“Dear Mr. Zimmer,
I’m sorry we were unable to meet at the dedication recital last month. I wanted to tell you how stunned I was by your work. Were I a pipe organ builder I would be very depressed by your extraordinary achievement. Doubtless, Michael has already told you of my high praise, but he did ask me to put my impressions in writing.
I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t come with some reservations, though I intentionally resisted looking at the disposition of pipe and digital ranks so that I could keep, as far as possible, an open mind. I knew, of course, that Choir and Swell were all digital, but was surprised at how authentic the sounds were, both individually and in ensemble, even with octave couplers on the mixtures and reeds. How you have managed to achieve the spaciousness in the sound, so far removed from the typical “pinched” ensemble is nothing short of miraculous. The greatest embarrassment, for want of a better word, was my earnest belief that the Pedal Bourdon was pipe and that the Great Trumpet and Gamba were poor digital voices!
What can I say: the organ will do anything asked of it, and do it beautifully. Everything blends; nothing screams. It a joy beyond words and, to counter the critics, is not reliant on pipes for its tonal success. Very quickly one forgets which stops are pipe and which digital and registers freely.
You and your tonal geniuses are to be congratulated on an outstanding achievement. I’ve been playing pipe organs for forty years and, excepting a somewhat labored Corno di Bassetto on the Choir, I simply could not tell the difference, even after playing for three or four hours. We know all too well how tired the ears quickly become of some well known digital organs!
All I can say is that you have created a versatile, responsive and most musical instrument. What more could a musician-organist ask for?
Yours in sincere admiration and delight,
Andrew Fletcher MA (Oxon), FRCO (CHM) FLCM