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Organ Builder Roundtable

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Philipp Klais

Philipp Klais (Organbuilder J. Klais)

Philipp Caspar Andreas Klais (*1967) is an organ builder from Bonn / Germany. In 1995 he took over the management of the Klais organ building workshop in Bonn, which has existed since 1882 and is in its fourth generation. He trained as an organ builder in a French organ building workshop and in his father’s workshop. He expanded his knowledge by working in an architectural office in Bonn. In recent years, Klais Orgelbau built the organs of the Cologne Cathedral, the Town Hall of Auckland / New Zealand, the Beijing National Grand Theater / China, the Twin Tower Concert Hall Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia, the Madison Symphony Hall / USA, the Royal Opera House in Muscat / Oman, the Cathedrale in Leon / Spain, the Dom in Kristiansand / Norway, the new concert hall in Buenos Aires Argentina as well as in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and the National Forum of Music in Wroclaw / Poland. Philipp Klais is a member of the board of the Beethoven Haus Bonn.

Gerhard Grenzing (Organbuilder Grenzing)

Gerhard Grenzing studied organbuilding with Rudolf von Beckerath in his hometown, Hamburg. After five years he furthered his training by travelling and working in several other European workshops.

In 1972, he set up his own workshop in El Papiol, near Barcelona (a town which has attracted many German, Flemish, Swiss and French organ builders since the 15th Century) and under difficult circumstances formed and gathered around him a team of competent professionals in every branch of organ building.

Special mention should be made of the restoration work on the two large surviving instruments by Jordi-Bosch- in Santanyí, (Majorca) with its 25 rank Mixture and the Royal Palace in Madrid. In addition, Romantic Organs by Cavaillé-Coll and Walcker have been carefully restored and understood.

Since the year 2000, a team of 18 professionals (from 7 countries) has been working in a new workshop which offers enough room for restoration department all to itself, a 17 m high hall where even 4-5 manual organs can be assembled, a pipe construction area, plus a spacious store-room.

Up to now, around 250 new and restored organs have left Grenzing’s workshop and are played in Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, Bogotá, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and Russia.

Gerhard Grenzing

Gerhard Grenzing | pic (c) by Robert Ramos

Wendelin Eberle

Wendelin Eberle (Organbuilder Rieger)

In 1978, at the age of just 15, Wendelin Eberle began his organ building apprenticeship at the firm, Rieger Orgelbau, in Schwarzach, Vorarlberg. Following the successful completion of his apprenticeship, many years ensued in which he regularly participated in organ installations. These not only took him to numerous cathedrals and concert halls worldwide, but also gave him the technical experience in his subject, necessary for the tasks and responsibilities that were to come in later years. Intensive engagement with music (the trumpet being his subject), organ voicing and technical design honed his organ building competencies and rounded off his training.

In 1988 he graduated as Master Organ Builder; three years later he became head of Rieger’s technical design division; and after another year assumed the position of Rieger’s operational manager. Since 2003, Wendelin Eberle has led the firm as owner and managing director, in which capacity he has determined the route taken by Rieger Orgelbau and the paths followed by its approximately 60 members of staff.

Michael Kraft (US Organbuilder C.B. Fisk)

Michael Kraft is President of C.B. Fisk organbuilders in Gloucester, Massachusetts USA since 2016. Joining the Fisk shop in 1986, Michael also serves as Senior Reed Voicer, designing and overseeing the construction and voicing of the reeds. Michael earned his Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and his Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he was an organ student of Yuko Hayashi.

Moderator: Hans Fidom

Hans Fidom is Professor of Organ Studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and researcher at the Orgelpark. He is internationally active as an organ expert, and, insofar his agenda allows, as an organist. Fidom completed his music and organ studies cum laude at the University of Groningen in 1993. In 2002 he took his doctoral degree at VU Amsterdam; his promotors were Ewald Kooiman and Hermann J. Busch. Pivotal in Fidom’s thinking is that the organ is secular and future-oriented at heart: ‘It will survive only if not reduced to traditional religious and concert hall practices.’
Hans Fidom

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