Opus 126 Installation Log
Wednesday January 05, 2005
Greg Bover: Greenville NC Week 1 Sunday
Everything went very well today. The rain that threatened all day never materialized and we had a large and enthusiastic group of parishioners to help unload. We began just after noon and had both trucks unloaded by 4:30. There was no damage to speak of and no injuries, and folks seemed to be having a genuinely good time. The church is absolutely chock-a-block full, there just isn't anywhere to store things except out in the open. Even I have my concerns about clearing the space enough for Sunday next, but we'll have a large group to help rearrange on Saturday.
Our digs are very comfortable. Jason and I are in a Mother-in-law apartment attached to the Everett family home. We have two bedrooms, two baths, a sitting room and a kitchen. We have our own entrance so that we can come and go without disturbing anyone. The Everetts are both computer people so the whole house is WIFI. The IT person at the church will set up a wireless router there too, so we should be all set by mid week. The church kitchen is stuffed with food and we've had dinners at folk’s houses these past two nights, so the college dining hall plan has yet to be tested.
Tomorrow morning the boom lift arrives. The sexton has rented one before to change light bulbs so he seems unfazed at the idea of removing the doors and squeezing the 59" wide lift through the 60" doorframe. I can hardly wait to hear the Contrebasse in this acoustic.
A good day. The lift didn’t show up until after 1pm so we spent the morning putting up the bottom octave of the Contrebasse the old fashioned way, by hand. We continued putting up the long interior posts without the lift, just muscling everything into place and bracing them as best we could. There were some exciting moments, but nothing fell over. Once the lift came we shifted into high gear, although it did take awhile to get the machine positioned. There is a large baptismal font permanently fixed dead center at the end of the central aisle, which makes it impossible to center the lift, nor is it possible to get the entire lift up at the same level as the organ platform. Nonetheless, I think it will be very helpful in lifting the largest pieces.
By the end of the day we had all the posts up, the frame plumbed and leveled, the Positive level steel attached to the back wall, and the Positive chests, SA motors and walkboards in and fastened. We spent a frustrating hour searching for a pair of wind ducts that we had to have; there are too many boxes of miscellaneous parts that are not properly labeled. We will doubtless find them in the morning. Janette Fishell, St. Paul’s Organist, was sick and therefore not around to show us the ropes at the ECU dining hall. Tom and Pat Norris took us out for Mexican food at Chico’s, which was very good.
This morning we installed the Positive box, the 32-foot reed and the Great steel. After lunch we added the wedge bellows and the Great chests. The lift just barely picks up the big chests with me driving from the bucket. I'm concerned that it won’t pick up the 32' Bourdon unless I run it from the ground, which was difficult to do at Lausanne. We worked 'til seven and then tried the dining hall for the first time. One merely has to show the dining card and then everything after that is free. They have three entrees each day, usually chicken, pork or beef, and vegetable. There are always hamburgers, pizza, tacos and such available. There is a huge salad bar and a dessert bar, as well as soda, juices coffee, hot chocolate, etc. It was interesting to see the students, who are otherwise not much in evidence around the town. The girls are all dressed about the same in the bare-midriff, skintight look, the boys in that baggy-everything clownish style. I think I was the only grey-haired person in the place, despite a few grad students here and there. I don’t think we look too professorial, so it is hard to imagine what they might make of us.
We started with the 32' Bourdon chest, 20 feet off the ground, and then began adding the pipes. We had decided to depart from the reverse order list and leave the pedal chests out in case the Bourdon had to come up through the organ rather than over the front posts, but Low C, at about 400 pounds, went right up when the lift was fully charged. It is a bit disconcerting to drive the lift up the ramps while such a pipe is hanging from the bucket, but that is what was required, so we did, even though the machine bucks and the bucket swings back and forth. We had to bring the pipes to the Great level flatwise, move the lift and then re-rig, but it went right along. By the end of the day we had returned to the sequence laid out in the list and put in the rest of the pedal level as well as almost all the duct work.
At one point, one of the people watching from the front of the nave, (there’s always four or five), called me over to explain that he was being ordained tomorrow in a church in Chocowinity, about 15 miles to the east. He said the organ was broken and would it be possible for someone to come fix it. I had planned a quiet evening, the other guys were going to an ECU basketball game, but the young future priest seemed so earnest, and so distressed, that I said I’d come take a look. It was a 19th century Stevens that E Power Biggs was said to have praised, normally looked after by John Farmer, who was unavailable before the big day. It was only a broken pull down wire, but it was all but inaccessible. Leaning over an array of splayed wooden trackers and mindful of Jerry-and-the-wayward-walkboard-at-Lanesville, I did manage to replace it with some phosphor bronze, to the great relief of the young man. A friend of the ordainee, in town from Houston Cathedral for the ceremony, gave me a ride back to Greenville and we discovered a mutual appreciation for Joel and Margaret Shannon and their love of Tom Lehrer, bow ties and cowboy boots. It is a small world.
Another day another level. Spent most of the day putting in Swell level steel, chests, winding and stop action. We still have lots of visitors and observers. The ECU PR department comes twice a day top take pictures from a fixed mount camera, eventually to be made into a time lapse sequence for the documentary they are making on the organ. Penny Silvers, one of the most computer savvy folks at St Paul’s, and the person who got the wireless router set up, is also taking regular pictures and posting them on the church’s website. Janette visited today for the first time since Sunday when she was struck down by the flu, her “Oh my god” was even more forceful than the other folks who enter the church and are overwhelmed by the size of the instrument and the amount we have already assembled.
We are having an excellent time as a crew, there is even more than the usual foolishness. We seem to have decided to call Jason Jonas and vice versa, and Jonas (the real Jonas) occasionally calls me G-dogg, aside from the silliness, I have a wonderful feeling working with these crazy guys, we get huge amounts done each day, we split up the cooking and cleaning duties around the food preparation almost without discussion, and I have a sense of being a member of a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. It is a fine way to work.
We are concentrating on clearing the sanctuary of as many parts as possible before Sunday. Today we put up the swell box, which came within 1/4 inch of where I expected it to be in relation to the collar tie of the roof truss. Between Chuck’s laser measuring device and the use of AutoCAD, such precision is within our grasp. The HVAC outlets are not exactly where we expected them, so Nick has gamely embarked on reracking many of the P16OW trebles on the back wall. By the end of the day all the shades were in both boxes, all the windlines except the d-box were in and we had begun to install lower casework around the console.
We continued to put in as much as we could this morning and got the casework together up to the impost including the spandrels, almost as much as had stood in the shop. At noon, as we requested, volunteers arrived to help rearrange those parts were still strewn around the nave and clean everything for tomorrow’s services. We had asked for a dozen or so people and about thirty showed up. The unassembled pieces were restacked in the last three rows of chairs and around the organ, and chairs added at the front and in the transepts, for a net loss of fewer than 20 seats from last week. It was especially pleasing to have accomplished this since we heard from so many doubting Thomases during the last five days that the sanctuary would never be cleared in time for Sunday. We continue to be impressed by the active helping community that is this congregation.
On a whim, after a quick lunch, we took a ride down to New Bern, to enjoy being outside of the church on a beautiful clear crisp day. I managed to find First Presbyterian after not having been in town for 10 or 15 years, and we arrived just as Vance Harper Jones was driving up for his Saturday afternoon practice, he played the organ for us, and the newer guys were able to experience the serene beauty of that elegant little church building. The organ fits it as well as it ever did, I think in many ways it is one of the best examples of our attempts to create instruments that appear to have always been in their surroundings. We took a look at Tryon Palace, the colonial Governor’s mansion, and walked up and down the quaint main street, so reminiscent of Newburyport and other small colonial seaports. Back to Greenville through the cotton and tobacco fields and early to bed.