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Mander Organs

Barry Oakley

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Everything posted by Barry Oakley

  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.
  16. I wonder how many pipe organs are being “skipped” these days instead of being found new homes? Sheffield Cathedral has been without a main pipe organ for over 20 years, a toaster replacing it. The Cathedral’s website no longer carries any news of progress in either sourcing a brand new pipe organ or a good used replacement. Meanwhile I guess that rumours are still doing the rounds in local circles that at one time included interest in the Parr Hall instrument and a new creation from Swiss builder, Kuhn. Wolverhampton’s former Compton could well have been an ideal solution.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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?
  21. 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."
  22. 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?
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
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