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David Thornton

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Everything posted by David Thornton

  1. An undulant-related anecdote, which might amuse those members who knew either or both the gentlemen involved. Father Willis left his organ at Lincoln with 2 undulating ranks: a rather quiet Vox Angelica on the Swell and a gorgeous Voix Celeste on the Solo, the VA was tuned flat and the VC sharp. During the 70s Laurence Elvin (author of 'The Harrison Story' and several other organ books) who lived in Lincoln used to visit the organ loft for the Sunday Choral Matins. Laurence was extremely knowledgeable and endlessly enthusiastic about organ matters. Philip Marshall (O&C at the time) did not like the flat Vox Angelica, saying that it encouraged flat singing. So, Julian Paul was asked to retune it sharp (Julian who worked for Cousans also lived in Lincoln and saw to any minor problems with the organ, as well as visiting the organ loft for Saturday Evensong). The job was done, and the following Sunday Laurence Elvin appeared at 11.00 as usual. PM took every opportunity to use the Vox Angelica + Salicional during the service and steered the conversation towards 'Willis tuning practice', I of course had been primed as to what was going to happen and duly kept schtum! Needless to say, Laurence did not spot the retuning, next Sunday; the scenario was played out again. Laurence never spotted the difference and PM never told him. I wonder if anyone ever tuned the Vox back to flat? The present Lincoln incumbent: Colin Walsh, has created a 3rd undulant. The Swell Open Diapason No.2 has been retuned to undulate with the No.1 (don't know which direction though), at York too the same change on the Swell has been made. DT
  2. The vergers, cathedral guides, several tourists and myself agree!! By the way Paul, Dave Harries has sent me a photo he'd taken towards the end of the Vierne, it clearly shows just what stops you'd drawn! DT
  3. Chris, thank you for identifying George, I was about to ask who he was as he did a sterling job at evensong, but why did he keep putting headphones on during the rehearsal? Just to reiterate what others have said; many, many thanks to you and Adrian for making us so welcome, being so generous with your time and putting on a great programme for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and look forward to travelling down more frequently to hear the occasional evensong. Regards, David
  4. Toccata by G. Mushel is fun, suitably impressive either for a voluntary or recital, and about the standard Published by OUP and costs £6.00 from Allegro Music Good luck, DT
  5. Greetings Guilmant, The late Charles Myres who was O&C at Clitheroe had an electronic with a huge 4 manual console in his home, the console was built by Nicholsons and no corners were cut on quality. CM claimed that it was the largest 4 man. console in the country at the time (1975ish), so it would have been bigger than the RAH. It contained a very comprehensive cathedral scheme, plus the whole of the Kensington Gore RCO organ (for teaching purposes). I am guessing that Makins supplied the electronics, there was one speaker - the size of a wardrobe! Memories of playing playing were that it didn't sound particularly pleasant. I don't know what happened to it after CMs death, George Sixsmith may well have taken it in, I know that George did not want to see it broken up for parts. Regards, David
  6. My brother-in-law has just purchased one of these, an Olympus portable recording device which he considers superior to both the Edirol and the Zoom. He's not a musician, but a recording fanatic who owns professional equipment running to several thousands of pounds. He particularly rates this device for it's lack of compression and extremely low noise-floor levels. DT
  7. [quote name='madorganist' date='Jan 24 2009, 11:33 AM' post='43660 If I recall correctly, the plan calls for the main organ to be restored to 4 manuals and voiced in the Willis style. I too read this in one of the journals, but despite searching, can't find it at present. However, I do remember that it was suggested that the rebuild of the main Willis organ was to include 'case work', but no more detail than that. I have a booklet which shows a drawing of a design for casework in the choir by John Oldrid Scott of 1885, he was the second son of Sir George Gilbert Scott and was responsible for much restoration work in Cathedrals and Greater Churches, including a number of organ cases. This was the year before the Father Willis organ was completed. The design looks very much like the old cases at Worcester but elongated vertically, occupying 1 bay of the arcade, set above the stone screen which separates the choir from the choir aisle. At the bottom of the case is a small gallery which would have contained the console. The design doesn't look like it would contain much of the original 1886 organ. I wonder if they intend to realise this design? DT
  8. One of the lay clerks who has perfect pitch hums a tonic quietly. This is common practice in the higher echelons of the cathedral music world. DT
  9. Anyone know the name of the Bob Chilcott carol they did this year (not sure whether it was on the radio or TV), very attractive! DT
  10. What do fellow forum members think of the Christmas choral offerings from Kings, namely the live radio 3 broadcast and the pre-recorded BBC2 programme? The top line seems to have developed a pronounced vibrato; particularly evident amongst the various treble soloists, and a much more open sound than in previous years. Not something I would normally associate with Kings. This reminded me of Christopher Robinson's excellent CD series of various UK composers on the Naxos label, some of which benefit from very expressive top lines with accomplished treble soloists. DT
  11. I've recommended this mic before on here: Rode NT4 Many colleagues in school music departments got very good results with this mic combined with either the Edirol or the Zoom. Not cheap: £250 to £300. DT
  12. I thoroughly agree with Richard on this one, and think he has made the point perfectly. Yes, John Scott's pointing can be somewhat fussy where individual chords or bars are omitted from the chant, but I find the moving of the chant forward on early strong syllables, and the measured singing style necessary to convey this properly, very satisfying indeed. I purchased a copy of the St Paul's Psalter to go with the CDs. JS began the revisions to the pointing after the Hyperion series had begun, so although the chants used on the first couple of CDs are the same as the new Psalter, the actual pointing in different. Good to hear from you on the Forum Richard, I don't suppose you have as much time to look at it in your new position. DT
  13. As promised, a few words about this organ. Had about an hour and a half at the Town Hall last week, the organ is exactly what NPOR says it is: an untouched 1903 Lewis & Co. It's not had a thorough restoration: a reconditioned blower and repairs to the winding systems, I was unable to ascertain who had done the work. There are still a lot of problems with the pneumatics: no manual couplers working, and pedal couplers very badly out of adjustment. The manual departments worked fine except for 2 stuck sliders, but the pedal was in need of attention; only the Sub Bass and Violon working, both with a lot of missing notes. However, and this is a big however, what was working sounded superb, helped by a very favourable acoustic. The quality of voicing and regulation of both flues and reeds was excellent. From the state of the console, I would guess that this organ has had very little use over it's 105 years. Given a thorough professional restoration, it would be a national treasure. The Town Hall authorities were quite happy for me to play and hoped the organ would get more use. If you're visting the area, arrange to try it, the Town Hall contact number is 0845 601 2020 DT
  14. Yes, but what's the sound quality like now, it used to be dire! DT
  15. Did anyone else listen to yesterday's broadcast of choral evensong from St Thomas 5th Avenue? I thought that 'chorally' it was the best service they have broadcast for quite a while. I particularly liked the unhurried way they sang Psalm 73, it sounded exactly like the St Paul's choir 'house style' on the Hyperion series of Psalms which JS did in the 90's (I get a lot of pleasure from these CDs), St Thomas sang the same 2 chants actually. It's good to hear JS doing good things with his choir 'across the pond' as they say. If you missed it, you can catch it again on Sunday. DT
  16. Another well known example is St Matthew's Northampton (looks like a J L Pearson church, but isn't). The Clarion ranks have reed pipes from bottom C to tenor G, then flue pipes at 4ft and 2ft pitch to the top. There is a good article by Paul Hale about this organ in OR, November 2006. DT
  17. An unusual pedal rank which was an attempt to combine definition and weight of tone was the 32/16/8 Spitzflute rank in the 1967 Walker organ in the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. These distinctive pipes are on display down to bottom D (I think!). As far as I am aware, this is the only conical pedal rank at this pitch in the UK, does anyone know of another? DT
  18. Yes, according to the literature I have, there are 5 different levels which alter both the volume and tonal character, these are activated when other stops on the department are added: Principal 16, Mixture, Posaune, and each of Pedal Forte 32 or 16. DT
  19. We have 2 Cathedral organ into which digital substitutes have been included to provide both 16ft and 32ft 'open wood' type tone: Southwell and Blackburn. At Southwell; Copeman-Hart provided the devices for Nicholson's new organ in 1995, and at Blackburn; the Walker Technical Co. from Pennsylvania for David Wood's rebuild in 2002. I haven't heard Southwell in the building so cannot comment, but am fairly familiar with Blackburn in both it's past and present formats. I heard John Scott's opening recital and David Briggs' recital following the rebuild, and also have a CD of French music played by DB. My impression of the digital basses was that they were overpowering and boomy, having far too much roll in the very reverberant acoustic, Also, they masked the 32ft reed. DB was consultant on this rebuild and included pedal mutations which form the harmonics of 32ft tone (something else which I remain unconvinced about!). However, I have heard the organ twice in the last few weeks, including a fair amount of full organ, and the overprominent basses were not evident. Everything seemed much better balanced, I suspect the digital devices may well have been toned-down recently. Next time I am up there I will try to speak with one of the resident team and get a proper demo of these stops. I have to say that I was very impressed with the way it all sounded. Digital basses are very common in the USA; the huge instrument in St Patrick's Cathedral 5th Avenue NYC has them, and they are increasingly appearing across Europe. But, of course, you can't beat the real thing. DT
  20. Crescendo pedals were a fairly standard feature on larger (3 or 4 manual) Willis 111 consoles from the 1930's onwards. Although I can't recall which instruments they were actually on, I've come across 2 different 'safety devices' to help avoid bringing the crescendo on by accident. One device was a drawstop which had to be drawn before the pedal became active, the other was a bit more 'low-tech'; a hook and eye holding the pedal in the closed position, but easily released with the toe (I think the latter might have been on Hereford back in the 70s). p.s. are you sure about a crescendo pedal at Chester? DT
  21. Christmas Greetings, We regularly go to Southwest Scotland and stay about 40 minutes drive away from Ayr, I wasn't aware of this instrument but will get intouch with the Town Hall authorities and give it a go, I wonder who's done the restoration. Dumfries, which we drive through on the way up is also about 40 minutes away from where we stay. There are 2 outstanding organs here which I sometimes play, neither is written up properly on NPOR so I will get full details next time I visit and write them up properly. - The Crichton Memorial Church has a 2 manual T. C. Lewis restored a few years ago by Harrisons who maintain it, about 22/3 stops. The church is part of the new University of Southwest Scotland complex, which was a Victorian hospital complex until recently. The church is fabulous; central tower, stone vaulting, transept, very good acoustics, and the organ is well placed. This organ doesn't get much use. - St. John's Episcopal has a 3 manual 1938 H&H which they (Harrisons) finished rebuilding only last week, I popped in as the final voicing was being done. 36 stops including a 6 stop 'Nave Great' which is the 1969 Positive rebuilt, and a new Pedal Trombone, otherwise the original 1938 stops. It looks like and excellent job, I was particularly impressed by how all the new console items match the originals. Opening recital by John Robinson, 7th Feb. The job was on Harrisons website but they seem to have deleted it now the work is finished. An organbuilder friend refers to Scotland as an 'Organ Graveyard' - not this region it would seem! DT
  22. Dr Gordon Slater, Organist & Choirmaster Lincoln Cathedral, 1930 - 1966 'Old School' and a renowned character. By the late '50s the Minster organ had received nearly 60 years of daily use which had taken considerable toll on it's pneumatic action. To help impress upon the Dean and Chapter the need for a complete rebuild, Dr Slater employed one or two less than ethical tactics. - One of the Choir Organ pistons emitted a very loud 'hiss' if depressed half way, this was deployed during sermons, sometimes for the whole sermon if the Dean was preaching. - There was an old metal fire bucket in the organ loft, the sand had long since disappeared. Dr Slater used to position this at one end of the pedal board and kick it over whilst playing at some point during the service, often during a quiet verse of a psalm. Lincolnshire Education Department had it's offices in Lincoln and held an annual carol service in the Minster. The Music Advisor (who's name I can't recall) who was an 'FRCO' and a 'Miss' was begrudgingly allowed to play. On one occassion someone asked Dr Slater if 'Miss' was playing that day, the reply came 'Yes, but it's a bit cold in there, I hope she's got her Great Combinations on'. DT
  23. Worcester car parking :angry: We drove down to the dedication and TT's opening recital. It took 2 hours from the Northwest, exactly as expected, then nearly another hour stuck in traffic to get into Worcester centre, negotiating the oneway system (which seems to lack any form of helpful signing) and finding a long stay car park (the air inside our car was blue). In otherwords, an absolute nightmare. There are a number of short stay car parks within the centre which will charge you about £1.00 per hour, we eventually found a long stay car park across the river from the Cathedral at the Cricket Ground, it cost £3.00 all day and was fine. It was only 5 or 6 minutes walk away. So if you are driving and unfamilar with Worcester, be warned and allow sufficient time! Christmas greetings and best wishes to all, David
  24. Back in the '80s, Organists' Association visits to Liverpool Cathedral used to include descending to the blowing chamber and ascending into the 2 pipe chambers. I particularly remember that from the area behind the choir console (which used to be filled with pneumatic relays but now is a sort of office) you had to climb a long, quite steep staircase to enter the north pipechamber which contains the swell, choir, positive and a few pedal ranks. Ian Tracey warned us that it was quite 'hairy' coming back down - it was! I don't suppose Health and Safety would permit such things these days. Ian was always very generous with his time, and all visitors who wanted to play were allowed to. Looking forward to meeting people at Worcester in January. DT
  25. And Chichester Cathedral 277... Truro may well be 247, it all depends which website you believe! I started putting this list together earlier in the year when I heard that St. Walburge's might be closing, and wanted to find out more about the building and it's architect. There's a lot of conflicting and incorrect information out there as to the actual heights of these buildings, in some cases on the churches' own websites. I've visited all these at some time or other, but I'm sure there'll be more 19th century spires which I'm not familiar with. Regards, David
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