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    Organ technology and music. Electronics.

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  1. Someone told me today that the spectacular solo strings that HW3 added in the 30s were actually Wurlitzer ranks. Anyone know if there is any truth in this?
  2. Oh dear, this looks like the sort of specification that people drew up in the sixties. And again we see that fundamental mistake of a Swell division with no 8ft Diapason. Only two significant 8ft manual flue stops on an instrument of this size, and one of those derived from the pedal? Really? Oh dear. Space is presumably limited but is the solution to pile upperwork on to limited foundation tone? I shudder to think what the 'Herald Trumpet' will sound like if it ever gets installed. Perhaps when I hear it I will eat my words but I have a horrible feeling .........
  3. Returning to the topic, there is a faculty application, approved by the DAC, on the Diocese of Chichester website to remove the St Peter's organ 'to a builder's workshop for subsequent installation in St John's College Cambridge'.
  4. Sorry - a supplementary question. One of Charles Drane's quoted sources is the A.G Hoar Collection. Who was A.G. Hoar and where is his collection now? Nothing on Google about him either.
  5. Does anyone know who Charles Drane was? His notebooks were a source of information in the early days of NPOR (reference 'CD') but are not listed as being in the British Organ Archive. An internet search has produced nothing. He is mentioned in passing in a few places in this forum. So who was he, and where are his notebooks now?
  6. Thank you, gentlemen, for this useful food for thought although the Saffron Walden scheme is very much more extensive than I have in mind. Nevertheless the information is very helpful. What we might offer is on a much smaller scale - just three or four services a month and tuition provided elsewhere by others much better qualified than I. There is little opportunity in our part of West Sussex, as far as I know, for young aspiring organists apart from St Mary Portsea (again on a completely different scale). We would like to do something to address that, but it's not grand.
  7. I play at a village church with functioning SATB choir including juniors, middle-of-the road Eucharistic services including anthems, voluntaries and improvisations, congregations of 75+ who really sing the hymns and a very fine Tickell organ. I have had one or two enquiries from up-and-coming young organists about the possibility of an organ scholarship. I'd like to encourage this as I think we could offer really useful experience but I have no idea what the going rate is for this type of arrangement in a small parish church. These would typically be people in their final year of school or first year of college/university and would probably be around during term time only. In my last church we paid choral scholars £100 per term. Is this the right sort of number do you think? All advice/comment gratefully received.
  8. For all you experts out there: sorry to be such an ignoramus, but I've been trying to find out where I can buy Dupre's arrangement of this piece and I can't seem to track it down. Also, I believe that Guilmant also arranged it although most people seem to play the Dupre one. Any comments on the relative merits of the two?
  9. Can anyone explain why some otherwise excellent organ builders persist with a design of pedalboard that has a pin through a felted bush at the toe end? (I have no idea what our host does, so apologies if necessary, or congratulations if not). In my experience, after ten to fifteen years (not long in organ terms) the felt wears through and then the pedals rattle annoyingly. H,N&B used this design as did many others. It doesn't work. There is a much better way - the toe ends of the pedals work between dowels and are covered with sheepskin. Pedalboards to this design seem to last almost forever. Why doesn't everyone do this?
  10. I absolutely agree with David. My experience is that the less you mess around with tuning the better. Generally the fluework should stand well between one annual tuning and the next. The reeds will need to be moved to stay with the flues as temperature changes but it is absolutely a waste of time trying to retune with the heating on because the front of the organ will respond to building temperature changes at a different rate to that of the back and large pipes 'warm up' more slowly than small ones. What works very well for us, with a large two manual with three swell reeds, is to retune the reeds on days when the building temperature has been stable for several days. So I tune reeds at 12 C, 14 C in the winter and 16, 18 and 20 in the summer. The other golden rule is: don't be too fussy, if it's just a little bit out leave it alone and if it's nearly right then don't mess it about. And try and move the pitch when tuning as little as possible - this needs a sensitive touch as the tuning wires will often vary in stiffness from one note to the next.
  11. When holding notes for tonal finishers, I have always been struck by how changing the pitch of a pipe takes the voicing almost back to square one. Is it really wise to change the pitch of an historic organ, I wonder? Isn't this why the Salisbury instrument (largely cone-tuned and flat pitch) has been so fiercely protected by its custodians?
  12. I retuned our three magnificent Billy Jones reeds at Holy Trinity Hereford today. I do this as little as possible between the professional tuner's annual visits - perhaps three times a year. Generally I find that 14 deg C is a good winter temperature at which to tune (factoring in the rather fierce heating) and 17deg is a good early summer temperature. Then the professional goes through the whole instrument in August at around 20 deg. What was interesting today was that the trumpet v the flues was not much out in the bass yet much out in the treble and the oboe was exactly the opposite. Is this typical and can anyone explain why it might be?
  13. We run a deeply appreciated parish choir at Holy Trinity Hereford but people don't want choral evensong in parishes these days. I really don't think that there's much point in flogging a dead horse. The genre is very much alive and kicking in the cathedrals, however, so we keep the repertoire alive by doing lots of cathedral visits. I feel very passionately that I want our choir kids to take this repertoire away with them when they complete their ten or so years with us and they do love singing it in the cathedrals.
  14. I've played this organ, both in its previous setting in Homer and in its new home. At Homer the action was horrible to play and the only good-sounding stops were those of the Hill choir organ. It's all very well for the BIOS types to knock the transposition to Hay (and, to be fair, the case does look a bit odd on the gallery) but the fact remains that the people at Homer had no interest in preserving this instrument and now it is loved and cherished in its new home. I've played it in the new venue and it's OK. The installation has been done very tidily and there is a nice new Renatus drawstop console. Is it a great instrument? Well no, but a hell of a lot more satisfying and effective than 90% of those Victorian instruments doomed to a century of incarceration in a tiny chancel organ chamber.
  15. Thank you, Mr Drinknell, my point is made perfectly. I am not sure that electrifying a pneumatic action necessarily has to change the touch at the keys but - let's face it - the feel of pneumatic touch boxes isn't usually particularly agreeable and it's perfectly possible to copy it (go and try the electrified classic 1913 N&B in Witney Methodist Church, for instance, which felt exactly the same after it was rebuilt). Whether you would want to do this when instead you could have a lovely new set of P&S keys with bone facings and magnetic toggle touch is another matter - I know which I'd go for. (I think I am right in saying, incidentally, that at Westminster Abbey the pneumatic part of the console is those incomparable Harrison electro-pneumatic drawstop machines - probably too expensive these days - nothing ever worked quite as snappily as they did). There is a frame of mind which says that the only way to maintain organs is to take the whole instrument out and redo everything - this is a route to pipe organs being impossibly expensive to maintain. There is no reason why, if the layout permits, everything shouldn't be accessible for maintenance and replaceable piecemeal when it goes wrong or wears out. If pallets, for instance, are pinned at the back rather than glued on leather hinges, then they could be taken out and releathered with the windchest in situ. Compound magnets can replace delicate primary magnets and pneumatics and can be easily replaced if they give trouble. Diode/transistor note switching systems can be simply repaired (I am not so enthusiastic about microprocessor note switching systems - they're cheaper but if they go wrong on Sunday morning or get struck by lightning you've had it). Modern windchests, if constructed out of the right materials, will last almost for ever. Direct electric action can be pretty good, too. Of course we all agree that mechanical action is best although - let's face it - some people have made a pretty serious mess of those over the last fifty years (never our hosts, to my knowledge). But given the materials at our disposal today I really don't see the point of restoring more than a few pneumatic actions as historical curiosities. Yes they can work quite well, but they don't work as well as modern electro-pneumatic or direct electric actions.
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