The organ being played on Tuesday by David Schrader is from the Netherlands. It was “built” by the Flentrop Organ Company – I say “built” in quotation marks because it as actually assembled by a long-time parishioner of St. James Cathedral some twenty or so years ago as it made its way to this country in the form of a kit. Much like the popular Zuckerman Harpsichord kits, Flentrop manufactured small organs (of up to 3-4 stops and usually without pedal) in kit form for “musical tinkerers” to assemble for their own pleasure! This organ is such an instrument.
This Flentrop organ as one keyboard and 3 stops: an 8′ Gedekt (flute), a 4′ Flute and a 2′ Principal (there are NO pedals on this instrument). Each stop has to draw knobs, one each on the right and left sides of the organ case (one must literally “hug” the organ to bring them on!), which cause each of the 3 stops to speak on the upper (right knob) and lower (left knob) halves of the keyboard. This is known as a divided keyboard – out-moded later in organ building by the addition of more keyboards.
This type of organ is a “remnant” of the Baroque Period in musical history and would surely have been known by organists and composers of the 16th century onward. Today, one sees this type of instrument used in performances of Buxtehude, Handel, Bach and even Mozart, both as a solo instrument and as a continuo / ensemble instrument.
Often times, the pipes are not located above the keyboard, rather they can be found underneath the keyboard thus making the instrument much more portable and easy to see over (this version is known as a portativ). Such small portativs can pack a partlcularly powerful punch and are as “at home” on the stage of Symphony Center as they are in much more intimate settings.
Please feel free to come up to the instrument to take a closer look following Tuesday’s concert!