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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. Matthew Martin is becoming something of a Bedouin.
  2. 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.
  3. Sheffield City Hall has an ornate, magenta-painted cast iron screen as a facade hiding its organ pipes.
  4. 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.
  5. So sorry to learn only a few minutes ago of the untimely death of Sir Stephen Cleobury. A superb organist and choral conductor.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?
  11. 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.
  12. I suppose you could argue that we have strayed from the York Minster rebuild although there’s a tenuous link with Sheffield through Bairstow’s involvement in the 1930’s. I hold my hand up along with others who are tempted to digress from topics. Let me not get on about the RFH.
  13. Sounds as though the Sheffield City Hall organ is no different to many other civic organs and I wonder if the Wolverhampton demise will be repeated elsewhere. When I lived in Sheffield the local ex Willis man used to perform running repairs although it was the handymen of the local organists association who kept it in tune. It's interesting to learn that water has got in and damaged the 32 Double Open Wood. I thought the building would have been in a good state of repair. Around, I suppose 25 years ago, I arranged for the late Peter Goodman, former City Organist at Hull, to have access to the hall and play the organ. Although not good, hearing the organ played in an empty hall was a vast improvement to when a mass audience was present. But I was told at one time that the hall was essentially designed for oratory, music was really a secondary consideration. What a shame, as visually the hall is pleasing to the eye.
  14. Up until 20 years ago I lived in Sheffield and regularly attended orchestral concerts there. I was also a member of Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus during the 1980’s and it was very noticeable how dead the City Hall was in terms of any acoustic. The Willis organ there, it has a good typical specification on paper, remains largely unused on a regular basis. In more recent years the hall has undergone some internal work, partly to improve its dry acoustic but I cannot comment on any success other than a friend’s report that it is marginally improved.
  15. I believe the Willis/Mander went several years ago, rumoured to have headed to Willis, Liverpool.
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