|Founder(s)||Rodgers W. Jenkins
Hillsboro, Oregon, United StatesCoordinates:
|Website||Rodgers Instruments Corporation|
Rodgers Instruments Corporation is an American manufacturer of classical and church organs. Rodgers was founded in 1958 by Rodgers W. Jenkins and Fred Tinker, employees of Tektronix, Inc., of Portland, Oregon, and members of a Tektronix team developing transistor-based oscillator circuits. Rodgers claims to be the first manufacturer of solid state oscillator-based organs, completing their first instrument in 1958. Other Rodgers innovations in the electronic organ industry include solid-state organ amplifiers (1962), single contact diode keying (1961), reed switch pedal keying for pedalboards (1961), programmable computer memory pistons (1966), and MIDI support (1987).
Rodgers' primary factory is located in Hillsboro, Oregon with additional manufacturing done in Japan and Italy. All full size, American Guild of Organists standard 32 pedal note classical organ models are built in the Oregon factory.
Rodgers' success was largely due to their early innovations with solid state analog tone generation technology. Despite the fact that competitors such as Allen switched to digitally sampled tone generation as early as 1972, Rodgers sold exclusively analog tone generation instruments until 1990.
Rodgers introduced its first digital organ on November 20, 1990, using a tone generation system Rodgers has dubbed Parallel Digital Imaging (PDI). Rodgers PDI organs use Roland DSPs and digitally sampled organ pipes for tone generation.
A feature introduced in 1993, which Rodgers has termed "Digital Domain Expression," offers swell box effects such as expression delays, high frequency damping and phase shifts of sound across a stereo field as expression shoes are opened or closed, similar to the effects produced by the swell shades on a pipe organ's swell box.
Today, Rodgers' Trillium Masterpiece Series instruments are custom designed through Rodgers' Organ Architect, while some smaller models remain as standard specification products.
Although known primarily for its electronic organs, Rodgers has built many pipe organs and pipe/electronic combination organs.
Many Rodgers organs support the playing of actual pipe ranks in addition to their normal, electronic ranks. The first electronic organ to successfully integrate pipes and electronic tone generation was a Rodgers Gemini with Fratelli Ruffatti organ pipes installed in the Atlanta area home of Dr. Walter and Emily Spivey. It included a tuning control so the pipes and electronics could stay in tune with each other.
The largest full pipe organ produced by the company was the Second Baptist Church Houston, Texas organ with five manuals and 193 pipe ranks. It was dedicated on August 23, 1987 and featured concerts on August 23 and 24th by organist Frederick Swann. In addition, it was the featured organ of the 1988 Houston National Convention of the American Guild of Organists where it was played by organist Diane Bish.
In August 1991, another large all-pipe Rodgers organ installed at Glenkirk Presbyterian Church, Glendora, California was the cover feature of The American Organist, official journal of the American Guild of Organists.
Originally controlled by officers of Tektronix and the founding engineers, in September 1977, Rodgers became part of CBS Musical Instruments along with Steinway & Sons pianos, Fender guitars, Rhodes electric pianos, Gemeinhardt flutes, and a number of other instrument brand names. In 1985 CBS, divested itself of Rodgers, along with Steinway and Gemeinhardt, all of which were purchased by Steinway Musical Properties. Since May 1, 1988, Roland Corporation has been parent company of Rodgers, and Rodgers is now a subsidiary of it. In addition to its own Rodgers organs, Rodgers produces Atelier home organs and digital pianos for Roland Corporation as Roland's North American manufacturing facility.
Organist Virgil Fox helped bring Rodgers organs into the limelight in the late 1960s and early 1970s when he used a Rodgers Touring Organ, built in 1966 and known as "Black Beauty," for his "Heavy Organ" concerts, including a 1970 all Bach performance that included a light show at the Fillmore East Auditorium in New York.
On October 1, 1974, Rodgers’ five manual Carnegie Hall organ, designed by Virgil Fox, debuted in a sold-out Fox concert. The organ and Fox were praised by Time, United Press International, Ron Eyer in the New York Daily News, New York Post and by noted critic Harold Schonberg in The New York Times. Carnegie Hall’s International Organ Series for the Inaugural 1974-1975 Season included Fox, Pierre Cochereau, Claire Coci, Fernando Germani, Herman Berlinski, George Thalben-Ball and Richard Morris. This was the world’s first five manual and most powerful[clarification needed] electronic organ at the time and was listed as such for a number of years in the Guinness Book of World Records.
A sister five manual instrument to the Carnegie Hall Organ, named by Fox the "Royal V", served as Fox's touring organ for the 1975-76 concert season, but proved unwieldy to tour with. The Royal V was used at Fox's funeral in the Crystal Cathedral after he died on October 25, 1980.
A second black Rodgers touring organ was active in the 1970s. The "American Beauty" was based on Rodgers's then premium three manual model, the "American Classic". Concert organists who played on this instrument or "Black Beauty" (which continued touring under Roberta Bailey Artists International well into the 80s) included Ted Alan Worth, Joyce Jones, Pierre Cochereau, Herman Berlinski, Richard Morris, Keith Chapman, Douglas Marshall, John Grady, Frederick Geoghan, and Diane Bish.
The Royal V was, in 1983, refinished from black to white and permanently installed in the Meishusama Hall of the Shinji Shumeikai in Minsono, Japan. In mid-2004, this same organ was updated to newer Rodgers technology. Dan Miller and McNeill Robinson, consultants on the project, revised and updated the organ's tonal specification during the update to Trillium level Parallel Digital Imaging technology.
The current Rodgers touring organ is Hector Olivera's "The King", a black four manual organ featuring a custom French specification that Olivera plays in various concert venues nationally.
Previously, John Ratzenberger's Made in America Travel Channel show featured at segment on Rodgers filmed at Rodgers’ Hillsboro, Oregon plant. That episode still appears from time to time on the Travel Channel.
Rodgers factory is also featured in Karen Axelrod and Bruce Brumberg’s popular “Watch it Made in the U.S.A.” books profiling interesting factory tours of American manufacturing facilities.
- Cameron Carpenter
- Frederick Swann
- Pierre Cochereau
- Roland Corporation (Rodgers builds Roland Atelier organs and digital pianos)
- Virgil Fox played Rodgers' "Black Beauty" and "Royal V" organs in his "Heavy Organ" tours.
- "A Brief Timeline of Rodgers History". Rodgers Organ Studio of Minneapolis. 2008.
- Pugno, Frank (2007). "Rodgers Organs". The Theatre Organ Home Page.
- "Rodgers unveils its first digital organs; new PDI technology offers excellent tonal quality at a competitive price.". The Music Trades. January 1991.
- Rodgers Instrument Corporation Official Web Site
- Kakehashi, Ikutaro (2002), I Believe in Music, Hal Leonard Corporation
- Pugno, Frank, “Rodgers Organs” The Theatre Organ Home Page, accessed March 15, 2008.
- Steineger, Melissa, “Electrifying electronic pipe organs from Hillsboro lend resonant notes”, The Oregonian, October 16, 1986
- Torrence, Richard and Marshall Yeager (2001), Virgil Fox (The Dish), Circles International, New York
- Whitney, Craig R., “An Organ Legend In Vivid Memory” The New York Times, October 22, 2000.
- “1983 Marks 25th Anniversary for Rodgers”, Theatre Organ Magazine, March/April 1983.
- A Brief History of Rodgers Organs (2008)
- “Carnegie Goes Electronic” Time, October 14, 1974
- "CBS Steinway Sale", The New York Times, September 14, 1985. Accessed April 10, 2008
- “Heavy Organ” Time, January 7, 1974
- History of Roland: Part 3, 1986 -1991 Sound on Sound Magazine, January 2005
- “Our History” Rodgers Marine Electronics Official Web Site, Accessed March 7, 2008.
- “Resurgent Growth at Rodgers Organ”, The Music Trades, September 1997
- "Rodgers Timeline", Rodgers Instruments LCC Official Website, 2008. Accessed January 15, 2008
- “Rodgers unveils its First Digital Organs: new PDI technology offers excellent tonal quality at a competitive price”, The Music Trades, January, 1991.
- “The Purchaser’s Guide: Rodgers Instruments LLC” (2008)Music Trades
- “The Rodgers Legacy” T.S. Good Church Organ Company Website, Accessed April 7, 2008
- “Vistas of History: Rodgers Instruments LLC” (2000), Partnerships’ in Action Magazine
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