Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Stephen Dutfield

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Stephen Dutfield

  1. Well there was part of the old Bath Abbey job that was slightly amplified - I think it was the pedal upperwork. The reason the Tower organ needs to be amplified is that it's not really powerful enough to lead dancing (its primary function) when the ballroom is full. Not only do all the bodies soak up the sound, but the dancers' feet can actually make quite a bit of noise on the floor, and then you have to factor in the chat - the last two don't generally apply to churches. When the 'new' prgan was designed by Reginald Dixon in 1934 he really wanted 16 pipe units, but the chambers were too small and only 13 would fit. In the '50s, by swapping some ranks between chests, space was made for a 14th unit (Tuba Mirabillis) to be added, but that really is the limit. What IS disappointing is that at quiet times, when the ballroom isn't that busy, they often leave the amplification on at its full level. Having had the pleasure of playing the organ un-amplified in the empty ballroom, I think it would be nice to hear it like that when the place is quiet. S
  2. In his online photo album, our own MusingMuso has a picture of himself with Dr. J.H. Reginald Dixon of Lancaster - complete with his earring! S
  3. I have been told that, as a general rule of thumb, the depth of false touch (i.e. the key travel before the contact makes) should be the thickness of an ivory, so this seems about right. S
  4. Thank you for articulating that Paul - I couldn't agree more, and would encourage the latter member to continue his informative postings which are never without interest - at least for me. S
  5. I've just remembered where else I've come across a stop crescendo on the left - and indeed it is one of those 'American monsters' - although not a classical instrument, but an orchestral residence organ. It now resides in an Exeter house, and you can read all about it here: http://www.paulmorrismusic.co.uk/AeolianOrganHistory.asp It has four divisional swells (it originally included an Echo division) although the whole is now in one chamber, so it is only the left-most pedal which operates anything, but the crescendo is then to the left of this, and I gather this was standard practise for Aeolian. S
  6. By accepted convention, the Swell is the right-most of the expression pedals, but the crescendo should always go to the right of all the expression pedals.... if that makes sense! S
  7. Yes Tony, there are several in this area, and the two which I've played have the crescendo on the left and the swell on the right, which was very confusing. It was a long time ago now, but I seem to remember that there was a small white light above the swell manual (and below the stopkeys - or possibly in the middle of them) which lit up when the crescendo was engaged, but there was nothing to tell you that's what it was - you soon worked it out though! I found the Positives to be very nice little instruments. S
  8. List members may be interested to know that a memorial service for Dudley was held yesterday afternoon at St. Andrews church, Plymouth. A goodly number of local people attended as well as those organists and enthusiasts from further afield to whom Dudley's music and friendship had obviously meant a great deal. It was notable to see the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, the Leader of South Devon County Council and the Mayor of Penzance (Dudley was born in Gulval just outside the town), with their spouces, all in attendance, and the organ was played (including some nice lighter pieces associated with Dudley) by Andrew Teague. It was Andrew's father Dudley Teague who masterminded the 43,000 signature petition to the BBC which resulted in 'As Prescribed' being reinstated after being dropped from the schedules in 1968. Jonathan Mann also contributed a rendition of Dudley's composition "Just for Two", while Will Light accompanied Dudley's daughter-in-law Sue Savage in the song "Every Hour" composed by Dudley for his wife Doreen while serving in the Indian Army during the Second World War. Peter Savage gave a warm and moving tribute to his parents, and other tributes came from his good friend Bill Moore, Andrew Teague, and also one read by Andrew from members and officers of The Theatre Organ Club. A quiet and modest man, it was clear the high esteem in which Dudley was still held, and it was nice to see so many local people who clearly had not forgotten him or his broadcasts.
  9. Regrettably it's just a pipe-front to conceal the speakers for a toaster! S
  10. Firstly, Stephen Dutfield IS my real name - I mean who on earth would choose that of their own accord! I am the South-Western District Secretary for the Theatre Organ Club, and the nearest I get to being a classical organist is to be an F.R.C.O. in the Robin Richmond sense (Fairly Rotten Cinema Organist!) but I have had a life-long love affair with the organ since as a three year old I wouldn't let my mother leave church until I had heard the final notes of the voluntary. I later progressed to being a major pain in the a**e to the organist - in much the same way as MM's friend 'Bwyan'.... I bought some music on ebay (the Walter Battison Haynes 'Pastorale') from the person known here as Lee Blick, and he is indeed a jobbing organist in the Brighton area. It would probably be inappropriate to give his real name now that he is no longer a contributor to this list. S
  11. Yes - this rather avent garde frontage originally covered the swell shutters of a 3 manual 16 rank Compton which was disconnected in the 50s and removed in the 60s. The console is now at Ossett Town Hall. The organ was a bit of a disaster because of the plasterwork 'canopy' which projects out in front of that pipe frontage, meaning that there was no direct route for the sound to reach the organist. People in the balcony heard it pefectly, the organist and front stalls patrons heard it faintly, and as far as those in the rear stalls were concerned, it might as well not have been there! Compton installed some high-power amplifers to try to get the sound around the building a bit, but what had been a specially designed and well specified instrument never lived up to its potential. It was designed by Reginald Foort and included an interesting crescendo indicator like a clock dial, which was quite unique in British theatre organs, and is still in use at Ossett.
  12. These programmes were produced by BBC Wales' then Musical Director Huw Tregelles-Williams. What may not be generally known is that two versions of each programme were shot back-to-back, with Dame Gillian presenting the BBC network version, and Huw presenting a version in Welsh (DGW of course still played) for transmission on S4C! This would have been in the mid-1980s, but back in 1979 BBC Wales transmitted another series of four programmes under the same title which was presented by William Davies. The four programmes took in the Cathedral Organ (Llandaff), the Chapel Organ (a selection of three different instruments exhibiting tracker, pneumatic and electric actions - don't remember where two of them were, but one was Tabernacle, The Hayes, Cardiff - 3m Griffen & Stroud), the Electronic Organ (shot at the home of enthusiast Dr. Ian Watts near Caerphilly. He was a friend of Davies) and the Theatre Organ (the former Astra cinema, Llandudno). These programmes were never repeated, and never received a network airing. Recently - given the corporation's enthusiasm for making archive material available online - I decided to track them down, in the hope that what I assumed would be the original 2" Ampex tapes had been transferred to D3 or at least a VHS viewing copy. That's when I discovered that, having been shot on 16mm, they were actually transmitted in that format from Telecine, and have never been electronically transferred! However, the library were very co-operative, and are quite happy for me to take the films out. I am currently trying to track down someone who can do a good enough transfer to DVD locally, as you can imagine that the cost of getting this done internally would be astronomical. Steve
  13. No - they mostly complain about news programmes and the bias of items therein. There are usually an equal number of calls complaining about bias in either direction! When one draws the short straw of a daytime shift when all the DIY/home improvement/car boot sale programmes meld into one continuous stream of unadulterated mediocrity, one does sometimes wonder whether all those that these things are aimed at are unable to raise any complaints because their brains have all turned to liquid.... However, I rather like Shuan the Sheep (regrdless of the fact that neither you nor I are really in its target audience) so much so that the kids bought me the boxed set of DVDs for Christmas! S
  14. The answer - at least as far as Wales is concerned - is, so far, nil! S
  15. I see where you're coming from, but we have to remember that this wasn't just a programme about the organ, it was an edition of Songs of Praise. Huw Edwards is an established presenter of the programme now (although not on too regular a basis) and is a great enthusiast for the instrument. Shipping in Howard Goodall - while supplying all the necessary presentation traits - wouldn't keep continuity with the Songs of Praise 'brand', and branding is all important in television these days. I'm not actually sure that Howard's tounge-in-cheek humour would be appropriate to the programme either, no matter how much the likes of us would have enjoyed it. As a point of interest, can anyone think of any other organ-playing Songs of Praise presenters apart from Huw, and Dudley Savage who fronted around 40 editions of the programme in the 1960s? S
  16. A friend of mine was sufficiently interested in acquiring some parts of it to phone Nicholsons. Their reply indicated that there were no plans to include any of the existing material - however that was a good few months ago, and you know how these things can change. There are a couple of nice strings and a Clarinet that might be worth consideration. I'm more interested to see what they do about a case. The biggest downfall of the existing instrument is George Pace's case (not the Positive case on the arch - the main case in the North quire aisle) which allows very little sound out! I can't help wondering if the current positive case will figure in the new scheme at all. They might just decide to abandon it and leave the existing pipework up there. I can't see anybody being sufficiently interested to bother getting it down. Tuning access was via a very tall pair of aluminium steps (if I remember correctly) and a trap door, but given the 'improvements' in H & S legislation since the organ was installed, this is probably not allowed now. It would no doubt have to be one of those rising platforms with a safety rail - the sort they use to get Flymos down from the top shelf in B&Q! S
  17. From personal experience I should also mention that the ladder down into the relay room is precipitous in the extreme and, not having fallen from the console, I did manage to make contact with the relay room floor a little more forcibly than I would have liked! S
  18. Especially the Tuba. It really proved the old steeplejack's advice of "Don't look down... but don't look up either."
  19. Yes! I posed this very question here in December, and found out that the church is at Turville in Oxfordshire. You may notice a similarity between the church and organ in 'Goodnight Mr. Tom' and those in 'The Vicar of Dibley' - because they're one and the same place. Steve
  20. Well at least Paxolin sliders seem to function satisfactorily, so there is some scope for introducing 'new' materials into traditional designs. S
  21. I've had the pleasure of climbing up through the chambers with Christian. Every bit of it (except the relays and blower) has been out of there cleaned and overhauled, and the chambers themselves have also been cleaned and repainted. I know a goodly number of the organists who play there regularly for the lunchtime theatre organ concerts, and many of them have spoken of it in glowing terms. It's certainly not an easy organ to play due to its position and the acoustics, but at least on the theatre organ circuit, it does not have a reputation for being in any way technically deficient. You should go along to see it, the chamber layout is quite remarkable, and it is doubtful whether any other builder would have been able to "think out of the box" sufficiently to make it work in the way that Compton did. Also, do stop to look at the collection of recital programmes pasted to the walls of the relay room which show the weekly programmes played by Philip Dore and Percy Whitlock - you pass through Percy's dressing room to get to the relays. Ah yes - the blowers are down there too, you mustn't miss them. Two six stage Discus machines on a common drive. There was even originally a separate motor to drive the generator! Take a look at Christian's website: http://www.pavilionorganfund.org.uk/ S
  22. Yes, that might be slightly over-stating the case! However, let me give you an example of what he means. I am very interested in clocks - specifically turret clocks. I have in my collection a nice clock built in 1816 which once adorned North Hyde Barracks in Hounslow. Apart from the frame castings it was entirely hand made by craftsmen in a workshop in Clerkenwell using technology which essentially hadn't really changed since the 14th century. Save for the pivots, nothing runs true. The wheel crossings are uneven, and if you don't put exactly the right nuts on exactly the right studs you can't bolt the whole thing together. Even the two - nominally identical - frame ends will only go on their own end! Contrast this to another one I know well at Cardiff City Hall. Built in 1906 in a 'Steam Clock Factory' using the then very latest technology. Wheels were cast and machined, everything is beautifully engineered, similar parts (nuts and bolts) are entirely interchangable, and overall it projects the image af a fine piece of factory made precision engineering. I am envious of the newer clock, but I still like mine, and - at the end of the day - they are both perfectly capable of telling the time :angry: S
  23. Err.. it's certainly maintained by them. Chris and originally Derry Thompson, then Tim, undertook to completely re-build the organ in stages from 1978 onwards, and it is now in splendid condition. They certainly maintain it, and repair any faults as they arise - but surely you'd want that for any organ? I'm sure you've mentioned that the Barker machines at Romsey need occasional adjustment when they get noisy. However, to suggest that the Pavilion organ is 'being kept alive' is just plain wrong. That it got into such a state in the first place is entirely down to a complete lack of spending on it by the council throughout the 1970s. It is now very much alive, and testimony to the thought and care that went into its design and building. I'm not quite sure why you seem to be so defensive of the craft of hand building tracker organs, while being so dismissive of the results of a certain amount of factory technology. The two types of instruments are chalk and cheese and, after all, this debate is purely about the technology of the action and how it's realised, and indeed was originally, as far as I can tell, purely related to mechanical transmissions The fact that - like it or not - several firms (run by very clever and astute people like J.I. Taylor) managed to build reliable actions using a factory and small-scale production line ideas, does not in any way detract from the work currently being done by people like Bill Drake. S
  24. I think the Hope-Jones designed standard chest magnet, barely modified and still in production on both sides of the Atlantic, must surely be the ultimate modular primary valve action. Absolutely standard, easy to install, easy to replace, and very efficient. Likewise Compton's compound magnet is another fantastic bit of modular organ technology, introducing an extra action stage without necessitating any extra work in construction of the chest or under-action. Again, they're still readily available, and being used. MM is approaching this debate from a theoretical standpoint, and I'm sure he appreciates a beautifully craftsman-built tracker action as much as anyone else. Everything has a finite life-span, so it may well be that the few remaining Hope-Jones instruments are dead on their feet, and that various Comptons are being nursed along, but I have in my time played quite a large number of craftsmen-built tracker instruments in various rural locations that - although they still play after a fashion - are also dying on their feet after going on for 80-odd years without any real maintenance. Incidentally, my experience of the Bournemouth Pavilion instrument is that, whilst back when I first came into contact with it in 1978 was in deplorable condition, it is now in excellent playing order - and still using not only all its original chests and pipework, but also the original Compton relays which still work perfectly well. The only change has been the installation of a multi-level piston capture system, as the (still existing) 1934 setter obviously only holds one set of piston settings. Steve (a proud Compton owner!)
  25. Yes, Hereford has the Gurney furnaces in each transept. The north one kept me nice and warm during an association visit back at the beginning of the year, but I do wonder how ever they were allowed to run flues up the inside of the transept wall and out through the clerestory windows!
  • Create New...