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David Drinkell

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  1. It's nice - I played it at our noon-hour concert in the Cathedral yesterday.
  2. Yes, it does look a bit odd. One would expect a Gambe, at least in addition to the other 8' stops on the Great. I think the result will be a fine organ, but maybe not a C-C clone. I have no experience at all of Skrabl's work. I don't think we have any this side of the Atlantic. I have an invitation to give a concert on the little one at Frinton next time I am home. I'd like to get to know their job at Lyme Regis, if I ever find myself down that way. I see they rebuilt the Percy Daniel organ at Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. This was one of Daniel's more adventurous jobs and was well thought-of when it was first done. It looks as if Skrabl have carefully revised and augmented it and it should be worth visiting. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=E01520
  3. There's lots of French Noels which, although founded on Christmas melodies are not well known to the average British audience. They should sound wonderful on your instrument, too, but you probably know that already. I have the Dover edition, which contains a fine selection. I think IMSLP has one by Mulet, which is worth a look.
  4. I like it too! It's had a bad press for a long time, but I think this is passing. It's fun to play, too.
  5. I, too, used Lang's keyboard exercises when toiling for the RCO exams. I later passed the copies on to a pupil in similar circumstances and I guess they have, in turn, been passed on again. I was a pupil of Garth Benson's when I was a student at Bristol University - he was the "EGB" of the fugal trilogy and often spoke of Lang. I've never had a copy of it and often wondered what it was like.
  6. At the end of the Midnight, I've scheduled what my predecessor at Kirkwall used to refer to as "Dew parmi bleedin' noo", so I suppose I had better get some practice in. A neighbouring church has an Advent carol bash, which happened last Wednesday, involving about a dozen local choirs. I was asked to play the postlude and gave them Edmundson's "Vom Himmel hoch". To my surprise, it got a standing ovation. I finished the Advent Procession a couple of Sundays ago with Karg-Elert's "Wachet auf", which is good piece although perhaps a tad more tricky to play than one would expect.
  7. Peter, I think you were absolutely right (and inspired) in your choice of music. I tend to go for things like the St. Anne or the Passacaglia of Bach, sometimes Karg-Elert's "Nun danket" - in other words, something with a degree of dignity but triumphant rather than mournful.
  8. I remember the Willis III incarnation of this organ. E.H. ("John") Warrell said that its effect had been spoiled when the chapel ceiling was lowered. I never heard the Bishop rebuild, but the scheme looked like a good one for the chapel with its altered acoustics (although, personally, I like the Willis/American-style provision of a full set of couplers by tilting tablet and regret that they were reduced). The Bishop rebuild was done over forty years ago, so it is not surprising that the organ now needs another going over. No doubt our hosts will supply further information on their website in due course. I also have reason to be grateful to the late John Warrell. He let me play the organ at Southwark Cathedral whenever I liked, which was a generous gesture to someone he only met by chance when I was in the Cathedral and asked to see the organ. Many years later, he directed a choir from King's College, London, at Lambeth Palace when I, together with two others, received the ADCM (I believe this was the most candidates to pass at one session), and I think he was pleased to know that his kindness had paid off in giving me encouragement and experience. After that, when I went to Belfast, I used to see him quite regularly at Cathedral Organists' Association conferences. A very nice man....
  9. Lottery money would seem to be the best bet, and there's no doubt that the organ deserves it. The only problem I can foresee is that the Lottery folk might insist on a return to the original Cavaille-Coll scheme and size, which would probably be more expensive and, in my view, would remove additions which are also historic as well as being interesting and and asset to the instrument.
  10. I remember this organ from my student days - a very decent instrument which sounded well in the building. Incidentally, by a strange coincidence, Percy Daniel's nephew was the RE teacher at Colchester Royal Grammar School when I was a pupil and was my form master one year. He was a local organist, latterly at Bures, just over the border in Suffolk (at least, the church is), where he played rather good Norman & Beard organ.
  11. Daniel's work could be run-of-the-mill, but the Westbury organ was/is a fine achievement. I was organist at Henbury, the parish next door, as a student, and the organ there, while perhaps not the most refined of instruments close up, managed to pack several assorted quarts into a pint pot and I always found inspiration from it. Redland is a big, cheerful beast and tremendous fun to play. I mentioned Christ Church, Swindon, where I gave a recital - I thought it very fine. I was not too impressed by their rebuild at St. Paul's, Clifton, which repeated a number of features which I didn't like on Nicholson's rebuild at the University. Having played the old Rothwell (with distinctive console and some fine reeds) before the rebuild, I was sad that it wasn't sympathetically restored, but the date was just a little too early for that sort of thing. One aspect of the rebuild was the ditching of the wooden Pedal Open. Since it stood in front of a window and shaded the rest of the organ from the sun, the tuning after the rebuild tended to be less than perfect. I don't know Bill Drake's work at all, but all reports are very positive. I hope to experience Spitalfields some day. I practiced on the 3m Hele at Stoke Bishop as a first year student living in hall down the road, and found it to be a fine, solid example of its period. It was done up later and slightly modified, but I never got around to playing it after the rebuild. Some of the Hele/Rushworth Mancroft organ was retained and made into a small east end organ by Boggis of Diss.
  12. I quite agree about Compton. I only know the Hull organs by repute and I was citing organs of which I had personal experience (and only those that came to mind at the time). I hope one day to visit HT and Hull City Hall and get to know them, as also the Compton transplant of a big Hill organ at Yarmouth Minster (and Wakefield Cathedral, etc). I'm sorry to learn that Kenneth Tickell's company may not be continuing. His early death was another tragedy for British organ building. I was tremendously impressed with his organ at Douai Abbey, near Reading, to give just one example.
  13. Yes, of course - mea culpa! As you say, a disaster for British organ building. Walkers had reinvented themselves on innovative but solidly British lines and were producing instruments of world-class quality and musicality which are now showing their durability.
  14. I don't get to know as much as I did about the British scene, having lived in Canada for the last fifteen years, but here are some thoughts (which I should be glad to have corrected or amplified). Things have changed a lot over the last twenty years or so. I remember it being said when I was a teenager, "In twenty years time, there'll be no HN&B, no Rushworth and no Willis". Well, HN&B and Rushworths have ceased trading, but Willis has undergone a rebirth under the direction of David Wyld. Walkers, on the other hand, after producing some stunning work when Bob Pennells was in charge, had a tragedy when his son Mark succumbed to cancer at an early age and now seem to work on a smaller scale. On the other hand, newer and smaller firms such as David Wells and Kenneth Tickell have produced some world-class work and Nicholsons have joined the big league, having always been excellent, but on a smaller scale. I think the best thing is to play as many instruments as you can, because there are a lot of fine organs around which may not be by the most famous builders. To name but a very few: Cedric Arnold, Williamson & Hyatt: Little Walsingham PC, Norfolk; St. Botolph, Colchester, Essex Holmes & Swift: Kings Lynn Minster, Norfolk Roger Yates: Kilkhampton PC, Cornwall (also a remarkable 3 manual, 7 stop Father Willis ex-chamber organ in the Methodist Church); Bozeat PC, Northants; St. John, Taunton, Devon (rebuild of a Father Willis) Percy Daniel: Christ Church, Swindon, Wiltshire, Westbury-on-Trym PC, Henbury PC and Redland URC, Bristol (big, fun 4 manual) Sometimes, smaller organs by big builders are well worth the trouble of seeking out: Arthur Harrison: St. Alkmund, Shrewsbury (built for the RSCM and on long loan here); Christ Church, Keighley, Yorkshire (Wow!); All Saints, Maidenhead, Berks (the organist is my oldest friend if you want an intro). Norman & Beard: Colchester Town Hall Peter Collins: Holy Angels, Cranford, Middlesex Or off the beaten track: Binns: Old Independent Church, Haverhill, Suffolk; St. Mary, Shrewsbury Rushworth & Dreaper: Holy Rude, Stirling; Reid Memorial, Edinburgh; Christ's Hospital, Horsham (they also have an historic 3 manual Hill and a Father Willis "Model" Organ); Malvern Priory Compton: Downside Abbey Father Willis: St. Bees Priory, Cumbria (worth the journey!) Hill: All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London; St. John, Hove (not my cup of tea, this one, although generally thought to be very fine indeed - I prefer the Father Willis at St. Peter's, Brighton, or the ambience of the mongrel at St. Bartholomew: the church is essential viewing for OTT Anglo-Catholicism!) A crawl round the City of London would yield a lot of interest. Mander: St. Giles, Cripplegate, St. Vedast, Foster Lane, St. Michael Paternoster Royal (a 1 manual in 18th century style with GGG compass), St. James Garlickhythe (restoration of an organ with very varied ancestry), St. Paul's! Kenneth Tickell: St. Mary-le-Bow Compton: St. Bride, Fleet Street, St. Olave, Hart Street (a very nice smaller job), and, outside the City, St. Luke's, Chelsea and St. Mary Magdalen, Paddington Willis III: St. Dunstan in the West Hill: St. Mary Woolnoth, St. Mary at Hill (excellent restoration by our hosts following a fire) Bates: St. Martin, Ludgate (a notable early restoration by our hosts) Harrison: All Hallows by the Tower van Leeuwen: Dutch Church, Austin Friars David Wells: St. Katharine Cree (reinstatement of Father Willis, previously much-altered, in gorgeous Father Smith case) Spurden Rutt: St. Magnus the Martyr (the only Rutt that I like! Very varied ancestry, but a fine Romantic organ in an impressive Jordan case) Bishop & Son: St. Margaret Lothbury (excellent example of John Budgen's Old English style - Framlingham PC, Suffolk, is another: a definite must-see/play) Norman & Beard: St. Mary Aldermary and so on....... To experience a wide variety of instruments and styles and, more important, the way they work and should be played, join the Organ Club. I joined when I was 13 and learned such a lot.
  15. The Black Dyke "Messiah" is a long-standing Leeds tradition. I remember Simon Lindley telling me years ago that they invite a different conductor each year but take no notice of him! The Leeds Town Hall organ may be the largest straight 3 manual organ in the country, but if you go by speaking stops, the Compton at St. Luke's, Chelsea has 97, and there would likewise be some 3 manual theatre organs which have more than the 81 speaking stops at Leeds. Incidentally, NPOR has a minor error in describing the pre-Wood, Wordsworth rebuild as having 4 manuals - it had 5.
  16. Excellent! A very good appointment.
  17. This appeared on Facebook today. Interesting, though I'm surprised that the Albert Hall organ is still referred to as being by Father Willis - surely it's stretching the point since it was modified so much by Arthur Harrison. https://metro.co.uk/2018/10/15/my-odd-job-im-an-organ-tuner-in-charge-of-the-9999-pipes-of-the-organ-at-the-royal-albert-hall-7755715/?ito=article.amp.share.top.facebook
  18. There has been quite a lot of writing in recent years by knowledgeable folk to the effect that mechanical action is not always the best option, especially for large organs. There seems also to have been a significant amount of major work carried out on mechanical actions that are not particularly old. Some of the contracts mentioned on Nicholsons' website are rather startling, when one considers the work involved and the age of the instruments concerned. A clean and overhaul at St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham seems quite justified, bearing in mind that the fine Walker organ is now 25 years old and gets a lot of use, but collapsing front pipes on another major instrument which is 30 years old leaves one rather shaken. An organ like the one in Rugby School Chapel is, I suppose, in the English cathedral tradition. Such organs were not conceived with mechanical action in mind and it is perhaps misguided to push the limits in such cases, although the technology of modern mechanical actions is much advanced from what it was years ago. A top-class electric action should be good for 30/40 years with normal maintenance, all else being equal. This compares well with a number of much-publicized tracker jobs. I'm prejudiced - we all are. I prefer electric action anyway, and the flexibility it allows. A full set of couplers, controlled by rocking tablets over the top manual, gives so much more scope in how one can mix the colours in the tonal palette.
  19. When I was starting out, I was struck by how willing the real greats, like Francis Jackson and Allan Wicks, were to let me try their instruments and I made a note that if I ever came to have an outstanding instrument in my care, I would let people play.
  20. Theme music from "Game of Thrones" had a few outings some years ago, and I once perpetrated the manual parts from the Widor Toccata combined with the main theme from Star Wars in the pedals....
  21. Excellent! A really fine organ. I remember playing it from time to time when I was a student, and demonstrating it to the Organ Club. On that occasion, the last player had been Carlo Curley and the piston settings were, to put it mildly, surprising.
  22. The Lottery Fund made a grant to cover the restoration of the organ in Colchester Town Hall. Bill McVicker was the consultant and handled the application. I should imagine that Manchester would be similarly eligible.
  23. A most interesting video, and all thanks to the Scott brothers for making it and Contrabombarde for posting it. The organ sounds very impressive to me, and certainly very Cavaillé-Coll. It must be one of the least-known large organs in the country. I was surprised at how small the hall is, for a place the size of Manchester. There were mentions in "The Organ" many years ago in a pair of articles about J. Kendrick Pyne, the legendary and (it seems) eccentric organist, but the most important account is one of Cecil Clutton's earlier articles, published in October 1930 ("The Organ" No. 38, Vol. X). Around the same time, Clutton contributed an article to the Willis house magazine "The Rotunda", contrasting various national traditions in registration, including a sympathetic outline of the French Romantic. Clutton's Manchester Town Hall article commences with a "resumé of the French system of tonal design", praising in particular the blend of different types of tone, in contrast to the British fashion for big diapasons and heavy-pressure reeds. There follows a short account of the genesis of the organ. It was designed by the local organ enthusiast B. St. J. B. Joule. Like a lot of rich organ buffs in those days, he was a member of a brewing family, and he donated organs to least two churches where he was organist, the second and largest being the enormous (for the date) Jardine at St. Peter's, Manchester (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N10808), with a French-influenced scheme. It subsequently went to St. Bride, Old Trafford where it was last rebuilt as a large two-manual by Cowing of Liverpool. When St. Bride's closed, Jardines took the organ into store and, for some time, their website has featured a paragraph stating that they are rebuilding it in St. Catherine's Priory, Lincoln. The Town Hall organ was designed in consultation with W.T. Best and the builder. It has been remarked more than once that there was a French influence on organs west of the Pennines, in contrast to the Schulze influence to the east. The original organ was built in 1877 and Cavaillé-Coll added an unenclosed Solo Organ in 1893. Clutton refers to one J.E. Taylor LRIBA, of the City Architect's department, who was an organ enthusiast and was apparently responsible for the enlargement by Lewis in 1913. "The Corporation of Manchester are, indeed, fortunate in having such an expert as Mr. Taylor in their service, and I think that both he and Messrs. Lewis deserve the highest praise for the exemplary way in which the 1913 rebuild was carried out." Looking at the date, we should remember that by 1913, T.C. Lewis no longer had any connection with the firm he had founded, although he was still working on a smaller scale. The late Eduard Robbins, omnipotent Lewis expert, used to get very annoyed with anyone who mixed up the work of T.C.L. and that of Lewis & Co. It could well be, though, that Lewis & Co. would have handled the rebuild and enlargement of such an instrument with more sympathy than most other builders at the time. So, in 1913, there was a new console (in former times, it was rumoured that Kendrick Pyne invited French organists like Guilmant to play at the University and English organists like Parratt to play at the Town Hall, so that his own handling of English and French consoles would appear more virtuosic), the addition of an Echo Organ and enlargements to the Solo Organ. The Cavaillé-Coll tubas, which had been en chamade, were brought within the case and revoiced (as were the Pedal reeds) on 12". Mr. Johnson maintained that the effect was very much as it had been before, but stability was improved. The Diapason 1 on the Great was made louder, but provision for English tastes in diapason tone ("toujours rosbif" as Cavaillé-Coll put it) was largely provided by the leathered Stentor on the Solo. The Clarinet, Stentor and Tromba were enclosed in the Swell and could be transferred thereto by a coupler "Solo Extension to Swell". It is evident that Clutton considered that the Cavaillé-Coll character had not been spoiled and, at that time, there was probably no one else in Britain whose opinion was more trustworthy. The only alterations when Jardines replaced the console in 1970 appear to have been the addition of a Nazard to the Solo and the replacement of an 8' Diapason with a 4' Flute on the Pedal. The console, as suggested earlier on this thread, could well have been sub-contracted out to Nicholson, or bought in from a supply house, if Jardines were not then working on a large enough scale to build it themselves. It looks like a fine piece of work to me. I notice a piston "Mix and Muts Off" - the imagination boggles slightly.... All credit, I think, to Jardines for keeping the organ going for so long. I hope it will rise again when the renovations to the building are finished.
  24. The custom in Canada is for the bridesmaids to come in first, followed by the bride. The Pachelbel Canon is by far the most popular choice for the bridesmaids, and the Purcell (?) Trumpet Tune ("Cheer, boys, cheer! My mother wants the mangle") much favoured for the bride. I can't remember the last time I had to play "Here comes the bride", although I will do it if asked. When I started playing the organ, about 50 years ago, I got the impression that brides wanted it because their mothers had it. Nowadays, I am quite sure that brides request it because their mothers had it, because their mothers had it. "Jesu, joy" is sometimes requested for one of the quieter pieces, such as entrance or signing. Going out, the Mendelssohn still gets the odd airing (a good march, when all's said and done, and easy to walk to), but the Hornpipe from the Water Music is a lot more popular. Hollins' Trumpet Minuet sometimes finds favour. I played the Widor Toccata last week, but it's rarely requested, unlike what was the case when I was in the UK (four weddings in a row on the same day, all with the Widor, is not good for the wrists!).
  25. Probably because a lot of these churches were suffragan (or deputies) in the large diocese of York - cathedrals in all but name. This would apply to Ripon and Beverley, for example. Also, the ancient Diocese of Lincoln was very large indeed (the Saxon Minster at Stow-in-Lindsey may have been the cathedral before the See finally settled at Lincoln). Therefore, there are a lot of big churches, some called minsters, in the east of England from the Wash to the Tyne. Another reason for big churches is that in the Middle Ages, the East of England was very rich, because of the money made from sheep farming. This explains the huge "wool churches" of East Anglia and others further north.
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