Professor of Music (Church Music, Organ, Harpsichord, Director of Academic Studies)
On Faculty since 1990
- Areas of Expertise
- The Casavant Organ at Wheaton College
- The Organ Program at Wheaton College
- The Instruments
Edward Zimmerman is Professor of Music at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, where he teaches organ, harpsichord, counterpoint, and church music. He is also Conservatory Director of Academic Studies. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY, where he studied with the late Russell Saunders. He holds additional degrees from James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and Hampden-Sydney College. An accomplished church musician, he has held long tenures as minister of music at churches in Virginia and Illinois. His work on the liturgical music of French organist, Félix-Alexandre Guilmant, has been published in the anthology, French Organ Music from the Revolution to Franck and Widor.
He currently maintains an active performance schedule, including appearances in England and on the Continent, and the Far East, as well as a schedule of solo concerts across the USA. His two-volume Compact Disc release on the Afka label, Germania, features the music of nineteenth century German organist, Otto Dienel, as performed on historic nineteenth century organs. As an organ consultant, he has assisted organ committees and designed organs throughout the USA and Canada, and as far away as Seoul, Korea. He recently performed a series of organ concerts for the Flanders Music Festival in Belgium, including an appearance on the international concert series of St. Salvator Cathedral in Brugge.
At Wheaton, he maintains a large and active studio of organ and harpsichord students from across the nation. The goal of the organ program is to prepare students for rewarding careers in organ performance and church music. Not only do students study great organ literature, but also the arts of improvisation and service playing, continuo playing, and conducting. Students are offered courses in Church Music and Hymnody, Bible and Theology, as well as Music Pedagogy, thus training well-rounded musicians, fully equipped to take their places as leaders in music ministry, and prepared to enter the best graduate schools in the nation. We also take advantage of the rich musical culture in the greater Chicago area, with field trips and concerts.
D.M.A., University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music
M.Mus., James Madison University
M.A., University of Virginia
B.A., Hampden-Sydney College
- Church Music
- Music Theory (Counterpoint)
- Departmental Administration
- Music History
- Harpsichord Performance and Literature
- Organ Performance and Literature
- View recent performance program: Zimmerman Organ Program 2021
The great organ in Edman Chapel was built by Casavant Frères, Ltée, of St. Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada, as their Opus 3796: a 4-manual, dual-console, mechanical-action organ of 50 stops and 70 ranks. It arrived in thousands of pieces on December 11, 2000. Over the course of the next several months, it was assembled by a team headed by Germain Cormier, then tonally balanced and voiced by Pierre Guilbault and Richard Marchand. The organ was completed and inaugurated on September 15, 2001. The special features of theorgan include a high-pressure symphonic Résonance division, separate mechanical and movable electric action consoles, and full MIDI capabilities for recording and playback.
About five years of work went into the organ, including the design conceived by professor of organ, Dr. Edward Zimmerman, in association with the representatives Casavant, Tonal Director Jean-Louis Coignet of Paris, and Associate Tonal Director Jacquelin Rochette.
Op. 3796 is an instrument with mechanical (tracker) key action and electric stop action. Also provided is a second, movable console with electric key action. The movable console plays the organ through electric pulldowns in the slider chests. In addition, the electric console is fitted with digital technology providing MIDI capabilities.
With the provision of mechanical action, the organ to stands firmly and unmistakably in the classic tradition. This action, directly linking the organist’s fingers to the wind pallets beneath the pipes, affords ultimate and audible control of the onset and release of every note. It is arguably the most artistic, as well as durable, action known and proven through centuries of use.
Tonally, the organ follows the classic mainstream, with an eclectic approach to sound, namely, the organ is first and foremost an ensemble of integrated sound, and only second a collection of stops. While considerations of the literature to be played upon the organ were relevant in the original design concept, the prime concern was always with the overall ensemble as expressed in the language of sound, not the literature. This guiding principle produced a classic, time-proven stoplist formula which coincidentally works for the vast majority of the literature.
The five divisions -- Grand Orgue, Positif, Récit, Résonance, Pédale -- are distinct and balanced, each providing fully-developed principal choruses, flutes, reeds, and cornets, with strings located in the Swell. Of particular note is a Résonance division under high pressure where certain pedal stops are carried up through the manual range, along with the addition of a number of manual stops. Conceived as a symphonic division, it is equipped with spectacular hooded trumpets at full-length 16’ – 8’ – and 4’ after Cavaillé-Coll, as well asa marvelous Flûte Harmonique in the style of the same stop at l’église abbatiale Saint- Etienne de Caen, France.
Pipe scales (the relationship of pipe length to diameter) have been kept relatively large in order to accommodate both a warm sound and the rather difficult acoustics in the Chapel. For example, the high pressure Pédale Contrebasse of wood, is of larger scale than normal. When first installed, it was dubbed “Wheaton Thunder” by organ students who delighted in its ability to shake windows toward the rear of the auditorium, as well as to vibrate the dangling chandeliers.
Though the stop nomenclature is French, the organ ensemble is unique, and rather “pan-national” in the North American way of synthesizing major traditions. In every respect, however, the organ rests on voicing excellence, bringing refinement and balance to every stop in order to fill the room with sound, yet at the same time never neglecting an overall vocal quality throughout.
The five divisions of the organ are distributed across the rear of the stage in three main sections divided by the large pilasters.
- Center Section: the Grand Orgue is located immediately above the oak casework atimpost level, on two chests spread across the width of this section. The speaking façade consists of the low octaves of the Grand Orgue 16’ Montre (gold pipes) and Pédale 8’ Octave (silver pipes). The Positif, also in this section, is located directly above the Grand Orgue at the highest point of the case. The Récit, or Swell, is located in the rearmost center portion of the section, behind the Grand Orgue, and enclosed in a wooden swellbox with movable shutters.
- Left Section: the Resonance division is located behind the movable expression shutters, with the hooded trompette on the highest level.
- Right Section: three huge stops ofthe Pédale are located behind fixed shutters: Contrebasse 16’ and Bombardes 16’ and 32’
One of the nation’s finest collegiate organs, the instrument is the main teaching instrument for the Conservatory’s thriving undergraduate organ program, and is used extensively nearly every day, year round, in organ lessons, chapel/church services, student practice, solo degree recitals, guest recitals, concerts with orchestra and choirs, summer conferences, visitors from around the world, student auditions, andyouth outreach (Pipe Organ Encounter).
The goal of our organ program is to prepare students for rewarding careers in organ performance and church music. Not only do students study great organ literature, but also the arts of improvisation and service playing, continuo playing, and conducting. Students are offered courses in Church Music and Hymnody, Bible and Theology, as well as Music Pedagogy, thus training well-rounded musicians, fully equipped to take their places as a leaders in music ministry, and prepared to enter the best graduate schools in the nation. We also take advantage of the rich musical culture in the greater Chicago area, with field trips and concerts. Please visit the Conservatory website.
Students have available to them a wide range of organs, including the spectacular Casavant organ in Edman Chapel. Comprising 50 stops and 70 ranks, four manuals and pedal, mechanical key action with electric stop action, plus double consoles, the organ is the largest of its type in the metropolitan area, and singular among colleges and universities across the nation.
Additionally, students enjoy organs by:
- Hendrickson (2- manual tracker in Pierce Chapel)
- practice organs by Ruggles (2- manual tracker)
- Roderer (two 2-manual trackers)
- Schlicker (2- manual electric action)
- Schantz (2-manual electro-pneumatic action)
- continuo portative by Donahue
- harpsichords by Richard Kingston single (Flemish), Klop single (Italian), Rutkowski & Robinette double (German 2-manual, 16’), Hubbard-Broekman double (French), Zuckermann single (French)
- and a Keith Hill clavichord