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John Furse

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  1. John Furse

    Westminster Abbey

    I've just listened to parts of this fitting Service for the second time. Being 200% Welsh, I intend that Blaenwern be sung at my funeral - albeit to the 1747 words of Charles Wesley: "Love Divine, all loves excelling". I find the tempo perfectly judged and note that HM found it sufficiently stirring to sing along with the creditable volume (almost amounting to hwyl) emanating from the congregation. In this, and were it in my gift, I would accord them honorary citizenship.
  2. John Furse

    Manchester Town Hall

    It's a pity I didn't discover the website sooner. This all looks excellent. I can only wish success for the whole project. It could become an example of how to 'reach out to' and educate (in the widest sense, as Colin writes above) the public in the organ, its non-liturgical repertoire and its life outside church buildings. All of these things pertained in Victorian Britain: civic pride, educating the 'masses', an interest in cultural enrichment and 'improvement', etc. A series of silent films with improvised accompaniment; the sentiments of Copland in his Fanfare for the Common Man and its 'outings' by Emerson, Lake & Palmer are just two instances. The wheel doesn't need re-invention, but imaginative and innovative application. (But, not like the apocryphal committee who re-designed the horse with five legs, so that it neither went forward nor back.) The casework and pipes seem to have been cleaned - recently ? They look gorgeous. The sound, even now, is a thrilling foretaste of what we could hear in a few years. The principal donor at the Cathedral having his name 'attached' to the instrument proves the point I made in my Tuesday post. Everything (legal) should be attempted in these cases - short of extortion ! The rich are used to being asked for dosh. It's the manner of asking that matters. Good luck MTH.
  3. John Furse

    Manchester Town Hall

    Agree with the majority of both S_L’s and Colin’s posts. Whilst ‘the organ’ is usually a niche market, it needn’t always be. A well-targeted and publicised campaign, led by one or more ‘names’ can do the trick. Just look at the effect/success of Blue Planet II. One of the advantages of being a sole/major donor is that you can get your name attached to said ground/building/instrument. And this applies in the most prestigious of institutions, too.
  4. John Furse

    Manchester Town Hall

    ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ And, that’s only one way to go. Manchester, as one of the UK’s great musical/sporting/education/insert other criteria cities, has so much to offer. In the last few decades, as has been stated, the Bridgewater Hall and now the Cathedral have had major new instruments. Well-run, imaginative and innovative fund-raising should, easily, meet its target. The Town Hall is a glorious building and is entitled to the restoration of its Cavaillé-Coll. There are football clubs, rich people, a thriving social scene . . . Can we not reach out to these and evoke civic pride ? Is it really beyond a primary school (or whatever they’re called, these days), say, to sponsor a pipe ? Only by new thinking (!) like this will some of our greatest organ heritage be saved from the ‘skip’. We cannot expect commercial enterprises (organ builders) to stop paying their skilled employees and work for next to nowt. They would go under immediately. There is a parallel situation in Middlesbrough, with their Town Hall and its historic Hill. I fervently hope that both instruments are given the recognition and restoration they so deserve.
  5. John Furse

    Blind Listening Experiment

    It is not for nothing that the woodwind were omitted from Poulenc's Organ Concerto. Modern orchestral instruments almost always sound ‘off’ in such a context: rarely sounding ‘comfortable’ in combination with both their earlier (‘authentic’) incarnations and/or an organ. Flutes would probably ‘blend in’ the most successfully.
  6. John Furse

    List of beautiful English Organs

    http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N07978 It’s very broad and very plain, David. If there was some decoration/ornamentation (carving, gilding, painted panels, grille-work, anything !) between the top of the font and the en chamade . . . Perhaps the finances didn’t stretch (?). I wonder if semi-detached pipe towers would have helped. At least it sounds (all u ü-Tubas) good.
  7. John Furse

    St Asaph

    Whilst not pre-supposing owt, it is to be inferred that this must mean that only the ‘major church festivals & more important diocesan gatherings’ will be musicked. Inevitably, the music establishment will become part-time, with part-time musicians - organists, choirs, etc. To state, therefore, that “the same high standards of music” will be maintained is misleading. In fact, this will be impossible to achieve, with the concomitant diminishing in the frequency of rehearsing and the ensuing lack of continuity. This makes the second Welsh cathedral to cull its music establishment in recent years - albeit for different reasons.
  8. John Furse

    NPOR Down?

    Now back & 'crisp'.
  9. John Furse

    NPOR Down?

    “the the service it offers is a perfect complement to the College’s existing scholarly and academic work.” This is the problem: there’s some kind of repetitive issue in the system.
  10. John Furse

    NPOR Down?

    Without being able to access the site, it's impossible to say if it's pre-planned weekend maintenance, or some such. Given the timing of the 'outage', it would have that appearance. It's far too early to start making a right Regal fuss, tho'.
  11. John Furse

    P D Collins Organ At Turner Sims

    I echo (rather, reverberate) David, here. Sense has finally prevailed; no doubt, after much prayer and informed lobbying.
  12. John Furse

    List of beautiful English Organs

    No, I didn’t get around very much, being otherwise occupied most weekends, David. I seem to recall playing for a wedding on the fine Willis at St Andrew, Halstead (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=R01158), though. It didn’t have the upperwork or Trombone, then. Must sound very grand, now. An even nicer shot of the Great Bardfield organ (18 May) is here: http://www.essexviews.uk/photos/Essex%20Churches/Essex%20Churches%20G-H/Great-Bardfield-Church-Organ.jpg Nice to know that the Birch instrument is in a new home.
  13. John Furse

    List of beautiful English Organs

    One here, David: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_organ_at_St_Anne%27s,_Bewdley_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1444973.jpg Spec: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=G00434
  14. John Furse

    List of beautiful English Organs

    “These entries had such equine class: I refer to the Biblical ass. Etym’logic’lly wonky (Since 18th cent., ‘donkey’): It cannot partake of High Mass ! And, whilst, at the hymns it might bray, I’m sure that, oft times, it would neigh ! It must feel quite foolish To sound, like this, mulish – Much better off just munching hay.”
  15. John Furse

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Yes, it was behind an arch facing south: the sound had to go ‘around the corner’ into the Nave, in a rather torpid acoustic. Not an ideal arrangement for leading a congregation. The best place to hear it was in the choir stalls or at the console. One memory is that John Jordan insisted the console be kept free of clutter - a good lesson for many (most ?). Another is the use of the Mounted Cornet for a robust execution of the opening (and closing) scalic roulades of Britten's Jubilate.