Pipe Organ Encounter (Technical)

POE Technical Report, Tacoma AGO Chapter
July 21 – 26, 2013
Submitted by Shari Shull, POET Director

DSC_7973 copy
Shari Shull, Program Director

Nineteen students from ten states, Japan, and France arrived at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, on Sunday afternoon to participate in the POE Technical event. The Tacoma AGO Chapter collaborated with the Paul Fritts Organ Shop and the Martin Pasi Organ Shop to present the POE Tech week that included hands-on organbuilding and visits to 12 pipe organs.

Dr. Paul Tegels, Pacific Lutheran University organ professor, presented the opening concert at PLU, demonstrating the Brombaugh positive and the Fritts Concert Hall organ, opus 18. Following the concert, Bruce Shull, organ shop coordinator, unveiled the portative organ prototype that he designed for the POE Tech. Bruce’s announcement that the students would build one of these instruments during the week was met with amazement from the audience and excitement from the students. The first evening concluded with the students playing the two PLU instruments.

DSC_8203 copy
POE Tech Volunteers
DSC_8228 copy
David Dahl demonstrates the Brombaugh organ at Christ Episcopal Church

On Monday, time at the Fritts Shop included each student gluing up a wooden pipe, demonstrations of woodworking machines, and pipe voicing. PLU organ professor emeritus, David Dahl, gave a PowerPoint presentation of slides and musical examples titled, “A European Organ Odyssey.” The day concluded with Naomi Shiga demonstrating the Fritts organ, opus 8, at University of Puget Sound, and David Dahl demonstrating the Brombaugh organ at Christ Church Episcopal, Tacoma.


“What a wonderful way to insure that classic organbuilding skills are passed down to future generations.”  –Shari Shull


Time at the Pasi Shop on Tuesday included each student making action parts for the portative organ.

DSC_8238 copy
Martin Pasi addresses the students

Demonstrations of pipe metal casting, sawmilling logs, metal pipemaking, tuning and temperaments filled the day. Organs by Schlicker and Kilgen at Trinity Lutheran Church in Tacoma were demonstrated by Dr. Jonathan Wohlers. Students played the organs in the evening.

Wednesday was our Seattle day. A visit to St. James Cathedral began the day with a demonstration of the Rosales and Hutchings-Votey organs given by cathedral musician, Joseph Adam. Dr. Mel Butler, cathedral musician, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral demonstrated the Flentrop organ in the nave and also the Fritts Chapel organ, opus 22, and the Pasi continuo organ, opus 8.

The POE Tech students and chaperones visited the Seattle Center and the Space Needle for some sightseeing in the afternoon. The group continued on to Lynnwood, Washington, where Dr. Carole Terry, organ professor at University of Washington, gave a concert on the Pasi Organ, opus 4, at Trinity Lutheran Church.

A return to the Fritts Shop on Thursday gave the students time to complete their wooden pipes following a voicing demonstration. Other demonstrations included computer CAD design, reed pipemaking and woodturning.

A visit to the Wurlitzer theatre organ at the Levine home in Gig Harbor gave the students a different view of highly specialized organbuilding and an opportunity to hear and play a large theatre organ.

Dr. Dana Robinson, organ professor at the University of Illinois, demonstrated the Fritts organ, opus 7, at Paul Fritts’ home. After the demonstration, students and staff enjoyed a pizza dinner. A drawing was held for the completed portative organ that the students had been building all week. One lucky student won the portative organ and all students made a wooden organ pipe to take home during the week.

The evening ended with Amadeus on the big screen. And the entire POE Tech event concluded on Friday with Sandra Tietjen and Shari Shull demonstrating the Fritts organ, opus 30, located in the Tietjen home.

The POE Tech students were a congenial group, interacting well with each other by taking turns playing the organs the group visited and working together in the organ shops. An exciting week was had by all with many students asking if there might be a POE Tech offered every year.

Special thanks go to the planning team and the following organizations and individuals for their support: National AGO, Tacoma AGO Chapter, Seattle AGO Chapter, Olympic Peninsula AGO Chapter, Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society, Al and Betsy Buck, David Dahl, Paul Fritts, Martin Pasi, Bruce and Shari Shull.

Leave a Reply