Two New Rodgers Imagine 351 Organs Installed in SoCal Churches
Church Keyboard has completed the installation of Rodgers Imagine 3-manual organs at Mandarin Baptist Church in Alhambra, and LaVerne Heights Presbyterian Church in LaVerne.
The Mandarin Baptist Church organ includes four ranks of Rodgers pipes that were originally installed with a Rodgers organ in the 1990s. The new Imagine organ is an exciting upgrade. Tony Ha is the music director.
At LaVerne Heights Presbyterian, the Rodgers Imagine organ replaces a forty-year-old 2-manual Allen organ. Dr. Janet Harms is the organist.
These new organs featuring DS Core technology bring a new level of capability to replicating the sound of pipes. Sophisticated voicing controls enable fine-tuning the sound of each organ to the acoustic space in which it is heard. We’ve been very pleased with the sound of both of these new organs.
10-second pipe samples for every note of every stop
Click here to read more about the benefits of Direct Streaming
Click here for an in-depth explanation of the DS Core technology
New Custom Monarke for All Saints by-the-Sea, Santa Barbara
Starting in 2012, All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church (Santa Barbara) has been planning a major reconstruction of the church to bring the building up to current seismic standards. Originally built in 1900, engineering consultants had advised that the sanctuary and bell tower would not survive a significant earthquake.
The construction involved a nearly complete demolition of the sanctuary floor and walls, adding a new foundation, new steel reinforcements throughout the structure, and ultimately rebuilding the sanctuary to look as if nothing changed.
A key part of the project included replacing the 1970s-era 70+ rank pipe organ that was failing and had been challenged by the poor acoustics of the sanctuary, with its low ceiling supported by beautiful wood arches that effectively inhibited the sound of the organ from adequately reaching the far ends of the sanctuary.
Church Keyboard was invited to present a proposal for a new organ in late 2018 and a contract was entered into in February 2019 to design and install a custom Monarke digital organ of 84 stops, equivalent to 96 ranks. A hybrid pipe organ approach was considered, but the overwhelming acoustical situation led to the choice of an all-digital instrument that could more effectively overcome these challenges.
Nelson Huber, the recently retired music director and organist at All Saints, was retained as consultant and artistic director for the design of the new organ.
An October 2019 view of the Chancel area at All Saints by-the-Sea Santa Barbara with framing for the new floor in the rear of the Nave visible and before new foundation construction for the front portion of the Nave and Chancel.
Installation of the Monarke organ started in September 2020, and proceeded at a slow but steady pace, coordinating with the general construction schedule. The installation included 73 speakers: a 46-speaker main audio system in a specially prepared space behind the Chancel, a 9-speaker antiphonal speaker system at the rear of the Nave for the Solo division, and a 16-speaker system spread throughout the Nave to enable hearing the organ at a consistent sound level regardless of where one is seated.
Installing the Nave monitor speakers at All Saints by-the-Sea, Santa Barbara for the new Monarke organ
The new Monarke organ debuted on July 4, 2021, in a joyful first church service back in the newly rebuilt sanctuary–celebrating both the ability to worship in-person following the pandemic and the completion of this years-long reconstruction of All Saints by-the-Sea.
L to R: Nelson Huber, organ consultant, Steven Thomson, interim music director, and Nelson Dodge with the new Monarke organ console, All Saints by-the-Sea, Santa Barbara.
The newly reconstructed All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara CA.
The All Saints Monarke organ is the first in the world that with the DS Core technology developed by the Global Organ Group that features long sound samples of a wind-blown pipe for every note of every stop. The console has keyboards with Grenadilla wood naturals and Maple wood sharps built by ULRICH HERMANN TASTATURBAU (UHT) of Orlishausen, Germany.
The new custom Monarke organ console at All Saints by-the-Sea, Santa Barbara on a rolling platform built by Church Keyboard Center.
Monarke Organ Specification, All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara
Open Diapason 16’
Flûte Harmonique 8’
Stopped Flute 8’
Gemshom Celeste 8’
Open Flute 4’
Quinte 2 2/3’
Super Octave 2’
Contra Tromba 16’
Trompette en Chamade 8’
Viola di Gamba 8’
Erzahler Celeste 8’
Nazard 2 2/3’
Larigot 1 1/3’
Bass Clarinet 16’
English Tuba 8’
Geigen Principal 8’
Claribel Flute 8’
Voix Celeste 8’
Flute Twelfth 2 2/3’
Tierce 1 3/5’
Plein Jeu IV
Contra Trumpet 16’
Vox Humana 8’
Gamba Celeste 8’
French Horn 8’
Contra Bombarde 16’
Trompette en Chamade 8’
Contra Violone 32’
Contra Diapason 32’
Contra Bourdon 32’
Lieblich Gedackt 16’
Contra Posaune 16’
New organ course at CSU Long Beach (CA) aims to train substitute church organists
Church Keyboard Center congratulates California State University, Long Beach on the purchase of an Inspire Classic two-manual organ for their newly established practice room.
According to Dr. Johannes Stosch, Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU Long Beach, this is the first state-of-the-art practice organ for the campus. It will support an organ course planned to launch in Spring 2023 targeted at pianists that provides an introduction to playing the organ for church services. The offering is a response to the shortage of available substitute organists in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, an area with a population of over thirteen million and thousands of churches.
The Rodgers Inspire 227 organ features new high-definition sound samples of actual organ pipes that have the effect of playing a pipe organ. Despite the acoustical treatment in the practice room (see photo), the state-of-the-art Convolution reverb system creates the effect of being in a much larger acoustical space.
The Insipre 227 organ from Rodgers was a perfect choice for our needs. It has enough volume to resemble a medium church acoustic without overpowering our practice room. The stop list affords students to be exposed to various tonal designs, e.g., German, French, English and American pipe organ stops. The various historic tunings available at a push of a button make this a perfect demonstration instrument for music theory classes as well. The students of the Bob Cole Conseravtory of Music will benefit from this instrument for years to come. Furthermore, this was a surprisingly affordable purchase for the campus. (Dr. Johannes M. Stosch)
Churches in the Southern California area often have difficulty finding substitute organists. Although many of the members of the Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Orange County chapters of the American Guild of Organists—with a combined membership of over 450 professional organists—are available as substitute organists, the call for substitutes on any given weekend often exceeds the number of organists available.
The Rodgers Inspire Classic organ in the practice room at California State University Long Beach, Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, Dr. Johannes Stosch, director
In addition to his position at CSU Long Beach, Dr. Stosch is Director of Music Ministry at St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, where he plays a Rodgers hybrid pipe organ. Dr. Stosch received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music. He received two Master of Music degrees in orchestral conducting and organ performance from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati where he also won the coveted Strader Organ Competition.
CSU Long Beach joins a growing roster of colleges and universities in Southern California with instructional, practice, and chapel organs provided by Church Keyboard Center, the Global Organ Group representative for Southern and Central California: Azusa Pacific University, Biola University, CalPoly San Luis Obispo, California Lutheran University, Concordia University (Irvine), Cuesta College, El Camino Community College, La Sierra University, Loyola Marymount University, Pepperdine University, University of La Verne, Vanguard University, and Westmont College.
“Over the past ten years we’ve prioritized getting new state-of-the-art practice and instructional organs into universities and colleges to provide organ students with advanced features and authentic pipe organ sound that will inspire them to grow and develop their skills as organists,” said Nelson Dodge, Church Keyboard Center president. “I’m very pleased to add Cal State Long Beach to our roster.”
Entrance to the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, California State University Long Beach
An In-depth Look at DS Core Technology
In late 2018 the Rodgers Inspire organs launched the new revolutionary DS Core technology platform. Since then, the Inspire line has expanded and the Imagine models have been added.
At Church Keyboard Center we’ve gained extensive experience with this new platform, which features the most sophisticated voicing controls we’ve seen in a digital organ. To date, we’ve delivered 13 Inspire and 3 Imagine organs, plus one large 84-stop custom organ, and additional contracts in hand for several more Inspire and Imagine church installations in the coming months.
From what we are hearing in our installations, DS Core has raised the bar to the highest level yet in a digital organ to achieve the sound of pipes.
The DS Core platform gets its name from the way the pipe sound samples are processed when the organ is being played. With each note of each stop created using a roughly 10-second sample of the real pipe, this results in an enormous amount of sound data (many gigabytes) stored in the organ and getting processed in real-time as the organ is played.
Conventional methods of handling huge amounts of sound data involve loading it all into working memory (RAM) when the organ is started. Loading many gigabytes of data takes several minutes. Users of the Hauptwerk virtual organ software are familiar with this routine. But this arrangement is neither practical nor acceptable for a premium organ like a Rodgers that must be able to perform flawlessly in all types of performance environments.
DS Core resolves the dilemma between enjoying the quality of long sound samples and the convenience of fast startup. The DS stands for Direct Streaming. The gigabytes of sound sample data are streamed “on demand” during performance, eliminating the need to load the data into RAM on startup. Consequently, DS Core organs startup in approx. eight seconds and are ready to play with all the beauty, realism, and nuance that comes from long sound samples of every pipe.
DS Core presented us with a new way of thinking about voicing and shaping the tonal character of each note. The voicing controls are sophisticated and involved a learning curve to understand how to manipulate the multiple parameters to achieve the quality of sound we knew was possible.
Nelson spent many hours over a period of months experimenting with the first Inspire models in the studio. It gradually became apparent how to achieve the result we had in mind…..and even better. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the sound we’re getting in these new organs has exceeded our expectations. Even in a studio setting, it is easy to forget that you’re playing a digital organ and simply become enthralled with the sound of pipes.
Voicing vs. PEQ vs. configuring
We make a big deal about “voicing” the organs, but there is actually more than that involved……and in the end, what does it all mean?
Setting up a new digital organ–whether in a home, studio, or church–requires a multitude of system settings to be configured that ultimately determine how good the organ sounds.
Initially, there are a number of settings to go through that configure the organ for the particular audio setup (internal speakers, various arrangements of external speakers, and combinations thereof). The core of the audio channeling is a Matrix Mixer that enables mapping the audio inputs (divisions such as Great, Swell, etc) to multiple audio outputs and controlling the balance of the outputs. The Matrix Mixer enables enormous flexibility in our speaker system designs and how we are able to channel sound for the best effect.
Parametric Equalization (PEQ)
Parametric equalization is a capability Rodgers organs have had since 2010, but the technology takes a big step up in the DS Core platform. In short, PEQ allows “correcting” for anomalies in how the organ speakers “couple” with the acoustic space.
Every room reinforces and absorbs certain frequencies due to how sound bounces around and interacts with the structure (floor, walls, and ceiling) and the materials on those surfaces (carpet, stone, wood, glass, ceiling tile, etc). The cumulative results are that some sounds get “boomy” when low frequencies are reinforced and high frequencies can be over-amplified or absorbed, resulting in an organ that sounds too bright or dull.
Using the PEQ controls we make “corrections” in the sound that the speakers project into the room that compensate for the acoustic anomalies of the room. Every room behaves differently, but in the hands of an expert technician with a good ear, PEQ quickly cleans up the sound.
This short YouTube below explains the basics of PEQ using a vocal recording that demonstrates the PEQ effects on the sound. The video explains the concept of PEQ and you can hear how it is used to improve the sound of a recording, and ultimately how the recording sounds to your ears. In an organ audio system, we are using PEQ to “correct” (improve) how the speakers interact with the room, and consequently how the organ sounds to your ears. Whether the medium is recorded or live sound, the concept and mechanics are the same.
With the audio channeling configured and speaker equalization completed, we’re ready to begin the detailed voicing process. This is where we use powerful tools built-in to the Rodgers organ operating system to adjust the tonality of each stop at the rank and note levels.
In the new Rodgers Imagine 351 organ, this amounts to a total of 208 ranks (including all the Voice Palette stops) and over 11,000 individual notes. With nine voicing parameters that can be adjusted for each note, over 100,000 individual voicing adjustments are possible. Fortunately, we also have powerful tools that facilitate, and in some cases automate, the voicing process.
Each note of each rank starts with a recording (“sample”) of a pipe. Using voicing parameters such as level (volume) and the ability to increase or decrease the level of specific harmonics in the note, we’ve got a few hundred possibilities of how an individual note (pipe) will actually sound. Ultimately, the human ear cannot differentiate that many variations–however, the overall range of tonal effect that is possible assures that a desired result is achievable.
We work through an entire rank, adjusting the tonal controls for each note until an overall character and balance is achieved that fits our vision for the organ. Then the rank is played with other stops to check for blending and overall ensemble sound. This points out certain notes that need further fine adjustments. This process continues until the overall artistic effect desired is realized. This, of course, is a matter of taste, but with so much latitude and fine-grained control, any nuance in tonal taste can be satisfied.
Organ models that have DS Core (click on model to see specs)
Three New Rodgers Inspire Classic Organs in Organists’ Homes
Church Keyboard has completed the delivery of three new Rodgers Inspire Classic organs to Southern California residential customers in Fullerton, Costa Mesa, and Lake Hughes. Two of the organs are the first home practice organ for the organists, and one replaces an Allen Historique.
The new two-manual Inspire Classic is built on the new DS Core technology platform that delivers the most realistic sound of wind-blown pipes yet. The built-in audio system and two external satellite speakers effectively create the sense of a larger acoustical space in a residential environment.
Even though the Inspire Classic is the lowest-priced organ in the Rodgers line, it features the same high-powered technology and new long pipe sound samples as the larger Rodgers organs.
Using the extensive and powerful channeling and voicing controls in the DS Core software, Nelson Dodge, Church Keyboard president, has developed a custom configuration that enhances the sense of playing a pipe organ that goes well beyond the standard “factory” configuration. “What we can achieve with this new technology is well beyond anything we’ve had in the past,” Nelson said. “It’s a very satisfying sound I don’t get tired of hearing. Play one and you’ll get it.”
The Rodgers Inspire Classic organ became available in late 2020. It has 27 stops, a total of 153 pipe organ and orchestral voices, and an AGO pedalboard.