The Fenner Douglass Organ
Bower Chapel, Naples, Florida
Taylor and Boody Organbuilders, 2001
The Fenner Douglass Organ in Bower Chapel is heir to the rich traditions of craftsmanship established in Europe in the sixteenth century. The influence of the great German and Dutch organs from the eighteenth century is especially prominent. The solid, hand-planed cherry case is decorated in the traditional manner with carvings and moldings reminiscent of sixteenth-century Dutch instruments created by the famous builder Hendrik Neihoff.
Altogether, the organ has 1902 pipes in 32 stops. Each pipe note has remarkably human characteristics of speech, such as consonants and vowels, which must be voiced to complement the acoustics of the organ’s home. This tonal work required an additional six weeks of work after the organ’s installation at the Bower Chapel. A very large part of the musical success of this instrument lies in the rare acoustical qualities of the Bower Chapel. Like singers, organs need reverberant spaces for their sound to bloom.
Winding is supplied by three large bellows located in a room above and behind the organ. Although an electric blower usually inflated the bellows, the organ sounds best when foot pumping raises its wind. This traditional method of winding has a measure of flexibility, which imparts a naturalquality to the music similar to the breathing of a singer. Surprisingly little effort is required to raise the wind for a mighty sound.
With few exceptions, the thousands of parts in this instrument were constructed from raw materials in the builder’s Virginia shop. The case is made from cherry, but the organ also includes poplar, white pine, white oak, western red cedar, hard maple, and walnut, each selected for its particular structural or aesthetic properties. The keys are made of pine, covered with cowbone and ebony. Metal for the pipes is cast in sheets of tin alloys using ancient techniques developed more than two thousand years ago for making plumbing. Casting and forming the pipes are labor intensive in the extreme as there are critical variations in their diameters from note to note and in the thickness of each pipe from bottom to top. Much of it is planed to thickness by hand.
8' Viol da Gamba
8' Voce Umana
2 2/3' Nasat
1 3/5' Tierce
Couplers: POS / GT, GT / PD, POS / PD
Mechanical key and stop action
Compass: Manuals 54 notes, C - f'''; Pedal 30 notes, C - f'
Case: Constructed of solid cherry
Metal pipes of hammered lead-tin alloys
3 wedge bellows with pumping levers
Joan Lippincott at the console