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Stephen Dutfield

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Everything posted by Stephen Dutfield

  1. Perhaps it and others like it are an acquired taste which I have yet to acquire. I just wonder whether the curator of West Point does actually feel that every additional stop adds something musically useful and appropriate to the instrument, or is just pleased to take the money and make the thing just that little bit bigger....
  2. Arguably these "generous gifts" can wreak even more havoc in a large scheme.... summed up in the two words 'West Point' I do know of one otherwise original H & H locally which actually bears a plaque to the effect that the tremulant was provided in memory of some high-profile member of the congregation. Presumably the one who used to stand at the back and sing with a very warbly voice..... (I also know of a church clock which was installed in memory of someone who was late for church every week!) S
  3. I can't imagine the venue to which you refer Neil - but note the Shakespeare quotation in your sig!! (By the way, does your mobile still play THAT tune?) Steve
  4. This touches on something I mentioned a few months ago in relation to rejuvenating some of our long-dormant town hall instruments, or any others for which there is no financial contingency. There is much potential for such projects as the one you mention, provided there are willing and able volunteers. I think success would also rely on having supervision and final set-up and finishing from a reputable organ builder, but this would be money well spent and would represent a very considerable saving on the cost of engaging said organ builder to do all the labouring as well. This is often the way that church bell projects are realised, with work in the tower being carried out by the local band with supervision from a bellhanger. Clearly though the consequences of getting bell-hanging wrong are somewhat more cataclysmic than getting your winding wrong.....! Steve
  5. By the way, I have edited my original post. The word should have been "thread".......
  6. I fear I may be in a minority of one in not knowing what is planned at Worcester. Perhaps - in the positive spirit of this thread - someone (preferably Adrian Lucas if he feels so inclined) could provide some detail. I would be most interested to find out more. Steve
  7. Couldn't agree more Peter. I encountered it first at an RC funeral I was asked to play for, and have sung it several time at funerals since. I like the music at a funeral to leave me feeling uplifted - if not a little hopeful - but the only thing that dirge does for me is make me determined that they're not going to play it at mine! Strangely though, one of my colleagues (former Convent girl) says it's her favourite hymn. Considering that she has impeccable taste in popular music, I can't for the life of me work out what she sees or hears in hymns that the rest of us don't.
  8. I can't remember that bit - but I do hope it's true! HW4 was interviewed at St. Georges's Hall and explained the importance of 'town hall' recitals in the Victorian and Edwardian era to bring transciptions of orchestral music to those who otherwise wouldn't hear it. Howard Goodall said "A bit like Classics for Pleasure?". Cue long pause from HW4 - along with vacant expression - followed by "I'm sorry - I haven't a clue what Classics for Pleasure is!"* HW4 seemed from that programme to be a nice enough chap, and the personification of the Victorian eccentric. I liked him - as I liked Fred Dibnah - because I don't think there are nearly enough good old British eccentrics left. The main problem is that most of those we have got are involved with organs in one way or another!! (* My favourite quote from the Howard Goodall series involves the Duke of Marlborough explaining the roll player attached to the FW in the library at Blenheim. At the end of his explanation HG chimed in with "So I suppose you could say it's the original 'Duke Box'!")
  9. There are quite a few re-releases available, but for a taster (not necessarily representative of his most memorable theatre organ work) try this site which features him at a number of different instruments. Just scroll down to the 'T's http://theatreorgans.com/southerncross/Radiogram/UKfiles.htm Personally, as a lover of light orchestral music, I always think that Torch made the right decision to leave the organ behind and concentrate on his orchestral work. In some of his organ arrangements you can hear ideas which were subsequently more fully developed in both his compositions and arrangements post war. I also think his rhythmic 'dance band' style - exciting though it is - may have dated a lot quicker than did that of some of the more 'traditional' theatre organists, and had he continued he may have found that what was cutting edge before the war had become old hat after it. He was a very shrewd man, and I'm sure he knew exactly what he was doing. A remarkable musician though, if not the easiest of people to get along with....
  10. Ah, yes - sorry I was trying to think what the story would have been. Mind you, I did say that good music, well played, crosses boundaries. Well played in this context might possibly NOT include constant use of the Vox Humana and tremulant!!
  11. Since Quentin Maclean has been a topic of discussion in the RCO thread I thought I'd post a story - possibly apochryphal, but then very possibly not - which proves that good music well played crosses all boundaries. As you may/may not know, between 1930 and 1939 Maclean was organist at the vast Trocadero theatre, Elephant & Castle. Eyebrows were raised on his appointment as he in his previous posts as Brighton, Shepherds Bush and Marble Arch he had been presenting top notch music (including items from the classical organ repertoire and transcriptions of major orchestral works) to then relatively top-notch audiences - Shepherds Bush had a slightly different population demographic in those days! Arriving at E & C, rather than play down to his audience of tough dockers, through his modest character, softly spoken verbal introductions, and thorough musicianship, he succeeded in raising their musical aspirations, taking a whole generation of South Londoners on a exploration of music which they otherwise would have been unlikely to have experienced. In turn his audience took him to their hearts and became very possessive of him. He was THEIR organist. That's the background - the story - short that it is - goes like this. Somehow or other a quite well-turned-out young couple found their way south of the river one evening to see a film at the 'Troc'. In a minority of two, they were sat right in the middle of a throng of the aforementioned dockers. Having sat through the first part of the programme the time came for the interlude and up came Maclean on the Wurlitzer and began with a transcription of something fairly 'heavy' - history does not record what. The young couple took this as an opportunity to start talking. After a short while the burly Bermondsey docker sat in front of them turned around, grabbed the young man by the tie, pulled him up out of his seat, and said - fairly loudly - "Shut the f*** up, Mac's playing!"
  12. Thank you MM for that excellent and informative post. The story of him snapping his baton and walking out is certainly true, but I have a feeling that what Sid said he thought about his music in retirement, and what he did actually think were not always the same thing. Bill Davies once told me that Torch did in fact continue to play piano at home during his retirement, and to discuss music of all types (Bill was a frequent visitor) and although he tended to rubbish his organ playing after he'd moved into orchestral work, he did still involve himself in a small way from time to time. The story of Bill getting him to play the organ during a FNIMN rehearsal is well known. George Blackmore (FRCO - just to keep the thread slightly on track) also caught Sidney jazzing it up on a Hammond one lunchtime in a studio at Broadcasting House, and Sid pleaded with him not to tell anyone. Torch reminisced with Bill Davies quite happily in a phone call relayed over the PA system at the State Kilburn's 50th anniversary celebrations in 1987, and earlier that year, on the morning of the re-opening of the ex Regal Edmonton organ at Barry Memorial Hall, he phoned the team there and sent a message of good luck and congratulations. It is a remarkable recording, and one of my favourites of its type. The syren gliss wasn't done quite like that though. Maclean had designed the Marble Arch organ, and during the process there were quite a few changes specified. In a letter to Herbert Norman dated 22nd April 1928 he asks for a number of such changes and his final paragraph reads: "In the effects department it would be nice to have two syrens, one quick, & the other slow. One could be played from the manual piston, & the other from the toe piston, no additional control needed." It is generally thought that it was the slow syren used at the start of the 'Rhapsody in Blue' recording. Perhaps he had this in mind when specifying it! I am, though, very impressed to think that Simon Preston listened to, and enjoyed, 'Mac' at a theatre organ.
  13. He's always been very decent to me when we've met - rather entertaining company too!
  14. I stand corrected. I knew he had a connection there but didn't realise that he was actually assistant. I am only really familiar with his career from 1920 onwards during which his reputation was built on his performances on the concert platform and in the cinema, marking his rise as a household name - as it was possibly for an organist to become in those days. Since he was interned in Germany during the First World War, I'd conclude that his tenure at the cathedral was relatively short, between 1918 and 1920. He is certainly remembered chiefly as a concert and cinema organist rather than as a cathedral organist who later turned to lighter music. The opposite is true of Norman Cocker who is most often thought of as organist at Manchester Cathedral who also played cinema organs - perhaps Cocker did it for financial reasons, whereas Maclean did it because he enjoyed it? He certainly coulnd't have chain-smoked in the loft at Westminster as he did in the pit at Shepherds Bush Pavilion!
  15. Apologies for this being another theatre organ related story, but the guts of it could apply to any organ really. It is perhaps unusual in that there were no witnesses to the original event. I'd forgotten about it until yesterday when I met up again with the tuner concerned. For the sake of reputations I won't name him, the venue, or the name or even gender of the 'organist' concerned. The inverted commas are deliberate because the performer in question is one of a worryingly prevalent breed on the theatre organ circuit who cut their teeth on - and are mainly known for playing - what Robin Richmond used to delight in referring to as a "home plug-in" and known in these parts as a toaster. Whilst apparently an accomplished pianist and well known for toaster work, the said performer is obviously less than knowledgeable on what to expect from a pipe organ, of indeed how to approach playing thereon. Having arrived at the venue in plenty of time, this very keen performer decided to go right through every stop of the organ to see if there was anything not working, and then to write the results of this careful research in the tuning book - presumably thinking that this was a way to be taken seriously on the organ circuit. Cut ahead a few weeks and our heroic tuner arrived to give the instrument its regular once-over. As always he started by checking the tuning book. The recent note from the hero of the story began thus.... "Accompaniment Vox Humana 16' tc - no notes working in bottom octave. "Accompaniment Contra-Viole 16' tc - no notes working in bottom octave. etc. etc. throughout the whole organ! I must confess to having had some personal fun at the expense of this same performer who has a reputation for arriving at a venue and asking who was playing last month, then trying that organists's pistons (remember we're talking about oldish organs, most of which have setter boards not multi-channel capture systems) and saying "I'll use those - they'll be fine." One day, whilst awaiting the arrival of this person I decided I'd had enough of this, so - along similar lines to GTB and Thieman - set to work on the setter board. In due course the great person arrived and, true to form, the first question was "Who was here last month?" I replied to the effect that it had been one of the former Blackpool luminaries, which produced a smile and "That's fine." The great one then sat at the console and started jabbing at pistons before looking at me and saying "The pistons aren't working!" I said, "No, they're fine but I've set everything to OFF because it'll be much easier to put your settings on if we start with a clean sheet! Now, let's start with No. 1 on the Solo - what do you want?" The look of panic was a delight.... said person eventually managed to suggest three similar sounding registrations for one manual, then - having the look of someone drowning - gave up and said "Oh, it's alright - I'll hand register." Better still I was working that afternoon, so had a genuine and valid excuse not to stay for the concert
  16. It's absolutely beautiful, and the sort of thing that makes me think it would will me to play better if I were sat at it! Just as a point of interest - and not asking you to give away any professional secrets - how do you achieve that highly polished 'ebonised' look?
  17. It's probably not as straightforward as that, since the BBC, like most broadcasters, is what is known in popular culture as a 24/7 organisation That is to say for those who work on the operational side of things there's no such thing as a weekend - they're just two more working days. Since engineers and other transmission staff are habitually required to work at all sorts of hours of the day and night, any day of the week, they are generally in the position of having this compensated for in their salary and therefore don't get paid any extra for working weekends. Clearly football matches would cost a fortune to rig and de-rig if this were the case! Very early mornings and very late nights can be a slightly different case, but I don't imagine CE being rigged before 6am or de-rigged after midnight.
  18. G.T. (George) Pattman who was at St. Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow between 1904 and 1916 left to tour concert and music halls with a large transportable pipe organ (built by Harrisons I think) before settling into regular cinema employment in the London area. He returned to church work in the 1940s. Also, I have a feeling that Fredric Bayco was at Holy Trinity, Paddington after his cinema career. He was also working for the BBC as a radio music producer, so perhaps he doesn't count. He broadcast wearing both hats, but his appearances at the BBC theatre organ were under the name Peter Keane. I don't think Quentin Maclean ever held a high profile church post in this country, although after the war he was O & C at an important Roman Catholic church in Toronto until his death in 1962. He's a good example for this thread though, because - having studied under Reger amongst others, and being highly sought after as a recitalist in churches, cathedrals and concert halls, he never felt the need to take the FRCO diploma, which he presumably felt would have been superfluous to his impressive CV. As if to prove that he could have got it, he was once selected by the RCO to give a recital of the year's examination pieces to the entrants prior to the Fellowship examinations. Although I don't suppose it would have bothered him (he was reputed to be a very modest and shy man) it's a pity they didn't see fit to endow him with an honourary FRCO. Although on reflection it may have done his reputation no good, it might have shut up the lobby who continue today to protest that he was inferior to the also very popular Reginald Foort simply on the grounds that Foort held an FRCO.
  19. Wonderful! It instantly reminds me of another story told by a theatre organist friend of mine who, on one of his fairly frequent jaunts to the U.S.A., found himself playing one of those enormous organs in a not-too-large building with not-too-efficient swell shutters. During the interval when he was outside an exit door exercising his lungs on a packet of Bensons he was taken to task by a large and loud local who yelled at him "Do you HAVE to play that thing so LOUD?" Somewhat taken aback, he was just composing his thoughts to give a polite and reasoned reply when another equally large and loud lady chimed in "Yes he does - and that's why we came!"
  20. In one of the 'extra' interviews the producer asks him whether the lighting used for the recordings was a distraction. JSW replies to the effect that he has very poor eyesight, so the additional light was very welcome. Perhaps it has something to do with this.
  21. Could have been worse - it could have been the Klaxon! It is said that when Marcel Dupre played at Wimbledon Town Hall (quite a remarkable fact in itself) he missed the Great to Pedal to piston and hit the bird whistle instead....
  22. Reminds me of the London bus drivers' prayer... Our Father, who art in Hendon, Harrow be thy name. Thy Kingston come, Thy Wimbledon, In Erith as it is in Hendon etc. etc. I'll get my coat.....
  23. At the other end of the scale I recall reading a memorial attached to the small organ at Hinton Martell parish church in Dorset in memory of the lady organist of many years who had reached her final cadance at the console during Sunday worship. Sadder still was the organist of St. Mary's R.C. Canton in Cardiff who passed away during a wedding a few years ago. I can also think of at least two theatre organists who never got to press the 'down' button....
  24. The Bath Tuba was pretty scary. It's un-nerving standing on a passage board being able to look down the 32' and being closer to the fan-vaulting than the floor - I only went up there once!
  25. There are some of us Welshmen who don't understand the 'daft druids' too. Being as part of my gainful employment often requires the pronunciation of Welsh place-names in the course of what might be termed public speaking, I've discovered that it's a great idea to make friends with a few of the said Druids, who can point your syllables in the right direction
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