Area organs are music to man's ears

Published 06/20 2012 04:25PM

Updated 06/20 2012 06:01PM

CHAMPAIGN -- It's a craft that takes talent and time. A lot of time. It can take up to a 1-1/2 years to build one of these pipe organs.

WCIA-3's Jessica Shaw introduces us to a man whose company does just that. You've probably already seen his work here in Our Town Champaign. John-Paul Buzard is a music maker in every sense of the word.

"I've been building organs since 1980."

One of his favorite pieces of work sits on UI campus.

"The Episcopal Chapel of St. John. My wife is the organist, my son learned how to play the organ here. Each builder's organs are slightly different in the sounds they create."

Those sounds, they all start in a brick building on West Hill Street.

"The whole staff that's in the wood shop, it takes a village. Well, it takes a company to build this organ."

Here, John and his team build organs from the ground up. A process which takes time. Months, sometimes years of sawing, sanding and fine-tuning.

"The amount of labor it takes to build an organ, it is all handiwork. There are no two saw cuts that are the same."

It's a labor of love; one that started early on.

"When I was about six or so, the organ malfunctioned during church service. He told me what to do, 'Boy, I'm too old to go down this ladder. Do what I tell you and we'll fix this organ,' and it was a really simple repair. And, I remember coming out of there, 'Boy, I really want to do this.'"

And he did. Take a look at his walls. His work spans from coast to coast.

"We have organs of ours from Seattle to Atlanta, Georgia. We're working on our 40th and 42nd organs."

One of their latest projects, the Virginia Theatre Wurlitzer organ. The team just finished restoring it.

"We decided to add two sets of pipes that weren't there. The sets that Wurlitzer would have added if they'd had the money in 1928. And the results turned out fabulously."

That work will be around for generations.

"They have to stand for 100 years or longer. They have to be as permanent as the buildings they're installed in."

It's part of what keeps Buzard and his company building.

"That's a satisfaction very few people enjoy and that's something that attracts all of us to want to work here. Because our names are not going to be gone."

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