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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. Barry Oakley

    "THE" Toccata

    I’m one of those who whilst I like most of Widor’s output, have become averse to his famous Toccata. Unfortunately it has been flogged to death and become a hackneyed classic. Yesterday I attended the Requiem mass of a dear friend, a former Benedictine nun, in the Pugin chapel of Oulton Abbey near the town of Stone. Its modest two-manual organ has not an array of reeds (thankfully) to do the said Widor Toccata any form of justice. Instead, the most talented young George Gillow played a selection of Trio Preludes based on Sarum chant hymn melodies by Josef Henriksen and R V-W’s “Rhosymedre” at the start and finished the occasion with Howells’ “Master Tallis Testament.” Today, George heads back to Toulouse to enjoy the delights of the cathedral’s Cavaille-Coll where he is doing a further stint as an organ scholar.
  2. Barry Oakley

    Westminster Abbey

    A wonderful occasion indeed. I shall have to listen to the Judith Weir piece again before I come to decision.
  3. Barry Oakley

    Finest Organ-builders of England

    And so on........... You also forget the work of Compton in transforming the organs of Hull Minster (formerly known as Holy Trinity) and of Hull City Hall, both now in the care of former Walker-trained organ builder, Andrew Carter. The Hull Minster organ is slowly being restored and when completed, its new acoustically sympathetic environment will place it high on the list of must play organs. Compton was a genius who did not just build instruments for the cinema.
  4. Barry Oakley

    Tuba Magna!

    I don't think anyone has so far mention ed the Cook "Fanfare"
  5. Barry Oakley

    List of beautiful English Organs

    The museum idea for the Compton console at Hull Minster is worthy of consideration. A previous organist had the idea of siting it in the quire where many more services are held these days and a new mobile console for use as a liturgical and recital instrument in the nave. I only ever knew one Compton drawstop console, Bridlington Priory and when a three-manual following the firm’s rebuild just after the war. Whether I shall be around to hear a restored organ at Hull Minster is something I dream of being fulfilled. I was fortunate to hear it within 10 years of the 1939 rebuild and its typical Compton singing qualities still resound in my mind.
  6. Barry Oakley

    List of beautiful English Organs

    The most important aspect of the eventual Hull Minster restoration is the retention of the original voicing, especially the work of Billy Jones who masterfully voiced the wonderful reeds. During the past few years much has happened to the internal fabric of the Minster. Gone are the heavy fixed central pews and a new stone floor has been laid, transforming the acoustics to a wonderful level. The nave choir stalls have been modified and transposed to a new position. It’s easy to be sentimental about the console with its 1930’s patented illuminated Compton stop heads. But the Minster’s reordered nave and the much improved acoustics present an opportunity for a new mobile drawstop console and the organ to be more suitable for recitals.
  7. Barry Oakley

    List of beautiful English Organs

    The beautiful north case of the 1938 Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ in Hull Minster. The 4-manual, 104 speaking stop organ is now in urgent need of a thorough restoration, having not undergone any extensive work in 80 years and for which the Minster authorities is now actively seeking funds.
  8. Barry Oakley

    St Thomas's New York

    This wonderful carving that will adorn the case of the new £11Million Dobson organ in St Thomas Church, New York.
  9. Barry Oakley

    Flamboyant showpieces

    Thomas Ospital is scheduled to give recital in a fortnight's time (18th August) on the organ of the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, commencing at 12 noon.
  10. Barry Oakley

    Basil Ramsey (C&O)

    To be honest, I had forgotten about Basil Ramsey as it was so long ago that I last had contact, but I am sorry to learn of his death. At the time he was managing editor of Choir & Organ in its early years and my dealings with him were essentially journalistic. Always a man with a receptive ear he commissioned and published a number of my articles.
  11. Barry Oakley


    I, too, heard that the organ now had 4,996 stops.
  12. Barry Oakley


    I applaud this ethical approach by Mander Organs and am reminded of an opposite approach by the former company, of Rushworth & Dreaper (R&D). When R&D acquired the assets of the pipe organ division of the former John Compton Organ Company it chose to change the console label of the Hull City Hall organ built originally by Forster & Andrews (F&A) and rebuilt by Compton. The then new replacement label showed the R&D name in very large characters, wrongly overshadowing the names of F&A and Compton whose work represents the essential core of the organ as it stands today. I believe the matter has since been readdressed, putting the correct perspective on the organs pedigree.
  13. Barry Oakley

    Wot, no organ music?

    I think they "Do God" more on the continent than they do here in the UK and is perhaps why they get many more listening to organ music prior to or after masses.
  14. Barry Oakley

    Wot, no organ music?

    I think Christopher Stokes (Manchester Cathedral) is now the Grand Organist.
  15. Barry Oakley

    Wot, no organ music?

    I think you could be right, John. Music is no longer taught in many of our state schools to the depth that it was 50 or 60 years ago. Unfortunately we now live in the age of twang and bang. And then there is the God factor associated with the organ. Last year when Hull was the so-called 2017 UK City of Culture, the regional BBC TV news programme, Look North, hardly ever aired news of classical music, even though the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is strongly linked with the city. Throughout the year the main focus was on pop. There was also a two-day organ event in the City Hall with the renowned organ at its heart. I reminded Look North of this event on a couple of occasions only for them to send its inept anchor man to interview the compere, news reader Huw Edwards. Guess what, he chose to talk to Mr Edwards about news reading.