The ISM organized a tour and demonstration of the Newberry Memorial Organ in Woolsey Hall on Sunday, April 10, as part a series of public events related to the preservation of cultural heritage held in conjunction with the eighth U.N. Global Colloquium of University Presidents taking place concurrently at Yale.
Thomas Murray gave a brief introduction to the physics of sound by blowing into different pipes arranged on a tray before demonstrating the wonders of the instrument’s sound as the visitors clustered around the console. The audience listened intently as he played excerpts of compositions spanning 250 years to show the incredible range and versatility of the instrument.
Curators Joseph Dzeda and Nicholas Thompson-Allen then led the group of 35 people on an expedition that wound through the back of the façade pipes and into the basement to view the 20 horsepower Spencer turbine blowers, each powered by a 240-volt direct-current Westinghouse motor – the oldest functioning electric motors in Connecticut, according to Dzeda – as well as the innards of the echo organ and the curators’ workshop. In fact the organ in its entirety, which is meticulously maintained by hand, is a monument to the state-of-the-art technology of 1928, with its pneumatic valves and motors and 160 miles of electrical wire, as well as the workmanship of its 12,617 pipes. Its ongoing maintenance is unique among Yale’s cultural heritage preservation efforts in that the heritage monument is located right on campus.
With public demand so high, the ISM hopes to offer more scheduled tours in 2016 – 2017.
~by Melissa Maier; photos by Jason Henington