About the Project:
"The Opus 139 Project: To Hear the Music" is a documentary entering its final editing stage that celebrates great music, great craftsmanship, and the unique workplace ethic at C.B. Fisk, Inc.
C.B. Fisk is a small organ building company in Gloucester, MA, and their collaborative style is much closer to that of the medieval artisans' guilds than to 21st century corporate culture. The Opus 139 Project is a film about the evolution of a single pipe organ, 3 years in the making, and needs to raise $15,000 in 31 days to help complete production. Timeline for finishing is May 2013. This is, has been, and will be a labor of love, rather than a for-profit project.
The completed film will tell the interwoven stories of founder Charles Brenton Fisk, his workshop in action, and the enterprise of creating, installing, and voicing a single new pipe organ, in this case Opus 139, commissioned by the late beloved Peter Gomes, for his magnificent Memorial Church at Harvard University. It is a rare opportunity to be able to document and experience the intricate design process, attention to detail, and stunning craftsmanship involved in the construction of this "King of Instruments." In the last act, the soaring glory of the new organ at Harvard, Opus 139, will be heard at its inaugural concert.
About the Pipe Organ & Charles B. Fisk:
For seven centuries, the pipe organ was the most complex man-made device. Its repertoire spans 400 years of the most illustrious composers in history…Bach, Mozart, Handel, Saint-Saens, Messiaen, Franck, and many others. From a few dozen to over 20,000 pipes, the King of Instruments produces a glory of sound unmatched by any other - unlike the piano and the harpsichord, its tones do not decay, but are held as long as its keys are depressed. Its voice can fill the vaults of cathedrals, making the very stones tremble with its power. Constructing such an instrument is a feat of mechanical engineering, exacting audio orchestration and elegant artistry.
Today C.B. Fisk, Inc, in Gloucester, Massachusetts produces some of the finest pipe organs in the world. The employees at Fisk form a community – a family – that collaborates to produce an intricate end product as close to “perfection” as humanly possible. Their dedication is inspired by the company’s founder, the late Charles Fisk; a brilliant physicist, he worked on the Manhattan Project (at the age of 18!), but ultimately turned from the physics of destruction to focus his attention on the pursuit of musical and mechanical exactitude and transcendence.
Years ago, when asked why he built organs, Fisk stated, simply, "Why, to hear the music better."
Thanks for considering our project, we hope you can help us to share the music!
Fun Fact: A film that this is like? Try “Note by Note,” about Steinway pianos, which played repeatedly on PBS. The difference? Where Steinway and it’s many factory workers make hundreds of pianos a year, Fisk’s musician/artisans build only two or three organs.
** NOTE FOR RETURNING DONORS - Along with the rewards you have been promised/awarded during our initial campaign we would also like to send you a 5x7 framed print of Opus 139 as it stands in Memorial Church. We truly appreciate all of your support.
Risks and challenges
Three years ago we challenged ourselves to create a world-class documentary illuminating the artistry, engineering, and wonder of building a masterful pipe organ. Those three years have been full of risks for our team and collaborators, financially and professionally. We are very close to achieving our goal but the road ahead is still a little rocky.
At this point, the risk is that the serious funding we need to complete as professionally as possible will not come. The risk of Kickstarter is one route to overcoming these challenges. We would like to include a short animation of how the organ works. We would like to fly over Gloucester Harbor, and hover over the shop on Kondelin Road. We would like to speak with world-class organists about their experience playing Opus 139. We would like to hire a professional music editor, who would bring another set of eyes and ears and hands to the finishing stages. We would like to accomplish every aspect of completion, from titles to sound mix, again at the highest professional level. We would like to expand the scope of the film to include the history of American organ-building in the 20th century, and have what we need to buy archival footage, and run additional interviews. BUT:
The challenges of production have mostly been met. The chronological information we need is basically "in the can." We have captured what we need, and dream only of finishing at the highest possible level. Then there are the challenges of distribution and exhibition, which are significant, but we are confident that the film will speak for itself, and find a home, certainly in distribution, and hopefully on American public television.
Our greatest reward through this campaign and all of our support to date is being able to superbly showcase the story of Opus 139 and all of the people who made the music it creates possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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