You know, I played the Emporio last year (not this most recent show) at NAMM. A little background: I'm 34, and when I was a kid, there was still a market for home organs. which has long been taken over by things like Yamaha Clavinova, Kurzweil, and Roland digital pianos. I remember going to music stores to hear demo reps who were quite skilled in that theatre-organ playing style interpret everything from Beethoven to Ellington to the Beatles. A simple rule applied: the more manuals, blinking lights, and controls, the better.
Boehm seems to be one of the last standard-bearers of this product paradigm, and sincerely trying to blend it with the expectations of the modern, MIDI- and synthesis-literate customer... but one who still wants a big honkin' theatre organ that does everything but make cappucino as the centerpiece of their living room - no, scratch that, parlor.
When their rep played the thing it took me back to those days, and I have to say the thing had a full, lush sound that impressed the helloutta me. I don't know what the market's like outside of North America, but here, I think they face a bit of a Catch-22. The older customer, or occasional church, who wants "just an organ" has less expensive options from companies like Lowery and even Hammond-Suzuki, which has a plethora of organs aimed at just that market. Those who appreciate all the technology blended into the Emporio's shiny white woodwork: digital piano, drawbar and theatre-tab organ, synthesis, sequencing, auto-arrangement, and a seriously fine powered speaker system, also are aware that you can combine a few different products from the pro M.I. market, get similar results, and come in way less expensive.
Still, it's a one-of-a-kind, beautiful instrument, and I applaud their balls for making it.
"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson
Principal, Fortner Media
Editor at Large, Keyboard Magazine