Thursday, August 28, 2014

Brian Ebie plays Hogwarts Hymn from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ...

I made a lunchtime visit to the pipe organ I built at Mogadore Christian Church in Mogadore, Ohio.  It was a hot summer day, one of the few we've had this year.  I decided to record a piece that I have long thought would be great on an organ... Hogwarts Hymn from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I hope you enjoy it!

Recorded using an iPad, iMovie, and an Apogee MiC 96k.

Special thanks to Laura for editing and making it look great!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The First Mormon Tabernacle Organist 
By Brian Ebie

Anyone who has traveled to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah is of course familiar with the famous 206-rank Aeolian Skinner pipe organ in the Mormon Tabernacle, and perhaps even the 130-rank Schoenstein pipe organ in the LDSConference Center.  And while these are certainly the most famous instruments on Temple Square, there are many other smaller pipe organs that are used for concert and practice by the Tabernacle Organists Richard Elliott, Clay Christiansen, and Andrew Unsworth.   The Assembly Hall boasts a 65 rank Robert Sipe Tracker, and the Joseph Smith Building a 45 rank Casavant.  Additionally, there are three practice organs located in the offices under the Assembly Hall by Austin, Casavant, and KennethCoulter.  Two Dowd Harpsichords and a continuo organ and some 75 pianos also reside on Temple Square.

But it was a humble reed or “pump” organ, maker unknown, which traveled across the plains on the Mormon Trail in the year 1862 and often carried on the back of pioneer John Daynes that would lead to the birth of the great pipe organ tradition on Temple Square. 
The reed organ carried across the plains on the back of John Daynes, 
father of the first Tabernacle Organist, Joseph Daynes.  

There was much hardship and difficulty, treacherous conditions, poor weather, sickness and death accompanying the Saints as they traveled west.  Physical exhaustion and lack of food contributed to terrible conditions along the trail. There was little else to do but travel by day and sleep by night.  But on one particular evening, around a campfire and circled wagons and handcarts, John Daynes’ young son Joseph played the little pump organ and entertained the tired travelers with songs and hymns.  Brigham Young, then President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stopped by the encampment and noticed the young Joseph and being so taken with the music and the positive mood it created for the weary pioneers, proclaimed “There is our organist for the great Tabernacle organ!”  Brigham had often been asked who would play the new organ in the Tabernacle to which he would reply that the Lord would provide men able to do all things that were necessary.

Young Joseph Daynes (1851-1920) was sent to New York to study organ and returned to become the first official Tabernacle Organist.   He was known for his excellent sight-reading, sensitive accompaniment, and compositions as well as being a proficient organist. 

You may even be familiar with his most famous hymn, "As the Dew from Heaven Distilling," which is the closing hymn for the MormonTabernacle Choir's broadcast each Sunday of “Music and the Spoken Word.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

Brian Ebie visits The Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial Pipe Organ

This past Saturday, Laura and I went to buy a cello in Indiana, Pennsylvania. 

We met the fellow selling it at Indiana University, Pennsylvania (IUP), where he is a student.  In the room where he demonstrated the cello to us I was able to visit this AWESOME tracker pipe organ built by the RJ Brunner Pipe Organ Company.  I found out that it was originally built for a private residence and the owners donated the pipe organ, along with the largest monetary donation in their history to the American Guild of Organists.  This donation will go toward scholarships and other endeavors.

The organ is a two-manual, mechanical action organ which comes to IUP via a special, renewable lease from the American Guild of Organists. The organ casework is gilded in 22-karat gold leaf, inspired by the early Pennsylvania German pipe organs built by David Tannenberg (1728–1804).   I didn't get to play it, but it was enough just to see it.  When I finally build my home tracker organ, I will definitely be inspired by this instrument.

An excellent time-lapse video of the installation can be found on YouTube:

A last look at the Tannenberg-inspired casework.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tim's Vermeer

Laura and I streamed a movie through Amazon Prime this weekend entitled "Tim's Vermeer."  It's the story of inventor Tim Jenison's attempt to re-create "The Music Lesson" by Johannes Vermeer by using a camera obscura optical device and strategically placed lenses and mirrors.  It's a brilliant film produced by Penn and Teller and narrated by Penn Gillette.  I immediately identified with Tim, especially since he's built his own pipe organ in his shop!  

I didn't know about the "Vermeer Controversy"  until this film.  Vermeer appears on the scene at the age of 21 with no provenance to speak of and begins producing images with photographic realism. 

Using "Vermirrors," inventions of his own, and relevant historical approaches, optical lenses, and hand-ground pigments for his paints, Tim explored how Vermeer might have created his paintings.  Tim traveled to sites around Europe to study original locations and paintings and to gain a better understanding of Vermeer's environment.  For five years Tim Jenison worked toward the goal of re-creating this masterpiece.  He's not an artist, not a painter, and approached this from an experimental

This is an excellent film and I highly recommend watching it when you feel like a brainy romp through art history.  You can find it here on Amazon

This picture shows a side-by-side comparison of Tim's Vermeer on the left and the original on the right.