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Contrabombarde

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Everything posted by Contrabombarde

  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).
  16. What a wonderful way to receive a life-saving immunisation against this dreadful virus! The nave of Salisbury Cathedral has been converted into a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre and a program of organ music has been arranged while people have their vaccinations. If you had the choice what would you like to be listening to at the time (and a certain fail for anyone who dares to suggest a particular set of variations by Sweelinck)?
  17. The"box" is at its simplest merely a MIDI to USB converter cable such as Roland/Edirol UM1 costing around £20. A cheap laptop should allow you to play Grand Orgue or j-organ freeware or Hauptwerk if you want to pay for better sound. Plug keyboard into laptop via MIDI to USB adaptor, configure the software and away you go. For a multikeyboard professional setup you would want something fancier though. I once literally had to do it on the fly when our church's electronic organ conked out in the afternoon of the Nine Lessons and Carols, installing HW onto a spare laptop and plugging the church's sound system into the laptop headphone socket.. Everyone comnented on how much better the organ sounded tgan usual!
  18. Off the floor can be whatever you want and depends on the thickness or height of the pedalboard - by definition a straight flat will be lower than the edges of a concave radiating. I assume you meant between top of middle D on lowest keyboard to top of middle D on pedalboard (middle D of the one being directly over middle D of the other). Some of the history books give a figure of 29 1/2 inches which even with my short legs feels way too crunched up. I settled for 30 inches or 76cm. But the beauty of designing and building your own organ is that you can design it around your body. I sat at and measured a dozen four manual consoles before building my own, at which point I had a pretty good idea of what I would find comfortable. The result is that my Fatar manuals are slightly closer together both in height and front to back than they were designed to be, and they are all parallel rather than sloping away from me. That made fitting thumb pistons slightly tricker (probably the hardest part of any DIY organ console build!) but means that even with my short arms I can reach and play the Solo with great ease and comfort. It would be fascinating to know more about the height of the first organist of the magnificent Binns at St Mary's Shrewsbury. You virtually need stilts to play it - I normally play in socks but can't reach the pedals unless I wear thick soled shoes. When I measured the console the gap to the Choir was over 33 inches!
  19. I expect most of us could only dream at the thought of a home practice pipe organ. I know very few people who have done that and I do wonder about the logistics - not just the upfront cost (especially if new) but the cost of transporting and assembly if you every moved house, not to mention whether you would need to strengthen your floor to take the weight, or soundproof the house to avoid upsetting your neighbours. Then of course there's the maintenance. Small redundant church organs are quite plentiful - for instance on the BIOS website - but tend to be much taller than the typical living room so unless you already live in a converted church they probably wouldn't suit your needs even if it was being given away. Two (or even three) manual and pedal harmoniums can be very grand affairs and occasionally come up for sale but there must be a vanishingly small number of people who can advise on or repair them. And that's aside from the difficulty of getting through the average door (tip - always measure your doorframe at multiple points - I took delivery of my first home electronic organ and the frame was a couple of mm narrower in the middle than at the top or bottom which was the difference between getting it in the house and leaving it outside!) I guess at the time they were built and electronic organs didn't exist, they were for professional organists what an electronic organ is now, if you can't afford a pipe organ. As this is a forum for the pipe organ discussion of instruments that generate their sound electronically is understandably frowned upon. However, I wouldn't discount them for domestic use given they have value as a teaching and practice instrument. I had a student who in his mid teens built his own three manual virtual organ (second hand pedalboard, keyboards surgically excised from 61 note controller keyboards). He's now at university doing organ performance studies so it doesn't seem to have harmed him in any way. I teach at my home on my own four manual, self built Hauptwerk console, which again uses a second hand bench and pedals plus Fatar keyboards (which are of much higher quality than the typical electronic "organ"). Both he and I learnt a great deal about organ design by having to think through console ergonomics, placement of manuals, pedals, pistons, music desk etc. When learning a new piece of music I can practice on the sound of an organ of the period the music was written for which affords a much better understanding from the start of the effect the composer would have been expecting. For home practice and indeed to an extent for teaching, I have come to think that the virtual pipe organ (VPO) route is well worth exploring. Assuming you already have a computer (ideally with a touch sensitive screen), a basic three manual console could be built for only a few hundred pounds, or you could use a second hand console to generate MIDI which would control the computer program. Hauptwerk does have a licence cost but there are a number of free alternatives including j-organ and Grande orgue which have a smaller (and arguably somewhat lower sound quality) range of sample sets.
  20. I think this might have been what you were referring to - left hand and pedals on the organ and right hand on the cornet! I love starting the Nine Lessons and Carols with this beautiful Krebs chorale prelude but fortunately have always been able to enlist a trumpeter. This is quite quite special: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpMX7O7aJtg
  21. Does anyone know of an equivalent Android facial recognition app that could turn pages? I've completely moved away from paper scores now. For recitals I use a 13 inch Hanspree tablet and Bluetooth foot pedal page turner (around £50 on Amazon) that is just beautiful. It works flawlessly and allows my page turner to click from a couple of metres away forwards or backwards. Its battery lasts around 50 hours of playtime before needing a recharge. It avoids the need to physically touch the screen, which very rarely can result in in disaster if you accidentally swipe the piece away or cause it to resize. I seem to recall that a "Tablet page turn" piston was added to the Kings College Cambridge console during its most recent rebuild. At home my (Hauptwerk) organ has a 26 inch central monitor which I use as a music desk, mounted behind a thin protective Perspex screen for the rare occasions that I still use sheet music. Mostly I display two page fullscreen music pdfs, mostly from IMSLP, using Foxit (which I like because it can be set to open by default to fullscreen mode and is highly customisable as well as being freeware). I have a thumb piston and a duplicate toe piston for page advance, and one of each for page back. It is very easy to annotate pdf documents with registrations, fingerings and pedalings. Here's the really clever thing. If I print the music as a pdf file duplicating each page, when I open the score and click the page advance, each double page spread moves over by one page so the right hand page becomes the new left hand page, and the next page goes onto the right. Tricky pageturns become a thing of the past, difficult passages that spill over a page simply cross over onto the facing page. True it means I have to advance the page turn every page rather than every two pages, but when practising difficult passages it completely overcomes the difficulty of inconvenient page turns. And all at the cost of an extra megabyte or so of hard drive space. A recent Klais organ was notable for having touchscreen monitors as the stop jambs, but I would suggest that a very sensible addition to consider adding to any new pipe (or digital) organ console design should be a large monitor in place of or behind the music desk like my example below.
  22. My only experience with the Manchester Bridgewater Marcussen was in a stand off between Wayne Marshall and a full orchestra playing the Jongen Symphonie Concertante. I certainly didn't get the impression the organ was struggling to keep its head above water, despite the organ seemingly having a reputation for being on the softer side. I preferred it to the Birmingham Klais sound which is very confident but I find a little brash.
  23. There have been many invaluable discussions over the nearly fifteen years that I have been a regular contributor. I don't know how feasible it is to "lift and shift" the contents across to another (preferably free) website or to to merge them with an existing site (I am also on Organ Matters and contribute, albeit less frequently though mostly because this forum seems to be busier). I would personally be willing to pay a contribution for one off costs and if a Mod wants to gather interest in members I am happy to be approached. It would be a travesty to lose the knowledge shared over the years here; would BIOS or RCO have any interest in archiving the material and making it freely searchable, even if we contributors move over to another existing website such as those mentioned? A decision may need to be taken quickly and without warning; the sooner we can archive existing content the better. Once again I would like to thank John Mander for the foresight in setting this wonderful discussion medium up in the first place.
  24. I would have to echo my personal sadness here too. I doubt I will ever be counted amongst the rare numbers of people privileged enough to be able to sign the contract for a new or even rebuilt or restored pipe organ, much of my early wonder at the instrument came about through exposure to the work of Manders, including the organs of Adlington Hall, St Paul's Cathedral and Birmingham Town Hall. I used to joke that I hoped someone had kept the blueprints for St Ignatius Loyola since the first thing I would do if I ever won the Euromillions would be to order an exact copy for myself. I hope and expect the legacy of Manders will be around for a few hundred years yet, just as some of the organs they have restored are centuries old. They, and those who preceded them have only been their custodians for a few blinks of an eye in those organs' lifetimes. We are at a rare moment of global crisis with all sorts of hidden consequences we could not have envisaged only six months ago. At present there is no end date in sight for restarting church worship and concerts in the way we were used to, and with many of the institutions that are the custodians of pipe organs facing financial ruin through the loss of income, the next few months, possibly the next few years could be perilous times for some of the businesses who work with them and supply them. My heart goes out to those who are being badly affected while we battle what is proving to be probably the most serious global health crisis for over a century. And I do wonder whether there is any more we as organists and organ lovers could do to support one another and especially to support those in the professional organ playing and organ building trades whose lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down as a result of the pandemic.
  25. In view of the Government's announcement today that with immediate effect people are urged to wear face coverings in all enclosed spaces including churches, and that this will become mandatory from next weekend, it's good to see that one organ is already taking this seriously. (Disclaimer - no-one is seriously recommending the use of masks on organ pipes as protection against coronavirus but I couldn't resist sharing the image. COVID-19 is a serious global health problem that we all need to work together and support one another on.)
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