AIO 2017, Fort Collins, CO
The American Institute of Organbuilders annual convention for 2017 was held at the Hilton, in Fort Collins Colorado from October 1-4. It was a lightly attended even, which we were expecting given the location; conventions on the east coast are always better attended.
There were some pre-convention tours which I did not attend, with the convention proper starting with a reception in the hotel lobby at 4pm prior to dinner.
After dinner Sunday was the traditional Exhibitors night. It was a very slow night from an exhibitor's perspective. The exhibits were supposed to be open until 11pm, but by 9:30 they only people left in the hall were staff manning the booths and a group of people sitting at a table having a drink and socializing, so we all packed up and had an early night. Given the time difference between Toronto and Fort Collins, it was appreciated, I don't tend to function well staying up to 1am.
Monday consisted of a series of lectures with the exhibit space open between the lectures. There were lectures and panels on: AIO Exam Topics, Micro-climates for Organs, Kimball History, Sympathetic Augmentation, Electrical Code
Tuesday consisted of the 'organ crawl', given the distances we needed to travel, this year's tour included only 4 organs. We did have the opportunity to see some beautiful scenery during the drives.
The Great Roosevelt Organ, First United Methodist Church - Boulder
The organist informed us that this instrument only has three pistons per division, one of which is configured as a cancel, which makes it difficult to play some music. This instrument never got particularly loud, even with Full Organ, but then it's also not a particularly large space.
E. & G. G. Hook Demonstration, Holy Comforter Episcopal - Broomfield
This is possibly the most Catholic looking Anglican church I've ever seen. I grew up in the Anglican church and everything about this church said Catholic to me. This organ was not built for this space but was moved here and seems to fit fairly well in its new environment.
Patrick J. Murphy & Associates, Church of the Ascension - Denver
This organ filled the sanctuary, you can feel its presence: even when playing quite, if fills the space. The builder was told "don't make it afraid".
Kimball Demonstration, St. John’s Cathedral
This instrument can get louder and quieter than any other organ I heard that day, primarily because there are more pipes and a wider variety. There was one I could barely hear, I suspect many older members of a congregation wouldn't hear it at all. I am not a trained organist, and I personally found that there were so many ranks, and the difference between some of them so minor, that I was wondering why they had the ranks at all. Some of the trained organ people I spoke to however were quite impressed and informed me that these subtle differences were important.
As with almost every other organ demonstration I've attended each of the demonstrations today consisted of a selection of music selected to show off the skill of the organist and the capabilities of the instrument, followed by everybody singing a hymn.
Wednesday the exhibits were only open until noon, so we would have time to take everything down before the evening banquet. Lectures this day were: Community-based Restoration, Mixtures for Difficult Rooms, Shop Project Management , Colorado Organ History, and Business Liability.
As an exhibitor I found the services the Hilton provided were great. In past years an outside exhibit company was employed, whom we had to use and their fees were quite high. The Hilton allowed us to send our packages directly to them, they stored our boxes in a room until setup at no extra cost. When I packed up, all I had to do was put our return UPS labels on the boxes and leave them at the front desk. Somebody there called for a UPS pick-up. This was easy and cost effective.
Next year will be in the Canton/Akron Ohio area. I'd like to see a convention in New Orleans some time.