When Daniel Jaeckel said his Opus 45 Pipe Organ, which he and
his team have spent nearly 10 years planning and building for the
Schwartz Center's Emerson Concert Hall, is "good for a couple hundred
years," he wasn't boasting. If anything, given the circumstances
and his building techniques, he's being rather modest.
one of North America's top builders of hand-crafted organs and
a skilled organist himself, Jaeckel has played instruments that
were some of the most complex mechanisms of their age. His fingers
have coaxed sounds from a Sion, Switzerland, mechanical-action
organ built in 1390 and a Rysum, Germany, organ from 1430.
the Alsace region of Germany, Jaeckel has paid numerous pilgrimages
to the well-preserved organs of Andreas Silbermann, renowned for
integrating the French Classic and German Baroque in the early
1700s. In fact, the tonal design of Silbermann's organs greatly
influences Jaeckel's 54-stop mechanical-action organ that will
be the crown jewel of Emerson Concert Hall.
prides himself on using the same building techniques and the same
materials in his pipe organs--wood, glue, tin, lead, leather--as
did the masters (only the blower, which provides wind for pipes,
is electrically operated). That's why he knows that over the decades,
the dove-tailed corners and pinned mortise-and-tenon joints will
fit together even more smoothly, and a little dust on the organ
case façade will add a patina that no artist can duplicate--or
cleaning crew should remove.
he disdains electronic gizmos and mass-production techniques, Jaeckel's
organs are as responsive to human hands as those from earlier centuries.
Perhaps more importantly, audience members will hear organ music
almost identical to what people heard three centuries ago.
1978, Jaeckel has presided over a small workshop in northern Minnesota
that has produced nearly 50 organs, large and small, for churches,
colleges and concert halls (he currently has one under way in Tokyo).
Prior to that, he received a truly interdisciplinary education:
a master's degree in music composition, a bachelor's in education
and undergraduate work in mathematics, civil engineering and theology.
to the influence of a music professor, Jaeckel gradually realized
that he could combine all these interests in the "physics of sound." He
dedicated himself to learning the organ-building trade and was
fortunate enough to apprentice with the Rieger Orgelbau firm in
days he works with six full-time employees, and the team starts
from scratch to build every part of the organ, from trackers and
pipes to consoles, wind chests and reservoirs. Indeed, Jaeckel
is known for his virtuosity in building stylized organs.
I do more than anyone else is combine and overlap styles," he said. "It's
an educated eclecticism. I know where I can and can't compromise."
he cherishes words like the compliment he received from an expert
organist who had just performed on one of his instruments: "It
taught me so much."
Albrecht, professor of music and University organist, began collaborating
on the construction of the organ with Jaeckel in 1991. Recently,
Albrecht said he caught a sight of the partially completed organ
in Schwartz and it gave him goose bumps.
Jaeckel nailed our desire to have a visual organ design for Emerson
Concert Hall that would be completely at peace in its Emory surroundings," Albrecht
said. "Its rounded pedal towers, wood carvings that include Southern
foliage, and colored panels reflect a secular and academic orientation
that avoids a 'church-organ' appearance in a university concert
reinforced my earlier conviction that Daniel Jaeckel is a visual
artist as well as a master organ builder," he continued. "To be
able to pull off having a 14-ton structure appear completely at
home as the visual focal point of the Emerson Concert Hall, being
neither too muscular and overpowering nor too understated and inconsequential,
is confirmation of Daniel's preeminence."
Magee, senior associate dean of Emory College and a guiding force
behind the pipe organ project, believes Jaeckel's pipe organ also
reflects a growing sense of Emory's commitment and appreciation
of the arts.
so exciting about this organ," Magee said, "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."
course, much work remains before Albrecht's first recital in fall
2005. From all outward appearances, the organ looks finished. But
Jaeckel will not complete the arduous process of voicing the pipes
until next summer. To do so, he must tune each pipe individually
(the longest is 27 feet and the smallest is a quarter-inch).
you do pipes you go into sort of a trance," Jaeckel said. "Your
ears get attuned, then you start hearing things that nobody else
does." Sometimes, he said, it takes a full day to get the sound
right for one pipe.
finished, the stage will be set for the Emory community to celebrate
the inaugural year of the organ (Albrecht refers to it as "The
Year of the Jaeckel") with a weekend festival. Later in the year,
Albrecht will premiere a new piece written for the occasion by
Stephen Paulus, one of the most accomplished composers in the United
more information, see http://schwartzcenter.emory.edu/about/organ.html.