Gideon Shamir, Organ Builder In Haifa

Monday we drove to Haifa to visit Gideon Shamir, organ builder, who comes to the Jerusalem Center to tune and repair the organ. At age 76, he is still going strong and building organs. We visited his shop and he showed us photos and some of the organs he is currently building. It takes him one year to build one organ and he hopes that before he retires to find an apprentice to work with him so he can pass on his skill. Gideon was raised in London. His father was an excellent pianist and Gideon said as a young child he sat at the knee of his father while he practiced the piano 8 hours on his day off from work. Growing up with such a musical father, he was formally trained at the London School of Music. At age 19, he won London's piano competition and had the opportunity to meet Mother Queen Elizabeth. His wife proudly showed us the photo later when we visited their home. One very interesting and most unique of all his organs was a miniature he built for his two year old grandchild. It was adorable, about 20" in length and the tone was lovely because it had a motor attached to produce the tones. Each of us would have given anything to have purchased one like this which would fit in a suitcase. Also, Marybeth, Brent, and Kathy all had the opportunity to play the organs in his shop and it was an experience to always remember. Gideon is a remarkable man! He builds every part of each organ which includes the pipes, the keyboard, the console, and all the thousands of minute parts that are put together and synchronized perfectly. Each pipe is made from different materials. For instance, the metal pipes of various lengths are made from a different metal alloys which he bends around a mold. He then solders the pipe, making sure it is airtight and then beats the pipe smoothe with a piece of wood. Other pipes were made of wood and he showed us stopped pipes which have a stopper in the top, which in turn diverts the air back down the pipe, thus producing a sound one octave lower. One of the photos shows a reed pipe which has very small reeds inside that flutter as air is forced through it. Gideon plans to come to the Jerusalem Center to tune the organ soon and having already met him, visited in his home with him and his wife, and having a wonderful lunch at a nearby restaurant, we came to know him on a more personal basis. This was certainly a day to remember! Here are a just a few of the many photos from our visit to his workshop.