View Full Version : let me tell you about a grand organ in my town...

Jul-18-2005, 20:06
First, allow me to disclose that I know nothing of organs except that my grandfather used to play one, and he seemed quite talented.

Anyway, I live in Madison, WI, a city of just about 225,000 people with a metro area of just about 560,000 people. Recently we received our first true worldclass performance arts center, The Overture Center. It's an amazing facility for a city of this size, and it has drawn the level of performance entertainment that we've never had here before. That being the level of "wordclass" entertainment.

Within The Overture Center, there is a performance hall which boasts what (to an untrained eye) seems like quite the impressive instrument. A number of local media outlets have expressed the same. It was was built by Orgelbau Klais Bonn of Germany.

As mentioned, and to be brutally honest, I know nothing of organs (I hope to learn more while I'm here), but I was hoping someone who does would be interested enough in this partcular organ here in Madison to take a few moments to educate me on why it's so "great"....

[/URL][url=http://www.overturecenter.com/]Overture Center, Madison WI (http://www.overturecenter.com/overture_hall.htm)

Here's an image...

Is it really all that it's been acclaimed to be by the local press? What's so unique about it? If somebody who knows more than I can shed some light on this organ, I would appreciate it.

I ask this out of pure curiosity.

Frederik Magle
Jul-21-2005, 11:59
I have never heard that organ myself, but I must say it looks like a unique and very interesting organ. It seems a lot of care have been put into it being a high quality instrument and the facade (the pipes visible in the front) is really remarkable. I like it.

Concert hall organs are actually rarer than one should expect (or wish https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif), often it is decided to save the space and money and just go for an electronic replica, but nothing beats the "real thing". As I said I haven't heard the Overture Center organ myself, so I can't comment on it's tonal qualities but Klais are well respected organ builders and the disposition looks fine (for a concert organ). It also looks like they are really using the organ in the hall with many concerts etc. I hope they will continue to do that a lot so I won't ever begin to collect dust.

I'd definitely like to visit the Madison Overture Center one day.

Anthony Lemmer
Aug-22-2005, 16:35
It would be ever so much fun to play such a remarkably crafted instrument. I personally have never had the privilege of seeing such an organ, however, I have seen some comparable to it's craft. I will be flying to Valère in Sion, Switzerland to see the legendary (or close as an organ could wish to be) Albert Bolliger organ.

Dec-16-2005, 01:18
I think the "Grand-ness" of the organ refers to the fact that a foreign (non-US) builder has put an instrument in Madison, WI. Not New York, not Chicago, San Fransico or Los Angeles. In the expanding concert hall istallation business, most of the new instruments have been installed by American firms (or American installers, as in Walt Disney Concert Hall). Why Madison? It is a great town with a lot of culture. Having heard the instrument, it is a wonderful addision to the symphony and an excellent recital instrument. The engineering to get it to hide is also very fascinating.

Dec-17-2005, 09:15
I wonder where this fetish for Klais comes from? Yes, they have some good instruments - the Dom zu Trier and the Ingolstadt Muenster come to mind, the Birmingham Concert hall where Thomas Trotter is Maestro dal Organo is also not too shabby but I wonder if Klais is not overly hyped. I hope to visit soon *Madtown*, WI to hear this organ.

Anthony Lemmer
May-11-2010, 21:28
Just kidding--I never went to Valère; I was 14 when I posted that.

May-25-2010, 04:49
Sadly I missed, this post originally and the link now doesn't behave.

May-31-2010, 21:28
Wow, this is an old thread. I wish I could if seen a picture :(

May-31-2010, 21:54
Here's a couple of pics of the Klais organ in Madison, Wisconsin (Overture Center):



Jun-01-2010, 00:21
very impressive modern facade. Would love to hear it and play it actually.

Jun-01-2010, 00:32
What a beautiful arrangement of front pipes, they are not facade pipes are they? They look real!

Jun-01-2010, 00:37
Humm.. you might be right CT64. I was sorta following Frederik's response as he knows more than I do. The web site does not offer much help concerning the organ.

Jun-09-2010, 01:07
Wow, that's very interesting. Very unique design! I would like ti hear it play :)

Jun-09-2010, 04:33
Based upon closed examination of a jpg image available on the Klais site (http://www.klais.de/m.php?art=229), I'm thinking that it is a non working facade. That image (a free download if one desires) also has the entire specifications on the same page.

One of our forum members, giwro (http://www.magle.dk/music-forums/members/giwro.html) is a prominent organist in Madison and can hopefully shed more light on this installation.

The organ is a III/72 with 4,040 pipes and was installed by Klais in 2004.
Haven't been able to find and sound clips of it though. Again, possibly our member, giwro, may be of help with this, too.

[Admin note: I've fixed the broken link in the OP]

Corno Dolce
Jun-09-2010, 14:26
The original Klais instruments from the middle '60s 'til today usually have functioning pipes in the facades.

Jun-13-2010, 14:20
Sorry, no help here! <chuckle>

I've not played it, nor do I have any recordings (although I have heard it live)

It doesn't sound like your typical modern Klais - it's voiced like a big romantic American organ. I gather from speaking with a Klais rep that this is what the customer asked for(!)

It is nice, though (and it can play LOUD!)