Op­por­tu­nity to hear the 3,604-pipe Casa­vant

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Op­por­tu­nity to hear the 3,604-pipe Casa­vant

One end thun­ders like ar­tillery, while the other is­sues the thin notes of a flute. Wel­come to the Casa­vant Opus 3690 pipe or­gan, a mag­nif­i­cent in­stru­ment played by James Cochran at the Fes­ti­val of Great Or­gan Mu­sic on June 4 at Hayes Hall, Naples. The de­vice with pipes rang­ing from flag­pole-sized to a pen­cil is spec­tac­u­lar. “Adorned with twin curv­ing con­soles like chok­ers, and stretch­ing out a hand for the kiss­ing with her re­tractable chamade trum­pets,” a mu­sic critic wrote of a sim­i­lar or­gan to the one built in Canada and re­assem­bled in Naples.

Rep­u­ta­tion is why those fund­ing the mu­si­cal in­stru­ment in Naples chose the Casa­vant Fr­eres, a “jewel” of the pipe-or­gan in­dus­try. The Mon­treal man­u­fac­turer dates to 1879, when two brothers, one a black­smith, started the firm that would even­tu­ally con­struct sev­eral thou­sand pipe or­gans―Opus 3690 (elec­tro-pneu­matic ac­tion) rep­re­sent­ing its se­quen­tial num­ber. The beauty of the in­stru­ment is in the wood, sea­soned and cut just so, and the spe­cial metal for the pip­ing. “Then you work with Jean-Claude [Gau­thier] to cre­ate a vis­ual de­sign to fit the phys­i­cal struc­ture in which the or­gan will be lo­cated,” a Casa­vant ex­ec­u­tive said in an in­ter­view.

That same ex­ec­u­tive and an ac­com­plished or­gan­ist, Stan­ley R. Scheer, on a sunny May morn­ing in 1990 sat at the mas­sive in­stru­ment at its in­stal­la­tion in Naples. “It’s easy to tell that Stan Scheer is hav­ing a good time, and his lis­ten­ers are thrilled to happy tears,” Nor­man Nadel wrote in a story head­lined “Casa­vant Opus 3690, A gift from the De­vel­op­ers of Pel­i­can Bay and Friends of the Phil.”

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