Ask Alain | What’s up with the pipe organ in the Auditorium?22 June 2016
Do you have a question that deserves a surprise answer? Does your landlord suffer from incontinence, are you confused as to why Vertigo is green, or is there anything else that’s complicating your life at TU/e? Now you can Just Ask Alain! This week: playing the pipe organ in the Auditorium.
I only recently noticed that there’s a pipe organ in the Auditorium. Normally, I only see them in churches, so I wonder how one has ended up at our university. Can I also have a go if I ask nicely?
All the best,
I share your amazement. When I started my Bachelor studies here, back in 2008 when George W. Bush still reigned over the USA, I was surprised to see such a huge pipe organ in a university building. I also wondered why it was there and when somebody would finally play it.
Up to today, I’ve only heard its delightful tones twice, on both occasions during the Opening Academic Year celebration. However, it seems that I started studying at TU/e way too late, as the organ was in frequent use in 1966.
Anyway, the TU/e had the organ constructed following a rather corny gift. Philips wanted to surprise the university in honor of its founding, but it had no clue how to do so - I can’t blame them, I also struggle at birthdays. Hence, Philips figured it might as well hand the TU/e a gift card. While normally such a coupon would be a definite no-go, its value begged to differ: the gift card was valued at 1 million Dutch Guilders, about 450,000 euros.
Soon enough, the organ was ready for play. Nowadays, a small group of students and employees are allowed to play the organ and grasp its greatness. The TU/e even established an official ‘University Organist’, former student Jan Verschuren.
Ralf, even though I reckon you want to give it a go yourself, please do understand that an organ’s complexity is humongous. The one in the Auditorium combines three keyboards with fifty different sets of ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume, opening up an enormous range of possibilities. Simply playing a Eurodance song like ‘L’amour Toujours’ by Gigi d’Agostino might be more complicated than you think.
By now, I bet you’re eager to listen to a classical recital using all 3,713 different organ pipes? If so, you’re in luck: On Saturday June 25, the TU/e and Philips organize a concert in honor of their respective 60th and 125th birthdays. Although it remains to be seen whether Philips will bring along yet another gift card, I guess the music from their symphony will please everyone at TU/e.
Do you also have a question that deserves a surprise answer? Does your landlord suffer from incontinence, are you confused as to why Vertigo is green, or is there anything else that’s complicating your life at TU/e? Now you can Just Ask Alain!
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