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Ugāle pipe organ workshop
The largest and the only workshop in Latvia where new pipe organs are made is located in Ugāle – a minor village in the region of West Kurzeme. The workshop occupies the former stable of Mācītājmuiža Manor. In 2004 extensive reconstruction and expansion of the workshop was started.
Jānis Kalniņš is the head and the owner of Ugāle pipe organ workshop. His interest in pipe organs was born when he was 16. The passion was conveniently nurtured by the family – as both parents were musicians he started off already at school by playing the trumpet and the piano. The choice of occupation was shaped by the keenness on practical activities on the one hand and by the interest in the composition of musical instruments on the other.
The Ugāle enterprise started off in 1992. The location of the workshop is not incidental – Ugāle is a home to the most valuable pipe organ in Latvia made in 1701. After the restoration of Latvia’s independence international contacts were established – most extensively with Swedish pipe organ experts and constructors. It contributed greatly to learning the latest techniques in pipe organ restoration.
The first pipe organ was built in 1996. It was a simple console with 4 registers. Gradually, with the construction of more new instruments, it became clear that inspiration was not to be found in theoretical documents but through studying well-made historical counterparts and learning more about the pipe organ music composed at different epochs and in various styles. The workshop makes locally inspired Baroque pipe organs, as well as other instruments not connected to any particular style.