I went to the COAA Rally in North Tonawanda, New York, on 7/25/03. What a great time! I'd never been to the Carousel Museum before, nor been to such a big organ rally. There were many impressive organs to be seen -- giant ones, little ones, mid sized ones, restored, home-made -- each with their own unique personality and appeal, and coming from all parts of the country.
One organ that stood out was the brand-new "Das Eichhörnchen" Dutch street organ, owned by Kevin Sheehan and his wife; I believe they came to the rally from Maine. It is a large hand-cranked organ mounted on a wood wagon, all built last year to Kevin's specifications by Fa. Pluer in Bussum, The Netherlands. It's wonderfully painted with a very cool and unique squirrel motif -- even the baton-wielding band leader figurine on the front is a squirrel rather than a person!
The best part is the sound: very sweet but powerful, in my opinion the best sounding organ there. The range is amazing, having a 16' horn inside. Kevin made it sound great and made the cranking look easy, but it's _not_ as easy as he makes it look: you have to crank at a steady tempo, which takes some practice. I took some pictures, which I'll have to send sometime later. (I need to finish the roll and get it developed and scanned in). If you get a chance to hear this organ anywhere, it's well worth the drive.
near Rochester, New York
12 Aug 2003 12:07:47 -0400
PS: Note that "Eichhörnchen" is spelled with an umlaut over the "o".
Ed. note: Right; the equivalent of o-umlaut is "oe" when 7-bit plain-text-only is required, as in MMDigest. "Das Eichhörnchen" is the German name for the red squirrel (sciurus vulgaris) of Europe and Asia. Visit the Firma Pluer web site at http://www.bandorgan.com/
I also had the pleasure of meeting Kevin and Linda Sheehan and their "Squirrel" Dutch street organ at the organ rally in Jamestown, New York. They do indeed live an hour away from me here in Maine, the ends of the Earth! The organ can play both smooth and sweet on its Bourdon Celestes, or with its penetrating, crisp Violin Celestes. Incredibly, its Melody section has no 4' or higher pitches.
The Countermelody (Tegenzang?) section has an unusual metal English Horn. The Bass is the finest I've encountered, with true 16' Trombones and unusually solid Bourdons -- all powered by that huge cast-iron wheel. The musical arrangements in the book music library are superbly matched to the organ.
I managed to crank through one short march, with frequent hand changes. I have photos I could share of such COAA luminaries as Ron Bopp and Cynthia Craig cranking away, as well as Kevin himself. Also quite a few detail shots of the organ front and artwork. The paintings of rocky shores and pine trees are clearly not of Holland, but of a Maine artist.
When I first arrived at the Jamestown amusement park, morning rain had delayed many organ owners from setting up. But more than one told me, "Watch for 'The Squirrel' organ to come out -- don't miss it!". Word indeed gets around.
17 Aug 2003 22:43:39 EDT