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Contrabombarde

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  1. Contrabombarde

    Manchester Town Hall

    Bit of both really. I'm not seriously suggesting that someone should try to beat a £1 million repair estimate with an offer to do the job for £10,000 as that would inevitably result in a disaster. However, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask how organs could be built (or rebuilt) in a more resilient and affordably repairable manner. At one church I used to play at was a Norman and Beard which would have been magnificent if it could actually get wind to the pipes. Unfortunately the reservoirs were actually part of the building frame so the only way they could be releathered would have been to have totally dismantled the organ. The pneumatic action motors were equally inaccessible, and whilst not all needed replacing, they couldn't be done in situ meaning everything would have had to be done at the same time before putting the thing back together again as there would be no point replacing only the ones that had already failed whilst the others were accessible. A church in my neck of the woods has a quite respectable large four manual organ built almost entirely by members of the congregation and is often played in concerts, which demonstrates that it is possible (though rare) to build and maintain a large and perfectly decent organ on a shoestring. I know of at least four people who have built or relocated pipe organs of three or even more manuals in their homes. Those however are exceptions rather than the norm. My question - perhaps better addressed on the organ building part of this forum - is about whether we can encourage more cost-effective and innovative organ building, and whether there are innovative ways of maintaining quality without the need for spending such colossal sums rebuilding organs. If actions could be better protected, more easily accessed and modular, so that parts could be simpler and less expensive to replace individually when they failed rather than having to replace the entire action, if reservoirs could be releathered without having to dismantle the entire organ perhaps.... ....perhaps we would have more organs in good working order, more interest in playing them, if the cost of ownership could fall. And if the cost of ownership could fall, would that lead in turn to a resurgence of business for the organ building trade?
  2. Contrabombarde

    Manchester Town Hall

    The reality is that local councils have a number of statutory legal duties such as providing care to elderly people and vulnerable children. Central government funding to local authorities has been reduced so much in recent years that some are at the point where even if they spent their entire budget on the things they have a legal obligation to provide for they would no longer be able to afford to meet all their obligations. Consequently the non-statutory functions like litter collections in parks, weekly dustbin rounds, keeping libraries open and tuning the organ in the town hall are not so much low priority as no priority since they will point out, "if we spend money on organ repairs and an old person comes to harm because we haveen't spent enough on elderly care we could be taken to court". Some more fortunate councils have access to income streams, historic reserve savings and sources of funding not available to other areas, hence the extent to which non-statutory services are deprioritised varies. Perhaps Leeds with its reputation and piano competition and sponsorship deals etc can generate a big enough income to keep the hall's organ in concert-worthy condition, but there are only so many such venues in the country that can do so. Those of us who are organ lovers need to recognise that in the present climate, if we want organs to be preserved, then increasingly it's our pockets or our fundraising skills that need to contribute to tuning, maintenance, repairs and rebuilds as noone else is going to pay. Unless we pay directly ourselves or manage to raise funds through channels such as the Lottery fund, we cannot expect every church and other building with a historic organ in need of restoration to somehow find the money themselves. The only other option to keep organs going is for organbuilders to radically reduce the costs of maintaining and restoring organs without compromising their quality or playability, though that debate is perhaps important enough to be continued through on the organ building part of this forum. After all, if the Manchester Town Hall organ could be reinstated and fully restored for say £10,000 then even a cash strapped council might just about manage that. At £1 million plus, it's almost a guarenteed non-starter with council funds.
  3. Contrabombarde

    Rugby School Chapel Organ

    How long would a brand new organ typically be warranted for? If I had commissioned one I'd be sorely miffed if it couldn't give a decade and a half of near-faultless service without the need for a full mechanical rebuild. On the other hand the microclimates at different height levels of the same church can have a mind of their own and expecting a hugely complex instrument to survive several hours of daily use for several decades might be overly optimistic. If you offer say a ten year warranty and during that time it turns out that it needs significant rebuilding, who bears the cost? The original builder or the owner?
  4. Contrabombarde

    Wedding Music - bridal processions

    Ah yes, Star Wars. I was once asked to play the theme from the Throne Room as the final march. The bride entered to Parry's "I was glad", accompanied by organ, choir and orchestra (the groom happened to be a well known cathedral organist with impeccable musical taste). Another time I played Stevie Wonder's Ebony and Ivory (on pipe organ, not Hammond) by special request as the bride (Caucasian) and groom (African) left. For my own wedding my wife to-be entered to Liszt's D flat Consolation and we left to War March of the Priests (written in the German, Kriegsmarsch der Priester, in the order of service to avoid too many eyebrows being raised - her father is a minister.) Both were accompanied on the piano as the venue didn't actually have an organ.
  5. That's right - you can buy a copy of the organ at Chester Cathedral for just £225. The only catch is that being made of Lego bricks, it probably doesn't sound as good as the original. Still, what better Christmas present for the Lego-mad organ enthusiast child? https://chestercathedral.com/shop/lego-model/
  6. Contrabombarde

    Manchester Town Hall

    it would appear that Jardine's website needs updating, as the former St Peters/St Brides organ is now installed and playable (well, some of it at least) in St Katherine's Cathedral, Lincoln. The local newspaper has a video of it being played in 2017 at https://thelincolnite.co.uk/2017/02/musical-opportunities-await-visitors-to-lincolns-secret-second-cathedral/ It's lacking any case in the photos but the church is apparently fitting the case of the redundant Wadsworth in St Edmund's Whalley Range (Manchester) around it. That was my parish church as a child, though the church had been closed due to roof problems long before I started to attend and I only ever went into the church building once, services being held in the hall, where they continue to this day. (The church building was later tastefully converted into flats.) The organ had an attractive case but was in a chamber in the south side of the choir, so I'm not sure how the case will blend with the organ as distributed across the west balcony of its new home, if and when it gets fitted if it hasn't already been installed.
  7. Contrabombarde

    Manchester Town Hall

    This has just been uploaded to Youtube by the Scott brothers: Considering it would appear to have been virtually unplayable for the past couple of decades it actually sounds remarkably in tune and most of the notes seem to be sounding! The Town Hall is about to be closed for the next six years whilst a £330 million (yes you read that correctly) restoration project gets under way. Apparently the organ is to be dismantled and put into storage during this process. A recent city council report advises that funding for its restoration should be raised privately rather than as part of the town hall refurbishment which seems a little unfair given that all other fittings and fitments are to be fully restored. I wonder who will be dismantling and storing it, and what will happen to it if the fundraising doesn't hit the required target?
  8. Contrabombarde

    Flamboyant showpieces

    Here's a few more quite flamboyant and probably lesser known pieces, which are reasonably playable and whose scores are available on imslp: Otto Dienel (1839-1905) Concert-fuge in C minor, opus 1 William Ralph Driffill (1870-1922) Allegro Vivace from Suite No.2 in E minor Driffill also wrote a fine F minor toccata which appears more frequently on Youtube. Another fine toccata is that by Jules Grison, which has a motif loosely based on the fugue subject of BWV565 and demands the full resources of the organ over its meandering course:
  9. Contrabombarde

    List of beautiful English Organs

    I love these threads, not least for the opportunity to go off at tangents. For example St Michaels Tenbury has always been a four manual instrument despite multiple rebuilds over the years. But the current 32 foot Bourdon was previously a 32 ft Open Diapason. But the original specification by Benjamen FLight in 1856 sported a 32 foot Pyramidon! Returning to beautiful cases with painted pipes, how about this:
  10. Contrabombarde

    Worship songs

    Quite agree with all the above sentiments. I'd be surprised if anyone reading this would know more than a small percentage of the hymns in the average Victorian hymn book and similarly the better worship songs of today will be around many years from now, the majority of them won't survive into the next reprint. Provided it is in tune with other instruments, the organ can blend very well when used at appropriate moments and appropriate registrations. Some songs naturally work better when led by piano, others by guitar. There are worship songs (more like hymns indeed) that work very well on the organ as a solo instrument - Stuart Townend's prolific contribution to the repertoire spring to mind. And then there are worship songs whose words can fit traditional tunes. Again thinking of Stuart Townend, the words to In Christ alone are I think some of the most profound of any song or hymn in the past 100 years but the Celtic-like tune isn't best suited to the organ. However, it can still be effectively played on the organ - to Parry's "Jerusalem". Just try it!
  11. Contrabombarde

    List of beautiful English Organs

    I have a fondness for this beauty...
  12. Contrabombarde

    P D Collins Organ At Turner Sims

    Just looked at the Leon Cathedral Klais. Goodness me what a bland ugly case - reminded me of a very similar case but about 150 years earlier in Salisbury Cathedral with a sublime Willis sound (tongue therefore very firmly in cheek!). No - some combinations of case and building just seem to work despite the odds and the Collins didn't look out of place to me either in Turner Sims or in Orford though I haven't been to either building.
  13. Contrabombarde

    Organs on Google Street-view

    How utterly mesmerizing. I can't figure out how to get onto the balcony from the nave however, does anyone know where the stairs to the organ loft are at Beverley? Regarding other cathedrals, I can't figure out how to get down from the dome into the nave at St Paul's Cathedral, though you can walk around the Whispering Gallery, from which you get a fine view of the Dome Organ. But surely the weirdest Google Street view of organ pipes has to be on the outside wall of the Morrisons superstore in Wednesbury, West Midlands. I think the sculpture was supposed to represent examples of local historic industry, though the only organbuilders I was aware of in the local area, Nicholson and Lord, had their workshop three miles away in central Walsall. It's now a carpet warehouse.
  14. Contrabombarde

    Seeing things differently

    At least the music scores still exist and an increasing amount can be listened to through media such as Youtube even if the quality is somewhat variable (I defy any recording company to successfully market a boxed set of "The complete organ works of William Faulkes" - all 500 of them!). I have lately been drawn to some exceptionally fine works by forgotten German composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries such as Ludwig Finzenhagen, Hugo Kaun or Hans Fahrmann. Forgotten either because their scores were wiped out in Allied bombing or because that period of German history was intentionally overwritten after the second World War. Thankfully the internet and release of online scores means that what little remains can be archived and searched for with increasing ease and it is well worth the hunt.
  15. Contrabombarde

    Length of voluntaries.

    My personal record was about two bars of the Widor (on an electronic played through the church sound system) before the person on the sound desk decided to turn me down to almost nothing. Who needs swell pedals when you can have a sound desk?
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