The story behind one of the CRSO's Sponsors
''Did you know that if you buy a digital organ in the 21st century, it can not only sound like a church organ - or even a Wurlitzer theatre organ – but can be configured to sound like specific organs in famous cathedrals and churches round the world? And that you will be able to hear such organs together with their own typical acoustic, including the mechanical sounds of the stop changes?
Milan Digital Audio in the US has developed an interesting technology that is far ahead of what most people associate with a “digital organ”. CRSO Sponsor Douglas Henn-Macrae has been the official UK reseller for Milan Digital Audio's “Hauptwerk”, the software that makes these sounds possible, since 2012. Two of Douglas' organs were used in Rochester and Wakefield Cathedrals for 18 months recently, while the cathedrals’ pipe organs were out of action due to building works.
ES: What is the difference between a normal digital organ, and the Hauptwerk system?
ES: What organ will we hear for the Saint-Saens?
D H-M: We plan to use the sounds of the organ of St Etienne Abbey in Caen, Normandy, built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll in the 1880s.
ES: How did you become involved with selling and installing organs?
D H-M: I have had a very varied working life, spending time as a German teacher, a registrar, a lay clerk at Rochester Cathedral, an organist and even a wine merchant! When I came across the software programme Hauptwerk in 2006, I was very impressed and travelled to the Frankfurt Music Fair in order to find out more about it. Following on from my experiences there, I set up as a Hauptwerk agent in Great Britain.
ES: What does a typical day at work look like for you?
D H-M: There is no typical day! I could be traveling to Germany to collect organs, or I might be somewhere in Britain talking to a customer. I am also involved with the music at Rochester Cathedral: I conduct one of the three choirs there - the adult choir (called the Cathedral Voluntary Choir, formed in 1995) which sings when the choir boys and girls are on holiday, which is about eight weekends a year.
ES: What do you value most about the CRSO?
D H-M: I love the enthusiasm of the players.
ES: Which programmes do you prefer?
D H-M: I really enjoyed the Music from the Movies concert. I must admit that I avoid concerts with a lot of Beethoven…
ES: Is there a particular piece that you would like CRSO to programme?
D H-M: Draeseke’s E flat Piano Concerto. A friend and I were driving back from a music trade fair in Germany in 2010. On the car radio was what appeared to be a piano concerto, but neither of us recognised it, though we figured it must probably be Germanic/Romantic.When the radio announcer told us we had just heard “the Piano Concerto in E flat by Felix Draeseke”, we both went “Who?!” Neither of us had ever heard of him, but we thought it was a pretty good piece, and well worth hearing again.
Thank you for sponsoring the orchestra, and for taking the time for the interview."
If you would like to hear the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony on the 13th May, ring 01634338338 to book tickets or follow this link.