=1

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby blueband95 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:56 pm

Thinking about Michelle's larger question regarding the why; the reason certain schools have good reputations, and what makes them stand out, there are a number of factors involved. Here are a few:
(In the interest of spurring a discussion)

1. Reputation and quality of instructor(s) available

In any performance-oriented music program, it really is all about the instructor. Their musicianship, their background experiences, personality, charisma, not to mention their teaching ability. Talented, passionate, enthusiastic, capable musicians always attract both students and donors.

One aspect that many students overlook when choosing a school is availability of their instructor, i.e. full-time faculty vs. part-time adjuncts that breeze in and out. It may be great that a school has organists like Fred Swann, Stefan Engels, Oliver Latry, Daniel Roth, etc. on their faculty, but they are likely fitting their students in around a thousand other engagements. In contrast, full-time faculty that are consistently in residence at an institution have vastly more time to invest with their students, and play the mentorship role that is so important in developing students as musicians and professionals.

2. Number, quality and styles of organs available for practice and performance.

Each of the above factors are important. A school's concert-quality organs are important as the instruments on which students will have their most formative performance experiences, make recordings, and build their reputations.

But these instruments alone are not enough; all too often a school's recital instrument is in a shared performance space, so organists have to fight for time to practice, in competition with the many other demands of a busy music school. It doesn't mean much to an organist to have a top-rate recital instrument if they are rarely allowed any time on it.

Consequently, it is important for there to be other quality instruments readily available for students to use, in sufficient numbers to meet student demand. Any former organist/music major knows what a pain it is to constantly have to search for places to practice.

But even further, a variety of styles is also important, both for performance and practice instruments, if only for pedagogical reasons. At one institution I attended, nearly all of the instruments available were neo-baroque instruments made by the same maker. Worse, none of them had swell chests. During my time there, I learned a lot about how to skillfully register those instruments, but I missed many opportunities to learn techniques incredibly important for romantic music.

(Incidentally, this is certainly a potential market for Hauptwerk. Hauptwerk systems are an exceptionally economical way growing organ programs can meet this need, providing practice workstations that offer a variety of instruments on which students can explore different styles, registrations, etc.)


3. Quality and reputation of overall music program and university in general

This is the bigger picture; the depth and breadth of instruction available to the student in other areas of music, and in other subjects entirely. Music history, theory, musicology, music business, and technology are all areas which are crucial to the development of the organist as a whole musician. Furthermore, study of other subjects are important to the development of a musician as a whole person. In my own case, public policy classes I took at Johns Hopkins proved to be as important to my life and career as were any of my music courses.

4. Proximity of institution to opportunities for students to attend performances, sub, gig, and network within the larger organist community

This is where students gain the kind of real-life experience that will serve as the foundation for their professional careers. This aspect also provides students with perspective; where they are in the larger scheme of things vs. where they could/should/need to be. Learning the size of fish you currently are in relation to your pond is a necessary, challenging and motivational experience. In this context, big city schools have a real advantage, and particularly East coast schools that allow relatively easy travel between large metropolitan areas.

5. National traditions

The history and culture of each country plays a huge role in how its musicians are perceived around the world, not only in terms of the general level of playing, but also the style of that playing. For instance, Germany, France and England place a high value on improvisation and overall musicianship. This is because it is important that they train organists skills that will be of practical use in their careers as practicing church musicians.

Other nations put a higher value on technique, as evidenced in performance of difficult repertoire. There is less emphasis on requirements of church services, because there is often less of a cultural emphasis on worship services in general. In these places concert performances are more often the goal, and the instruction is structured to that end.

In the US, there is a mix of approaches, depending on the tradition of the school and the priorities of the instructor. And all of this is constantly changing, at both the institutional and cultural level.

If all of this discussion is concerning where there might be a target market for Hauptwerk, it should be said that traditionally, organ faculty tend to be pipe snobs who look down their nose at any electronic instrument, no matter how innovative it may be. That is definitely true here in Germany, partly due to its long and rich history of organ building. Nearly every church, from tiny rural parish chapels to huge cathedrals, has an actual pipe organ. But even in Germany, there is a bright side--because there are a lot of organs and a lot of organists, there is consequently a larger pool of people who would be interested in the product.

I welcome discussion on these topics! :D :) :D :)

- Matthew
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby engrssc » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:02 pm

blueband95 wrote:If all of this discussion is concerning where there might be a target market for Hauptwerk, it should be said that traditionally, organ faculty tend to be pipe snobs who look down their nose at any electronic instrument, no matter how innovative it may be. That is definitely true here in Germany, partly due to its long and rich history of organ building. Nearly every church, from tiny rural parish chapels to huge cathedrals, has an actual pipe organ. But even in Germany, there is a bright side--because there are a lot of organs and a lot of organists, there is consequently a larger pool of people who would be interested in the product.


Following other Forums, I have noticed there seems to a bit of a change of heart among some of these (real pipe) organ purists to the point of (specifically) referring to Hauptwerk being a good practice instrument. A premise that "we" and they seemly agree with that real pipes can be considered best, but a reasonable, practical second best could be Hauptwerk. Given quality and economical considerations.

Rgds,
Ed
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby Erzahler » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:05 am

It is a bit demand and supply. Organists generally work in Concert Halls or Churches and both are under pressure at the moment. Teaching is reduced when there is no demand for the product so we better get out there and sell the organ.
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Re: What college has the best organ music program?

Postby M. Qualley » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:15 am

Thanks everyone! These ideas are super helpful.

Keep the ideas coming!!
Michelle
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