posted July 14, 1999

New Organ Boosts Music Program

A new footprint for the music building at Hope means a leap forward for the college's organ students.

          An addition being made to Nykerk Hall of Music's
  west side this summer is providing a new center for organ
  instruction, including a teaching studio, two practice rooms
  and office space.
          The construction follows the donation of funding
  for a new studio organ that will arrive on campus from
  England in October.  The gift for the organ was made by
  Gerrit Hospers, a 1949 Hope graduate from Ontario Center,
  N.Y., who is a retired chemist and has also been a church
  organist for most of the past 60 years.
          The organ is being built by J.W. Walker & Sons
  Ltd. of Suffolk, England, according to specifications
  determined by Dr. Huw Lewis, who is a professor of music and
  college organist at Hope.  Lewis, who has been a member of
  the Hope faculty since 1990 and performs internationally, is
  pleased to see such a strong addition to Hope's organ
  program -- both for teaching and for his own work as a
  scholar and artist.
          "It was exciting to be able to design an
  instrument that will meet our needs so well," he said.  "The
  Skinner organ in the chapel is nationally famous, and is a
  great attraction for organ students.  This is meant to be a
  studio that I'll do a lot of personal work in, and it'll
  provide a quality location for teaching when the chapel is
          The organ will be 20 feet wide and 12 feet high.
  The features designed by Lewis include two interchangeable
  pedal boards--one based on the modern design, and the other
  on the older, pre-19th century model--options that he feels
  will serve students well.  "Increasingly students go abroad
  to play old instruments, and also increasingly in this
  country you find organs that are built along strict
  historical lines and which have the older style
  pedalboards," he said.
          According to Lewis, it's typical for such major
  studio and concert organs to be custom-built, and the
  company's involvement extends beyond construction of the
  organ alone.  When the instrument arrives from England,
  technicians from J.W. Walker & Sons will spend five to eight
  weeks reassembling and tuning it.
          Lewis noted that the Walker company, which
  originated in the 16th century, is known worldwide.  The
  company's organs range from the gallery organ at St. Martin
  in-the-Fields in London, England; to an organ in the crypt
  of Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England; to the organ in
  the town hall in Adelaide, Australia.  Since coming into the
  Walker family in 1828, J.W. Walker & Sons has built and
  installed more than 2,000 organs around the globe.
          The addition's two practice rooms will house two
  of the smaller practice organs that the college has
  presently.  Also in conjunction with the project, Lewis will
  move to an office in an already-existing part of the
  building that will open into the new studio.
          The cost of the entire project, including the
  organ and the addition to the building, is approximately
  $500,000.  Work on the addition began in May.
          This summer's construction marks the second time
  that Nykerk Hall of Music, built in 1956, has been expanded.
  The building's "Wynand Wichers" addition, which includes a
  major auditorium as well as several practice rooms and
  faculty offices, was dedicated in 1970.