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Geoff McMahon

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Posts posted by Geoff McMahon

  1. I have just been made aware of a very good booklet with wonderful photographs of the Christian Müller organ in the Bavokerk in Haarlem. The book was written by Anton Pauw and is in English. The book is available from H. de Vries Boeken for €9.95 plus €5.00 for postage at the web site below. I am enjoying my copy!



  2. This is all an interesting argument and there are a lot of grey areas. Taking the RAH organ first, yes, a lot of what we did corrected shortcomings, in particular long-standing ones with the winding, which went right back to the original instrument by Willis, with the inadequate main trunk from the blowers. That, at last, enabled the pipework to get the wind it needed, no raising of pressures and no re-voicing. It speaks as it was meant to at last and in saying that, no criticism oh H&H whatsoever. I suspect we were able to do what H&H would have liked to do for some time.

    So, the RAH organ retains its H&H label, because it remains very substantially, overwhelmingly so, an H&H organ, we believe, and if not, I would consider we had failed in our task. St Paul's Cathedral, however, is different. That instrument was changed dramatically from what it had been, so that organ does have a Mander label on the consoles. Similarly, Pembroke College Cambridge has no label, because it is an attempt to reconstruct what had been there many years before.



  3. The label on the music desk on the console says Harrison and Harrison, faithfully reinstated when we refurbished the organ. There is no mention of Willis on the console and also no mention of Mander either, I refused to have a Mander label put on the console because our job was to respect the job as it was and not to put our stamp on it. Also, the statement that there are 9999 is a myth put out by the consultant and others for no good reason. There are in fact 9997 pipes in the organ.


  4. A bit late in the day, I am afraid, but those of you in or near London might like to be made aware of a concert by Renée Anne Louprette at the Royal Festival Hall this evening at 7:30pm with a pre-concert talk at 6:15. Details below.

    Renée is an absolutely stunning performer, her playing is exceptionally musical and her recent CD Une Voix Française has been receiving outstanding reviews. I can promise any of you who manage to attend that you will remember this concert for a long time and certainly not regret going. I have seen her playing develop over the past 20 years.


    JS Bach: Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV.541
    Marin Marais: Suite from Alcyone arr. Renée Anne Louprette for organ
    Jehan Alain: Variations sur un thème de Clément Jannequin
    Ad Wammes: Myto
    Nadia Boulanger: Improvisation from 3 Pièces
    Duruflé: Suite, Op.5



  5. Dear Friends,

    Some interesting comments, some of which are beginning to head into forbidden territory. Never mind. What interests me is that, with all respect, I think most comments have missed the point.

    The aim of the exercise was to establish if an average person could identify which was the pipe organ and which was the electronic. The split between those who identified correctly and those who didn't, was pretty even. Are you surprised? I am certainly not, no more than I would be surprised if a group of average people were asked to identify in a blind wine tasting which was a Waitrose own Claret and which was a Premier Grand Cru Classe.

    It might have been more interesting and informative if the group had been asked which they thought sounded better. Who knows, the electronic with its 20 stops and 16ft Pedal reed against the 13(!) stop St Giles organ without the 16ft reed might have been preferred. We will never know.

    The bottom line is that a brief blind listening test like this is pretty pointless. It doesn't tell us which organ is better. It only tells us that the average person can't tell the difference in a short blind hearing, which we probably knew anyway. It is the equivalent of the Sunday Times engaging a Joe Bloggs as its wine correspondent. If our choirs all over the country started demanding large electronic organs for their churches, that would be the time to start being concerned.

    Another point we can be smug about is that before I posted this, the number of people who had watched the clip had hovered around the mid 70s for days. Having posted it, it has gone to over 230. I think that speaks for the purpose of this discussion board.


  6. I hope our contributors will forgive me for introducing something which mentions electronic organs, but I think a number of you will be amused (bemused?) by this video clip on YouTube. However, I implore you to limit any comments strictly to this video and not to stray into a larger discussion about the relative merits of pipe versus electronic organs (or the other way around). You will be moderated if you do!




  7. The true number of pipes is 9,997, not as quoted in a number of places as 9,999.

    The organ is, of course a Harrison and Harrison as we tried very hard not to change its clearly H&H style. The console retains its original H&H label and there is no mention of Mander Organs on the console whatsoever. We respected the H&H work meticulously.


  8. In preparation for my retirement, I am pleased to inform you all that Geoff McMahon will be returning to Mander Organs with the intention of assuming the role of Managing Director. As you may be aware, Geoff was previously in charge of the drawing office here, having responsibility for such significant projects as the 72-stop organ for Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Atlanta, and the refurbishment of the instrument in the Royal Albert Hall. Long-standing Head Voicer, Michael Blighton, is to join him on the Board as Tonal Director.


    Geoff's first task after re-joining the company, something he has already started, is to train Josh Anderson in the drawing office. Josh joined us from Kenneth Tickell a year ago and has become a valuable addition to our team. He already has some drawing experience. He will also be overseeing the commissioning of our recently acquired CNC machine, which he used when he was with Tickell.
    Later this year it is planned to transfer the ownership of Mander Organs to an Employee Ownership Trust. The trust will own all of the shares on behalf of employees as a whole, essentially making the staff the owners of the firm.
    I will not be disappearing over the horizon, never to be seen again, but will remain at Mander Organs as long as Geoff, Michael and anybody else at Mander Organs wishes. Even after that period, I will be available to be called in for any assistance or advise which may be required, which may include interactions with clients, should that be desirable.
    We all see this as an exciting new chapter in the history of Mander Organs. I will be sad to leave the firm, which I have directed for 35 years, but I think the time is right. I am sure you will find Geoff, supported by Michael and the whole team, as helpful partners in organ building and trust you will join me in wishing them the very best for the future.
  9. That would be for insurance purposes, so they would want to know the replacement value, which has nothing to do with its actual value.

    I would reckon £18,000 a stop so £630,000 should cover. However, you need to point out that is the value of the organ and doesn't include costs of clearing the the damaged organ away.

    Add something if there is anything special regarding casework etc.


  10. I have no idea how much St Giles Cripplegate would charge, but it may be worth your while enquiring there. The person to contact is Anne Marsden-Thomas and her email address is <AMT@organschool.com>. There are three organs there which might be available, all very different.


  11. To bring this back to serious discussion:

    There is no harm done when blowing into a flue pipe, although it will take some time to come back into tune. Provided you don't chew the tip, there is no danger of lead poisoning. I have been blowing into pipes to assess quickness for more years than I care to admit to, but the level of lead in my blood remains significantly lower than the safe recommended maximum level for women of child-bearing age or babies. Because all our levels were so very low, we stopped bothering with testing.

    Reed pipes are different, the damp in the breath is said to encourage the brass tongues to go green with verdigris, although I have never seen evidence of this. If you want to check the speech of a reed, you suck it from the other end, rather than blowing from the tip. Not many voicers do this though.

    One exception to all this is if you see a white coating on the pipe which may indicate lead salts being present, which are easily absorbed into the body (and can taste sweet, but don't try). The Romans used to boil honey in lead pots for hours to make the honey sweeter by making such lead salts which had the sweetening effect.

    Another exception is when looking at an organ. Please never take a pipe out and blow it, nor blow any dust out of it. Some poor organ tuner has probably worked hard to tune the pipes and any such action can alter the tuning significantly. Playing the pipe in the normal fashion will tell you all you need to know.


  12. Replacing these is a little more complicated than it might appear. A thin strip of leather is pulled through the eye, the width of the leather being appropriate to making the bushing. When the leather is almost pulled through, the other side is cut off. This is then squeezed with a special pair of pliers, which has two round flat surfaces and a pin and it is then generally given a coat of shellac varnish.


    As you will gather, it is alittle difficult to explain, less so actually to do.



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