With the church organist shortage situation reaching critical mass, I guess it was just a matter of time before someone would come up with a technological solution. When I was sick with stomach flu a couple of weeks ago, apparently a few people went into panic mode. I wonder if they would feel better had they read this article: “Robots lead the hymns as players fade away.” Today when I opened my email, there was a link to a promotional video from Church Music Solutions which you can see here:
Here’s the hype: The Virtual Organist from Church Music Solutions is a versatile digital device that can be used to assist congregations that lack an in-house musician. The Virtual Organist can either function as a stand-alone 25-rank digital organ or can play back your church’s existing instrument. Think of it! Churches need never be without an organist; only someone to press “Play” on an iPad. It’s not merely a CD playing — the church’s actual organ is played, whether it be pipe or electronic. If you click here, you can hear a sample of the hymn accompaniment for “Holy, holy, holy” from Church Music Solutions. By the way, we are singing this tune for Trinity Sunday (but we use REAL trumpet in the person of Allen Bauchle!)
In this video, Pastor George Borghardt from Zion Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL says that now no one needs to worry whether the organist likes the hymns or not! (FYI at LCH I choose the hymns, so this is not an issue!) He says his 12-year-old son operates the iPad which drives the software to play the organ in their church. I guess with this solution you need not worry about negotiating a contract or dealing with temperamental organists!
The question was asked, though, “Why are you trying to replace organists?” and here is the company’s answer:
Luckily I have found two competent substitutes to play the organ while I’m away: Mark Wong will play June 10th and 17th and Joey Fala will play on June 24th.
Don’t push their buttons!