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Damian Beasley-Suffolk

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About Damian Beasley-Suffolk

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    Voorburg, The Netherlands

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  1. Having mentioned it, it took time to find. Here's a link to a description of Bernhardt Edskes' reconstruction of the Schnitger organ in the Lutheran Church in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. It describes in particular the continuo keyboard, set forward of the organ, by the gallery ballustrade, so the organist can accompany and direct the choir. It mentions that Bach himself had a similar arrangement in the Thomaskirche from 1730, though that keyboard was on a gallery below the organ. Not much new, is there? http://www.orgelnieuws.nl/gereconstrueerd-schnitger-orgel-lutherse-kerk-groningen-gebruik/
  2. I'm not one for knocking, you can see the rationale behind this even though it's unusual. It's just as well that the description emphasises the importance of access for maintenance ! It wouldn't be the first time that an organ has two consoles for different purposes. Southampton's Guildhall Compton springs to mind. The original proposal for the Willis organ at the Hooglandse Kerk in Leiden had two consoles, the original mechanical en fenêtre, and then a larger electric console to play all of the original organ, plus a planned solo division and some other parts. By the way, that organ sounds superb in that building. Recently a couple of organs here in the Netherlands have had an additional single manual console provided, one on electric action, one actually a mechanical console connected to the rest of its organ's mechanical action, both enabling the organist to accompany the choir from a selection of stops on the organ as a continuo instrument. But if you can't afford, or have no space for, two separate organs, then of course the place to go to for inspiration is Japan. This is astonishing: https://www.geigeki.jp/english/house/organ.html And I recommend watching the video at the bottom of the page.
  3. The Dutch Orgelnieuws website has published a rather detailed analysis of the 1850 organ concerts taking place during the 4-month summer peak. This Saturday, 10th August, will be "Peak Organ", when 52 organ concerts are planned! Annoyingly, due to an ongoing commitment I may not be able to go to the one I really want to, the Willis in Leiden. Ah well. The link is below, Google will give a pretty good translation. http://www.orgelnieuws.nl/orgelconcerten-bereiken-zomerse-piek-meer-dan-1-850-concerten-in-vier-maanden/
  4. "This is simply using MIDI from the iPad, of course" In one of the videos that someone linked to showing the first sounds from Canterbury Cathedral, the chap appears to use his smartphone to control the swell shutters. There is an electronic there at the moment, connecting the two together could be fun!
  5. The separation of church and state in France is founded in the law of 1905. To learn more about this, the Wikipedia page is as good a place to start as any: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1905_French_law_on_the_Separation_of_the_Churches_and_the_State This doesn't apply just to catholics. The principle of laïcité applies extensively. Recently, I saw a French TV programme in which the director of a school was having to order students coming in to adjust any overtly religious clothing. Mostly muslim girls, or course, although they were at least allowed to wear their headscarves as bandanas. But that's just one relatively small point in the grand scheme. A major part of what makes fin de siècle France so fascinating, in almost every respect - its many warts and all, but not least culturally, musically and organ-ly.
  6. A few recent organs (Sussex University, and somewhere in Oxford, I think) have used the buttons with in-built lights from lifts for stop selection. You could easily replace those disruptive moving stop knobs with them, probably without rewiring, just using the existing wiring for selection and turning the lights on and off. You could even adapt those attractively-voiced lift announcements - "I wouldn't do that if I were you Dave" for unwise combinations such as Voix Celestes and Tuba Mirabilis, or "TUTTI!!" when appropriate. Perhaps even have the backlight change colour according to the liturgical season. That would be a fun project for someone, shouldn't take too long to get working properly. Or alternatively, but much less fun, buy a smaller cup :)
  7. Vierne's console is still there, in some side room in the tower, along with the restored positif case. You never know ... https://www.atelier-quoirin.com/NDP-Positif.php
  8. I occasionally played, and frequently listened to, a Willis in Corpus Christi church in Wokingham, which I now think might be a junior development organ. At the time, it only had two manuals, 8,4,2; 8, no swell, and no pedal or even pedals, and was obviously intended to provide the bare minimum for Catholic worship. Nevertheless it was a nice instrument, and had a presence which belied its size. A fortunate combination of almost perfect siting in the building and bold, but not in the least harsh, voicing. I understod that it was prepared for further development, which was never carried out. Unfortunately it was supplanted by an electronic just as I moved to the Netherlands, but left in place. I have no idea what became of it. A pity.
  9. There is an article in the September 2012 edition of Organists Review by Paul Hale about the Ambleside organ, available from his website here https://paulhale.org/interests-articles.htm, which doesn't address all the points above, but is very interestng to read and has nice photos.
  10. "It'll never catch on!" Careful now - there are a few quite recent examples of this sort of thing. The Oberlinger organ at St Josef in Bonn was struck by lighting a couple of years ago, and while the main console is apparently still out of action, the organ itself along with a choir organ, also built along the extension principle, is playable from an electronic console by (I think) Thomas Gaida. There is a nice video by the Scottish organist Fraser Gartshore showing some of the fun things you can do with it, some rather similar to the Malmo organ. Gaida has built a couple of other similar "unifying" consoles for other German churches. I have been to Freiburg im Breisgau - probably not the first person to go into the Munster, look at the back wall, and realise that I was in the "wrong" Freiburg - where all four organs are playable from a single console. In fact, I believe one of the organs doesn't actually have its own console. My only problem with this Malmo console is that it is particularly ugly, resembling a cobbled-together Hauptwerk experiment. There are plenty of examples of modern remote consoles which are much nicer.
  11. As the song goes: "When a grid's misaligned with another behind that's a Moiré ..." The bane of digital photography, with obvious disadvantages when looking at old or poorly scanned photos of organ parts.
  12. Resurrection of a major Compton It's not that they do always things better in "Europe", but often they do. AVRO, one of the Dutch national broadcasters, had an organ installed in their music theatre in 1936. Started by the Dutch company Standaart, who made theatre and cinema organs, among other things, in Holland, it was largely built by Compton, who took over in 1935 when Standaart went out of business. This organ is now being restored by Pels en van Leeuwen, to be re-installed in the Muziek Centrum voor de Omroep, the Broadcasting Music Centre. Two links below, in Dutch but which will be understandable via Google Translate, report the initial award of a subsidy for the work, and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte "tuning" the first pipe. http://www.orgelnieuws.nl/subsidie-25-ton-voor-pierre-palla-orgel-muziekcentrum-omroep/ http://www.orgelnieuws.nl/mark-rutte-stemt-eerste-pijp-van-pierre-palla-concertorgel/ What a stark contrast with Wolverhapmton. That instrument could so easily have been found a home, even temporary. There could well be a couple of Cathedrals and good sized churches which would have been prepared to install it, even temporarily, given it's particular character as a concert instrument - although some purer theatre and cinema organs have found their ways into churches. This loss is pure ignorance, given the unseemly haste with which the destruction took place. At the risk of raising a few hackles - I'll risk it -"we" as a country refuse to return the Elgin marbles to Greece, someone else's heritage, on the grounds that they won't be properly looked after. I have been to the very new Parthenon Museum in Athens, it is superb, specifically designed to keep ALL of the marbles, and I would happily see the British marbles returned to Greece where they unquestionably belong. However, we happily destroy our own cultural heritage from the more recent past out of laziness. I think the average Greek would draw their own conclusions!
  13. I hope everyone is enjoying their musical tasks at the moment. Accompanying and supporting Christmas services is something all of us approach with care, pride, and not a little trepidation. But a little word of advice … have the order of service with you and follow it. At last week's 9 lessons and carols, after O Come all ye Faithful had finished, I took a dramatic pause and then launched into an (admittedly poor) extemporisation while the congregation departed for coffee. Even from my lofty perch, it smelled lovely. Except they stayed put. Looking around, I noticed the vicar waving at me to stop, albeit with a broad grin on his face. Not being familiar with Anglican ways, and not following the order of service, I had forgotten that he finished the service with a round of thanks and a blessing. THEN I can play. Oops. Apparently a query to the choir mistress (my wife) about how I could be stopped was met with a wry smile and a "Too late now, mate!" I got a round of applause from it, and people have been kind with their good-natured teasing during the week, but still … Happy Christmas, all.
  14. Regarding Germani's comment on the context of a piece, I have only once heard one of Widor's symphonies played live as a whole, no 6 here in Voorburg (http://www.oudekerkvoorburg.nl/historie/het-marianne-orgel.html) as un-Widor an organ as you could hope to find given its age, but a with a well thought out performance adapted to the organ, necessary when you need two page-turners/registrants. This showed me two things, at least: listening to how the performer has adapted a piece to an instrument of a very different style makes you listen quite attentively, and hearing the whole work reveals the ebb and flow of ideas through the movements, setting them in their context. It's very enjoyable, although quite demanding, especially for a general audience. Recently I've been travelling a lot, so with my new noise-cancelling headphones I've been profiting from the enforced idleness by listening, inter alia, to some complete de Grigny masses and Clérambault suites, without any distractions. I have few analytical abilities musically, but my appreciation of this music, which I'm a great fan of anyway, is increasing for understanding the context better.
  15. Given enough notice, most people want their own funerals to commemorate things they loved in life, and to send the attendees off with a bit of a smile if possible. All the more reason to respect their wishes. The music for the Durham funeral will be a joy for all who hear it. My wife's aunt died recently, and the church funeral was followed by a short service at, as it happens, Durham Crematorium which, as an aside, has a striking and to my taste very attractive chapel. She went out to Sinatra, "New York, New York". As my thoughtful wife said, "Well, she wants to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep." Amen to that.
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