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Barry Oakley

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About Barry Oakley

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    The work of John Compton and the art of scaling and voicing.

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  1. I firmly believe that after the organ is fully restored it will be more than a treat. Apart from Hull citizens, few have heard the Minster organ as it has never been commercially recorded in either vinyl or CD format. I hope that will be rectified eventually. And given the promising new acoustic it could eclipse the City Hall. Living as I now do some 130 miles away from Hull, attending recitals there is, sadly, hardly a practical consideration. Many years ago I quite regularly attended first-class recitals given by Peter Goodman, then City Organist. But I suppose the most memorable of them all was the 1951 opening recital given by Norman Strafford and Fernando Germani.
  2. I admit to being quite fanatical about the work of Compton in Hull, particularly at the City Hall where as a young boy I was privileged to see (and hear) some of the work taking place in 1950 under Jimmy Taylor’s direction and who I got to know. But from a sentimental aspect I am particularly fond of the lovely organ in what is now Hull Minster and where I became a boy chorister in 1949. This organ was completed just before the outbreak of WWII. The Minster organ, I understand, was a project on which John Compton himself actually worked. It was much the brainchild of Norman Strafford, then organist and master of choristers and also consultant for the City Hall masterpiece in 1950-1951. Slightly earlier, 1948, Strafford also had a hand in the Compton rebuild at Bridlington Priory. Eighty years have now passed since the Minster organ was completed. Apart from periodic tunings and some repairs, the organ has essentially remained untouched, simply gathering the grime of time and understandable wear and tear having taken place. In recent years much has been happening at Hull Minster. Gone are its substantial oak pews forming the seating in the central nave; a new stone nave floor has been laid and gone too is the presence of any nave carpeting. Already there is evidence of an exciting acoustic into which the eventually restored organ will speak. At now just turned 82, I hope I’m still around to once again witness the glorious sound of this beautiful F&A/Compton.
  3. Beverley Minster is dedicated to St John of Beverley. St Mary's is further into the town and near Beverley Bar, an ancient entrance gate into the town. It has a fine 4-manual organ, a mixture of T C Lewis and Forster & Andrews workmanship.
  4. It’s the best news I’ve received for a long time. I believe there will be some very minor tonal changes and perhaps some duplexing. But the fully restored result will be much as it is today. The full console restoration will incorporate a computer-based control system, replacing the 80-year-old Compton system and possibly LED’s replacing the tungsten bulbs in the Compton illuminated stopheads. It will also be placed on a moveable platform. I’ve often thought that Hull and venues in its immediate surrounding townships, Beverley and Bridlington, could form the basis for an international or European organ festival. With regard to Beverley, I think you mean St Mary’s, MM?
  5. It is now reliably reported that quotations are being sought for the complete restoration of the Hull Minster Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ, requests having gone to the "UK's three main organ builders."
  6. Only ever heard Thalben-Ball via broadcasts and 78's, but I know that one of his pupils, the late Peter Goodman, was a wonderful improvisor. Wonder who perhaps taught him?
  7. I believe few knew of Jimmy Taylor's accomplished ability as an organist and an improvisor. In the final stages of the completion of the Compton rebuild of the Hull City Hall organ, as a young boy I can still remember him playing the instrument to both improvise and play excerpts from classical pieces. He could be quite brilliant.
  8. The Notre Dame topic, like many topics on this forum, is somewhat a victim of digression. I hold my hand up. But I had previously referenced the late Norman Strafford who was from 1929 to 1951 Peter Goodman’s predecessor both as Organist & Master of Choristers at what is now Hull Minster and also the City Organist. Strafford was a charismatic figure, particularly as a fine choir trainer, building a huge reputation as Chorus Master of the Hull Choral Union and was also no mean organist. He acted in a consultancy capacity for the rebuild and enlargement of the Minster’s magnificent organ in 1938, the Hull City Hall organ in 1950 and, I believe, the 1948 rebuild by Compton of the instrument at Bridlington Priory. Hailing from Leeds, he was a onetime music master at Woodhouse Grove School and had an association with the Leeds Festival Chorus where he was, I also believe, either Chorus Master or accompanist. Strangely, there is no mention of him amongst their notable musicians. Strafford had amongst his musical friends the likes of Stanford and Beecham.
  9. I well remember my days as a boy chorister at Holy Trinity, Hull, (Hull Minster), and watching in awe the late and great Norman Strafford, also City Organist, hand register even though he had a plethora of pistons. He was Masterful. But I’m reminded of a YouTube video of the brilliant Thomas Ospital playing the organ at St Eustache, Paris, and making great use of a sequencer. I just don’t know how he could have played such a piece without the availability of the facility.
  10. If you look at the NPOR entry for Bridlington Priory you will come across a photograph of the diaphone. I've been in the organ chamber and it's definitely from the Compton stable. The tuba also shouts out that it's definitely Compton, lovely and fat.
  11. Another example of a very effective polyphone is at Bridlington Priory, a building with excellent acoustics. The NPOR entry covering the last rebuild by Nicholsons, attributes the 32ft Sub-Bass (Soubasse) to Anneesens. I feel with some measure of confidence that it is the work of John Compton who installed it when he rebuilt the Priory organ in 1948-1949 and also added further ranks that have not been attributed to him.
  12. The Compton polyphone at Hull Minster (32ft Sub-Bass), speaks with beautiful effect, especially with Swell strings. It’s a wonderful stop, one that you don’t so much hear but feel. It’s as if the ground is gently shaking.
  13. Hull Minster's Compton transmission system has lasted 80 years although it is showing signs of failing and is to be replaced by modern, up-to-date technology.
  14. Of course in different ways both buildings suffered war damage, the City Hall more so than Holy Trinity. The City Hall suffered war roof damage that affected the organ and resulted in Compton’s work in 1950-1951. At Holy Trinity there was damage to the quire clerestory windows that allowed sparrows to roost in the building, mostly on the south organ case and where many perished at the bottom of Dulciana pipes.
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