Elon University is a private university founded in 1889. Located in Elon, North Carolina, the beautifully maintained campus has grown over the years with new structures designed to complement and enhance the Georgian architecture of the original buildings.
The Alyse Smith Cooper Organ at Elon University is a gift of the J. Harold Smith Family and is installed in Whitley Auditorium, a 350-seat hall that has been renovated, turning it into a performance jewel. After the organ was installed, Mr. Smith expressed his appreciation in these terms: “The attention of Casavant’s craftsmen to the intricate details of construction certainly are demonstrated by the excellent tonal quality of the instruments being produced by your organization.”
Casavant designer Benoît Gendron designed the visually striking organ façade that features hand-carved pipe shades by renowned Québec artist Jean Dutin. The carvings and flutes in the corbels under the curved towers are highlighted with gold leaf.
The three-manual organ of thirty-five stops was designed in collaboration with Elon music faculty member Mary Alice Bragg. Being the main teaching instrument on campus, it was designed to play a broad range of the organ literature from different periods convincingly. The organ has been used regularly in solo recitals and in concerts with instrumental ensembles and choirs.
Because the organ is installed in a rather small auditorium, it could not be used for large university-wide events, such as commencements and graduations. In order to remediate to this situation, Professor Bragg, in collaboration with Casavant and the technical direction of the Cultural and Special Programs at the university, conceived a design to have a second two-manual and pedalboard console that would play the main console remotely if linked to the University’s dedicated network, and played in real time with no latency through a very sophisticated sound system. This console now resides in the Schar Center, Elon’s 5,100 square-foot gym complex/convocation/special events center. More recently, Elon and Casavant designed and built a new one-manual console, which follows the same concept, but was designed in modules to be light weight, so that it can be played live from various remote locations throughout the campus.