Fourth Congregational, Hackensack

This essay first appeared on the electronic mailing list Piporg-l

The new organ at Fourth Congregational, Hackensack has made a deep impression on me. The organist and commmittee responsible for its installation can no doubt congratulate themsleves on a new instrument of no less than 134 stops, especially as this represents a four-fold increase over the remarkable multum-in-parvo Aeolian-Skinner that hitherto so hindered their musical ambitions (and perhaps even their worship). No doubt there might have been some voices who would lamely have supposed that it might be possible to restore the Aeolian-Skinner to give another fifty years sterling service. There might also have been those who would have argued that a large capital sum might better be spent on a modest-sized pipe organ of timelessly traditional character. There might even have been those who would have lamely mentioned those old chestnuts: artificiality, obsolescence, and vanity. I doubt that such voices would have been listened to for long.

No-one can doubt that this spectacular new model from the Silicon Toaster Inc. completely succeeds in every objective it set out to fulfill. It performs every liturgical function, and, in the absence of any architectural contribution (beyond the open display of the three-rank pipe section mounted on a shelf on the wall), its flamboyant console makes an indelible impression. The three ranks of real pipes add a true 'aunthentic' note, though naturally they pale somewhat in comparison with the 100-odd electronic voices. The voicing of this pipe section makes it clear that messrs. Pocksi-Krapp have nothing to learn as far as getting pipes to speak is concerned. What such an instrument means for the future is perhaps not for us to decide, for whatever time brings, it is quite certain that within a year the Silicon Toaster Inc. will introduce another new model, as forward-looking and unique as the last, that will seek to completely revolutionise our opinions on the commercial standards of the whole breed, and will in one blinding instant make this year's breakthrough a matter of idle nostalgia.