Jan-Piet Knijff and Ronald Stolk Modern American organ culture: an impression
Het ORGEL 97 (2001), nr. 4, july/august 40-47 [summary]

New York, Kerk om de Hoek, C.B. Fisk, 1988Three organs give an impression of the diversity that characterises contemporary American organ culture.

The first instrument is the Schoenstein organ in St Paul’s, Washington D.C., built in 1996. The firm claims to be ‘dedicated to expanding the tonal color and dynamic range of the pipe organ’. Director Bethards wants to develop a contemporary organ based on knowledge of ancient organs. Remarkable is the design of the swell boxes: both enclose an additional box. The organ has divisions placed in different parts of the church. Some stops are copies from Willis or Skinner. Some of the lowest stops of the Pedal are electronic.

The second organ is the instrument of Grace Episcopal Church, Washington D.C., built by A. David Moore. Again we encounter different worlds in one instrument: German principals stand next to French-oriented reeds.

The third organ is the Fisk organ in the ‘Little Church around the Corner’ of Fifth Avenue, New York. The instrument was built in 1988 and has 32 stops. This organ, too, is a mix: apparently, Voix CÚleste and Schnitger-Dulcian do not exclude one another in the current Fisk philosophy. The three manuals are named ‘Great’, ‘Swell’ and ‘Brustwerk’.

The search for convincing combinations shows that all of these organs are usable to make music, but they do not really support the search for ‘authentic’ interpretations.