Learning to Play the Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ

Mark Heath photoWhat a strange period we are experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world. It is having dramatic social and economic impacts, and causing people to be on ‘lockdown’ in their homes. While the pandemic is having an adverse financial impact on friends, I am loving the lockdown period for other reasons. It’s delightful having my daughters home from university and I am using some of the time to rekindle my passion for the church organ. I’ve had to put a hold on the exciting sound and video recording schedule I had planned with local musicians, including songwriter Angie Collins and soprano Faye Hart. It has been a lifesaver having the ability to play and record myself rather than twiddle my thumbs!

Thankfully, times have moved on from needing your own pipe organ to achieve a realistic sound. I have been reviewing various virtual pipe organs and have, finally, invested in what I consider to be the best virtual organ currently available in the world – the Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ version V. I have samples from three organs that offer outstanding sound quality:

  • the Willis organ at Salisbury Cathedral (Volumes 1 to 3)
  • the William Hill English organ sample set from Sonus Paradisi
  • the Casavant Software Organ Model from Sonus Paradisi.

The software is a monster in terms of computing resources required, particularly to achieve the best sound quality (24 bit resolution). Often 20 GB or more of RAM is required just to run the Hauptwerk program. Thankfully, it runs well and reliably on my iMac Pro, alongside Logic Pro X acting as a Midi sequencer.

I intend to learn, play and record a combination of organ pieces and hymns for fun, which I will share on SoundCloud and YouTube. I also hope to be good enough to provide organ accompaniment to soprano Faye Hart to give flexibility on recording and videoing her performances.

It is early days, but here are the very first examples of recordings, which are combined with photographs I have taken.


Other pages you may be interested in:
Gallery of Church Organs | Videoing Angie Collins Singing ‘Broken’  |  Recording Angie Collins Playing Piano