REIMER ORGANS

A Brief History

It all began in the mid-1950's, while I was still a school student, as I watched a two-manual tracker pipe organ being installed in the new church of St. George's, Earlwood in New South Wales. It was fascinating. Eventually I learnt to play it, at least to the point of being able to accompany church services on occasions. At about much the same time, a series of articles appeared in a major electronics magazine, describing the various electronic organs currently available. None of the electronic organs I tried seemed to come anywhere near the sound of what I was used to. Nonetheless, I began a quest to design and build one that would.

 

In 1956 I began a course of Electrical Engineering at the University of New South Wales. In August of that year, just ahead of the final examinations for that year, I received what I took to be a call from God to the Anglican ministry. I completed the engineering degree and worked for three years in the field of telecommunications. Then followed four years of theological study, after which I married and was ordained. All the time I was also pursuing my hobby at some level or other, but progress was very slow.

 

By the mid-70's I was in charge of the Parish of Northmead, a Sydney suburb. One of the parishioners was an experienced pipe organ builder from England. I used to haunt his factory, and my electronic organ design ideas were developing. Through an unlikely chain of events I learnt that my home church of Earlwood was planning to replace their pipe organ with an electronic instrument. I contacted them and asked them to wait until they heard what I could provide. They graciously consented, and when they heard the partly-constructed organ in place, they decided to have me finish it.

 

The Earlwood organ was the first of five that were built for Sydney churches during the 1980's. These instruments received warm commendation from a number of organists and even some pipe organ builders. A cathedral organist described them as "fantastic", a clergyman with an appropriate theological bent called them "a miracle", a pipe organ builder said that any of his peers would have been proud to produce the sound of the principal chorus at Earlwood, and a well-known Sydney organ consultant (and no lover of electronic organs) called one of them "the best electronic organ (he) had ever played".  Two organs were subsequently built for private homes. After that, I ran out of orders, and also ran out of steam. By then it was the mid-1990's. Although I was encouraged by the success of these instruments, I decided to leave further progress until my retirement from parish work, which would occur when I reached the age of 65. That has now happened, making me free to return to the "grand project".