Forbes Pipe Organ
About the Organ
In 2007, Harold Miossi Hall would become the 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 Fisk Opus 129 pipe organ was once merely a gleam in the eyes of Clif Swanson and John and Barbara Hartman, who discussed adding an organ to the plans for the Performing Arts Center in 1985.
In 1996 the building was built, but funds fell short for an organ. Twelve years after the building was built, local philanthropists Bert and Candace Forbes pledged the funding for the pipe organ to the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center. On June 19, 2006, the organ’s 2,767 pipes were delivered into the hands of an enthusiastic crew who took the cherished cargo from the vans, carried it into the theater and carefully unwrapped each pipe for installation.
“The organ music fills you entirely, to the exclusion of all other senses.” – Bert Forbes
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
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.
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 John had pledged funds to build an organ.”
With the Hartmans’ 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 the theatre 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.
Tragically, John and Barbara Hartman died in an accident in France, and the fate of the organ came into question. PAC construction funds were running short, and the money for the organ was diverted into the general construction fund. Thanks to a generous donation from Hartman heirs, the organ box was built and is now dedicated to the John and Barbara Hartman.
With the Performing Arts Center construction completed in 1996, there was still a lack of funds for the organ. Four years later, the answer came from local philanthropists, Bert and Candace Forbes. Bert grew up attending a small Presbyterian Church with a small pipe organ played by a family friend. Bert 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, saying, “There’s nothing like the sound of a 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 Center. The proposal by organ builders C.B. Fisk from 10 years before was still the best choice, 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.
In May 2005, a contingent from San Luis Obispo went to Gloucester, Massachusetts, 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. “They chose the best options at every turn. There are no short-cuts in this instrument,” Swanson says. 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.
C.B. Fisk Open House features the Forbes Pipe Organ in Gloucester, MA. (May 2006)
On June 19, 2006, the organ’s 2,767 pipes were delivered into the eager hands of a crew of sixty-seven enthusiastic volunteers of all ages from around the county who took the cherished cargo from the vans, carried it into the theater and carefully unwrapped each pipe for installation.
Reassembly took Fisk technicians about six weeks. Then for the next nine months, technicians tuned and “voiced” the instrument. The result is strikingly beautiful. 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.
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.”
Volunteers unload the organ’s 2,767 pipes into the theatre. (June 2006)
Man I, 61 notes
Flûte harmonique 8’
Man II, 61 notes
Nasard 2 2/3’
Tierce 1 3/5’
Man III, 61 notes
Viole de gambe 8’
Voix céleste 8’
Flûte traversière 8’
Flûte octaviante 4’
Plein jeu IV
Prestant (ext) 32’
Prestant (GT) 16’
Bourdon (SW) 16’
Violoncelle (GT) 8’
Spillpfeife (GT) 8’
Contra Posaune (ext) 32’
Trompette (GT) 8’
Trommet (GT) 8’
Clairon (GT) 4’
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