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John Mitchell

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  1. I see now that one of the organs I was thinking of (Rochdale Parish Church) has finally got it's prepared for stops installed. It's taken 52 years, but I guess better late than never.
  2. I didn't know that Colin Hele had died. We were friends and had joint charge of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall organ for several years. The Durban B&F was rebuilt by Willis IV in the 70's. He crammed it with extra stops and maintenance became next to impossible. The last I heard it was no longer working. The same can be said for Johannesburg City Hall. Another Willis IV disaster, in fact it was already falling apart before he'd finished the rebuild. I know because I was in the hall rehearsing the Johannesburg Bach Choir the evening it happened. We suddenly heard the soundboards cracking. M
  3. The organ is the largest and finest instrument built by Brindley & Foster. It was designed by Sir George Martin (St. Paul's Cathedral) and installed in 1903. Martin liked the B&F pipe-work and voicing, but despised their patented actions. He insisted that the Pietermaritzburg organ must have normal slider chests and that was how it was built. It was renovated in the late 70's by Colin Hele.and thus escaped the attentions of Willis IV who was touring the country 'rebuilding' several organs with terrible results. Fortunately the Pietermarizburg council couldn't afford his price, so the l
  4. I see it's a Harrison organ and I regret to say that they seem to specialise in 'Prepared For' stops. Probably because their instruments are so expensive in the first place. When we were planning a new or used organ at my last church I rang Mark Venning and asked him for an estimate. He quoted me an eye watering price, but said that much of the design could be prepared for. I told him to forget it!
  5. How many times have I seen those fateful words on consoles around the world. They denote an unfinished job, usually when a church runs out of money before the tonal scheme has been completed. In my experience those stops never get installed and the console promises what the organ doesn't provide. I get the feeling that the congregation get used to what they hear and don't see the need for any more. On one organ I played a whole manual was missing. The chest was there and the action connected up, but no pipes at all. In another church various stops, including a pedal reed were prepared for, bu
  6. We had one of those jealous organists in Rochdale. The organ was quite nice - a Hill organ rebuilt by Harrisons A 3 decker. A friend of mine was to get married there and asked me to play the organ. The organist refused despite the fact that he would have been paid for doing nothing. The friend asked me instead to be an usher and help her to select the music. For going out I suggested the Moulet Carillon Sortie. At that stage I couldn't have played it myself, but I suspected that the organist couldn't either. I was right! He kept repeating the first bar until we all got out of the church. I s
  7. We had a Peter Conacher in the Lytham Parish Church. It was a 3 manual instrument and must have been quite impressive when built. The pipes were made in France.and the organ faced the nave. When it was still fairly young the whole instrument was turned around to face the chancel and there the problems began. It was now much too loud in the chancel and feeble in the nave. All sorts of efforts were made to rectify this problem. Wind pressures were changed. New upperwork was added. The swell Cornopean 8' became a 16' stop and an extra chest for 8' and 4' reeds was added, but on higher pressure t
  8. I was not aware of the distinction, but the gentleman concerned was introduced to us as the DOA. He was determined to have us take his proposal and vetoed or subverted every other scheme. It was also clear that our organ builder was 'In his pocket'. I became angry when at a general meeting, having quoted us £200,000 to carry out another plan, agreed with the DOA that the organ concerned was of poor quality. At that moment I became so furious that I dare not speak as the words I would have used were seldom heard in the vicarage!!
  9. Maybe I should explain why we opted for a Copeman Hart organ in Lytham. It was far from our original intention. We had an organ by Peter Conacher which had been moved early in its life. Being designed to speak into the nave only it did a fine job, but then it was turned around to face the chancel where it blasted the heads off the choristers but sounded feeble to the congregation. It was altered and added to several times after that to try and correct that, but location prevailed. My first job was to try to solve this problem and I proposed to turn the organ back around, beef up the choir orga
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