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Stephen Dutfield

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Everything posted by Stephen Dutfield

  1. Sadly not, as that one's inaccessible these days and hasn't been played for some years. Then again, that one's a Christie rather than a Wurlitzer! S
  2. I did play it once about 25 years ago. It's quite an easy instrument to play, despite the chambers being above your head. There's nothing between your ears and the swell shutters except fresh air (provided the console is above stage that is!) and the acoustic makes the thing roll around so that the sound isn't terribly directional at the console. Be warned - when the ballroom's empty you really need to hear it with the amplification off, although that does mean you won't be able to hear the MIDI piano... a possible benefit However, I was lucky enough to be taken in by one of the resident organists and, as this was a long time before the 'Organ Experience' idea, it didn't cost me a bean. If you have a burning desire to play a Wurlitzer there are a number of others about - some not quite so far away from you - which you could play for a great deal less. There is another Wurlitzer in the Opera House at the Winter Gardens which was arguably originally a better instrument, although the acoustic there is pretty dead. Some ranks have been exchanged with the Tower over the years, but it's still worth a listen. I don't know what access would be like during the summer season because of stage shows, but I do have a contact. I will drop you a PM. Steve
  3. I've been following this topic with interest, as I saw just the thing in a branch of W.H. Smiths recently. This is what you need... http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paul-Lamond-Games-...y/dp/B0000AC97S I look forward to the result! S
  4. Which bears out the piece of sage advice I was once given by the priest at St. Joseph's, Cardiff - "Never trust a man who doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, and doesn't swear!"
  5. How different things could have been. Obviously I never knew any of the politics that went on before the contract was awarded, but it has to be said that the WNO conductor was absolutely right, and Ralph Downes almost totally wrong - not only in what sort of organ he thought the hall needed, but also in its uses. The organ has never been a very successful recital instrument, and has done a great deal more accompanimental work than solo. Having said that, these days it doesn't seem to do a great deal of either. Since the acoustic of the hall does about as much for the Collins organ as the RFH did for the Harrison, and that the same consultant was involved, it does beg the question of who chose the consultant for the Cardiff job, and by what criteria? S
  6. Hi Peter, 'Unknown' was J.W. Walker! They basically replaced the whole action and the console. I understand that there was a lot of embarrassment all round, as the organ had cost the then South Glamorgan County Council (who donated it as their contribution to the scheme which was promoted by the then Cardiff City Council) £168,000 in 1982. The action was fairly disasterous from day one, and I think the council wanted to keep quiet about the amount of money which needed to be spent on it only 8 years later. Whether there was a contractual obligation to anonymity I don't know, but Walkers make no reference to the job in any of their advertising material. Neither does it feature on anything from Peter Collins! S
  7. In the words of Churchill, the car insurance dog... "Oh Yes!"
  8. Indeed it is - and it's currently standing about a one minute walk from where I'm sitting! Incidentally, did anyone else notice that despite the supposed setting of Saturday's action being Southwark, there was a delightfully accurate model of Wells Cathedral sitting in the office of Professor Lazarus? S
  9. I believe it was played from a properly printed copy on the day - I'll ask Len Rawle as he's sure to still have the copy. Just doing a quick web search I think it may have been published as 'Fanfare for Organ' - perhaps OUP thought (probably quite correctly) that deleting the word 'Theatre' from the title would increase sales! There's certainly nothing particularly theatrical about it - it's a short but striking piece which might in fact be much more useful to a church musician. Steve
  10. I was told - by an intermediary - that he did indeed play the organ. I have a feeling that there was a suggestion that he had a chamber organ in his house too. I had very brief dealings due to a commission he received in 1986 which resulted in the composition of his "Fanfare for Theatre Organ". This was written to commemorate the opening of (and was the first piece performed on) the Christie theatre organ at the Memorial Hall, Barry in South Wales on March 1st 1987. As his name comes up from time to time it's worth a mention that this was the organ on which Sidney Torch recorded 'Twelfth Street' and 'Temptation' rags, as well as 'Orient Express' and many others when it was at the Regal, Edmonton. Sadly it now languishes - practically sealed in beneath the stage - due to a change in hall management and council attitude. Our friend and member the Rev. Q. was one of the opening performers! S
  11. It's all a bit sketchy really, but from what I gather from those "in the know" Richard Moorhouse wants a traditional English cathedral scheme, primarily specified for liturgical accompaniment rather than solo work. Quite how that will eventually manifest itself I don't know at the moment. The cathedral are currently using a three manual Rodgers on loan from BBC Wales where it is normally (very occasionally) used by the National Orchestra of Wales.
  12. Nicholson's were successful in getting the contract to build the new organ for Llandaff Cathedral - not a day too soon. I was chatting to one of the cathedral organists on Saturday, and they are delighted that an 'act of God' managed to finally put the old one out to pasture. There is a widely held belief in the cathedral music department that God is indeed most merciful!
  13. It's certainly VERY true of the bigger blowers. They are usually fitted with surge-protected fuses (can't remember what they're actually called, but they allow a huge current to be drawn for a very short period) and take a lot of juice to actually get up to speed, even discounting the amount of wind they have to initially produce to 'fill' the organ. Before we removed a large 3 phase, four stage Discus from a church, a friend and I metered the feed on startup. For a couple of seconds it drew over 100 amps! I also know of one public building where the starting of the blower unfortunately coincided with lots of lighting being used and an arc-lamp striking. The resulting load on the incoming mains caused the seasonal maximum demand meter to reach a new high, and increased the cost of electricity to the building for the whole of the next quarter. Once these big machines are running, especially if they're not drawing much wind, they are extrememly cheap to run - so it's far cheaper to leave them idling between pieces than to switch them off and re-start.
  14. I forgot to mention in my previous reply that your PCC can get very good advice on security (of both people and propery) from National Churchwatch. It's run by Nick Tolson, an ex police officer, and also formerly a verger at Wells. He has written several good manuals on safety and security for clergy and church workers, and also runs seminars and meetings, and will come to your parish to talk to the PCC, voluntary workers etc. Churchwatch works on the principle that every church should aspire to have their building(s) unlocked and accessible, and that there are many ways and means of controlling this to make it as safe as possible for all concerned. I have a slight bias as I know Nick. I was in school with his wife, and I played for their wedding! However, he doesn't hold either of those things against me, and has given valuable advice to our parish on these matters. Contact him through their website: http://www.nationalchurchwatch.com/ Steve
  15. This happened to a very good friend of mine when he was practising in a Liverpool church during his university days in the city. He came out to find he was in the middle of the Toxteth riots and his motorbike had gone up in smoke! He locked himself back in the church and waited for things to die down.... it was a long wait. Steve
  16. I wish! Sadly I'm a mine of useless information, but actual knowledge is a bit sketchy Actually my fund of useless facts and figures is usually a source of an enourmous amount of p**s taking by my 'friends', and in this respect I'll share the following story with you as it has a very slight connection with the subject in hand.... Some years ago I attended (with some 'friends') the re-opening of the glorious Wurlitzer at Stockport Town Hall. Before the performance began we were thumbing through the souvenir brochure, and one of our number chanced on a photograph of Charles Saxby FRCO seated at a Compton theatre organ with a hideous home-made looking illuminated surround. He leant over to me and asked "What organ's that?". I instantly replied "The Astoria, Finsbury Park." His reply.... "You're really sick!" SD
  17. Peter, The Diocese of Llandaff now has an organ advisor again, in the shape of Rev. Martin Coulton FRCO who is Team Vicar at Canton, Cardiff. He should be contactable through the Diocesan office, or through either St. Lukes or St. John the Evangelist, Canton. Hope this helps. I've never been in St. James', but my mother used to go there in her youth, so it would be nice to think the organ will be treated well. Steve
  18. Astoria, Finsbury Park perhaps? I also have one of those ashtrays. I've never smoked but, even if I did, I don't think I could bring myself to stub out a fag in it. It will fit neatly in the pocket of my anorak though.......! S
  19. A good page has appeared at BBC online here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/playitagain/pro...eries1/jobrand/ I couldn't load the programme clips, but did manage to load the organ tutorial, which features an old friend of this board seated at - I think - the BBC Maida Vale Compton!
  20. Now I've seen a trail for the programme there seems to be a lot more church organ and less Wurlitzer than the BBC's original press release indicated. Hopefully that means it will interest a wider cross-section of viewers.
  21. You're quite right - I'd forgotten that one! Yes, the original 'cube bass' did do five notes and was originally called Pentatone. It became Polyphone when they started doing one unit to play almost the whole octave down to EEEE. It's not clear when or why the 12 note/6 pipe 16' bass became commonly known as a Polyphone, but I'd guess it was because the essential principle of internally opening another cavity to create a greater volume/lower pitch was the same.
  22. Yes and no! The 32' cube bass was produced first, and although generally known in the trade as a cube, it's designation within the factory was Polyphone. A slightly later adaptation of the same principle was the 16' bass in which there were six pipes, each providing two notes a semitone apart. These were used on almost all of Compton's theatre organ output after they were introduced, and also in many church jobs, because they essentially halved the space required for the 16' pedal octave (Bourdon or Tibia depending on application and scale) although they are notoriously difficult to set up and subject to the same strange acoustic quirks as the cube, according to where they're installed. This device - the one providing just two notes per pipe was styled PolyTONE in the factory. However, I suppose there must have been much confusion between the two names, and eventually it seemed to have become universal to refer to the original Polyphone as a Cube Bass because of its shape, while the six-pipe bass octave became known as a PolyPHONE. Whatever you think now of the style of their instruments, there can be little doubt that the Compton factory came up with some of the mose ingenious inventions ever applied to pipe organs, and a huge amount of them are still working well today. I'm lucky enough to know Doug Litchfield who was apprenticed as a voicer at Chase Road from 1944 onwards. He still speaks very highly not only of the company - who were model employers in those years - but also of Mr. Compton himself, who was apparently a quiet, kindly man who took a great personal interest in each of his employees. He would from time to time turn up in the voicing rooms early in the morning to try out various ideas, as I understand he was a gifted voicer himself.
  23. This is certainly the way that they originated in the Compton 'cube bass'. I don't know if any other builder has created one which speaks down to the true CCCC, but if they have I suspect that most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference, although I'll happily acknowledge, Vox, that you may well be able to. Neither extremity of my hearing is particularly good these days, although it's probably better at the bottom end than the top. My extreme upper frequencies have been rather dulled by years of tuning high pressure theatre organ reeds! Incidentally, I was rather surprised to find anyone building a Polyphone-type pipe as recently as this one. I assumed that this particular piece of John Compton/Jimmy Taylor ingenuity was a purely historical artifact.
  24. From what I understand of the programme's content, I think it will come as a major disappointment to many members of this board. I understand that Jo Brand is learning to play the organ in order to accompany dancers in a famous ballroom at a well-known North-West of England resort! On the other hand, I don't know over what duration the programme has been recorded, and it might be expecting a bit much for a novice to learn some decent Bach to a reasonable performance standard in a month or two! However she obviously likes 'proper' organ music as I note that, in this morning's Desert Island Discs (on which she was guest) her luxury item was a church organ She didn't chose any organ music among her eight discs though..... There is a precedent. I remember that Robin Richmond chose the RAH organ as his luxury item, and Roy Plomley allowed him to have it, provided that he didn't live inside it!
  25. What this means - as you suspect - is that the pipework from which the Choir stops are derived is split between the two boxes. Generally the medium to larger Comptons were built in two swell boxes/chambers, loosely designated (according to their content) as 'Great' and 'Swell'. The casework and display pipes probably date from the original 1888 instrument. Comptons would merely have inserted their two heavy swell boxes behind the frontage. Sometimes they installed one or more 16' or 32' extensions unenclosed, but more often than not everything fitted in the boxes. At a quick glance the spec is a little reminiscent to the 'concert' half of the Bournemouth Pavilion job, but there the chamber designation is 'A' and 'B', and since all the 'concert' ranks are in 'A' and the 'theatre' ranks in 'B', it is only the Pedal division which is drawn from both.
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