University organist Timothy Albrecht


‘Year of the Jaeckel’

The fourteen-ton Opus 45 Pipe Organ that is now a focal point in Emory’s Emerson Concert Hall was only recently installed, but the grand instrument is the fruit of a relationship that goes back more than a decade.

In 1991, when plans for a University arts center were beginning to take shape, administrators and members of the arts faculty met with organ builder Daniel Jaeckel and asked him to design an organ expressly for Emory. But those early plans were abandoned and the agreement with Jaeckel had to wait more than ten years, until the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts was completed in 2003.

“A new direction took place after the mid-1990s,” says Timothy Albrecht, university organist. “Now Emory’s new architectural design team and Daniel began working together once again to effect a much more classical space and concert hall pipe organ we now see.”

One of North America’s most elite builders of hand-crafted organs, Jaeckel has studied and played instruments throughout Europe, acquainting himself with the intricate constructions of centuries ago. Working from a small shop in Minnesota, he has designed some fifty organs of varying sizes for churches, colleges, and concert halls. Jaeckel uses the same techniques and materials (wood, glue, tin, lead) as the masters of the 1700s, such as the famous Andreas Silbermann of Germany.

Emory’s organ case is made of cherry wood, in keeping with the wood found in Emerson Concert Hall, and the colors and visual design complement and reinforce shapes and colors throughout the hall. The wood carvings feature Southern foliage.

“We are thrilled at how our Jaeckel organ already feels visually at home and at peace in the room,” Albrecht says. “It is a huge asset for us at Emory and it will undoubtedly prove, beginning this fall, to be one of the major organ venues in Atlanta and the Southeast. It reinforced my earlier conviction that Daniel Jaeckel is a visual artist as well as a master organ builder.”

Although the structure of the organ is finished, Jaeckel will spend the coming months “voicing” the pipes–tuning each pipe, one at a time. The longest is twenty-seven feet and the shortest is a quarter inch.

The University will celebrate the Opus 45 with a festival and recital by Albrecht in September, when the “Year of the Jaeckel” will commence.

“What’s so exciting about this organ,” says Rosemary Magee ’82G, secretary of the University, “is that it is both a great work of art in itself and will be an instrument for the creation of great works of art for many years to come.”–P.P.P.



© 2005 Emory University