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Contrabombarde

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  1. Does action have something to do with it? I can't imagine a large mechanical action organ such as Birmingham Symphony Hall having a radical rebuild such as has happened to Leeds Town Hall (down from 5 to 3 manuals, and now going up to 4). Is there something about future proofing in the design of a mechanical organ that electric action organs have more scope for moving things around and adding ranks to cubby holes until the thing becomes unwieldy and someone decides to go back to the drawing board of the original builder or some other point in time (and then continue in a giant circle perhaps)?
  2. Fascinating I grew up near there and had no idea such a grotty dump of a building housed a Wurlitzer. The theatre, long on a risk list, seems to have recently gained a new lease of life, sans orgue. l found photos of the Beeb's Wurlitzer here.
  3. I suspect the reason the organ in Guildford Cathedral sounded like a magnificent Harrison and Harrison is because it was a magnificent Harrison and Harrison, of 1900 vintage and transplanted to Guildford Cathedral by Rushworth and Dreapers.....
  4. I do wonder how many keys on the typical organ have never once been played except when being tuned - with a mechanical pedal coupler they would at least be played more often as I expect pretty much all pedal notes will get used, but manual notes? I thought some baroque organs didn't have a bottom C#. Can anyone think of any music which requires a manual bottom C#? Or a top B for instance?
  5. Presumably any blind organists who have committed to learn JSB's entire works?
  6. So if the Mander is leaving Cambridge where is it going and in turn, what will it become?
  7. Latest estimate for Atlantic City Hall is 33,116 compared to a mere 28,750 pipes at Wanamaker, the scale of difference being the size of a large cathedral organ. However only around half of Atlantic City is working compared to around 95% of the Wanamaker organ though the current restoration is intended to restore it to complete working order. Having heard both in the flesh - and walked around the innards of both - I felt the Atlantic City organ was just too brash and overblown (though it has to be to be heard in such a huge enclosure) though its tonal design was impressively thorough. The Wanamaker organ is a thing of beauty despite the much smaller space it speaks into since most of the store was given over to office space and most of the galleries were glassed over. Interestingly the two organs were originally in competition with one another but the team that curates the Wanamaker is responsible for restoring Atlantic City Hall's organ.
  8. And now if you aren't fortunate enough to be having your jab in the splendour of Salisbury Cathedral you can buy the official vaccination music CD and still allow their sublime Willis to accompany your "Fauci ouchie" (as my American friends call it!) wherever you are. All profits go to NHS charities. More on the story here.
  9. Pretty sure the Thalben ball variations does. Dupre Cortege et litanie requires top G for the arpeggios near the end (i have no idea what you do on a 30 note setup). Jeremy Cull's fine transcription of Hamish MacCunn's Land of the mountain and the flood uses top F# and G but can be worked around.
  10. As per my post that describes how I do page turns on my home practice organ (see photo earlier in this thread), you could potentially have two identical tablets (13 inch is an easier size to read music than the ubiquitous 10 inch). Put them next to each other on the stand, open the same score on both and set up a Bluetooth page turner (such as my beloved Donner, inexpensive and bombproof reliability). Then here's the clever bit, advance the right hand tablet by one page. Every time you then press the page turner, both tablets advance the score by one page, so you always have the latest page on the right and the previous page on the left. No more awkward page turns, and tricky passages that previously ran over a page turn go across the centre fold. The catch is you would need someone to press the page turner button unless you are playing at Kings College Cambridge Chapel which has a tablet page turn advance thumb piston. Trust me, every new organ should have one.
  11. Possibly the record for the most number of people required to play a piece of organ music is held by Daniel Roth at Saint-Sulpice. In at least one video he has, in addition to himself, two registrants, a page turner and of course the camera operator! I hope the nose technique isn't widespread as I tend not to wipe down keyboards before I start playing on an unfamiliar instrument (not that I've actually played anything other than my home practice organ since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic) but if Uranus becomes popular in the repertory I might need to reconsider.
  12. Thank you for sharing that list. A wonderful idea for broadening our experience and enjoyment of organs during such a difficult time for so many. But it begs a wider question of how could such events be put on a sustainable footing? The organist deserves his or her wages though there always have been those (myself included) who are willing to play for free. Can the widening up to new audiences offset the loss in income and cover the expenses that are needed to keep an organ in top condition? In some sectors the answer is evidently yes - open source software nonetheless manages to pay its way for some people as an example. The challenge for organists and indeed organ builders will be how to exploit the new opportunities we have without losing all we have worked so hard to get.
  13. Nice feature with the organ(isi) playing the Air and interviewing John Challenger on BBCRadio 4 "Broadcasting House" this morning at around 9:17 and available to listen again to.
  14. Very sad news. Especially poignant that the organ had not been working for many years due for damage in a fire in 1967 and was only restored in 2017.
  15. If I could take one CD with me to my desert island it would be Michael Dudman's recording of the organ at Sydney Opera House. Quite aside from the variety of pieces and enormous tonal variation of the organ, the piece de resistance is surely his breathtaking performance of the Passacaglia and Fugue. Just when you reach what you always thought was the climax of the figure, the famous Neapolitan Sixth, along comes almost half a minute of what I guess was Dudman's own cadenza, before resuming again à la Bach. It isn't Bach, it is completely unexpected, and it isn't going to be to everyone's taste. But put aside those objections and you have a stunning and completely unexpected twist to Bach's masterpiece. I presume that was what Cecil Clutton objected to. I certainly don't and think it's magnificent (the cadenza, as well as the organ).
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