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Pipe Organ Building and Restoration

 

Wallace & Co. Pipe Organ Builders are specialists in the construction, relocation, renovation and restoration of mechanical (tracker) action pipe organs.  Much of our restoration work has been with instruments from the 19th Century.  We renovate electropneumatic pipe organs as well. Wallace & Co. also provides expert consultation, pipe organ appraisal and evaluation services.

 

When considering the construction of a new organ, our goal is to build the instrument to best meet the needs of our client and to appropriately fit the requirements of the location of the organ. Our proposals are based on those features that bring the best and most successful traditions of organ building to the proposed instrument. We believe that there is great elegance in the simplicity of the organ.

 

Our philosophy toward restoration starts with the basic concept that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Since each instrument is unique in its original construction, its present condition, its location and its continuing use, there are a number of factors we consider before proposing a restorative course for an organ.

 

Any historic, rare and unaltered instrument should never be changed for the sake of change. It is a window on the past and most likely provides a clear glimpse of the original builder’s art and pipe organ history in general.

 

If an organ has been changed, is there value in changing the organ back to its original form and specification? Can a restoration be done in such a way that it once again clearly represents the original builder’s style and philosophy?  If the answer is no, then consideration should be given to retaining those changes if they are beneficial to the organ.  If an organ has been significantly changed and the changes are not worth keeping, a well thought out renovation of the organ is in order.

 

Making changes to an existing pipe organ should be approached carefully and thoughtfully. Is there a very real need for the changes?  Can the changes be done in such a way that they are reversible? Is there a precedent in other organs by the same builder? Are original materials available? Can they be done with minimal change to frame, case, chests, and actions? If tonal changes are suggested, does the proposed specification have a basis in other organs by that builder? Does the new pipework follow scale and voicing of the existing pipework? Will the changes allow the end result to be a seamless positive “augmentation” of the organ rather than an “alteration” thus keeping that which was original in its original form?

 

We believe the right stewardship in organ conservation and restoration can involve change when it is undertaken  in accordance with the spirit and intent of the original builder and serves to reinforce the original direction for which the instrument was built. While no builders want their work to become quaint and dusty artifacts, by the same token, neither would they want their creations to be altered beyond their own recognition.  Whether restoration in the strictest sense, or a judicious updating of the organ, the spirit of the original aesthetic for the current setting of the organ is our primary directive force.