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Martin Owen

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Everything posted by Martin Owen

  1. I am very sad indeed to hear this. As others have pointed, out under Noel Mander they did some splendid post-war restorations under very difficult conditions. Indeed, they have built many very fine organs in the last 20-30 years both here and abroad. Like other contributors i feel very sorry for their workforce, some of whom I know well. Martin
  2. I wonder why I find the excesses of Broadwalk, such as the 64ft Diaphone, so unmusical. To me they sound like pneumatic drills digging up roads. Yes, I accept a great feat of engineering but perhaps not of organ building. Martin
  3. Organist on the Hill I couldn't agree more with you about painted pipes, whether cased or uncased. The organ you quote was formerly in Llandaff Cathedral. Have you seen the new, current on? Stunningly good looking and sounds magnificent. I had drinks and dinner at The Royal Academy of Music last night with someone I suspect was a colleague of yours at Harrow. I think you won The Organ Club competition last December. If so, well done. Martin
  4. Like OrganistOnTheHill I find the above advise very useful and wish I had heard such many years ago. However, I suspect many of us would love to know which school is so lucky to have BOTH a Willis and Lewis. My former school is now very fortunate in having a Hill, Norman Beard of 1968 and a re-sited Schulz of 1862. The former in the Chapel, that latter in The Big School. I left shortly after the chapel was destroyed by fire (NOT the reason for leaving as I had finished my A levels!) so both organs are after my time. OrganistOnTheHill do please let us know which school it is. Martin
  5. Not sure I can enlighten you as to the rationale. Matthew said that he wanted to make the organ brighter, though perhaps that might be the only concern you expressed. I thought it was a very clever and artistic instrument as it was. However, anything in that acoustic sounds good, even the former electronic. Martin
  6. Perhaps users aren't aware that most of the organ has been re-voiced in the last few weeks by Ruffatti. The DOM, Matthew Martin, last week told me in detail what has been done. I look forward to hearing it now, wonderful though it was before. Martin
  7. Does anyone have specification details of the new Sidney Sussex organ? I can't find it on their website. Those I know who have heard or played it say it is fantastic. David Titterington echoes their sentiments in telling me that is beautifully voiced for the chapel. Martin
  8. Good news indeed. Brindley was a very good organ builder though sadly little of his work remains in original condition. It will be good to learn more about him and his instruments and I will order a copy. Thank you, David, for notifying us and thank you too for showing members of The Organ Club over your factory last week. We greatly enjoyed it and it was good to meet you. Martin Owen
  9. I couldn't agree more with both Sotto Voce and Innate. Indeed, I attended Robert Qunney's installation as Director of Music and an electronic was used as the organ's blower had broken down! Martin
  10. I was privileged to be asked to the Dedication of the new Mander organ in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey yesterday evening. For those who don't know, the organ was commissioned by The City of London as a gift to Her Majesty to mark her jubilee and for the last few months it has been in the Mansion House. The Queen (in the person of The Earl of Wessex) has presented it to The Abbey and after the Dedication James O'Donnell gave a brief recital to demonstrate its considerable versatility. It sounds very good indeed in its new, somewhat more sympathetic, setting. Hopefully there will be some recitals on it in the not too distant future.
  11. For those who can't wait until 29th November to hear Robert Quinney play they should attend his opening recital on the newly completed organ at Llandaff Cathedral at 19.30 on Friday, 8th November. The programme should show of this remarkable instrument brilliantly let alone his incredible virtuosity.
  12. The new organ at the RAM is now fully installed. The first recital was given this last Monday by both students from the RAM and distinguished recitalists, such as Susan Landale and Clive Driskill-Smith. It sounds very fine indeed and whilst clearly inspired as a symphonic instrument it handled the classical repertoire extremely convincingly. From the computer generated image that had been published I had had reservations about how it would look in the Edwardian Duke's Hall. However, it fits in perfectly, largely helped by exquisite proportions, the use of light maple wood for the case and what coloured decoration there is being derived from that used elsewhere in the Hall. Two organist at the reception following the recital, who had both been inside the instrument, said that the workmanship was of the very highest standard and the instrument beautifully finished. Although during the concert the instrument was used with a solo trumpet and also a brass band it would be interesting to see how it stands up to battling with or against a full orchestra. I also wonder whether the lack of a 32ft flue might then become apparent. As wil be seen from the RAM website there are a number of opportunities to hear it between now and December.
  13. I have read all of this with great interest because I, too, was on the Organ Club visit to Edinburgh in May this year and was astounded at the shear quantity of interesting and distinguished instruments in that City and its environs. However, if time (and family) only allow for a visit to one organ I would unhesitatingly suggest it should be that in Reid Memorial Parish Church, West Savile Terrace, EH9 3HY. This is an extraordinary instrument (as is the Church) and not at all what I had expected of Rushworth and Dreaper. Whereas the Stirling organ has been tampered with this is exactly as it was built in 1930, though the Church wasn't opened until 1932. It sings - there is no other word for it - into a large and acoustically sympathetic space. So good is the voicing that, although the only mutations on it are Sesquialtera,19,22, on the Swell and Octave Quint on the Great one would be forgiven for thinking that there are a multitude of mixtures. the French Horn on the Solo - there is no Choir Organ - is the finest I have ever heard. Colin Menzies, who arranged the tour and wrote the very detailed and informative notes about both the buildings and the instruments in them, also made the point that when Rushworths were good they could be very good indeed. Furthermore, he noted that the Edinburgh branch, which built this organ, was almost an autonomous company from that in Liverpool.
  14. I find this fascinating. I went to a performance in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral of Britten's Burning Fiery Furnace in 1967 in the presence of the composer and I believe one was used then. I notice from the internet that there is one in St Lawrence's Church, Caterham, Surrey.
  15. The recital mentioned above at St Stephen's, Rochester Row in London on the transplanted Binns is, I believe, on Wednesday, 25th April not the 5th as stated. Martin
  16. I couldn't agree more with Malcolm's comments and am listening to William Whitehead's excellent new CD recorded on the organ there. Martin
  17. James O'Donnell with the YMSO orchestra in Symphony for Orchestra and Organ by Francois-Joseph Fetis. Also Overture Prince Igor Borodin and Brahms Symphony No 2. 7.30. Wednesday, 21st September at St John'd Smith Square, London SW1.
  18. I know that this post is about awkward organs but Cynic's comments about the comfort of HNB consoles is worth supporting. Probably the most comfortable instrument I have ever played is the one they built in 1967 in the chapel of my old school, Ellesmere College. Harrison and Harrison consoles are also usually extremely comfortable, well at least for someone of my height and stature! Martin Owen
  19. Many years ago I, too, hit my head on the same stone arch, the flow of blood being too excessive to play without serious damage to the manuals and I am only 5ft 6ins! Martin Owen
  20. Did anyone hear today's broadcast of Choral Evensong from Chester Cathedral? Am I alone in thinking it particularly poor and the singing somewhat ragid? Martin
  21. Can I too send my best wishes to all boards members and particularly to the Mander team who provide such pleasure throughout the year to all of us? Thank you very much. Martin
  22. As the contributor mentioned above in Colin Richell's response I don't recollect receiving a reply from Noel Bonavia-Hunt. Nor would I have expected one. Furthermore, as Henry Willis points out, my letter indicates that all this was a long time ago, 1964 to be precise. Besides, the primary purpose of the letter was NOT about the Alexandra Palace organ but to draw attention to the urgent need to restore the Grove.
  23. Until now I have deliberately resisted commenting on the various observations about the Grove organ. However, in view those made by Contrabombarde (and others) I will quote from a letter I wrote, as 16 year old schoolboy, to The Organ and which was published in their July 1964 edition. "Sir, May I support Noel Bonavia-Hunt's appeal for the restoration of the organ in the Alexandra Palace? May I also appeal for the restoration of another equally fine instrument, the Grove organ, built my Mitchell and Thynne, in Tewkesbury Abbey? For organ lovers fortunate enough to have heard this noble instrument it must have been a memorable experience. What aural excitement we unfortunates who have never heard this instrument are mising with that bold Schulze-type diapason chorus, those Willis style reeds and Mitchell and Thynne's own conception of string tone. Where else is there so fine an example of the combined characteristics of three of the finest organ builders? This organ, together with the instrument in Alexandra Palace, should be restored: then England can once again boast about two more very fine organs!" Please don't let the Grove deteriorate to such a degree that a similar letter will need to be written. Incidentally, I wrote that letter whilst at a school which some years later puchased the Schulze organ from St Mary's Tyne Dock. Alas, by then I had long left!
  24. Have any other members heard or seen the rebuilt/new H & H organ at Cirencester Parish Church? It was completed shortly before Christmas and, whilst it is not going to be fully used until after the opening recital by David Briggs on Saturday, 17th April, I was fortunate enough to be shown it with some friends on New Year's Eve. It sounds quite magnificent and more like a Father Willis than before having retained the previous Willis work and added more in the same style. There is also a new case containing the Great facing westwards down the South aisle allowing much better penetration of the sound into the nave. The recently newly laid stone floor has also improved what was previously a somewhat dry accoustic. Many a Cathedral would be proud of this instrument so congratulations to Cirencester.
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