The Létourneau team is composed of 24 enthusiastic organ builders working on a full-time basis. Having a large and energetic team permits us an enviable degree of specialization and concentration in cabinetmaking, pipe making and above all, voicing. Some of our key personnel are listed below with short biographies:
Fernand Létourneau began working in the pipe organ industry as an apprentice voicer for Casavant Frères in February 1965. He continued there for 14 years, initially under the tonal direction of Lawrence I. Phelps and later Gerhard Brunzema. In his final four years with Casavant, he was the company’s head voicer and tonal finisher. With Brunzema’s encouragement, Mr. Létourneau developed an appreciation for historic pipe organs and their preservation which led to a study trip in 1978 to Europe to examine voicing techniques. The following year, he started his own company in Ste-Rosalie which he has subsequently built into one of the most respected organ building enterprises in the world. A long-time member of the American Institute for Organbuilders and the International Society of Organbuilders, Mr. Létourneau served as co-president of the joint AIO-ISO convention during the summer of 2010 in Montréal.
Andrew Forrest began his career with Létourneau in February 1999 and has risen through the ranks to the position of Artistic Director to work closely with Fernand Létourneau directing all company projects. In this position, he travels regularly to meet clients, architects and acousticians and supervises the company’s projects from preparing proposals to overseeing onsite tonal finishing. An organist himself, Mr. Forrest has an ongoing interest in reed shallots and the art of pipe scaling among other subjects; he has completed studies of the String division of Philadelphia’s Wanamaker Organ and the 1955 Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ at Winthrop University. He served as a member of the local organizing committee for the 2010 joint AIO-ISO convention held in Montréal and designed the convention’s trilingual handbook. Mr. Forrest also served from 2011 through 2014 on the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Organbuilders and is currently a member of the executive for the Montréal Centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Holder of a diploma in administration from HEC Montréal’s School of Management, Georges Trépanier was named General Manager of Orgues Létourneau on March 1, 2015. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects relative to the company’s administration and for implementing the strategic plan as developed with Fernand Létourneau to assure continuity of the company. In his youth, Mr. Trépanier studied piano privately for over seven years and this later translated into an ongoing interest in every aspect of pipe organ building. He has worked on the installation of several pipe organs in the United States and Australia. Most recently, Mr. Trépanier served on the Board of Directors of the Foundation Collège Antoine-Girouard in St-Hyacinthe.
Simon Berry is from Bristol, England and earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Warwick where he was Organ Scholar; he subsequently studied orchestral conducting at The Royal College of Music (London). Following a move to San Francisco in 1996, Simon is currently Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church where he is responsible for one of the largest music ministries in the Bay Area. His work in a variety of schools and religious institutions on both sides of the Atlantic has given him a passion for promoting the pipe organ’s unique role in both secular and religious life. Simon has been with Létourneau since January of 2014.
Sarah Hawbecker is an active recitalist, full-time church musician and winner of numerous competitions; her performances have been broadcast numerous times on the radio program Pipedreams®. A native of Illinois, Sarah studied at St. Olaf College and later earned the Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. An active member of the American Guild of Organists, Sarah served three terms on the AGO’s National Council and currently serves on the Board of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. Sarah is Organist and Director of Children’s Music at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, Georgia (where she plays Létourneau’s Opus 80) since 1996.
Dudley Oakes is based out of Winchester, Virginia and has served as a liaison between dozens of clients throughout the United States and our team in Canada for over two decades. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan and is currently Artist in Residence at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland where he plays Létourneau’s Opus 114. Dr. Oakes has played the dedicatory recital on several Létourneau instruments over the years and most recently, has been heard in performance at Braddock Street United Methodist Church (Winchester, Virginia); St. James United Church (Montréal, Québec); and Memorial Presbyterian Church (Midland, Michigan).
A native of St-Hyacinthe, Sylvain Létourneau is the cousin of Fernand Létourneau and has worked with the company since 1979. He has a wide-ranging knowledge of pipe organ construction and has worked in most departments within the company including preparing technical designs, building wind chests and consoles, voicing pipework, and assembling complex mechanical key actions. As Technical Director, M. Létourneau is responsible for special projects as assigned.
Visual designs are prepared by Claude Demers to illustrate how a new pipe organ will appear once installed in its future home. In addition to his studies in architecture, Mr. Demers holds a diploma in electronics and oversees the installation of all electronic systems (switching and capture) within our pipe organs. Mr. Demers has been with Létourneau since 1988 and is an accomplished wood sculptor; he carved most of the delicate wood sculptures throughout the casework of the company’s Opus 12.
After training as a cabinetmaker, François Carrier began his career at Létourneau in 1989 and has worked in several departments within the company. Before joining the administrative team, he supervised the chest building department for more than 15 years. Mr. Carrier was promoted in 2008 to become one of the company’s technical designers after completing several intensive courses in architectural drafting and AutoCAD. As technical designer, he is responsible for translating each organ’s visual design into a complete set of production plans.
The voicing of our flue pipes (principals, strings and flutes) is overseen by Jocelyn Berthiaume who has been voicing for the company since 1996. He is an active musician who includes a small 1910 Hook & Hastings pipe organ among his collection of unusual musical instruments. Jocelyn trained as a voicer under Fernand Létourneau and has been with the company for more than 15 years. Mr. Berthiaume spent more than a month in France working in the workshops of organbuilder Bernard Aubertin in 2013.
Michel Godbout has been the company’s primary reed voicer for over a decade and is responsible for all reed stops built or restored by our company. In this capacity, he works closely with Andrew Forrest to ensure the strength and colour of each stop is consistent with its role within the instrument’s tonal design. Mr. Godbout has also worked on the installation team for several of our largest projects.