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.