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The Architecture of Music:
How to Build an Organ

By Marci Janas ('91)



Arrival of New Symphonic Organ at Finney Chapel (Press Release)

The Organ Department

Opus 116 is featured on WCPN (90.3 FM) Cleveland Public Radio


Click on an image to view a larger version

Before and after: Opus construction photos from June '99 to September '00

It is colossal, weighing 45,000 pounds and standing 38-feet tall--besting by three feet the world's largest recorded land animal of modern times, the African bush elephant (a mere 35 feet from trunk tip to tail tip).

It is magnificent, possessing a dynamic range that extends from whispering flutes and strings to thundering foundations and reeds.

It is a study in diversity, with 60 voices and 3,951 pipes. (The largest pipe measures 32 feet. The smallest is smaller than a child's finger.)

It is the Opus 116 symphonic organ, built for the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music by acclaimed organ builders C.B. Fisk, of Gloucester, Mass.

The Fisk Opus 116 was built by hand, piece by piece, to a nearly finished state in Gloucester. It was then taken apart--its pipes cosseted in packing and its cabinetry carefully tucked in wooden crates--and hauled to Ohio in several 18-wheel semi-trucks. The massive pieces of jigsaw puzzle arrived in Oberlin on August 7. It took nine weeks to reassemble. It will take 10 months to voice. And the whole architectural and instrumental marvel will be heard in concert for the first time Sept. 28, 2001.

Learn how this piece of musical architecture came into being by leafing through these virtual pages. Photos by Liz Fox, Al Fuchs, Marci Janas, Steve Malionek and Nicholas Masterson.

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