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Roy Stephenson

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About Roy Stephenson

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  • Birthday 03/04/1948

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  • Location
    Buxton,Maine USA
  • Interests
    Served 6 yearApprenticeship with Bishop & Son, London and Ipswich and worked a further 10 years with them.<br />Now live in USA and work with David Wallace Pipe Organ Builder

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  1. As a past employee of Bishop and Son for about 16 years I can tell you all they are very much in business as of yesterday (10 Nov). At the present they have tuning contracts with about 350 churches in East Anglia and the Midlands and a similar number in London and the Home Counties. The London workshop (58 Beethoven St. Queens Park) is currently working on a restoration of the organ in Radley Parish Church, Oxfordshire. Ipswich workshops, 38 Bolton Lane Ipswich) completed the 'job' at New Hall School Chelmsford, and are now moving on, I believe, to rebuild the 3 Manual in All Saints Maldon, Essex which I worked on at the last rebuild in 1967/8. Maurice Merrell is certainly the MD and a truly wonderful organist and organ builder of great distinction. Recently he suffered some heart problems but now firmly back in harness he posseses a wealth of knowledge on the London organ world in general and the history of Bishops in particular. Both London and Ipswich carry all the records of the company since they were established in the days of JC Bishop, through Bishop and Starr, the + Richardson years onto Bishop & Son and then the Herbert Suggate period to the present day; it is a truly fascinating history. Certainly Laurence Elvin had a mountain of information on which to base his book about the company. At Ipswich John Bailey (ex Cedric Arnold and GD& is the workshop manager very ably assisted by Simon Pulham a Bishop man for over 30 years. I served my apprenticeship from 1964 -72 (John Budgen's time at Ipswich) returning to the 'fold' in 2000 for 4 more years before moving to the USA where I worked for David Wallace Organ Builder here in Maine. The company continues to be a busy one and much to it's credit has survived as a continuous operating company since 1795 or there abouts. Even during the war years when the workshops closed down, the tuners in London and Ipswich kept many of the organs in working order even if the windows behind them had been blown out by bombs! Bishop's are one of the true English organ builders of the past and present. They may not be the 'flavour of the times' but many many organs in the UK would be lost to us if it were not for their expertise and commitment. I must add that I read this site every couple of weeks or so and find it is a truly wonderful way to keep up with everything organs in the UK thanks to John Mander for his support of this service and to you all for providing such well written and informative comments.
  2. Having invested in the complete Priory set I have to say I have not been disappointed. I suppose I may be unusual in that I listen to them regularly and never cease to be amazed at the endless variety provided over 10 CD's. For me it is a real delight to hear the very different styles of singing, accompaniment and pointing. Add to this the very different acoustics and the diverse range of chants and I have to recommend this to anyone who likes variety. I also have the complete New English Hymnal set by Priory, sad isn't it? ......but that's another story!
  3. Thanks to MS for your comments about the Kotzchmar. It is indeed an amazing instrument and Thomas Heywood is giving a reciltal here on the 29th August. He has chosen the perfect programme; all music from the orchestral and opera reportoire. Music that organs like the K'mar were built to perform. The Thieving Magpie, Swan Lake, Bartered Bride, Magic Flute are all included plus Rondo Capriccio by Edwin Lamare. Austin added a new 5 manual console around 2000 when the organ had been restored. This is a state of the art console with all modern conveniences and the fifth manual is for the Echo organ up in the roof which previously was a "floating" division. The organ does need some caution when registering. One recent recitalist used the 16/8 and 4 ft Tubas for the Trumpet Voluntary. As this reed is on about 30" wind it nearly blasted our earbrums to oblivion!....and he was a well respected organist from France. You can find out more about the organ at the website www.foco.org I do regularly read this site and find it very informative. I find the predominantly UK organists/lover/enthusiasts not quite so hooked on intimate detail as their counterparts here is the US. On one site here there can be days and days of discussion on the relative merits of a Tierce on the Swell Organ! I was pleased to see that St Peter's St Albans have had a magnificent new instrument and well deserved. It is with some sadness that I remember working on the rebuilding of their old organ in 1973. Much of the work was done during the 3 day week without electricity on certain days. The new building frame was too tall for our Ipswich workshop so we built it outside under a covered scaffold. ON the no power days we cut hand mortices and tenons and set in captive bolts by hand all to the light of paraffin lamps....oh it was so Dickensian! Despite some comments to the contrary I consider that St Peter's got a really good deal for the money and it certainly lasted for 30 years. But of course I am somewhat biased!
  4. I am so sorry to hear from Peter de Ville that the Colchester Town Hall or Moot Hall as it is locally known is now nearly defunct. I have many fond memories of attending the Saturday afternoon recitals in the 1960's given by the then Borough Organist, Leonard Simpson. Such a wonderful mix of music and performed with some panache as a Town Hall organist should . The N&B organ was, as I remember, pretty typical of the era with a strong emphasis on large opens and strong flutes but also some very pleasant string sounds and smooth reeds. Having in the past worked for Bishop and Son for 15 years I must also add to the list the organ in Ipswich Town Hall; well Corn Exchange to be precise but it is part of the same building and owned by the Council. This is the organ taken out of Holy Trinity, Paddington, London after its closure in 1971. It was an 1876 Lewis rebuilt by N&B about 1912 I believe and then they did some additional work as HN&B in 1957. Bishops tok it out of the Paddington and completely rebuilt it for the Corn Exchange in 1975. I well remember working against the clock to get it out of the church as the lead from the roof had been stolen and water was getting in. As we worked one after another of the lights blew up as the water penetrated! This one is still playable but has suffered. perversely from a leaking roof about 3 times! Bishops have managed to do a number of repairs and all was working well last Christmas as far as I know. I now live in the US, cloes to Portland, Maine where the on of the very few city organs of the US is in the local City Hall. Many of you will know of the "Kotzschmar" a 1912, 5 manual Austin organ with 229 stops including a 32ft Diaphone which actually works. I have been working for David Wallace Organ Builder who carried out a major rebuild of this instrument in 2000. Edward Lamare was a past organist here. Hope all this is interesting to some of you and good luck with trying to shame some local councils into keeping and restoring their organs.
  5. One ancient English organ is in Framlingham Church in Suffolk. This instrument was built C1674 by Thomas Thamar. This organ was built for the chapel of Pembroke College, Cambridge . The college gave the organ to Framlingham in 1708 and in 1754 Byfield added additional stops. Hunter of Clapham enlarged it in 1898. Bishop and Son under the direction of John Budgen restored the organ in 1970. The organ is positioned on a West gallery and is mechanical throughout with original Thamar roller board and soundboard on the great . The Swell and pedal organs were redesigned in order to much better complement the original Thamar Great organ. The organ case is another 'gem' as it pre dates Cromwell (circa 1588) and has been carefully restored to its original glory. Well worth a visit and the church is very welcoming to visiting organists. Spec: Manuals CC-g (56) Pedal CCC-F (30) Great - Open Diapason 8, Stopped Diapason 8, Principal 4, Twelfth 22/3, Fifteenth 2, Cornet and Sesquialtera III-IV*, Trumpet 8. Swell - Chimney Flute 8, Salicional 8, OpenFlute 4, Principal 4, Gemshorn 2, Quint 11/3, Mixture(19-22-26) III, Cromorne 8 Pedal - Bourdon 16, Principal 8, Flute 4, Fagotto 16. 3 Couplers and Tremulant * Composition of Great Sesquialtera: 22,24,26. Cornet from Mid C# 8,12,15,17.
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