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robertsharpe

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Everything posted by robertsharpe

  1. Board members may be interested in the opportunity to acquire a part of the Minster organ from the north and south facades. www.Givergy.uk/yorkminsterorganpipeauction
  2. Not yet, John. I will mention this to Francis when i next have an opportunity.
  3. Peter, thank you for this. There is extensive Bairstow correspondence in the organ archive here. On particular thing he was of a mind about was the use of combination pedals rather than the H&H foot pistons which by 1930 were more usual. The Leeds console had combination pedals too, I believe. Here is a letter about this:
  4. That’s right, John. The same arrangement persisted after 1993 when the name was changed to Diapason Celeste. In more recent years, the tuning has been reversed with the VD rank being the undulating one, and the OD tuned normally. This will be the arrangement in the restored organ.
  5. I’m not sure that it was intended to be an imitation as such, but the name would imply the Italian influence. I’m not certain exactly when it was first tuned in this manner and whether it preceded Arthur Wills’ Fiffaro at Ely. There won’t be any half-draw option. The hierarchy of the reeds mentioned in my earlier post is as heard to the west. To the east, the Tuba Mirabilis is much further down the list as it is ultra-directional in its projection westwards. It’s an interesting question about #5 with the new west shutters; my guess is that #4 and #5 will be closer than they were before the dismantling.
  6. Hello John and thank you for your questions. The Walker 1903 scheme provided two Diapasons on the Swell. The Open Diapason (standing on the lower pressure soundboard) was in fact the Hill Great Open Diapason No 1. In its new position inside the Swell, it was of great beauty and effective also as a solo stop. Bairstow is known to have enjoyed its use as such with the tremulant which is certainly most effective in the acoustic. The Violin Diapason stood on the higher pressure soundboard (which also served the strings as well as the reeds); it is a brighter sound. At some point in the 1960s/70s, Dr Jackson had the former stop tuned flat to undulate with the Violin Diapason. The stop was then renamed Voce Umana. It was then not possible to use it as a solo stop with the tremulant. In the 1993 work, this arrangement was retained but the stop was renamed again as Diapason Celeste. A few years ago, these two stops were reversed in their tuning (although the stop names remained unchanged). The Hill Open Diapason (but labelled Violin Diapason) was tuned normally (allowing the solo effect with tremulant once again to be available) and the Walker Violin Diapason (but labelled Diapason Celeste) became the undulating rank. This arrangement was most effective. In the restored scheme, we wanted to retain this characteristic effect but find a way of naming the stops which sat more happily with the aesthetic of the organ. We therefore decided simply to retain the 1931 nomenclature of Open Diapason and Violin Diapason but make the latter stop plural - Violin Diapasons - and arrange for it to work both stops together on the single drawstop. The plural together with the violin suggests the undulating effect. There are no additional pipes. I hope this explains the thinking behind this. With regard to the display pipes, the north and south fronts are all to be new but decorated exactly as before and will all speak again. In the east and west fronts, around two thirds will once again speak; some of these will be restored and some renewed (where restoration is not possible) and decorated identically. The speaking pipes in the east front will include the parts of the Pedal Violone and Choir Open Diapason; in the west, parts of the Great Double Open Diapason; in the south, parts of the Great Open Diapasons II, III & IV; and in the north, parts of the Pedal Violone and Principal. A visit will be further discussed in eighteen months or so.
  7. Good to hear about your nephew, Dave. I hope he’s having a great time. What a wonderful opportunity for him! Yes, Consecrations are normally about two hours long and this one was a double one, of course. The Archbishop is a brilliant supporter of the Minster Choir (whose front row of choristers was missing of course this time, being half-term). He wrote the psalm in question though I’m not sure if there is a significant amount of other music written by him.
  8. How lovely to hear all of this, MM! The cycle trip is quite something at 14: fantastic. FJ inspired so many. His performances of the St Anne attract universal admiration, and your comments about the late Carlo remind us all of that sad loss both of a performer and an advocate of the instrument. As to York’s organ, I can see that no further discussion will be useful until you visit when it’s back! I wish it wasn’t so long to wait.
  9. Thank you, Dave. And congratulations to the new bishops. I was sorry to be absent for this particular Consecration which fell during our (one-week-later-than-most) half-term.
  10. Thanks for clarifying both re pre-1960 and more recently, MM. The Walker 1960/FJ work resulted in so many wonderful (and iconic) recordings and of course Francis’s legendary playing and accompanying were at the heart of these. What an absolute legend he is and it’s extraordinary to think he is in his 102nd year! We are so fortunate in all respects to have Cocker, Willan, Mulet, Bossi et al. They were, and remain, such an inspiration alongside the other recordings. The north west door lends its own distance to the (very far away) sound, of course; please come and visit again next year and I will be happy to welcome you to play and listen. One big disadvantage of visiting is the (essential) entrance charge which, I guess, kept you at the back of Nave last time. Although valid for a year, and a really necessary aspect of our budgeting (not including the organ!), to some it’s off-putting. Please email me ahead so we can make guest arrangements . (Other board members would be most welcome too, of course, but we may need to arrange a special visit if there are lots of interested people, which would be great).
  11. Thank you for these thoughts, MM. I wonder if I might ask if you heard the York organ in the flesh prior to 1960 and if you have heard it since 2012 when the original Great flue wind pressure was restored? I completely agree with you about the Schnitger sound world and how that is linked inextricably with the favourable positioning at the west end of the church. I’m also aware of the relative dimensions of the crossing and lantern in York.
  12. Thank you, John, for your interest in this topic. I confess that Enclosed Solo on Choir was not a transfer we did consider though I can see exactly what you are suggesting such a stop might enable. However, the hierarchy of the reeds, in descending order of intensity, is as follows: Tuba Mirabilis Trombas Enclosed Tubas Posaunes Swell reeds So the specified transfers (including Posaunes on Choir) do allow the first four of these to be played over four manuals. Using this list too, one can see how the way the reeds are used to some extent differs depending on whether the action is in the Quire or the Nave. In the former, the Tromba(s) really act as the Solo Tuba(s) in the Father Willis style (and being placed high in the case) with the Posaunes furnishing the Full Great and the little Tubas acting as colour stops. In the Nave, the little Tubas take on, when required, a chorus role and the Trombas (with Ophicleide when needed) become chorus as well as solo stops. This is when the west-facing Mirabilis can then be used. The hierarchy above (which reached its final form in 1931 when the little (Walker) Tubas were enclosed and the Ophicleide added) was a clever plan for liturgical requirements. The present work enhances this plan with the 4ft Clarion to support the Posaunes and the larger 32’ reed which Arthur Harrison wanted to add. Octave couplers and the Mirabilis is not a happy thought! I hope this is helpful and brings further clarity.
  13. Thank you, John. You are right in your supposition about octave couplers for the Tuba Mirabilis! We don’t anticipate the sound of the enclosed Solo being significantly different in the revised location. In fact the south-facing shutters of the old Solo box were more or less directly underneath the overhanging upper part of the main case with additional shutters in the roof of the box. The new shutters will be horizontal and opening north where the effect, with reflection off the tower pillar will be much as before but with the added advantage of the new box. The Ophicleide will return (along with other stops) to its original pressure so will be a significant effect. Its use is for Nave services and concerts in the main and it will need very careful handling if used for a Quire service. The Trombone is returning to its north aisle position where it will be possible to reassess its voicing which has been altered more than once. The Pedal Fagotto (really a metal Trombone) and Trumpet which will go on to c. 7 inches wind will be the main Pedal reeds backed when needed with the wooden Trombones. The Ophicleide/Tuba Mirabilis thing is interesting because although Bairstow did say in the fund-raising booklet in 1928 that there was as yet no suitable bass for the Tuba Mirabilis added in 1917, it is clear that the latter was never used as a chorus stop. The Ophicleide added the extra drive and weight to match the Great Trombas which were and will be the second set of reeds after the Mirabilis. The unusual 4’ extension of this rank, which we are reinstating, had a galvanising effect added to the other pitches beneath a vast congregation such as we have on Christmas Eve when around 3,000 people attend the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. I hope that is helpful by way of explanation.
  14. Thank you for this. The Enclosed Solo on Swell is mainly intended to enable the enclosed tubas to be separated from the Mirabilis. The former are very flexible in their use (perhaps better thought of as orchestral trombones in the effect they produce) and the new transfer will enable them to be used in chorus whilst the Mirabilis remains on the top manual. The Solo octave couplers, which don't affect the Mirabilis, will transfer too and, when transferred to the Swell, the enclosed Solo stops will also couple through Swell to Great, Swell to Pedal and Swell to Choir. In the past, one would have used Solo to Swell and/or Solo to Great to use these very versatile stops in chorus but in that context the Mirabilis was not available at the same time as a solo stop.
  15. A Nave organ is certainly a tantalising prospect in this vast Gothic Cathedral. It would provide one solution, to be sure. But there are many reservations too, not least the potential position of such an organ and the conflicts that might produce with modern use of the space. However, the position of the existing organ so commandingly and centrally on the screen has much to commend it from east and west perspectives, especially with the layout introduced in 1903 by J W Walker which allows for a warm spread of sound to east and west. A major issue at York (along with also Lincoln) is the central tower lantern. Walker in 1903 chose to use enhanced wind pressure for the 8’ 4’ 2’ elements of the main principal chorus to give additional carrying power across this significant space. Harrison and Bairstow in 1917 consolidated this with larger-scaled fluework including three ranks of mixtures (the original Mixture V being on two sliders and pressures) on the higher pressure and overall revision of the chorus, and the revoiced Great reeds, as well as what was then the world’s most significant Tuba stop whose position was arrived at after experimentation with a live trumpeter with instrument, standing inside the various levels of the organ. In 2012, we reinstated the 7 1/4 inches pressure for this flue chorus after 52 years, and the results (only affecting the 4’, 2’ and III) were spectacular. The cut-ups had not been altered in 1960 and the pipes seemed happy once again to be speaking at the place they had originally been designed for. In the new work, the high-pressure chorus with its energised carrying power, is consolidated by the reinstated 00000 scale Diapason (bright as well as large) as well as the existing Mixture III (the original bottom part of the 1917 Mixture V) augmented by both a new Mixture V (all on the higher pressure), and the classic Harmonics (on the lower pressure) which lends both colour and brilliance (no break until f#43) to the whole. Other aspects of the scheme speak for themselves, but of course the core of the organ, the Walker 1903 scheme, its layout allowing the building to lend its own special sheen to the sound, and as refined and enhanced by Arthur Harrison and Sir Edward Bairstow, remains as before. The glorious “York” sound.
  16. Good evening Alastair, The Octaves Alone hearkens back to the early 20th c H&H schemes where it was normally paired with a (standard) Octave. On a single drawstop it’s the equivalent of drawing Octave and Unison Off together. The Choir Organ is bracketed out over the console on the east side and is most beautiful in the eastern Quire space. In the Nave, it’s more akin to an (effective) Echo Organ. The 16ft Lieblich Bourdon, along with its 8ft companion, is a very seductive sound in the Quire. Both are (slightly) rescaled Hill stops. The new Octaves Alone allows the choice of either the (softer) 16ft or the 8ft to be used (and coupled to, where needed, the Swell or Solo) with a solo singer. It also offers other choices - as a happy spin-off - from the very beguiling Choir Organ stops such as OA with L Bourdon and the remarkable Walker Gamba, and OA with the 16, 8 and 1960/1903 2 2/3. The reason we chose not to include the usual full complement of Octave, Unison off and Sub Octave on this division was that we didn’t want the possibility of this very beautiful and (to the east) prominently-placed division to be crudely bolstered with the Octave couplers drawn with the full Choir. I hope this is helpful.
  17. John, I am glad the explanations are helpful. The new Solo box will actually have its (horizontal) shutters to the north as it will be at console level. The previous box had shutters to the south (facing into the organ) and in the roof. The north shutters allow the sound to reflect from the tower pier to both the east and west. You are quite right about the case which gave the impression of squatting on the screen before but will appear to rise up much more elegantly from it. You are right that the Bombarde will not be included because it does not fit within the parameters of remaining true to the aesthetic of the earlier musical concept, and its previous location will be fully visible in the reconstructed instrument. I am glad to hear of your thoughts about the Trombas and Father Willis tubas. The reconstructed organ will have provision for transferring them to both the Choir (as before) and also the Solo, for additionally versatility. The Swell box will be new, as will all the main mechanism. Its shutters actually opened to the south and will continue to do so, with an additional shutter front to the west brought into action by means of a drawstop within the combination couplers group. The south shutters create that characteristic "York full swell" effect so well-known on the many recordings which surges from the organ in a controlled manner which is so effective in choral accompaniment. The additional western louvres will enable a more direct sound to travel west when required. We shall certainly be planning both audio and video recordings and look forward to making them! You (and other board members) would be most welcome to visit in due course both to see and hear, and (diary permitting) play the restored organ.
  18. I am grateful to John Robinson for interest in the York Minster organ project and for his questions. The H&H document states, “An important aim of the major work being carried out in 2018-20 is to recapture the musical character and energy of the organ as left in 1931 by Harrison & Harrison, while maintaining the instrument’s versatility within this aesthetic and bringing the diverse pipework together in a coherent tonal structure.” The 1931 stop list and wind pressures will therefore be restored as part of this aim, whilst retaining some later and new additions which fall within the same aesthetic. The H&H document also says, “the layout will be conservatively revised, allowing the waisted lower part of the case once again to be visible.” This involves moving the Solo swell box (which was between 1903 and 2018 hidden, along with the 1993 Bombarde, by the grey curtain to the north of the organ) into the lower part of the main case. That part of the Pedal organ until last year sited in the south screen will move to the slightly smaller lower north screen (joining the Violone and Ophicleide, plus its new extensions) allowing reinstatement of the stone/timber stairs to the organ lost in 1972 and a new music library room at an intermediate level within the south screen. The new Open Wood I (and its Octave extension – this is to be part of the new rank) will be sited in its original position to the immediate north of the Double Open Diapason 32ft pipes in the south quire aisle. The Trombas, on 15 inches wind, were more in the nature of Father Willis tubas in tone (evidenced from several recordings) and as such provided solo tuba effects on both sides of the screen. The new Clarion on the Great completes the “normal” Great reed chorus. On occasions when the Trombas are in use as super chorus reeds, the Ophicleide is used to balance and the enclosed tubas may be used to augment the full swell. The famous Tuba Mirabilis, on 25 inches wind and added for Bairstow in 1917, had a much more brilliant tone in its original voicing and recapturing this will also be part of the current work. I hope this is useful and would be happy to answer any questions.
  19. At Truro they are actually fixed in the normal way and not adjustable. Adrian's idea of using them when making a smooth diminuendo is certainly used a good deal by my assistant, Chris Gray. Not only does it mean that no manual change is needed when both hands are occupied, also there is no need to take off the Great to Pedal (or other) coupler. The pedal stops are not affected unless the pedal cancel is pressed. Robert Sharpe
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