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Charles Wooler

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Posts posted by Charles Wooler

  1. On 07/11/2017 at 21:49, David Drinkell said:

    When other essentials are fulfilled (which they seem to be in the context of this sort of organ),  I could believe that an octave tierce would be quite a useful thing to have.  There's one at Durham Cathedral, although that's big enough to have everything else and to spare....

    The 4/5 at Durham is actually VERY cunning and provides an alternative Cornet on the positive to that provided by the Flute a Cheminee 8, Flute Ouverte 4, Doublette 2 and Sesquialtera. Selecting the Prestant 4, Doublette 2, Larigot 1 1/3, Octivin 1 and Octave Tierce 4/5 and then drawing Positive on Solo transfers the division onto the Solo where the Solo Sub Octave and Unison Off take it down to 8 foot pitch. Drawing Solo to Choir puts it back down on the choir too...... Ingenious if you ask me. 

  2. On 27/09/2017 at 11:55, Peter Allison said:

    Restore????, it does not seem 5 mins, since I helped unload said organ, with Peter Collins,and had many a drink with my dad and the late organist, David Higgins, after dads organ lesson, (and my recordings on reel to reel of the organ) :D

    It's not sensible to say too much in a public forum such as this, other than to say that there have been problems with winding and the action for many years now and the time has come to sort them out once and for all, without any change in the organ's tonal character. It will however return this wonderful organ to its rightful place as one of the North East's most exciting mechanical actioned organs. It is far more versatile than people credit it too. 

    I have PMd you about the reel to reels!

  3. 31 minutes ago, David Drinkell said:

    I remember playing the old organ at St. Oswald's, Durham. Alarmingly, this must have been over 40 years ago!

    Not necessarily the case- the old organ was destroyed by an arsonist on, wait for it, Ash Wednesday 1984. A canister of camping gas was left to explode on the pedalboard which unsurprisingly provided an excellent source of kindling.. 

    I was 4 at the time, and never set foot in the church until an undergraduate BUT what has always struck me was how patchy the fire's impact was. The pillar holding up the chancel arch (right by the organ chamber) had to be rebuilt as it had gone down almost to its rubble core and was no longer safe. However the Bechstein Piano and much woodwork in the chancel are still there today. Some of the carving on the stalls nearest where the organ stood clearly show scorch marks, but the patterning of the original carving is still very much identifiable. 

  4. Newcastle and District Society or Organists is promoting an event on 28th October at 7.30pm in St Oswald's, Durham- a silent film accompanied with an improvised organ soundtrack.

    The 1988 organ in St Oswald's will celebrate its 30th birthday this academic year and the church is launching an appeal to restore this magnificent instrument with a spectacular event this Autumn.

    At 7.30pm on Saturday 28th October, we will show a large screen showing of the classic American silent horror movie "The Phantom of the Opera", itself based on Gaston Leroux's epic 1910 Novel.

    In keeping with the silent film tradition, it will be accompanied by an improvised soundtrack provided by the celebrated organist Jonathan Eyre. Widely recognised as a leading liturgical organist and improviser, Jonathan is regularly sought after to perform theatre organ and silent film concerts throughout the UK and his whose film accompaniments have thrilled audiences the length and breadth of the country.

    Tickets can be reserved by emailing office@oswalds.org.uk They cost £10 and include a complimentary French buffet and wine

  5. The Harrison website says " Reconstruct with new layout and mechanism, revision of tonal scheme.".


    To me this means

    • Strip out all the working parts and replace them so that the organ can be left alone for the next few decades.
    • Retain the vast majority of the pipework.
    • Adjust one or two stops, probably to reverse the drifts away from the original Arthur Harrison scheme that occurred in the 1960s and at other times.


    Just a thought- it may even bring the organ back closer towards the Arthur Harrison scheme than it currently is. There are far more 21st century examples of returning organs to their original Victorian/Edwardian roots- especially by the likes of Harrison, Mander and Nicholson- than there are examples where the schemes are lost.

  6. For me, there is one piece that makes more sense than any other- but merely a personal point of view. Elgar's "The Spirit of the Lord" is sublime, not overly difficult (except for the poor organist) and a superb performance is here:


    The score is available here for free: http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/0/02/Elgar-The_Spirit_Of_The_Lord_Is_Upon_Me.pdf


    And here is the text:

    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor: He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind – to preach the acceptable year of the Lord; to give unto them that mourn a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden that causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel.

    Isaiah 61:1-3,11

  7. I believe that as part of an experiment, Harrisons have put the Gt Reeds back on their pre1960s pressure. This has rendered some of the new ranks put in in the 1990s unusable, but I gather that the Minster staff feel that the gain in the speech of the reeds is worth the sacrifice.

  8. A clear and measured discussion of this sad situation. If what Prof Ashley says is true- I have no reason to doubt it, but equally no way of confirming- then this decision has been made by Chapter in the absence of a Dean. What I did not realise until reading this is that the Dean of Llandaff is the only full time member of Chapter and that the others are Rectors of other parishes whose role at the cathedral is part time. This looks as if the decision to disband the SATB choir was taken by people whose number 1 priority is not Llandaff Cathedral, whose loyalties are at best divided and who will not have to live with the consequences of this choice on a daily basis in the way that Chapter members of an English Cathedral would. As a choir master I realise that once the men have gone, attempts to resurrect the four part choir will be placed well and truely in the "genie-back-in-bottle" territory. Not just in terms of logistics, but in terms of making good the damage to the collective goodwill.



  9. I have problem- the choir of the church where I am Director of Music has grown rather a lot in the last year (getting towards doubling in size) and we need music for new members.Does anyone know of a church who no longer has a choir that wishes to dispose of robes and music. We wear crimson cassocks and knee length surplices (either old English or standard would be fine). If so please get in touch (sjohnsmusic at gmail.com). In terms of music it's hard to list everything that we would need, and we'd be interested in most things but any leads on the following collections would be especially valuable- Oxford Book of Tudor Anthems, European Sacred Music, Anthems for Choirs 1, 100 Carols for Choirs and Advent for Choirs.


    This is naturally a (probably unrealistic) shot in the dark, but it may just bear fruit, and as they say in the North East, shy bairns get nowt........



  10. Apologies if I have unwittingly broken forum regulations, but:


    The Choir of St John the Baptist Newcastle is expanding its Choral Scholarship scheme and as such has four vacancies. Please e-mail sjohnsmusic(at)gmail.com to hear more about joining this vibrant choir, whose engagements this year include services at Westminster Abbey, Durham Cathedral and St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh.


    We sing an ambitious programme of music which this term alone will include Haydn's Little Organ Mass, Mozart Coronation Mass, Victoria Missa O Quam Gloriosum and Byrd's Four Part Mass. Enquiries from singers and organists wishing to join us are always welcome, especially yong choristers and players who we try and accommodate in anyway that we can.

  11. Dear Readers,

    I have a lovely country church (ex-Collegiate Choir of a much larger Pre-Reformation edifice) with very grand historic associations in my Diocese of Coventry. The little organ (very well placed in a very large space) is by Atterton & Sons of Leighton Buzzard - so says the name plate and a date of 1906. Considering that the much of a family seems to be involved in organ building, I am at a loss to know anything about them. Is there light to be shed on their work or history/life? Also it would be good to know if there are any other instruments by them. After over 100 years of muck going inside this organ it still has one of the most beguiling Wald Flutes I have played in many-a -year.

    Things in anticipation of a flood of information from all the boffs.



    As a teenager I was organist of this church here:




    A truly lovely, light unforced sound, although the new mixture (whilst a necessity when all four of the congregation were singing well) added in the 1980s is uncouth and not inkeeping with the rest. On the name plate over the console the place namewas splet Leighton Bussard not Buzzard (I don't know if it helps- the church is only 30mins from Leighton Buzzrd so I presume they are the same).


    However, regardless of the organ this is a gem of a church. Set back in the midst of fields of sheep which graze right up to the boundaries of graveyard, with the Georgian former vicarage close by, this is Richard Hooker's first parish untouched, with virtually no mod cons, the original pre-reformation stained glass and lots more besides. A real find.......

  12. This month the BBC Music Magazine's free Front Cover Disc is titles "J. S. Bach- Great Organ Works" and is performed by David Goode on the magnificent Silbermann organ of Frieberg Cathedral. It is priced at £4.60.


    This is the second time in just over three years that the BBC Music Magazine cover disc has been given over to mainstream organ repertoire on instruments ideal for the music (David Brigg's 2008 disc of Vierne III and Widor V at Rouen may well be still available as back issues) A sneak preview is available here: http://www.youtube.com/user/OllyCondy


    The programme is:

    Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C- BWV 564

    Concerto in a minor (after Vivaldi)- BWV 593

    Schmucke dich, o liebe seele- BWV 654

    Prelude and Fugue in G- BWV 541

    Vater unser im himmelreich- BWV 582

    Preluden and Fugue in b minor- BWV 544

    O mensch, bewein' dein Sunde gross'- BWV 622

    Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor- BWV 582

  13. There's this at 21 stops:



    This organ has an interesting history. Those who know the excellent Hertfordshire based Organ Builder Saxon Aldred (is he still tuning/building organs?) may be aware of the fact that he was inspired to learn to play by this instrument. It was also the organ that Christopher Bowers-Broadbent first learnt on. Currently the school claims it has a Hope Jones organ, which is very much incorrect as after the 1949 rebuild by Willis, it sounds exactly you would expect of a Willis 3, although it is believed to be the last functioning HJ console as shown at http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/PSearch.cgi...N12852&no=2

  14. I have one of these (wired) systems which I bought from Maplins for around £130 and which I use for concerts at church. It does a good job for around £130


    This is exactly the system we use at St John's too- it's been excellent and far better than the previous set up. There is also the option of adding camera into the system fairly inexpensively. I seem to recall we spent £160 on two cameras, the screen and 40 meters of extra cable. There is one caveat that I discovered last week: the batteries to the remote died last weekend and so I was forced to operate the different cameras by going behind the console and pressing the buttons in the dark. After the I'd finished conducting anthem the new organ scholar came round white as a sheet and explained I'd pressed the wrong button and the screen scanned between the two cameras every 5 seconds. As it was the first time he'd played for part of a service he thought it was a practical joke on the new boy! I also like the setting where you can make the conductor hang off the ceiling or appear back to front.

  15. Naturally I wish everyone well, but I wonder just how careful or fastidious the current editorial team at The Organ are. I would give as evidence for my doubt the front cover of the May-July issue which boasted in enormous type of an article about 'Cesar Francke's metronome' (sic). They also seem to indulge in repeated articles about certain firms that in virtually every way amount to advertisements for said firm's work, I am thinking of one Surrey-based firm in particular.


    Interestingly this looks as if it has been doctored out of the photo of this edition on the website:



    A brief look around the website reveals several other hidden gems such as the fact that Hakim and Messiaen had a lovely time in their posts at St Sulpice...




    Is it me or is the tone of the reviews in organ magazines these days- especially the ones such as Cathedral Music and The Organ which I suspect have a smaller readership than OR and Choir and Organ- getting cattier and cattier?


    I no longer subscribe to organ magazines except for OR which comes free with my Local Organ Society subs but on the odd occasion I pick others up in shops I find that the comments in them are very subjective, often a matter of taste and frequently unhelpful but still served up as law. Take one example from the website of the Organ Magazine at the moment:


    "The suite is worth hearing the once, but the music is too inconsistent in style to be convincing as a whole: frankly, you cannot set elements of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Mass and his version of the Von Himmel Hoch Variations within your own ideas and expect to come up with a coherent work of art, especially as Hakim does not possess the sheer force of Stravinsky’s creative personality, or anything like it. Surprise your audience by all means, but don’t get them to leave before your music has finished."


    I often wonder who the people that write these reviews actually are- as musicians I mean- their names are normally quoted at the end of the article. But can they play? Or more importantly can they use their ears intelligently? If I wasn't so busy, I would go back through my past issues of magazines and produce many examples where the whole tone of some of the reviews suggested to me that the reviewer was someone who had not succeeded as a recording artist or high level recitalist and had some sort of axe to grind against those that have or were starting to do so. Bring back the intelligent, reasoned and well informed OR reviews by Paul Hale, Roger Fisher and Kevin Bowyer- all superb players who had the good grace to write fairly and recognise that they were not the only people in the organ world who play well.


    Rant over,


    All the best,



  16. I've learned the B major P&F and now want to tackle the G-minor pair.


    I'm having problem with the big chords in the RH in the prelude. My hand cannot span more than an octave. Given the speed and the LH pitches, it's not possible to let LH take the lowest notes of the RH chords. Moving the lowest notes up an octave produces an unsatisfactory sound.


    What's your advice (besides to avoid this piece)?

    Are you suggesting thumbing up from Choir to Swell here? If so you must have huge thumbs!!!


    I "cheat" in that I swap the hands over once the triplets begin in the left hand and two or three bars before the pedal 16's start and keep them that way until the two LH chords on the Recit (underpinned by those 4 note pedal chords) in the second system on the last page of the prelude. I find it easier to achieve the legato on those chords than doing it as Dupre suggested and also my RH tires far less quickly than my LH does.


    All the best,



  17. Apologies for the self promotion but, I am playing two recitals in the first week of August. First on Monday 3rd August, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Palmerston Place Edinburgh at 1.10 pm and then the following Friday 7th August, Truro Cathedral at 1.10pm.



    Fanfare (Four Extemporisations)- Percy Whitlock

    Andante Tranquillo & Scherzo (Five Short Pieces)- Percy Whitlock

    Choral No. 1 in E major- Cesar Franck

    Sketch No. 4 in Db major- Robert Schumann

    Piece d'Orgue (BWV 572)- Johann Sebastian Bach

    Chant de Paix (Neuf Pieces)- Jean Langlais

    Prelude and Fugue in g minor (Op. 7 No. 3)- Marcel Dupre


    It would be lovely if there was the chance to meet fellow board members and finally put some faces to names!.


    All the best,



  18. :(

    thank you all,

    it seems like it will be a ride through to see how it has stood the test of time.

    Speaking today with a young chap who plays there on a regular basis and is giving the recital prior to him going to the Birmingham conservatoire, its still in full working order, and he said it plays most styles of repertoire, within reason.

    I gather the 1988 Peter Collins in St. Oswalds in Durham city has kept in good shape, although I have not heard it for a few years now. My father used to have the odd lesson there, from the DoM, David Higgins, who has now sadly passed.


    ps. St Oswalds are looking for a new DoM


    Indeed they are. Their current DoM is off to do a PGCE in Lancaster. PM me if anyone wants the job description as I am in the loop on it, having been their organ scholar for five years whilst at uni leaving in 2003. I'm still very much in touch with the church but live in Northumberland and work in Berwick. The job is a superb one to have and I would go for it instantly were it not for the fact that I would have a nearly 100 mile trip to choir practice from school each week! As to the organ it sadly hasn't stood the test of time, the current organ tuner has done a remarkably good job keeping it goin but the action is getting very stiff and uneven with the coupled action wearing loose and only firing at the bottom of the key bed. The wind is very unsteady and consequently the tuning gets pulled on- you can sink the wind with the last chord of Litanies if you wish. But there are plans to spend money on it in the not too distant future.



  19. I am giving a recital the first weekend in October this year to celebrate the centenary of the glorious (if a little eccentric)Arthur Harrison in St John the Baptist, Grainger Street Newcastle where I am assistant. http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N04076


    We have decided against re-creating the original programme that was played by Sidney Nicholson for the simple reason that it is impossible to recreate. The programme booklet has helpful titles such as Concerto in F (Allegro) Handel...... What I'd love to include however is a piece that is exactly contemporary with the organ itself and preferably English. The closest I have come up with is the Stanford Postlude in d minor at the end of the second set which bears the date 1908. At the very least, this would be contemporary with the design of the instrument if not the very beginnings of its construction on the workshops in Durham. Any thoughts anyone?

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