The International Touring Organ
True to its name, Cameron Carpenter’s International Touring Organ isn’t stationary. Since its debut last year, it has become Carpenter’s instrument of choice, quickly eclipsing the pipe organ. “It’s where my heart lies,” he says.
The International Touring Organ is the eighth organ by Marshall & Ogletree, the Needham, Massachusetts organ builders redefining the digital organ as an instrument of artistic significance. Its concept is simple: innovate the relationship between organ and organist. While the uniqueness of each pipe organ is part of its collective magic, this makes it impossible to perform the same music regardless of where the organist plays, as any violinist can do through a relationship of years with a single instrument.
Therefore Marshall & Ogletree has sampled sounds from many traditional pipe organs, including many of Cameron’s favorite instruments – from the cathedral to the Wurlitzer. These come together in an organ designed not for size, limitless variety, or to model any particular pipe organ, but rather to make a great organ internationally mobile – an idea impractical or impossible by other means. The true scale of its ambitiousness can be seen in its console and extensive touring sound system. These insure the organ’s consistency from venue to venue, both as the home instrument of the artist it was built for and an ultimate acoustical experience for the listener.
“One of the things that is so important about this touring organ, and one of its great trump cards — one of the things that the pipe organ can never provide — is a sense of psychological home,” Carpenter says. “I can call up sounds from the organ that in some sense first made me want to do what I’m doing.”
The entire organ assembles in less than three hours and travels in a single large truck; identical European and American sound systems (housed in Berlin, Germany and Needham, MA) make it internationally mobile. Its sound system is a massive complex of specially sourced sound support and amplification equipment housed in mobile, location-adaptable touring cases. The organ console is assembled manually and hydraulically from only six modular parts, and like the sound system, travels in purpose-built robust touring cases.
A maverick in the traditional world of organ building, Marshall & Ogletree shot to prominence in 2003 with their Opus 1 at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City, a landmark organ controversial for having replaced the former Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ damaged by debris on September 11, 2001. Uniquely among organ builders, the firm’s principals are also acclaimed organists – Douglas Marshall, a competition-winning former student of Virgil Fox, and David Ogletree, a Curtis Institute graduate. <www.marshallandogletree.com>
as of January 2015