Solo Recital: Groton Hill’s Hauptwerk Virtual Pipe Organ

Randy Steere, Organist

Friday, April 14, 2023 at 8:00pm

The Concert Hall at Groton Hill

“Back to the Future”


Played on the Walcker Organ at Martinikerk in Doesburg, Netherlands

Prelude in D Major
Camillo Schumann (1872–1946)

Max Reger (1873–1916)

Played on the Manuel Rosales Organ at Trinity Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon

Trumpet Tune in G Major
Paul Fey (1998)

Roulade Op. 9, No. 3
Seth Bingham (1882–1972)

Played on the Sonnenorgel at St. Peter and Paul in Goerlitz, Germany

Toccata in F Major
J.S. Bach (1685–1750)


Played on the Cavaillé-Coll Organ at St. Etienne Abbey in Caen, France

Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 42
Alexandre Guilmant (1837–1911)

I. Introduction and Allegro
II. Pastorale
III. Final

Some Notes on Groton Hill’s Virtual Pipe Organ (by Randy Steere)

Groton Hill Music Center is now home to one of the largest Hauptwerk installations in the world. Built by Meta Organworks of upstate New York, this instrument is not an “electronic” or “digital” organ, but rather a “Virtual Pipe Organ” (VPO) driven by the Hauptwerk software. Hauptwerk is the German term for the “Great,” or primary keyboard of an organ.

While an electronic instrument derives sounds artificially or electronically, a Virtual Pipe Organ allows one to purchase specific instruments or “sample sets.” Each sample set contains thousands of audio samples or .WAV (wave) files, all of which came from that specific instrument. Each of those samples is typically taken in stereo from 3 different locations within the original room housing the organ in order to capture the ambiance and audio characteristics of each sound.

When the organ is played, the software grabs all of the samples for each note being played, processes them and sends them out to the speakers in real time! This “polyphony” can be as many as 5,000 – 6,000 samples at the same time – a truly impressive feat of technology [creating] the realism of reproducing the actual pipe organ sound.

When an organist goes to play a program, the first decision is which sample set to load. Groton Hill has about 15 different sample sets or organs to choose from, representing the wide range of organ building styles through the years from various geographic areas. 

Specific statistics on Groton Hill’s organ:

  • 32 Main Speakers
    [12 different] subwoofers for various deep sounds
  • In total, there are 49,600 watts of speaker power
  • The computer running the organ has:

    128 GB of RAM memory
    4 TB of disk space
    8 processor cores running Windows
    2 touch screen monitors that take on the characteristics of the specific sample that is loaded


Acclaimed for his solo appearances throughout New England, Randy Steere has served as Assistant Organist at Old South Church. A New England native, he received his B.M. degree from Barrington College (student of Alan Brown), an M.M. from Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music (student of Dr. Baker), an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and a Master’s of Computer Science from RPI. After graduating from Yale, he became the full-time Minister of Music at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, Glastonbury (CT) for 9 years where he developed an expansive ministry, including two large adult choirs, two handbell choirs, a children’s choir, two concert series, young singles ministry, and weekly commercial TV and radio broadcasts. Under Randy’s initiative, the church hosted the East Branch of the Hartford Camerata School of Music, where he also taught organ and choral conducting. Additionally, he taught organ performance, handbells, and church music classes at Barrington College (now Gordon College). Following his career in music, Randy switched to computers and became an IT Director at a mid-sized law firm for 7 years before running his own consulting and software company for 20 years. In 2020, he fully retired to become more actively involved in the music world once again, taking several study trips to Europe, working for a pipe organ builder, and concertizing widely on the East Coast. Randy has served on the Board of the Hartford Chapter AGO and was on the Board of Trustees for Arioso, a string ensemble of Hartford Symphony players where he was responsible for grant applications. He is currently Treasurer of the Merrimack AGO Chapter and a Trustee of the Methuen Memorial Music Hall.

Groton Hill Music Center is a special place – a world-class center designed for music and community. We offer the highest quality music education – with private lessons, classes, ensembles, and supplemental learning programs for all ages and abilities; world-class professional performances of all genres — from jazz, global roots, and folk to classical masterworks and chamber music; and impactful outreach programs that share the transformative power of music throughout the community. Groton Hill was founded in 1985 as a community resource for all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. For 38 years, we’ve been a leader in music education and performance. We’re proud to usher in a new era of artistic diversity in New England and beyond. Learn more at www.grotonhill.org.