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Barry Oakley

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About Barry Oakley

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Staffordshire
  • Interests
    The work of John Compton and the art of scaling and voicing.

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  1. The broadcast media has not been particularly helpful in giving the organ the profile that it deserves. A few weeks before Christmas, listening to BBC Essential Classics, the presenter sought views from listeners about there being more organ music on the programme. I responded immediately and with enthusiasm and my e-mail was read out within the hour. So far I have not noticed any increase in the programme’s organ music output. I also believe the steady secularisation of society has led to enormous lack of exposure to the organ and its music. And somehow, the organ is seen by many as being associated with God and church worship and that it is seen as a bit of a turn-off. Gone too is the sight of colourful theatre organs in cinemas, perhaps with the exception of Leicester Square’s Odeon. Attendance at cathedrals appears to be holding steady or maybe increasing. I was at Gloucester for choral evensong back in October; it was very well attended and the music from choir and organ was first-rate. I think these occasions do tend to attract quire-filled congregations where there is a strong appreciation of good music, perhaps ex choristers as in my case. I’m not sure what the uptake of the organ is in schools. At one time many grammar school pupils were familiar with the organ at daily assemblies. Perhaps the nation’s public schools, most having chapels, are now the only schools where there is still a trickle or flow of potential organ scholars. The local Catholic church in my village is fortunate in having a former Winchester pupil play its single-manual organ when he’s down from Cambridge. He’s talented, having been organ scholar at Gloucester and then Toulouse. But the CofE left me many decades ago, first with the appearance of Series 1 and Series 2, followed by ASB (All Spare Bits) and now Common Worship. What was wrong with the beautiful language of Cranmer? Similarly, the Roman Catholic Church, apart from some cathedrals, abbeys and oratories, have also ditched most of their historical liturgical music, replacing it with dreadful stuff from OCP. I think I’d better stop before losing any accumulation of plenary indulgences.
  2. I much echo what you say in your first paragraph. I was taught the rudiments of piano playing (a skill I've since lost), by the mother of one of my friends and on a Bechstein baby grand. I was then confronted with having to practise on an old upright with a wooden frame that barely stayed in tune for a day. Having something of a critical ear for pitch I could not stand the situation and so reluctantly lost interest. Your second para I also agree with. King's will not lose any of its well established reputation under Daniel Hyde.
  3. Like you, John, I’m not an organist but an avid listener who also leaned towards construction. So far this Christmas I’ve not played a single carol CD, simply relying on the radio broadcast from King’s. What CD listening I’ve done has been much needed dust-offs of Tournemire, Duruffle, Dupre, Langlais, Whitlock and, of course, Bach, etc. Happy New Year everyone.
  4. My contact at Fratelli Rufatti has kindly sent me the stoplist for the new three-manual organ at Pershore Abbey. Interesting. The design of the organ has been very challenging due to the severe space constrictions, determined by the need to reduce the visual impact of the instrument inside the building, in particular by reducing the protrusion of the organ cases to a minimum. In spite of a very creative use of the available spaces, it has been impossible to include some stops which would have been desirable under different circumstances, such as an open 16’ Pedal flue stop, and an additional stop at the Great (a reed stop in particular). The stoplist for the new organ of the abbey church is designed to provide the conditions for the highest possible versatility, so that the instrument may be suitable for a variety of tasks. Its primary purpose will be that of leading choir and congregational singing and in general for the support of the liturgy. In addition, the tonal design reflects the intention of creating the conditions for the proper performance of the classical organ repertoire of different styles. For this reason, in particular, a classical Positiv (Manual I) has been preferred to a Choir or Solo division. The space limitations suggested a small number of unifications and thus provide added flexibility to the player. Although not of large size, the intention is to create an instrument whose stops will all be of distinctive sound character, all meaningful, of classical proportions and voicing and designed to blend in a wide range of combinations. PEDAL ORGAN Resultant Bass 32 Sub Bass 16 Bourdon 16 (Great) Octave 8 Bourdon 8 (Extension Sub Bass) Gedeckt 8 (Great) Super Octave 4 (Extension Octave) Fagotto 16 Fagotto 8 (Extension Fagotto 16) Schalmei 4 (Extension Fagotto 16) POSITIV ORGAN Holz Gedeckt 8 Gemshorn 8 Koppel Flute 4 Block Flute 2 Quint Flute 1.1/3 Cromorne 8 Herald Trumpet 8 (Console Prepared) Positiv 16 Positiv 4 Tremulant Unison Off GREAT ORGAN Bourdon 16 Principal 8 Gedeckt 8 (Extension Bourdon 16) Octave 4 Traverse Flute 4 Super Octave 2 Mixture IV Ranks 1.1/3 Herald Trumpet (Console Prepared) Tremulant Great 16 Unison Off Great 4 SWELL ORGAN – Enclosed Stopped Diapason 8 Viola Gamba 8 Viola Celeste 8 Principal 4 Venetian Flute 4 Nazard 2.2/3 Piccolo 2 Tierce 1.3/5 Plein Jeu III Ranks Trompette Harmonique 8 Herald Trumpet 8 (Console Prepared) Tremulant Swell 16 Unison Off Swell 4
  5. Matthew Martin is becoming something of a Bedouin.
  6. Leeds Minster is now the name of the former Leeds Parish Church. Likewise, the former Holy Trinity Parish Church in Hull was made a minster when Hull was “City of Culture.” It was a name change brought about by Archbishop John Sentamu of York. I always thought the title of minster could only be conferred if monastic links were part of a church’s history. In Hull’s case there is some historic evidence of white friars and black friars (Whitefriargate and Blackfriargate), being once present in the city although I have never seen any links shown in Hull Minster’s past history.
  7. Sheffield City Hall has an ornate, magenta-painted cast iron screen as a facade hiding its organ pipes.
  8. Have just heard from Roy Goodman's sister that Roy visited Stephen in the York hospice only 10 days ago. Apparently Stephen was studying and listening to Das Rheingold at the time.
  9. So sorry to learn only a few minutes ago of the untimely death of Sir Stephen Cleobury. A superb organist and choral conductor.
  10. I feel that one of the core aspects of this topic obviously relates to physical space. Certainly, in agreeing with Colin’s remarks, the digital reed voices on the Southwell Minster pedal division are most effective. Likewise, Compton’s solution for the 32ft Sub Bass pedal flue at Hull Minster lay in a very, very effective polyphone. At the bottom end it’s a stop you don’t so much experience by hearing but by feeling. Its vibrations seem to make the whole building gently shake. There’s no doubt the polyphone solution at Hull concerned the availability of space rather than cost.
  11. https://www.google.com/search?q=St.+Mary+Aldermary%2C&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBGB773GB773&oq=St.+Mary+Aldermary%2C&aqs=chrome..69i57.11856j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
  12. I, too, listened to the David Briggs recital from Llandaff Cathedral. His playing was as impeccable as ever, but I did not realise how acoustically dead the cathedral is. For me this took a little of the shine off the programme.
  13. It is certainly documented that the original F&A work lacked adequate speech and Compton's later work involved a massive revoicing more in keeping with what was needed for the hall. The Compton name still appears alongside that of Forster & Andrews, but comparatively much, much smaller than "Rushworth & Dreaper." As well as maintaining the organ, R&D oversaw transposing of the original movable Compton console to a fixed position and its conversion to drawstop. They also oversaw the installation of a solid-state capture system. And as you say, MM, Compton's revoicing was "spectacular." But I suspect R&D may have done some tinkering with the voicing, perhaps with the reeds, why I cannot imagine. Compton's reed voicer, Frank Hancock, was acknowledged to be one of the best in the business.
  14. The console tablet on the organ of Hull City Hall states very, very boldly, "Rushworth & Dreaper" and the real builders lesser so. Anybody with historical knowledge knows that whilst R&D maintained the organ after the demise of Compton, it is fundamentally Forster & Andrews of 1911 and rebuilt and enlarged by Compton 1950-1951. Is the Trades Description Act now defunct?
  15. But if I dare get back to Sheffield, it's the centre of quite a very large conurbation in South Yorkshire that embraces Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and all stations in between and not too far beyond, such as north-east Derbyshire, (Chesterfield). The very dry acoustic of the city's concert hall has more or less killed off interest in the organ there.
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