The Rhapsody has been built in between of 2008-2011. The Kelders family and a few volunteers have done a remarkable job. First the decision had to be made which system and scale we had to use, as the materials and pipework were far from complete, or not even near the end result in a decent quality. After a winter of planning, a new organcase has been made by Rik and Bas with an exact fit to the trailer that came of another project of our company.
All pipework used was of pre-war dated dancehallorgans. Luckily at the very same moment a number of matching dancehall registers did come on the market in the south of Germany. After a few phonecontacts with the seller, we were already the next day on location near Switserland to secure and collect the lot we needed to complete the Rhapsody. The façade is designed and built by Willem Kelders.
The start of the Rhapsody construction
A passionated woodworker was found to help us with the complete construction of this large organ. This young guy was able to spent over a year full-time, so he made all windchests and necessary relays. To help him with this major task, the Kelders family did all the jobs as the drilling, inside sealing, sanding, lacquering etc. Where possible, lots of small jobs were done “on tour” during the Victory summerseason, like making and leatheringwork of all valves, and preparing other small parts.
At the Breugel workshop the built of the façade in Mortier style of the 1920’s was started. This fitted the best for the sound of this organ.
At the same moment Rik started in the Breugel metalworkshop with the final design of the trailer. This needed to be rewritten after a while. A third axle was necessary plus a heavy duty triangle/towbar, to secure a better stability during transport. An airbrake system was necessary, so the brakesystem had to be changed as well. As an extra, hydraulic legs were mounted. The Rhapsody can be lifted to the same level as the Victory. This is an important visual effect when playing synchronized.
The Rhapsody organcase was finished already for six months before the work at the organ itself really started. It takes a lot of time and preparation to built an organ of this size in a serious way. Only the mechanical work inside took over one year to built. When this was finished the revoicing of all pipework could start. The art of this work is, to get the most perfect balance in between of all pipes of all registers.
Several typical dancehallorganvoices have been revoiced in a rather unusual way. This made sure they could be used a a soloregister, but also as a helper voice in forto passages in the music. This is necessary for playing and use outdoors, and it’s very helpful whilst playing more modern music.
The Rhapsody turned out to be a unique automatic playing instrument of which worldwide not a second one exists.
.As always in these large scale projects, new idea’s develop during the time you work. Where possible these idea’s have been implanted in the original design. Early spring 2010, the Rhapsody started to play for the very first time. At the end of May of the same year, the instrument was presented on the annual organfestival at the open air museum of Arnhem in Holland. On this first day it was only possible to use the Rhapsody as a concertorgan. The typical danceorgan style music still had to be made. Also the façade was far from finished. The first presentation was only the middlecase with two sidecases, all only painted in a light basic groundcolour.
During the next winter of 2010/2011 the façade was further completed. Not an easy task as the trailer didn’t have much space, and the dancehallorgan design had to be kept as good as possible.
For the outer sidewings, two art-deco style paintings were made by the Dutch artist Dineke Boektje. She used original Mucha designs of 1898. Mucha is famous for this style of paintwork, When browsing through all designs, we discovered the names, given by Mucha, of the two chosen pictures were “Music” and “Dance”
During the same winter we discovered an original wooden xylophone among a stocklot of parts in Belgium. This was complete overhauled and placed on top of the main case. A newly made carrillion register was newly made by a specialist for metal pipework out of the churchorgan scene. This complete register with wooden helper found its place in the lower front of the middlecase. The templeblocks, necessary for the dancehallstyle music were placed in two sections at the end cases. The hi-hat did find a bit of space in the middlecase.
The Rhapsody can play books and through the built-in midi-system. When playing books, a problem occurs with the keyframe. This is too wide, so the doors in the back cannot be closed completely. The book keyframe is only used when necessary on special occasions.
The impressive top of the façade is doing very well, but there wasn’t enough space in the trailer to upright the façade in a convential or traditional way. To solve this, Rik constructed a lift working on two electro-mechanical cylinders, hidden in the sidecases. The top can be lifted automatic now, and it’s possible to do this with a minimum of space. The free clearance space near the sidewings is only 2 mm when the trailer is closed
The first presentation of the completed organ:
From the 28th to the 30th of May 2011 the Rhapsody was presented for the first time in the UK by Rik & Bas. This presentation was at the annual steamrally at Strumshaw (Norfolk) Here the Rhapsody won the first prize as “most impressive exhibitor”.
We want to thank Paul Worbey, the organizer of this event, for his invitation.
A quick index of the disposition of the Rhapsody:
118 keys in use playing bookmusic
128 keys in use when playing midi
920 playing organpipes
22 automatic interchangeable registers on bass, melody, countermelody and third melody.
6 fixed registers
A large percussionset, with bass-, kettledrum and double snare drums, tambourine, cymbal, triangle plus wood- and temple blocks. A wooden xylophone on the melodysection, A metal xylophone (Glockenspiel) on the third medlody.
The airconsumption of the Rhapsody is 11.000 ltrs of pressed air a minute, at a pressure of 250 mm watergauge.