L022: Overture Hall, Madison WI 

Builder: Foley-Baker Inc, Tolland CT

Early in 2018 Foley-Backer Inc received a contract for a new relay and control system for the Klais organ in Overture Hall in Madison WI. Foley-Baker contracted with us to provide one of our new Maestro systems.


Overture Hall is home to Madison Symphony Orchestra and is part of Overture Center, a facility which features seven state-of-the-art performance spaces and five galleries. Overture Center is host to Broadway tours, national and international touring artists, ten resident companies and hundreds of local artists engage people in nearly 700,000 education and artistic experiences each year.

We provided a Maestro system, which allows people with authorization (us, builder, and sometimes the organist) to access the control system over the internet. This means, among other things, that if the builder is having issues while installing the instrument, we can actually see what the instrument is doing and if necessary make changes. A Maestro system provides multiple password protected organist configurations, which can be extremely useful in installations such as Overture Hall, where there are multiple organist using the instrument. Each organist can set up the combination actions, soft switches etc to their own personal preference.

Typically with Maestro system, a tablet is provided which functions as a control interface, enabling the organist or on site tech to manage things like MIDI, Software Switches, Combination Action, and diagnostics. In this case Foley-Baker chose to install a more traditional control panel interface in the drawer under the key desk. The organist or technician can still bring in their own tablet or smart phone and connect, it's just not permanently installed. Having a tablet you can walk around with has proved useful, it means somebody can walk into the chamber and play a stop from there, rather than having to have somebody sitting at the console.




There were a couple uncommon issues with this installations which we needed to contend with. Firstly, the whole instrument runs on 28V, typically organs run at approximately 12V, so all the circuit boards used needed to be modified to for the higher voltage. The drawknobs and rocker tabs on the console were a mix of positive and negative drive, thus we needed 2 different types of driver boards, and finally, several of the chests in the chamber had some unconventional layouts, requiring Main chests to be broken up into segments, split C/C#, and have double outputs.




                                           Console Control Unit (CCU): manages all key, stop, and piston input, and stop action output


Pipe Control  Units (PCU): outputs may be positive or negative drive


Side panel of PCU                                             Slider Motor Controllers


This instrument has one more unique feature, which required some innovation on the part of both Foley-Baker and ourselves. The American Girl Doll company provided a significant donation to cover the costs of the work, in exchange, they wanted to be able to feature their company and one of their dolls. So, with a press of a piston, the organ will play the American Girl theme song while a trap door opens in the top of the console, and one of the dolls will rise out of the console on a platform. We used a dedicated MIDI piston and the doll controls were set up like another expression shoe.


Summary of Features:

77 drawknobs

26 rocker tabs

66 ranks

6 Slider Motor Controller boxes


Manual Transfer

All Swells to Swell

All Pistons Next

Alternate Crescendos

Pedal Divide

Expander MIDI stops for each manual

Dedicated Memory Up/Down and Registration Next/Last



Free Community Carol Sing

Madison Symphony Orchestra



For those who may be in the area and are interested, every year Overture Hall has a free Community Carol Sing with the organ. This year is will be Saturday December 14, 2019



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