by Steve Panizza
I recently converted this pipe organ building operation to a limited liability corporation named "Gorham Street Pipe Organ Company." I understand what Gorham Street is, but you might not.
Gorham Street designs and builds mechanical action cabinet organs that exemplify quality and artistic merit through a philosophy that respects the input of art, technology, and cultural inclusion through historical study applied to the production of fine studio craft.
That sounds reasonable, but there's more.
Gorham Street challenges status quo thought with conceptual design that asserts a nontraditional notion of the organ and its application to the performance of music.
I got reintroduced to the second organ I built last April when it briefly came up for sale following a church closure. Using that, let me thoughtfully explain Gorham Street. Gorham Street is progressive and transformative. So let me repurpose the organ's original design and rebuild it into something progressive and transformative.
Away back, I constructed the instrument from a concept that blended the minimalist Agrarian eighteenth-century cabinet organ approach used by Colonial builder David Tannenberg with an Alsatian tonal scheme.
Bourdon 8' (51 notes, divided at c 25)
Flute 4' (51 notes, divided at c 25)
Nasard 2 2/3' (27 notes, c 25 to d 51)
Doublette 2' (51 notes, divided at c 25)
Tierce 1 3/5' (51 notes, c 25 to d 51)
Fourniture I (c 1 to d 51, not divided)
Cromorne 8' (25 notes, c 1 to b 24)
51 notes, manual.
27 notes, pull-down pedal.
47 mm Wind Pressure.
Building Gorham Street
Gorham Street builds off work I did with the House of Hope Ducroquet, an organ built in France in 1852 and later imported and restored by C.B. Fisk, Inc. of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Removing the Ducroquet from House of Hope was a master class in early French Romantic pipe organ building. Using my skill set and shop resources to help an assembled team dismantle the instrument, I acquired a hands-on familiarity with the emerging Urban Industrial-Romantic period of pipe organ building that followed the Agrarian-Baroque. Within that period of transformation might be an organ known to pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin.
So let me reimagine my second organ as transformative by incorporating Agrarian-Baroque upper work and reed with emerging Industrial-Romantic foundation stops knowing as I do how to combine disparate pipework using proper scaling and voicing.
Basse de Bourdon 8' (c 1 to e 17, stopped wood)
Dessus de Flûte ouverte 8' (f 18 to d 51, open wood)
Dessus de Montre de la viole 8' (f 18 to d 51)
Basse de Flûte 4' (c 1 to e 17)
Dessus de Prestant 4' (f 18 to d 51)
Dessus de Flûte 4' (f 18 to d 51, triangular)
Doublette 2' (notes 1 - 51)
Bass de Cromorne 8' (c 1 to b 24)
Dessus de Nasard 2 2/3' ( c 25 to d 51)
Dessus de Tierce 1 3/5' (c 25 to d 51)
Dividing the registers of a one-manual organ at middle-c is a more or less common practice. Dividing a stop at tenor-f to share its bass pipes with an additional register was a mid-nineteenth-century technique that allowed organ builders to economize on space yet provide an organ of limited size with greater tonal diversity, as demonstrated by this example.
Gorham Street design accommodates reclaimed pipework, especially that which has provenance to the Industrial-Romantic period, without building an organ that implies the social norms, attitudes, or culture of the late-Symphonic Industrial Revolution.
Gorham Street Is
by Steve Panizza
Gorham Street is the name I give my workshop here in Minneapolis. I work alongside an independent team of artisans as we combine our strengths in ancient tradition to build a pipe organ that brings a collaborative and authentic experience to musicians and audiences alike.
Gorham Street chooses uncomplicated cabinet organ architecture for its sustainability.
Gorham Street builds a versatile instrument whose diversity in design balances foundation stops with upper work while maintaining the importance of a unified plenum.
Gorham Street uses older material, where appropriate, for its cultural and historical value.