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The 1928 E.M. Skinner Grand Organ of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Chicago, Illinois is one of the few Skinner organs that remains in nearly all of its original state. Skinner himself gave the organ its final tonal specifications which have not been changed over the years. The E.M. Skinner Grand Organ sample set from Milan Digital Audio offers you the opportunity to play this magnificent and historic instrument of the early 20th Century in your own home or studio!
Termed "The American Classic", E.M. Skinner's organs are by nature symphonic organs. The wide use of imitative orchestral stops such as the French Horn, and Orchestral Oboe were developed and patented by E.M. Skinner. These new orchestral developments were inspired by the growing symphonic orchestra in the early 1900's which led to the desire to play organ transcriptions of symphonic and operatic works from Richard Wagner and Johann Strauss to name a few. The symphonic organ was not entirely new, but Skinner holds a part in history for developing it to new levels. During the Romantic period organ builders in France and Germany were building symphonic organs with references to orchestral instruments, although much of the brilliant 'upperwork' was still present from earlier periods such as bright reeds, mixtures and mutation stops. The average Skinner symphonic organ is representative of more 8' pitches, but with more variety in tone and less emphasis on the brilliant 'upperwork' registers. The Mt. Carmel instrument is a typical medium sized Skinner organ of the 1920's and several of these upper registers can be found upon examining the stop specification. However, these mixtures and mutations are never harsh sounding and cap off a full and warm sounding plenum. Some other symphonic aspects of the Skinner organ are the percussion stops including the Harp and Celesta (Harp at 4' pitch), Chimes and Zimbelstern. We have also included recordings from the Carillon which is playable from the organ console and can be sounded from within the church.
We revisited the E.M. Skinner organ at the end of 2006 to create a completely new version of the organ with all new samples. These samples are taken from inside the pipe chambers with microphones moving closely from pipe to pipe. Sample recordings were originally done in stereo at 24 bit 96KHz direct to disk with the highest quality microphones and preamplifiers. The final sample resolution was converted to 24 bit 48KHz. All pipe samples are recorded dry with no acoustics.
New features in the MasterWorks Series include the following:
- Completely dry/close pipe samples taken from within the pipe chambers
- Chromatic sampling at 24 bit 96KHz (converted to 48KHz for final release)
- Long stereo samples with up to 8 loops per note
- New dual screen displays for left and right stop jambs making an ideal use for touch screens
- More realistic tremulants
- MIDI output couplers added for each division
- Bass Couplers added for each manual
- Less memory and polyphony required than the wet version
- Pristine sound with absolutely minimal noise reduction
- No need for multiple releases due to closely recorded samples
Please note that dry pipe samples benefit greatly from a multiple output audio system. The website demonstrations for the MasterWorks Series used 26 channels of audio recorded live with microphones during playback of the organ in Hauptwerk.
We highly recommend using Hauptwerk Advanced Edition for its per-pipe voicing capabilities.
Original 'Wet' Version
We are still offering the original version of this virtual instrument for Hauptwerk 2.21 and higher. Originally sampled in 2004 the 'wet' Skinner contains the natural church acoustics with each sample. Microphones were placed out in the church to capture the organ as heard in the room.
Note: This sample set contains a single release sample per note.
Please see the specification by clicking HERE.
The Mt. Carmel organ has a wealth of reed stops offering organists a palette of colors to choose from in the brass section alone. The Tuba Mirabilis is another highly acclaimed Skinner stop and sounds on high wind pressure distinctly standing out from the other registers of the organ. In early 2004 a new Trompette en Chamade was added to the organ after considerable donations from the church parish and we have included this as part of the sample set. The installation was headed by the Illinois based organ building company Fabry Pipe Organs.
A wide variety of organ literature may be performed on Skinner organs. French Romantic music sounds especially appropriate as well as performances of orchestral transcriptions. Baroque music is also very well suited for the instrument in both organ solo literature and concerto transcriptions.
Although the original tonal specifications remain preserved, several modifications were performed to maintain and improve the organ, mostly with regards to the console itself. All of the following modifications were performed by the Fabry Co.
- 1983, Fabry started maintaining the Skinner.
- 1984, divisions were releathered.
- 1985, all reeds were removed and shipped to A.R. Schopps of Alliance, Ohio to be cleaned and repaired. No revoicing was done on these reeds.
- 1993, solid state converted the entire console and relay systems and hardwood floored the entire balcony.
- 1996, added three new keyboards to the Skinner Console and installed new slide tuners on the scrolled tuned pipework.
- 1996, added the Midi Resource System with recorder.
- 2004, added the new 8' Trompette en Chamade.
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