- Steve Panizza
- 2010 E. Hennepin Box 61 Minneapolis, MN 55413
When I began college, I had a choice between music or engineering majors. I chose engineering. I encountered my first mechanical action pipe organ while in college, and with that began an opportunity to pursue a not so obvious career path.
I obtained the engineering degree, learning mechanical and electrical aspects of pipe organ building along the way, and then began to study the pipe organ in a historical context, concentrating on noteworthy European baroque instruments and the work of early American builders like David Tannenberg and Thomas Appleton whose work I value for its softer voicing technique and use of wood pipes.
The principles of organ building tradition are very much a part of my design process. Along with fine craftsmanship, their application to each new instrument helps to achieve an enduring result. Mechanical key and stop action, natural voicing, and a free-standing solid hardwood case are part of that tradition.
My bachelor of science degree is in Mechanical Engineering Technology from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. As the once robust manufacturing sector of industrial Wisconsin collapsed, the degree lost traction and is unfortunately no longer offered.
Engineering Technology is much like a traditional degree in Mechanical Engineering. I know because I did two years in the Engineering program at UW-Madison before finishing my degree at Parkside. I think the major difference between the two is that the Madison degree is more theoretical whereas the Parkside degree was more applied in their respective senior years. The Parkside approach to engineering was innovative, and allowed me the opportunity to develop my imagination and creative side in an undergraduate focused program.
I could also spend time at nearby Carthage College in their prestigious organ program. Their program with its four-manual baroque inspired mechanical action pipe organ would provide opportunities and connections that would nurture and influence my later development as a pipe organ builder.
A readable look at my journey as a pipe organ builder can be found here in story form.