It’s the middle of May and our thoughts are turning to our summer travels. And although we’re not going to Germany this year, I did think about the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, where Johann Sebastian Bach was once organist. From 2002 there was a new organ there incorporating much of the previous 1858 instrument by Friedrich Ladegast and the 1902 Wilhelm Sauer — and the organ console was paid for and created by Porsche AG! Yes, the car company’s engineers had a big hand in the ergonomic design of the console — including curved brushed steel jambs, and aids for registration looking like speedometers. According to the Porsche website, there is a reason
“why the car maker from Stuttgart supports the restoration of an organ: No other musical instrument embodies the Porsche values such as strength, dynamism and aesthetics in such an exemplary fashion as the classical pipe organ with its voluminous sound. Porsche did not restrict itself to the role of a sponsor during the restoration, however. Since the original console by the master organ builder Friedrich Ladegast did not exist any more, Porsche designers created new surfaces made of ebony and brushed stainless steel for manuals and registers and also designed the pedals and the bench for the cantor. The console has been designed as a contrast to the environment of the church in a conscious manner, however, it remains in the classical context and establishes a reference to car manufacturing, Franz Joseph Siegert, head of Interior Design, explains the intention pursued by the designers.”
Well, guess what! We just found out that there is a little bit of Porsche in the Beckerath organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu! We were having trouble with the swell shutters closing on their own, and I’ve always been intrigued with the pneumatic gadget which controls it. This week we asked organ builder Hans-Ulrich Erbslöh about it, and he said “The swell shutters had this problem from the very beginning. After a kind of odyssey, I finally found this pneumatic device. It is actually a part of a Porsche — to hold the trunk open.”
After 38 years, this part has more than put in its share of the work and will be fixed in September.