It began with a desire for balance
When the organ was originally deisgned and installed in the Basilica, it was conceived as a “classical” style instrument. That is, an organ that might have been built in the Classical period of music (ca. 1730-1820). Such instruments are characterized as brilliant or perhaps treble heavy. The treble charcter of the Casavant op. 3612 left many listeners physically uncomfortable with the sounds of the full organ because of the fantastic acoustical properties of the Basilica. When organist Tiffany Bedner joined the Carmel Mission staff, after her predecessor Ed Soberanes’ illustrious 38 year tenure, she found support to explore the potential for improvement to the instrument. After nearly 30 years of faithful service, this instrument is in need of several upgrades to bring it into the 21st century for future liturgical use and audiences alike.
Casavant Artistic Director Jacquelin Rochette, who was present at the building of the instrument, and Tiffany have found additions additions that, while they improve the instrument and make it more versatile for liturgical and concert use, keep with the classical design of Op. 3612. Improvements include a third manual to the floor level console to allow the organist to control the independent pipes of the Choeur division concealed behind the reredos, elimination of the loft console to allow more view of the star window, additional pipework with 5 new unique sounds, the replacement of the entire electronic and computer system from 1986, new shutters and enclosure for the new pipes and existing pipes behind the reredos, and a final voicing and cleaning.
– The lack of a third keyboard for three divisions of pipes has proven to be a logistical problem that limits the unique dialogue between the loft and the front rank of pipework. The current console allows this division to be used through a complex work around system of multiple button pushing – not ideal for quick switching between divisions! This would be like driving a car that has one pedal for brakes and gas and you need to press a button to switch between the two functions. Let in the Light!
– The proposal eliminates the gallery console completely. This means the star window will be 75% more visible from below! This would be a huge visual improvement for those in the basilica. Hardware upgrade
– Did you know that the Casavant organ has computer technology? From 1986, of course! Can you imagine using a 30 year old computer? The system would be totally brought up to date and will be entirely replaced. Remember the 5 1/4 inch floppy disks? Neither do we. New pipes, big sounds
– The addition of new pipework would round out the sound of the instrument, add definition and clarity, and add a new tonal palette of color and versatility of expression. These include a Salicional, Flute Harmonique, Clarinette, Salicet, and 32’ Resultant! Transformation
– Finally, a reworking of the overall sound of the instrument through re-voicing with the preceding improvements would transform the instrument into one of the most significant organs on the central coast and in any mission existent in California. Celebrate!
Once Casavant completes the entire scope of the project, a yearlong celebration of organ concerts will be performed. Talks have already been already held with many of the nations top soloists, who are eager to share their passion and talents on the restored and renovated instrument! We thank you for your support!