Writes James Hildreth in the The American Organist May 2014:
Situated in unimpeded chambers behind the stage and speaking directly into the acoustically warm 2,553-seat Stambaugh Auditorium, this marvelous Skinner organ has been restored to pristine condition. Colin Lynch, winner of the Fort Wayne National Organ Playing Competition in 2010, performs a stunning program of English and French music that demonstrates the wealth of color, delicacy, power, and beauty of the organ. Three of Percy Whitlock's Five Short Pieces (Allegretto, Scherzo, Paean) open the program, demonstrating many of the lovely flutes, strings, and other colors. Roger-Ducasse's dramatic, epic Pastorale takes the listener through the full range of the organ's dynamic and tonal capabilities. Hubert Parry's Toccata and Fugue on "The Wanderer" (named for the composer's personal yacht) demonstrates the variety of diapason and ensemble tone (the Great and Swell have complete diapason choruses through mixtures based on 16' and 8' respectively) as well as the instrument's responsive action and contrapuntal capability.
Finally, we are treated to the entire Symphonie No. 6 of Louis Vierne. It is well known that Vierne was deeply enamored with Skinner's work, as Vierne experienced it firsthand during his North American tour. It is interesting to compare this superb example of American symphonic organbuilding with that of Cavaille-Coll (and his successors) through the performance of Vierne's symphony. While Skinner's chorus reeds are warmer and more blending than their aggressive, dominating counterparts of his French colleagues, there are many similarities in the broad foundations, mellifluous flutes, color reeds, and keen strings. What Vierne admired most about Skinner organ tone was its elegance, in addition to the relative ease of playing due to user-friendly consoles and responsive electric actions.
Colin Lynch is an impeccable performer with compelling musicality and technical command that brings clarity to the thorniest passages. He brings a combination of controlled excitement and formal lucidity in the virtuosic passagework, especially in the Parry, Vierne, and "storm section" of Roger-Ducasse. The Final of Vierne's Sixth pulsates with energy, the solid 32' Bombarde and Tuba Mirabilis capping off the impelling peroration. While American organs of this era and design are often associated with transcription playing or saccharine lollipops popular with audiences of the time, Lynch's program demonstrates the instrument's undisputed ability to perform serious original literature of the period in an authentic, convincing manner. The notion of murkiness and inability to deliver contrapuntal passagework with clarity is refuted here, with Skinner's clean voicing (beautifully preserved) and Lynch's deft, solid playing.
This is an invaluable documentation of an iconic representative of the American Symphonic Organ aesthetic. We can be grateful for the restoration of this instrument (and the preservation of the auditorium in which it sits) as well as players like Colin Lynch who understands its true character, bringing it to life.
Writes Jonathan Dimmock in The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians:
The glorious E. M. Skinner organ (Opus 582, 1926) at Stambaugh Auditorium belongs in that rare group of truly exceptional organs housed outside of church buildings. . . . and now ranks up there with Woolsey Hall as one of the great American auditorium organs. Colin Lynch, a graduate of Oberlin and Yale, demonstrates the organ with enormous style and aplomb. His technique and musicality seem flawless, and his program shows off not only his musical predilections, but also the organ’s. He opens with “Allegretto,” “Scherzo,” and “Paean” from Five Short Pieces by Percy Whitlock; the beautiful and involved Pastorale by Roger-Ducasse, Parry’s Toccata and Fugue “The Wanderer," then closes with a tour-de-force rendition of the Vierne Symphonie VI. Beautiful playing on a beautiful instrument. Much of this repertoire is seldom heard, which makes the recording all the more enjoyable to listen to. Bravo to Colin Lynch!
Colin Lynch, winner of the Fort Wayne Competition in 2010, plays the intact E. M. Skinner organ of four manuals and 67 stops in a grand concert hall, Stambaugh Auditorium, both hall and organ built in 1926 as the magnificent bequest of a native to the people of Youngstown, Ohio. Restoration of the organ as-built, with all original equipment, was completed by A. Thompson-Allen Co. in 2010.
Percy Whitlock: Allegretto, Scherzo, Paean from Five Short Pieces
Jean Jules Roger-Ducasse: Pastorale
C. Hubert H. Parry: Toccata and Fugue “The Wanderer”
Louis Vierne: Symphonie No. 6, Op. 59
Until recently, Percy Whitlock’s music existed in relative obscurity, likely because of his unfortunately small oeuvre, his somewhat circumspect compositional style, and his tuberculosis-shortened life. It is difficult to deny the charm and intimacy of his miniature writing, particularly in his Five Short Pieces. One can hear the influence of his teacher Ralph Vaughan Williams, Charles V. Stanford, and Edward Elgar combined with Whitlock’s love of English folk tune. The lightheartedness of the Allegretto and Scherzo suggests his love of composers like George Gershwin and points to his theatre organ inclinations as civic organist at Bournemouth Municipal Pavillion Theater. Whitlock, who was consumed with curiosity for clocks, trains, and the possibilities of organ electrification, would surely have been captivated by the technological advances of the Skinner pipe organ, though the two men never met.
Based on a quaint, nostalgic melody originally written as a canonic exercise, the meter and key of Jean Jules Aimable Roger-Ducasse’s Pastorale point towards the pastorales and pifas of composers like Corelli, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven. At the same time, the piece develops into a brilliant display of impressionism, likely the result of his close relationships with Gabriel Fauré and Paul Dukas. Roger-Ducasse succeeded both men at the Paris Conservatory as professor of composition and professor of orchestration, respectively. As Roger-Ducasse’s only piece for organ, the Pastorale seems to lend itself more to an orchestra than the organ, particularly when compared to organ works by his contemporaries. His writing demands so much orchestral color that one struggles to imagine playing the piece on a French organ in 1908, despite the wealth of tonal and mechanical innovations that had transformed the French organ during the previous 60 years. With the symphonic developments of Skinner and his American contemporaries, Roger- Ducasse’s piece can be more orchestrally realized, in keeping with its compositional style.
C. Hubert H. Parry’s The Wanderer Toccata and Fugue can be placed in context by an understanding of the composer’s love of yachting and his sense of adventure, particularly as a motorcar driver. One can imagine him as an inspiration for A. A. Milne’s Mr. Toad, careening with abandon about the English countryside. Likely the recipient of several speeding fines, the adventurous Parry has become legendary for the anecdote wherein he stopped his car to pick up a woman who was struggling with heavy baskets on her way to the market. She was so shaken by the speed of Parry’s driving that she had to be given restoratives upon arrival.
Similary, one can musically imagine Parry’s adventures, sailing along in his yacht named The Wanderer, to which he presumably ascribed this piece. Based entirely on a small, meandering chromatic motive, the large scale of the piece evokes various maritime adventures and encounters, braving rough seas and discovering quiet coves. The composition was drafted in 1912, but after hearing both Douglas Fox and Walter Parrat play through the work, a dissatisfied Parry withheld the Toccata and Fugue from publication. Sadly, his yachting adventures also ended in 1914 when private boating was restricted during World War I. At the behest of Parry’s estate, “The Wanderer” Toccata and Fugue was published posthumously in 1921, having been edited and collated from several variants in Parry’s handwriting by Henry Walford Davies and Emily Daymond. The then 25-year-old George Thalben-Ball of London’s Temple Church provided registration suggestions.
Of Louis Vierne, Ernest M. Skinner writes, “There was a young man at the console who was playing at that service and who improvised musical responses to the service in the chancel. It seemed to me that I had never heard such glorious music in my life. This young man was Louis Vierne . . . there was a nobility and simplicity in Vierne’s improvisations that was distinct from his published works. The ‘scherzo’ in Vierne’s last symphony would indicate that he is as modern as he is delightful and original as any, with no note of ugliness, and as far as removed from studied dissonance as it is possible to get.” In a letter to Skinner, Vierne writes, “Not a day passes that I don’t dream about your magnificent instruments I played over there; their marvelous touch, their fine tone, their perfect and sensitive action haunt me. It seems as though I were dreaming when I think of Trinity Church, Boston, of St. John’s, Los Angeles, Hollywood High School, Williamstown, and Utica. I also very often recall the visit to your factory in Boston; what I saw there sends me into rapture.”
Written during the summer of 1930 at his assistant and companion Madeleine Richepin’s mother’s villa near Menton, Louis Vierne’s Symphony No. 6 is his last finished symphony. Some have suggested that this highly chromatic work is Vierne’s response to the Second Viennese School, with a virtuosic display of dissonance and chromaticism that is still tonal. The Sixth Symphony was dedicated to the recently deceased American virtuoso Lynwood Farnam (whose playing Vierne admired tremendously), perhaps because Vierne had sad experience in dedicating symphonies to men who were alive and well: his second Symphony was dedicated to organbuilder Charles Mutin whose later affair with Vierne’s wife lead to the Viernes’ divorce. The third symphony was dedicated to Marcel Dupré, whom Vierne subsequently suspected and accused of attempting to steal his position at Notre Dame. The first four movements musically characterize the final years of Vierne’s life as he struggled with declining health, worsening vision (congenital cataracts rendered him nearly blind from birth) and unraveling relationships. The symphony ends with an exuberant and victorious Final that was to conclude the recital during which he famously died on the organ bench of Notre Dame in 1937.
First Prize Winner of the prestigious Fort Wayne National Organ Playing Competition in 2010, Colin Daniel Lynch maintains a busy performance career that has taken him to prominent venues throughout the U. S., Europe, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Cuba. At the invitation of the Cuban government, Lynch returned to Cuba as a featured performer and lecturer at the Ars Longa Baroque Music Festival.
Colin Lynch serves as Associate Director of Music and Organist at Trinity Church, Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts. Previously, he held positions at Christ & Holy Trinity Church in Westport, Connecticut, Marquand Chapel of the Yale Divinity School, the Episcopal Church at Yale, and was organ scholar at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago. As Director of Chapel Music and School Organist at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, he led the choirs on performance tours to South Africa and Cuba in addition to producing two commercially available recordings.
A member of the music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda, he has been awarded prizes in several other competitions including the Augustana Arts/Reuter Organ Competition, the Ottumwa Organ Competition, and the George Markey Memorial Organ Competition. While at Yale, he was awarded the Director’s Prize from the Institute of Sacred Music. Culminating his earlier study at Oberlin Conservatory, he was honored to play the only solo recital during the commencement exercises.
A passionate teacher, he regularly presents masterclasses and maintains a private teaching studio. He has taught for the Young Organists Collaborative and has served on the faculty of the Oberlin Summer Organ Academy, the Eton Choral Course in England, and was director of the New Hampshire Pipe Organ Encounter introducing teenagers to the organ.
Colin Lynch earned an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, studying with James David Christie and Olivier Latry. He holds a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance with Thomas Murray at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance from Northwestern University, where he studied with Douglas Cleveland. www.colinlynchorgan.com
The Henry H. Stambaugh Memorial Auditorium was dedicated in Youngstown, Ohio, on December 5, 1926, its $1.5 million construction cost having been funded by a bequest of Stambaugh, a local industrialist and philanthropist who lived 1858-1919. It was designed by Harvey Wiley Corbett of New York.
Housing a 2,553-seat auditorium, a 9,700- square-foot ballroom, a recital hall, a garden, offices and a commercial kitchen, Stambaugh Auditorium hosts orchestras, popular and classical performers, ballets, weddings, graduations, and even dance competitions.
Henry Stambaugh’s magnificent gift continues to serve the public with the support of the trustees, directors, staff, the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, the Joseph G. Bradley Foundation, the Anne Kilcawley Christman Fund, the George F. Stambaugh Trust, and many generous contributors.
Skinner Organ Company, Opus 582
Ernest M. Skinner is considered the pre-eminent American organbuilder of the early twentieth century. His innovations were equally mechanical and musical in nature. Although electrically controlled pipe organs had been in existence as early as the 1860s, Skinner was among the first to perfect the system and employ it exclusively, in the process thoroughly re-imagining how the player might manipulate his instrument. Musically, Skinner established the orchestra as his primary reference. While he knew the organ could never be a true substitute for a symphony, he still wanted his instruments to be no less grand, expressive, or evocative.
Organs in this orchestral style experienced great popularity between 1890 and World War II. But with their popular leanings, such instruments seemed ideally suited to secular use. With radio and recordings still in their early days, and professional orchestras few and far between, organ recitals were an easy way for a single person to entertain large audiences. Thus, organ recitals flourished, featuring music either written specifically for the instrument or arranged from popular orchestral works. While halls sprouted up everywhere, it was in the smaller cities that such places became objects of great civic pride. Often lavish in detail and equipment, a concert hall was a municipality’s way of showing to the wider world that theirs was not a barren cultural landscape.
Skinner Organ Company Op. 582 for Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown, Ohio, was designed and installed in 1926. By this time, Skinner’s musical and mechanical style had attained full maturity. The mechanism was prompt, responsive, and silent. Skinner’s consoles had reached an apex of intuitive comfort, so much that his style remains an industry template even a century later. By 1926 Skinner’s musical outlook had also evolved, placing traditional organ tone on equal footing with his famous orchestral voices. Thus the Stambaugh Skinner represents an ideal synthesis, in which size, placement and ambience are all in harmonious balance. The organ speaks without impediment, directly across the stage into the acoustical warmth of the light-filled auditorium. Centrally located at the lip of the stage, the console is perfectly placed for musician and audience alike.
Though neglected for decades, at one point even sustaining water damage, Skinner Op. 582 underwent comprehensive restoration in 2009-2010 by the A. Thompson-Allen Company of New Haven. Curators of the immense Hutchings-Steere-Skinner organ at Yale University’s Woolsey Hall, the Thompson-Allen firm has restored more Skinner and Aeolian-Skinner organs than any other firm, and were thus ideally suited to the task. Collaborators in this venture were Broome & Company of East Granby, Connecticut, specialists in reed pipe restoration; and Richard Houghten of Milan, Michigan, whose team refurbished the console and electrical systems. The result is an exemplary restoration in which every element of the instrument, including its electro-pneumatic console, has been returned to original operating condition. Fortunate to find itself in such welcome and enthusiastic residency at Stambaugh Auditorium, this instrument enjoys an additional historical distinction: it would be entirely recognizable to the men and women who built it.
Skinner Organ Company, Opus 582
four manuals, 67 stops, 58 ranks, 3,905 pipes
GREAT unenc., 7½" wind; 61 notes
16' Diapason (zinc & linen lead; 42 scale at 8'; 1/5 mouths; 1-12 on 6" wind)
16' Bourdon (from Pedal)
8' First Diapason (zinc & linen lead; 42 scale; 1/5 mouths; 1-49 leathered)
8' Second Diapason (zinc & linen lead; 42 scale; 2/9 mouths)
8' Claribel Flute (1-12 stopped wood; 13-36 open wood; 37-61 open planed common metal)
8' Erzähler (zinc & planed common metal)
4' Octave (zinc & linen lead, 56 scale; 1/5 mouths)
4' Flute (#1 style; zinc & planed common metal; harmonic [triple bore] at 1'C)
2-2/3' Twelfth (spotted metal; 64 scale; 1/5 mouths; slotted in bass)
2' Fifteenth (spotted metal; 70 scale; 1/5 mouths; slotted in bass)
IV Mixture (12-15-19-22, a14-style Skinner; all 1/5 mouths, slotted in bass; 244 pipes)
16' Ophicleide (10" wind; in Choir box; lower 6 wood; zinc & Hoyt metal; harmonic at 2' F#; 4¼" dia. at 8' C)
8' Tuba 10" wind; in Choir box; zinc & Hoyt metal; harmonic at 2' F#; 5" dia. at 8' C
4' Clarion (10" wind; in Choir box; zinc & Hoyt metal; harmonic at 4' F#; 3¾" dia. at 4' C)
Chimes 20 tubes; in Swell box
Swell to Great 16 8 4
Choir to Great 16 8 4
Solo to Great 16 8 4
CHOIR enc.; 6" wind; 73 notes
16' Gamba (zinc & spotted metal; 50 scale at 16' C; 1/6 mouths)
8' Diapason (zinc & linen lead; 46 scale; 1/5 mouths)
8' Concert Flute (1-12 stopped wood; 13-36 open wood; 37-61 harmonic [triple bore] open planed common metal; 62-73 open planed common metal)
8' Kleine Erzähler II (common style; celeste rank tc; 134 pipes)
8' Gamba (zinc & spotted metal; 50 scale; slotted; reverse taper)
4' Flute (#1 style; zinc & planed common metal; harmonic [triple bore] at 1'C)
2-2/3' Nazard (spotted metal; slotted in bass; tapered; 61 pipes)
2' Piccolo (common style; 61 pipes)
1-3/5' Tierce (spotted metal; slotted in bass; breaks back one octave at C#5; 61 pipes)
8' Clarinet (common style)
8' Orchestral Oboe (common style)
Harp 61 bars
Choir 16 8 4
Swell to Choir 16 8 4
Solo to Choir 8
SOLO enclosed; 7½" wind; 73 notes
8' Harmonic Flute (zinc & planed common metal; harmonic (triple bore) at 1' C)
8' Gross Gamba (zinc & spotted metal; 50 scale; slotted; reverse taper)
8' Gamba Celeste (zinc & spotted metal; 50 scale; slotted; reverse taper)
4' Orchestral Flute (1-49 open wood; harmonic at 2' C; 50-73 open; planed common metal)
8' French Horn (15" wind, 6" dia. at 8' C; 49 reed pipes)
8' Corno di Bassetto (common style with bells)
8' Tuba Mirabilis (25" wind, zinc & Hoyt metal; harmonic at 4' F#; 61 reed pipes; 5" dia. at 8' C)
Solo 16 8 4
Great to Solo 8
SWELL enc.; 7½" wind; 73 notes
16' Bourdon (1-61 stopped wood; 62-73 open, planed common metal)
8' Diapason (zinc & linen lead; 44 scale; 1/5 mouths)
8' Gedeckt (Willis-style rohrflute; 1-12 stopped wood; 13-61 planed common metal with bored wood stoppers; 62-73 open planed common metal; original pipes missing; stop replaced with identical Skinner rank from op. 656)
8' Salicional (spotted metal; 62 scale)
8' Voix Celeste (spotted metal; 62 scale)
8' Flauto Dolce (zinc & planed common metal; 1/6 mouths)
8' Flute Celeste (zinc & planed common metal; 1/6 mouths; 61 pipes, tc)
4' Octave (zinc & linen lead; 58 scale; 1/5 mouths)
4' Flute Triangulaire (common style)
V Mixture (15-19-22-26-29, a12-style Willis; spotted metal; 1/5 mouths; slotted in bass; 305 pipes)
16' Posaune (lowest 6 wood; zinc & Hoyt metal; harmonic at 2' F#; 4¼" dia. at 8' C)
8' Cornopean (zinc & Hoyt metal; harmonic at 2' F#; 5" dia. at 8' C)
8' Corno d'Amore (common; capped, no bells)
8' Vox Humana (common style)
4' Clarion (zinc & Hoyt metal; harmonic at 2' F#; 3" at 4' C)
Swell 16 8 4
PEDAL 6" wind; 32 notes
32' Resultant (unison from Diapason; quint from Bourdon; Diapason 16' C2-G3)
16' Diapason (open wood; 20½" deep; 17" wide at 16' C; 44 pipes)
16' Violone (1-12 wood, bearded; 13-44 zinc & spotted metal, bearded; 10½" deep; 8" wide at 16' C)
16' Bourdon (1-49 stop'd wood; 50-61 open linen lead; 11" deep; 9½" wide at 16' C)
16' Echo Bourdon (from Swell)
16' Gamba (from Choir)
10-2/3' Quint (from Pedal Bourdon)
8' Octave (from Pedal Diapason)
8' Cello (from Pedal Violone)
8' Gedeckt (from Pedal Bourdon)
8' Still Gedeckt (from. Swell Bourdon)
4' Flute (from Pedal Bourdon)
3-1/5' Tierce (from. Swell Bourdon)
2-2/7' Septiéme (from. Swell Bourdon)
32' Bombarde (1-12 20" wind; 13-68 10" wind;1-12 wood; 20" wide, 20" deep at 32' C; no starters; 13-24 wood; 25-68 zinc & Hoyt metal; 5" dia. at 8' C)
16' Trombone (Bombarde/Trombone unit)
16' Posaune (from Swell)
16' Ophicleide (from Great)
8' Tromba (from Trombone)
4' Clarion (from Trombone)
Swell to Pedal 8 4
Great to Pedal 8
Choir to Pedal 8 4
Solo to Pedal 8 4
Reversible Pistons for Unison Couplers to Pedal
Reversible Toe Pedal & Manual Piston for Great to Pedal
Gen. 1-5 Manual Pistons & Toe Studs
Great 1-8 Manual Pistons
Swell 1-8 Manual Pistons
Choir 1-7 Manual Pistons
Solo 1-5 Manual Pistons
Pedal 1-8 Toe Studs
General Cancel Manual Piston & Toe Pedal
Setter Manual Piston
Pedal 32' Stops Off/On in Choir keycheek
Manual 16' Stops Off/On in Great keycheek
Coupler Cancel Toe Stud
Sforzando Manual Piston & Toe Pedal
All Swells Toe Pedal
3 Expression Pedals
Grand Crescendo Dial