Enjoying a ‘bit of an adventure’

The organ breaks the mould as it growls, sings, tinkles, purrs and blasts.

The organ breaks the mould as it growls, sings, tinkles, purrs and blasts.

DIGITAL CLASSICS: Former Auckland City organist, Dr John Wells' second stop on his North Island tour is Muriwai where he will trolley his Roland C330 digital organ out of his yellow trailer to perform organ music in a woolshed, a world first.
Picture supplied
Roland C330
Classical works will be played on a cathedral-grade, digital organ in a lanolin-cured woolshed . . . but the Faulkner family’s concert venue is no ordinary woolshed. A working bee of Noel Brown (left), Sarah Faulkner, Ypkje Brown and Rodney Faulkner prepare the multi-purpose venue for former Auckland City organist Dr John Wells’ performance on Tuesday. The Muriwai woolshed organ performance of works ranging from Bach, Handel and Schumann, to Bossi, Rowley and Coates, will be a world first. “When we built the woolshed about 30 years ago, one aim was to have a venue for community events such as weddings, dinners, conferences, teenage parties,” says Mr Faulkner. Picture by Liam Clayton

POWERED by a Rodgers voice engine, the Roland C330 digital organ can “growl, sing, tinkle, purr and blast in a way unmatched by any other organ,” enthused Time magazine when the machine was played for the first time in Carnegie Hall.

The digital (not electronic) organ is now about to growl, sing, tinkle, purr and blast through works such as Marco Enrico Bossi’s Etude Symphonique, Alex Rowley’s seldom-heard East Wind and West Wind, and Eric Coates’ Dambusters March, not at Carnegie Hall but in a Gisborne woolshed.

Former Auckland City organist, Dr John Wells will exchange his formal dress for (possibly) black T-shirt and gumboots when he brings his C330 digital organ to Gisborne next week as part of a national tour. He will perform in a woolshed at Wairakaia Station, Muriwai.

“I think the most exciting dream was to play organ music wherever there was a room with a decent acoustic. If you look at New Zealand as a whole, because of our earthquakes there are not a lot of stone buildings but there are many fine wooden buildings.”

Among those buildings is the humble woolshed Wells looks forward to performing in.

“In the old days they used to say the room is the best stop on the organ.”

Organ stops are the tabs that control pressurised air (wind) to a set of organ pipes.

“The room can pick the sound up and make it sing,” says Wells.

“We can adapt to the acoustics. It’s a bit of an adventure. We don’t spend hours at venues choosing stops. Every organ is different like that, but with my one I can pre-programme it. The exciting thing is because of the technology, the quality of digital organ sound — don’t say electronic; early electronic organs were awful — is superb.”

Having spent 14 years of his career masterminding Auckland Town Hall’s pipe organ rebuild, Wells’ first love is the pipe organ but he enjoys the authenticity of the hi-tech digital (not electronic) organ. Authenticity with knobs on: not only can the 21st century Roland C330 be pre-programmed to save time on tweaking the instrument’s registrations, not only can it switch from a Baroque to Romantic organ sound at the touch of a piston (a button that can be pressed to change registrations), but Dr Wells’ magnificent organ comes with special effects that, since they are there, might as well be used.

When people see the digital organ their initial response is often ‘is that it?’, says Wells. With its two tiers of keyboards, built-in bench seat, pedals and timber cladding, the instrument looks organic but compact.

“They are not going to believe a little console can produce all those sounds. I will be using a couple of things that are possible digitally but impossible on a pipe organ. I’ll take advantage of that and use two or three effects.

“This is music for music lovers,” says Wells.

“Not for a clique of longfaced purists. We want to break out of that.”

The Muriwai woolshed concert is presented by a combined group representing Musica Viva Gisborne, Gisborne Music Teachers (IRMT) and Muriwai residents.

7pm, Tuesday, March 7 Wairakaia Station, State Highway 2, South Muriwai. Inquiries and bookings ph Gill at 868 6443 or email gillco@gisborne.net.nz

POWERED by a Rodgers voice engine, the Roland C330 digital organ can “growl, sing, tinkle, purr and blast in a way unmatched by any other organ,” enthused Time magazine when the machine was played for the first time in Carnegie Hall.

The digital (not electronic) organ is now about to growl, sing, tinkle, purr and blast through works such as Marco Enrico Bossi’s Etude Symphonique, Alex Rowley’s seldom-heard East Wind and West Wind, and Eric Coates’ Dambusters March, not at Carnegie Hall but in a Gisborne woolshed.

Former Auckland City organist, Dr John Wells will exchange his formal dress for (possibly) black T-shirt and gumboots when he brings his C330 digital organ to Gisborne next week as part of a national tour. He will perform in a woolshed at Wairakaia Station, Muriwai.

“I think the most exciting dream was to play organ music wherever there was a room with a decent acoustic. If you look at New Zealand as a whole, because of our earthquakes there are not a lot of stone buildings but there are many fine wooden buildings.”

Among those buildings is the humble woolshed Wells looks forward to performing in.

“In the old days they used to say the room is the best stop on the organ.”

Organ stops are the tabs that control pressurised air (wind) to a set of organ pipes.

“The room can pick the sound up and make it sing,” says Wells.

“We can adapt to the acoustics. It’s a bit of an adventure. We don’t spend hours at venues choosing stops. Every organ is different like that, but with my one I can pre-programme it. The exciting thing is because of the technology, the quality of digital organ sound — don’t say electronic; early electronic organs were awful — is superb.”

Having spent 14 years of his career masterminding Auckland Town Hall’s pipe organ rebuild, Wells’ first love is the pipe organ but he enjoys the authenticity of the hi-tech digital (not electronic) organ. Authenticity with knobs on: not only can the 21st century Roland C330 be pre-programmed to save time on tweaking the instrument’s registrations, not only can it switch from a Baroque to Romantic organ sound at the touch of a piston (a button that can be pressed to change registrations), but Dr Wells’ magnificent organ comes with special effects that, since they are there, might as well be used.

When people see the digital organ their initial response is often ‘is that it?’, says Wells. With its two tiers of keyboards, built-in bench seat, pedals and timber cladding, the instrument looks organic but compact.

“They are not going to believe a little console can produce all those sounds. I will be using a couple of things that are possible digitally but impossible on a pipe organ. I’ll take advantage of that and use two or three effects.

“This is music for music lovers,” says Wells.

“Not for a clique of longfaced purists. We want to break out of that.”

The Muriwai woolshed concert is presented by a combined group representing Musica Viva Gisborne, Gisborne Music Teachers (IRMT) and Muriwai residents.

7pm, Tuesday, March 7 Wairakaia Station, State Highway 2, South Muriwai. Inquiries and bookings ph Gill at 868 6443 or email gillco@gisborne.net.nz

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