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Richard Washington

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  1. Hi José. Clearly this restoration has been the biggest in some years, if only by virtue of the instrument being the largest in the country. But it has also been accompanied with a fair bit of media coverage too. During the time of the start of the Proms season, there were articles in the national press, and there was national TV news coverage. I recall seeing someone from Mander's (I didn't catch their name, John possibly?) being interviewed for Channel 4 news amongst the great flues. Following the instrument's rather extensive use (by usual standards) in this season's Proms one can only hope that a renewed interest in organ music will arise. I can't give you the London perspective, but I would enjoy having such an instrument close by to go and listen to from time to time. (In fact, I suppose I do, in the form of Liverpool Cathedral's organ being not an hour's drive from me). Perhaps Mr Mander has some photos which he will add to his website in due course?
  2. You might have noticed that it was the National Heritage weekend this week. I took the opportunity to go on something of an organ-seeing tour. And it was well worth it, as I got to play two rather exciting instruments. First was a Father Willis instrument in a church in Rochdale. This instrument was formally installed in Park Hall, Cardiff. A technical problem with the console rather spoilt the experience, preventing the pedal and swell divisions from being properly used. I think this could be bypassed to a certain extent by way of the crescendo pedal, though. There was no shortage of sound from this organ in what was a fairly average-sized church. And as for the trumpet - wow, what a sound! Then, I had a go on the instrument in Rochdale Town Hall. This four-manual 55-stop Binns instrument was a delight to play. This, not least because everything seemed to work faultlessly (a new experience for me), but also because the Great Hall has wonderful acoustics for the organ. It is most satisfying to lift ones fingers following a large chord and listen to the sound ring around the venue. No carpets or curtains in sight! Most thrilling, for me, was to have a 32' Double Open Diapason at my disposal. I recall previous discussions on the old board where it was suggested that 32' flues are not all that effective. Well to my mind, this stop made all the difference to the pedal division, making as it did the console shake nicely, along with the rest of the Town Hall. I was most impressed with the tuba as well. Full organ was exhilarating to say the least. Equally enjoyable were the quieter stops, such as the softer reeds and the strings. It is a shame there wasn't a 'Lieblich' Double Open Diapason on the pedal to complement them. And furthermore, the stool was height adjustable.
  3. Ok, next question. I have assumed that there are other mechanical action options besides a suspended action, but I get the impression that a suspended action is preferred. What makes it better? Oh, and what is suspended? Thanks, again.
  4. Ah, thanks. I did get the 'window' connection, but this didn't mean a great deal on its own. Thank you for the clarification.
  5. ...in connection with console design or position? Thanks.
  6. It is interesting that you say they should be tuned so frequently. You prompt me to ask a few more questions on this subject, being as I am in almost complete ignorance at present. I presume then, that little or no harm can come to the reeds from regular careful tuning, for instance from wear from those parts which are adjusted. Is this right? As reed tuning doesn't seem to be a matter for organists in this country, How frequently would British organ tuners like to see reeds tuned? How much does the temperature have to change for the tuning to become horrible? Marko says the reeds '...will eventually sound uneven...'. Is this a reference just to the pitch or to the voicing of the reeds as well? My organ certainly does not get regular attention to its reeds. With just 6 reeds I guess the task will be smaller than Marko's, but I have to say that access looks to be something of a nightmare. Whilst I can see where I would have to be to tune the manual reeds, the pedal's 16' Trombone looks to be largely inaccessible, Do larger reeds need less regular adjustment? Sorry, what a lot of questions. Thanks.
  7. Thanks for the encouragement, John. With your comments in mind, I hope shortly to meet the fellow who maintains the organ. I learned at the weekend that it will be getting its day of maintenance within the next month. With any luck, he will feel able to spend a few moments going over the various problems which I might be able to fix as they occur, in addition to advice on keeping the reeds in good order. Thanks.
  8. How easy is it to tune reeds? Is this something I could usefully consider doing myself? The CCT who look after the organ I play doubtless have other priorities for their money, and as a result the instrument sees one day of maintenance a year, if it is lucky. Meanwhile, I am there every week, trying to enjoy the experience of playing the instrument. It occurs to me that I might be able to enhance the experience by getting my own hands dirty from time to time. In fact, I've already had to crawl into the back of the instrument to unstick some sticky notes on the swell - surprisingly a few twitches of the action made all the difference. Regarding the reeds, I think part of the problem is the lack of any heating in the church, apart from a bit of electric heating in the organ. I'm fairly sure the reeds sound better right now than they did in the winter. That said, some notes are conspicuously bad, especially on the clarion. Any thoughts or advice on this subject would be gladly received.
  9. Just to remind you, really I'm a pianist but I'm trying to build up a level of competence at the organ. I'm currently having a go at the well-known Toccata and Fugue in D minor. I am aware that one should probably just use the toes in Bach, yet it seems a more flexible approach might enable some nice legato playing of the pedal part. What is the scholarly position here - did Bach really never use his heels? If so, should the whole of the pedal part be in a 'pizzicato' style (except for long notes and semiquavers), or should I aim for a legato sound at moments where the possibility exists. Should I be crossing my legs to achieve legato quavers? Any views on this would be greatly received. Thanks.
  10. Please accept my congratulations on the refurbishment, as well. Despite being based in the North West, I made the effort to attend the inaugural concert. It was the first concert I've been to in the RAH so I can't tell you how much the organ has been improved but I can tell you that I was most impressed with the results. If only the organ I play could have a similar make over! It was interesting to hear some last-minute reed tuning taking place as I took my seat in the stalls. Is this something which is undertaken every time the organ is used in concert? I was a little disappointed to observe that there was rather minimal media publicity of the refurbishment around the time of the inaugural concert, but it was good to see that amends were made at the start of the Proms season. It is also very good to see the organ featured in so many Proms concerts. Is anyone aware of any plans to make some recordings on the refurbished instrument? PS It's good to have the discussion forum back up - I have a few questions that I have been saving up over the past few months, which I will ask as soon as I get time.
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