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Forbes Pipe Organ

Pipe Organ Protocol

Use of the Forbes Pipe Organ for recitals, concerts and special events is to be encouraged and the general public may be given a chance to play the instrument from time to time. Demonstrations of the organ for interested parties will be allowed.

University organist Paul Woodring is designated curator of the Forbes Pipe Organ. In this role he will watch over the instrument, report maintenance and repair concerns to PAC administration for action, evaluate guest organists and introduce approved users to the instrument, as well as play the organ for several services on behalf of the university each year. Normal tech labor charges will not be assessed when cost is incurred in support of Woodring’s duties as curator. Woodring will assist to develop and maintain a list of pre-qualified organists from our area. When a sponsor wishes organ ‘accompaniment’ the list can be provided as a reference for the group.

A group or an organist must approach PAC administration to schedule use of the organ for a recital, concert or special event. The managing director will follow normal protocol to schedule rehearsal time with the organ. An individual or group may approach either the managing director or Woodring to schedule a demonstration. If Woodring is approached, he may make arrangements for time in the hall directly with the PAC production coordinator.

If a public use of the organ is to be promoted in printed materials, on television or on-line, the Forbes Pipe Organ “mark” must be used and guidelines for its use will be provided to sponsors. PAC Administration also has a catalogue of approved photographs which may be used in publicity, at the sponsor’s discretion.

There will be no rental or maintenance fees charged for use of the organ. If the sponsor causes damage to the organ, they may be charged for repairs. If PAC tech staff must be brought in specifically for an organ rehearsal or demonstration, the sponsor may be charged tech labor at the typical hourly rate.

Organists must not sit on the organ bench with anything at all in their back pockets that could damage the bench. Pants can not have rivets. Shoes need to be all leather or none at all. No drinks are allowed in the organ console area.

The PAC will enter into a contract for annual maintenance of the instrument with the Fisk company. In addition, the PAC will set aside $8,500 annually in its Major Equipment Maintenance and Repair Program for instrument repairs. This amount may be adjusted as the need demonstrates.

Established June 11, 2007


History of the Forbes Pipe Organ

What has long been part of the vision for the Performing Arts Center is now reality. Harold Miossi Hall is home to a magnificent pipe organ built on the same grand scale as the instruments that grace cathedrals and concert halls in the world’s largest cities.

The gleaming silver pipes of the new Fisk Opus 129 pipe organ were once merely a gleam in the eyes of Clif Swanson and John and Barbara Hartman, who in 1985 discussed adding an organ to the plans for the Performing Arts Center.

“John and I had lunch, and he intimated that he knew someone who was interested in providing an instrument for the center,” says Mr. Swanson, former director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony and the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival. “I suspected it was him, but it wasn’t until later in the year that I learned he had pledged funds to build an organ.”

With the pledge in hand, a committee went to work to find the kind of organ they could buy for the funds and the theater space available. In the meantime, designers modified plans for Harold Miossi Hall to make room for this “king of instruments,” since a pipe organ of this size weighs about 20 tons, and steel reinforcement was needed to support it.

Some time after John and Barbara Hartman died in an accident in France, PAC construction funds were running short, and the money for the organ was diverted into the general construction fund. But, the dream did not fade. Thanks to a generous donation from Hartman heirs, the organ box was built and is now dedicated to the John and Barbara Hartman.

Still remaining, though, was the question of how to pay for the organ. The answer came from local philanthropists: Bert and Candace Forbes. Bert Forbes grew up attending a small Presbyterian Church with a small pipe organ played by a family friend. Bert Forbes developed a love for organ music, which he shares with his wife, Candace. They seek out concerts, recitals and even practice sessions in churches and cathedrals whenever they go to Europe, and they say, “There’s nothing like the sound of a big pipe organ reverberating in a huge cathedral.”

When the Forbes sold their company Ziatech to Intel in October 2000, they saw the opportunity to fulfill their love for organ music and make the Hartmans’ dream come true. That fall, they pledged a pipe organ to the Foundation for the Performing Arts.

The proposal by organ builders C.B. Fisk from 10 years before still seemed like the best choice, Bert Forbes says, so they quickly put down a deposit in December 2000 to beat out others who were also ready to order. Even with the rush deposit, the lead time for the organ was six years.

“Fortunately, Bert made the decision that the instrument should be a Fisk,” says Mr. Swanson. “They are among the most respected in the world, tending toward tradition, rather than modern gimmicks. As a result, the instruments are more reliable, made of better materials, best sounding and more familiar to organists everywhere.”

In May 2005, a contingent from San Luis Obispo went to Gloucester, Mass., for the Fisk open house. Charles Nazarian, who designed the Forbes Pipe Organ façade, showed them the first model. After several iterations and consultations, the design was finalized a month later and construction commenced. “It was fascinating to listen to the dialog between the designers and the committee,” Swanson says. “They chose the best options at every turn. There are no short-cuts in this instrument.”

It took about a year to build the organ. In May 2006, it was featured at the Fisk open house, assembled in their warehouse, where it was played by local organists. It was then broken down and loaded into two moving vans for shipment to Cal Poly.

On June 19, 2006, the organ’s 2,767 pipes were delivered into the eager hands of a crew of enthusiastic “free unloaders” who took the cherished cargo from the vans, carried it into the theater and carefully unwrapped each pipe for installation.

The pipes for the Forbes Pipe Organ were forged by hand from tin/lead sheet metal. The organ’s casework was built from mahogany, key coverings made of cow bone and the sharps crafted from ebony. The stop knobs were made from cocobolo, a tropical hardwood similar to Rosewood.

Reassembly took Fisk technicians about six weeks. Then for the next nine months, at least two, sometimes four, technicians tuned and voiced the instrument. The result is strikingly beautiful.

From those early pipedreams to the debut concerts in June 2007, the Forbes Pipe Organ resonates with music that is both powerful and stunningly pure.

“I am always amazed and delighted at the way the bass pipes grab you and shake you to your core, causing resonances you didn’t even know you had,” says Bert Forbes. “This upwelling of response is most remarkable. The organ music fills you entirely – to the exclusion of all other senses.”

University Organist Paul Woodring

Paul Woodring specialized in organ performance at Cal State Northridge, studying under Sam Swartz and David Britton. While there, he won several prestigious awards, including first prize in the Western Regional American Guild of Organists Competition. He then studied organ and harpsichord in Vienna under Otto Bruckner and Elfriede Stadlmann.

As an accompanist, Woodring has worked with some of America’s finest concert choirs and opera companies, including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Los Angeles Opera Company. In the San Luis Obispo area, he has worked with Opera San Luis Obispo, Mozart Festival, Central Coast Children’s Choir, Cuesta Master Chorale, Tolosa Strings and several musical theater organizations. Mr. Woodring is currently an accompanist and coach at Cal Poly. He also serves the congregations of Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church as organist and choir director and San Luis Obispo United Methodist church as organist.

Organ Stops

Man I, 61 notes
Prestant: 16’
Octave: 8’
Violoncelle: 8’
Flûte harmonique: 8’
Spillpfeife: 8’
Octave: 4’
Superoctave: 2’
Mixture: V-VII
Cornet: V
Trompette: 8’
Trommet: 8’
Clairon: 4’

Man II, 61 notes
Prestant: 8’
Gedackt: 8’
Principal: 4’
Rohrflöte: 4’
Nasard: 2 2/3’
Doublette: 2’
Tierce: 1 3/5’
Scharff: IV
Cromorne: 8’

Swell to Great
Positive to Great
Swell to Positive
Octaves graves Great
Great to Pedal
Positive to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Pedal 4

Flexible Wind
Concert Pitch
Servopneumatic Lever
52 ranks
2,767 pipes

Man III, 61 notes
Bourdon: 16’
Viole de gambe: 8’
Voix céleste: 8’
Flûte traversière: 8’
Dulciane: 4’
Flûte octaviante: 4’
Octavin: 2’
Plein jeu: IV
Basson: 16’
Trompette: 8’
Hautbois: 8’

32 notes
Prestant: (ext) 32’
Contrebasse: 16’
Prestant: (GT) 16’
Bourdon: (SW) 16’
Octave: 8’
Violoncelle: (GT) 8’
Spillpfeife: (GT) 8’
Superoctave: 4’
Contra Posaune: (ext) 32’
Posaune: 16’
Trompette: (GT) 8’
Trommet: (GT) 8’
Clairon: (GT) 4’

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