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Mander Organs


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About bam

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  • Birthday 04/04/1956

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    Whitchurch, Buckinghamshire

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  1. bam

    Rugby School Chapel Organ

    I played the old Rugby School Chapel organ (N&B / Walker) a few times when I was at school at Lawrence Sheriff down the road and it was really good - great choruses, wonderful full Swell, lots of quiet accompaniment stuff and the luxury of enclosed and unenclosed Choir sections. All the pipes were in a chamber north of the choir and it was a bit underpowered. Martin Jackson, our music master, used the Tuba as a chorus reed at the annual carol service and it was by no means overpowering with 600+ boys singing strongly. The Great Trumpet didn't make much impact at all. Unfortunately it got thoroughly cooked by the central heating system and was apparently pretty well unplayable by the time it was dismantled. Roderick Elms made a recording in 1985 on Gemini LRS138 of music by Whitlock, which I think was only available on cassette. The Trumpet was rescued by Peter Lock and installed at St Peter's, Rugby, where it is said to work well. I went to the opening recital of the Jones with Martin and was rather disappointed with almost everything except the power, and particularly some of the reeds which really did sound like quacking ducks. There were some odd noises from its innards, reinforcing the opinion that opening recitals shouldn't be booked until an organ has had time to settle down. The new casework, bringing pipework out of the chamber, was a good idea and fits in well. Nicholson have also done work on the Jones at Tewkesbury: http://www.nicholsonorgans.co.uk/portfolio/tewkesbury-abbey-milton-organ/gallery/completed-projects-recent/
  2. bam

    List of beautiful English Organs

    I hesitate to say it's beautiful, but it's certainly a beautifully made piece of furniture, with intricate fretwork: the former Apsley House Willis now in Whitchurch Methodist church: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D02223
  3. bam

    Blind Listening Experiment

    It is true: most people can't tell the difference, certainly on a brief encounter. It was brought home to me a few months ago after evensong at Winslow. Their rather nice 3m Bevington finally died quite spectacularly during the first hymn of special service about two years ago when Bishop Steven Croft was preaching and since then they have been using a temporary electronic. A couple who both used to sing with the Bach Choir could not tell it was not the pipe organ. I found the temporary electronic in use at Buckfast quite convincing while played quietly. What really gave it away (as also at Winslow) was the use of the Crescendo pedal as a volume control, which is a most un-pipe organ like effect - but most will not notice. With time, a lot of people continue to not notice, but the more discerning start to find the electronic sound does begin to jar. I was curious at the statement in the blind listening test that a pipe organ will last 100 years. A robustly built, fully mechanical instrument should surely have a much longer working life than that, if it is saved from poor quality interventions and the whims of fashion. There was also no mention of the possibility of obtaining a suitable redundant organ rather than a new electronic.
  4. bam

    List of beautiful English Organs

    This is the builder's plate at St Mary and St Giles, Stony Stratford:
  5. bam

    List of beautiful English Organs

    One of my favourite modern cases is that of the Nigel Church instrument previously in Hucknall Parish Church, then Sedbergh School and now Ss. Peter and Paul RC Church, Lincoln. What's inside is jolly good as well - a great sound and a crisp touch:
  6. bam


    I hope the BBC isn't hiring its announcers from the local Job Centre! But to be fair, it could just have been a momentary slip, like the (possibly) apocryphal story of the Third Programme announcer who said "the next piece is called The Bum of the Flightle Bee". It happens to all of us.
  7. bam


    Nicholas Kynaston's 'Great Organ Music' LP was one which originally got me hooked on the organ. It was re-released on CD in 1995 - I was going to write 'a few years ago' but checked the CD insert..... The programmes the RAH produced for the series of recitals in the years after the restoration were accurate and informative. The Sunday Organ Prom was repeated yesterday afternoon on Radio 3 from 2 - 3pm and by chance I was listening - yes, it's a Father Willis with 9,999 stops! I enjoyed the performance a lot.
  8. bam


    After the RAH Organ Day on 15 May, I received a message from the RAH asking for feedback. Amongst other things, I replied that there were quite a few 'howlers' in the programme, not least that the emphasis on the organ being a Father Willis was simply wrong - that the case and about 2/3 of the pipes are Willis, about 1/3 of the pipes and the console are H&H, the tonal picture is H&H with Mander tweaks and one stop, and mechanically it's a Mander. Perhaps this is just considered too difficult for the general public and that inaccurate generalisations are necessary? (2/3 and 1/3 are generalisations.....). It can sound fantastic - Clive Driskell-Smith's performance of the Allegro from Widor VI at the post-restoration seminar sticks in my mind. On 15 May, I thought Olivier Latry was superb, but although there was huge technical skill showed in the rest of the evening, I just didn't enjoy it very much.
  9. bam

    Pipe Organ-free Zone

    I've read Colin's article and see little to argue with. We use an ex-HN&B tuner who set up after HN&B were shut down. He has recently taken IBO accreditation and does an excellent job. It's not a near-term problem, but who will follow him? Whether anyone will need to, given the shrinking and ageing congregation is a different matter. Perhaps the biggest problem is summarised in Colin's intro: "digital organs will never sound as good as pipe organs into the forseeable future". I'm sure most of us agree, but (1) a lot of very good players locally have accepted that a digital solution is good enough and fits the (inevitably tight) budget and (2) most listeners - who pay the bills in the end - can't tell the difference. Another question Colin has touched on in his articles is a pipe organ's reliability and longevity. One of the big supposed practical advantages of the pipe organ compared to the digital is its reliability and longevity. It's one thing for a large and well funded institution to take on a complex EP action instrument which will need a major overhaul every +/- 50 years and perhaps replacement electronics more often. It's another thing for a minor parish or country church, where those of us with bomb-proof Victorian tracker instruments must count ourselves increasingly lucky. There have been too many examples locally where expensive works have been short lived. St Peter's, Berkhamsted have been brave enough to put details on their website but others have been brushed under the carpet as embarrassments: https://www.stpetersberkhamsted.org.uk/music/organ/ The word does get around and for all the successful projects, it only takes a few failures for pipe organs in general to get a reputation as money pits. The Bucks OA visited Wolvercote and St Peter's. Bedford earlier this year. I wasn't able to go to Wolvercote but those that did were most impressed. We had a good turnout to visit Bedford and the new instrument is magnificent. They are wonderful examples of what can be done where there is the will.
  10. bam

    Pipe Organ-free Zone

    The pipe organ in St Mary's, Aylesbury is still in place but has been unused for many years since a lightning strike fried the action (so I am told) and it was thought not worth spending any more on it. I never heard it but it looks badly positioned as well as bizarre. I think the 'long term project' for a new pipe organ is little more than an aspiration at present and won't have been helped by some falling masonry last year. They use a 3 manual Viscount. Two youngsters, both taught by the music master at the grammar school, played at the Oxford Music Festival organ class last year, held in Merton College Chapel. It was the first time either of them had played a pipe organ. They were both very good (much better than me!). I wasn't sure about the Walker Positif in Holy Trinity so emailed the church and they replied " Our pipe organ was removed about 20 years ago, it had woodworm and was scrapped I think." I've passed on the message to NPOR so the record can be updated.
  11. bam

    Pipe Organ-free Zone

    What I'm pretty sure is the last serviceable pipe organ in Aylesbury and its suburbs is listed on the IBO site as available, subject to faculty: https://www.ibo.co.uk/resources/pre-owned/detail.php?refNo=563 I wonder if Aylesbury will become the first English county town to become a "Pipe Organ-free Zone"?
  12. bam

    Easy Organ Pieces & leading a congregation?

    A trick I find useful for practicing hymns is some silent practice. It really makes you think what your fingers and feet are doing. I guess most practice was silent until the advent of electric blowing. Thanks to Richard F for the Sontagsorgel recommendation.
  13. bam

    Easy Organ Pieces & leading a congregation?

    Complain to musicroom.com - their words! It's certainly a misuse of 'song'. The Amazon description of Vol 1 is also rather odd: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cloister-Album-Voluntaries-Organ-Faber/dp/0571528724/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=JKCCYZVYHKQTGHB0R0A9 as it claims there are 22 pieces - in fact, there are 71. The titles they list are from the original Book 1 and don't include Books 2 and 3. They do list the contents correctly for Volume 2: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cloister-Album-Voluntaries-Organ-Keyboard/dp/0571534724/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=C9E7DTE6HFW6PNAXXNRY
  14. bam

    Easy Organ Pieces & leading a congregation?

    Originally published in 6 volumes and now republished in 2, these are a very useful (if not very scholarly!) collection of voluntaries for manuals: https://www.musicroom.com/product-detail/product32477/variant32477/the-cloister-album-of-voluntaries-volume-one-books-1-3/ https://www.musicroom.com/product-detail/product32478/variant32478/the-cloister-album-of-voluntaries-volume-two/ Many of the bass lines can be pedalled when you gain confidence.
  15. bam

    Prepared For

    Porritt left a spare slide on the Swell at Whitchurch in 1880. It may have been intended for a 4' flute or similar. It was filled by Robin Rance in 1990 with a 2 rank mixture (19, 22 breaking to 12,15 at c37). It took 110 years but the mixture 'makes' the instrument. The overhaul was done on the advice of Charles Padgham (author of 'The Well Tempered Organ') who lived in Church Headland Lane, and saved it from being binned and replaced by an electronic. His former house organ with its glued paper bass pipes remains in use at Dunton.