Organ Fund Raising

Dear friends of the University of Alberta Department of Music: In the mid 1970s the Department made some significant decisions that would enable the development of advanced degree programs in organ s

01 August 2009

Dear friends of the University of Alberta Department of Music:

In the mid 1970s the Department made some significant decisions that would enable the development of advanced degree programs in organ studies, as well as encourage the further development of the Department's choral program. Professor Gerhard Krapf, who had developed a nationally known organ program at University of Iowa, was appointed as the University of Alberta's professor of organ studies in 1977, and developed both the Masters and doctoral degrees in organ over the ten years of his association with U of A.

At the time Professor Krapf was appointed, the University also invested in a magnificent new Casavant tracker-action organ for Convocation Hall, as well as a 4-stop Casavant portative organ, to be used both by the choral and organ divisions of the Music Department as a continuo instrument for Baroque and Classical period music.

Both of these instruments have served the Department extremely well over the more than three decades since their acquisition. The Convocation Hall organ is the Department's main performance and teaching instrument for organ studies, and the portative organ has been used extensively not only by various Department ensembles but also by the more than 50 students who have graduated from the U of A's Masters and doctoral programs in choral conducting over the past 20 years. It has also been used extensively throughout the Edmonton musical community, as for many years it was the only portative organ available in this city. Through frequency of use this instrument has suffered a steady deterioration, both in sound quality and appearance, and is becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain. While it is still serviceable and will continue to be used both in the Department and externally by user groups, we are not confident about its long-term sustainability or adequate contribution to our current and future performance/research goals.

As you may know, the modern pitch standard adhered to today by most contemporary orchestras and other music ensembles corresponds to A=440 Hz. Prior to the 19th Century, a wide range of pitch standards existed throughout the musical community, but a prevalent pitch standard in the Baroque period was A=415 (approximately a semitone lower than today's pitch standard). A major drawback of our current portative is that it does not have the flexibility to play at pitch levels other than A=440. As we are more consciously trying to perform Baroque music at appropriate pitch levels with our various performance groups, we see the need for an instrument that has the flexibility to be played at A=415 and even A=392 as well as A=440. Our goal then in this fundraising drive is to raise the funds that will enable us to invest in a new portative organ with these capabilities - in other words, an instrument that will admirably serve our current and future needs for study and performance of the music of these periods.

Professor Marnie Giesbrecht, the Department's current Professor of Organ Studies, has done extensive research on potential organ builders, and we have settled on a builder in Montreal, James Louder. He has built a number of very fine portative organs that are currently in use in various parts of the country. Here is a link to his webpage for this particular instrument, for those interested in knowing more about this builder's work:

The organ will possess five stops:

1. Bourdon 8' wooden pipes for the first three octaves, the rest metal
2. Principal 4' in facade, of polished tin (85%); 1st 8ve common with no. 3
3. Flute à cheminée 4' wooden pipes for the first two octaves, the rest metal
4. Dessus de Nasard 22/3' metal, from middle C#
5. Flûte à bec 2' metal; C1 - G18 with conical caps, the rest open conical

Other details of its specifications can be found below.

The quotation price was given to us nearly a year ago, at $62,000, including delivery. We anticipate that this may increase somewhat, so we are targeting $65,000 as our fundraising goal. To date, through donations and pledges received, we have raised around $23,000 towards this goal.

Dr. Krapf, whose contribution to this Department and the organ and choral culture in Edmonton was immense, passed away in July of last year after a long period of illness. In December last year, a memorial tribute concert was mounted in the hall. In recognition of Dr. Krapf's major contributions to the development of the organ program at U of A the new portative organ will be named the Krapf Memorial Organ.

I am writing you to ask that you consider making a donation or pledge to this project over the next few months. Our target date for raising the funds required to go ahead with the contract is August 1. The builder will take approximately six months to complete the instrument, so we anticipate having the organ in time for a gala concert at some point in Winter Term 2010.

The University of Alberta will receipt your donation for income tax purposes. Donations can be made either online by following the link: Krapf Organ Fund:

or by sending a cheque to the University of Alberta, with a note indicating "Krapf Memorial Organ Fund", to:

Department of Music
3-82 Fine Arts Building
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB T6G 2C9.

I'd like to thank you in advance for considering this as an opportunity to contribute to a very worthy project that will enhance present and future students' and faculty members' ability to carry out their performance and research activity. Your donation will be acknowledged in the inaugural gala program (date and place to be confirmed).


Leonard Ratzlaff
Professor of Choral Music

Organ Specifications:

The manual compass is 51 notes: C-- d'''. The keyboard has boxwood naturals with sharps of padouk, capped with ebony. The octave compass is 161mm, similar to most harpsichords. The naturals are 40mm long at front and the sharps 65mm long. The keyboard may be transposed to play at A=440 Hz, A=415Hz, or A=392Hz. All stops have divided registers to make the organ more versatile for solo playing; and also to get around certain problems of hands' crossing that can arise in continuo playing. The split point is normally between C25 and C#26 at A415 and between B24 and C25 at A440, but this can be set differently to suit individual preference (prior to construction, that is). Stop pulls are located on either side of the keyboard.The casework is made of solid plain-sawn white oak, The organ's polished tin façade contains 21 pipes of the Prestant 4' (from 2nd C), surmounted by open fretwork panels of hard maple, to allow free egress for the sound of the pipes within. The organ will be fitted with front shutters on lift-off hinges, to protect the façade pipes when the organ is not in use.

Casework may be ordered in other woods such as quarter-sawn oak, cherry, and black walnut. Hand-carved pipe-shades, gilding, and polychrome work are also available. We will be glad to quote for the additional costs involved. The organist may play standing, or seated on the tall bench that we supply with the instrument. The music desk adjusts to accommodate either position. A small footstool is also provided for the seated organist's comfort. The organ is mounted on casters so that it can be easily moved around the performance area. The blower is contained in the base of the organ, so there is no blower-box to encumber the stage.
The organ separates into two sections for ease of transport. The upper casework, with the windchest, pipes, and keyboard, lifts off the rolling base. So separated, the organ easily fits into a mini-van. The keyboard slides into the case and locks in place to protect it. A padded, fitted cover is supplied to protect the whole instrument during transport or storage.

The dimensions of the instrument are 110 cm wide, 112 cm high, and 62 cm deep (approximately, 43" x 44" x 24").
The wooden pipes will be made of white oak. The first two octaves of the Bourdon will be integrated into the organ case. The metal pipes will be made of 28% tin, hammered and tapered in thickness; except for the Principal 4' which will be of 85% tin. Open pipes will have stainless-steel tuning collars to facilitate tuning and to allow the organ to be put into various temperaments. The stopped pipes will have moveable caps and/or stoppers with enough latitude for the same purpose. A tuning-iron will be supplied with the organ.

The organ's "native" temperament (i.e. the temperament used for voicing the instrument) will be a 1/6th of a Pythagorean comma circulating temperament, without any Pythagorean thirds.