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Mander Organs

Rowland Wateridge

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Everything posted by Rowland Wateridge

  1. Thank you for those details, MM. A sad story. It seems at least possible that H&H were able to rescue some of the surviving pipe-work, even if we can’t establish with certainty that the Vox Humana came from Holy Trinity.
  2. That is what I had always assumed. MM Can I use this as an excuse to divert to St George’s Chapel Windsor. The recent work by Nicholson’s revealed that a fair amount of pipework reused by H&H - including the Vox Humana - came from Keighley. Can you enlighten us about this? Concerning the VH, Jonathan Rees-Williams once related that Sidney Campbell had scoured the length and breadth of France for a perfect specimen which H&H were instructed to copy, but that hardly ties in with its coming from Keighley. Apologies for the diversion, but it would be good to know.
  3. Both were David Hill’s assistants at Winchester in the 1980s/90s.
  4. Yes, I agree with this approach both for the console label and what the public should be told on the website or in printed programmes. Of course, it potentially loses some prestige (although, regardless of what is being said here, I suspect for some people it will always be “the Father Willis”). But the same can be said of other originally FW organs around the country rebuilt by H&H, the first, I think, at Wells, then Gloucester among others. The H&H console label at Winchester lists everything from Henry Willis 1851/4 to the latest rebuild by H&H 1988 - including Hele’s additions of 1905, of which, (possibly to VH’s relief!) only 100 pipes remain in the present organ of about 5,500 pipes. I haven’t been up in the organ loft for very many years, but there were various plaques nearby recording details in the organ’s history, and I imagine that they are still there.
  5. But how should the RAH organ be correctly described? Do the people at the RAH have a clear idea about what their website should say? Is the organ a Harrison, as John Mander seemed to suggest? (I thought he was being unnecessarily self-deprecating, as the Mander rebuild seemed to transform the instrument.) But isn't it a fact that the majority of the pipework is by Father Willis, albeit that the general opinion seems to be that H&H so transformed the instrument that it lost its essential Willis character. So, what do people think it should be called?
  6. You are, indeed, correct. With a musical reference at the end, I quote these extracts on the subject from Francis Bumpus: ”The next excitement is the distribution of the pain bénit, handed round by a capped and gowned verger, followed by a rather sulky-looking chorister, forming a procession of two. We all take a small piece. Some, I observe, eat it at once, first crossing themselves with it; others place it on the chair-ledge in front of them to take home afterwards ... ... All this time a very grand Offertorium - Lemmens’ Marche Triomphale - is played upon the great organ ... “ Bumpus was in Chartres on Sunday August 6th, the Festival of Our Lord’s Transfiguration. Incidentally, he records just before the distribution having been charged dix centimes for the use of a prie-dieu.
  7. This was bread distributed to the congregation at Mass. I’m about to leave to attend a funeral, but I will check my source and respond later.
  8. “Summer Holidays among the Glories of Northern France her Cathedrals and Churches”, London E T W Dennis & Sons Ltd, 1905; 243 pages and 110 photographic plates. There are some available from Amazon and eBay, and I suspect it would turn up in antiquarian bookshops. There are modern facsimiles, but I don’t know whether they include the photographs or, if they do, how well. As well as the Cathedrals and Churches, Bumpus paints a vivid picture of French rural life pre-WW I (I think, it’s mostly 19th Century). It’s certainly pre-motor age and, e.g., he travels by horse and carriage in Paris, and the photograph of the west front of Rouen Cathedral is almost a hay wain scene. The descriptions of services and participants are fascinating - an organ misbehaving badly, the priest-organist purple with embarrassment, while the Canons sit impassively ignoring it completely!; a “diaphanous” procession for a Guild Service at Chartres including “two or three hundred veiled girls”; being shown Thomas à Becket’s mitre at Pontigny; altar boys firing matches at each other; and many more such vignettes - all, I suspect, a very different picture from present-day France.
  9. A very interesting picture. Has the organ also received some ‘paint’? Some of the pipes now look as though they may be gilt, but it could be a lighting effect. S_L will doubtless be able to say. I’m sure I have seen a photograph which includes the “coal-bunker” Orgue de Choeur as mentioned by pcnd5584, but can’t currently track it down. I possess a book on the cathedrals of France by T Francis Bumpus (1905) which contains a chapter “A Sunday in Chartres”. In somewhat flowery language he describes “The silver pipes of the great organ, by and by to pour forth its voice in the showy Interlude or Offertorium, gleam out from the sombre heights of the clerestory, where, as at Metz and Strasburg (sic), it is disposed with such grand effect”. Liturgists would be fascinated by his description of the Capitular High Mass, and such archaic (?) happenings as the host (Bumpus says “bread”) being distributed at Communion by choristers from baskets, some of the faithful taking it home to consume later (now totally forbidden, I believe), and afterwards, ‘Papa’ appearing in cassock and surplice bearing a trombone to accompany one of the minor services. (This evocative piece of history runs to 14 pages, so this is necessarily the briefest summary.)
  10. Tony Newnham’s post reminds me of a splendid concert at Leeds Town Hall on 2nd October 2017, marking the 100th birthday of Francis Jackson that day. The performers were Darius Battiwalla, Simon Lindley and John Scott-Whiteley. The programme included Francis Jackson’s “Eclogue” for Organ and Piano (composed for the 1987 International Congress of Organists in Cambridge and dedicated to Philip Ledger) played by Darius Battiwalla, piano and Simon Lindley, organ. I remember that there was a thunder-storm - it didn’t mar the performance, but at one point Darius Battiwalla looked enquiringly heavenwards!
  11. The Sowerbutts/ Dyson performance wasn’t in Winchester Cathedral which, at that time, possessed the ultimate Hele ‘fat flute’ - this was the Great “Doppel Flute” discarded much later in the major H&H 1986/88 rebuild. Tim Byram-Wigfield showed me one of the pipes, 2’ I think, which he kept as a souvenir trophy. It was of wood and, to the best of my recollection, square or possibly slightly rectangular in section (I think not triangular, although I can’t now be certain), with two mouths of course. To my layman’s eyes it looked well-made, but Tim related with a kind of shudder that this stop alone “could fill the cathedral with a flood of sound”. Martin Neary, with James Lancelot and Tim, decided that it didn’t qualify to stay after the rebuild, and of the added Hele ranks, only the Pedal Bombardes and the Swell Violin Diapason survived.
  12. Remarkable that Paul Morley should post the clip of the Rachmaninov No 2 Concerto. Until recently I had custody of the archives of my local Organists’ Association which included a report from the 1920s of the première performance in Winchester of a Rachmaninov Concerto (not certain which one) played by John Albert Sowerbutts, piano and Dr (later Sir) George Dyson, organ.
  13. Franck’s 3rd Choral in A minor. His musical final testament. I recall Bernard Lagacé saying that it must always be accorded reverence. Felix Aprahamian likened the final page to the soul winging its way to heaven.
  14. We know that the Hill 32’ pipes for Sydney Town Hall (and doubtless the famous 64’) went by sea, lashed to the ship’s deck! I believe it was a sailing ship. But I have often wondered how the much earlier ones were transported - Birmingham Town Hall, 1834 and Winchester and St George’s Hall, as already mentioned 1850s, and both at just about the beginning of the railway age. The most visually prominent (and earliest?) that I know are the spectacular 32’ pedal Violone pipes standing on the floor of the south transept at Exeter Cathedral. I wrote this before reading Colin Pykett’s post. Yes, in some of the above examples, possibly Birmingham, there may have been transport by canal. Somewhat later, Truro was transported by sea and river. I wonder whether David Wyld has any records about the early Willis examples.
  15. I thought there might be some significance in the dates: 1875 for Carlisle and 1876 for Salisbury. In that same decade Father Willis had built the Royal Albert Hall and Alexandra Palace organs with 32’ open metals. By then he had moved to the Rotunda Works in 1866, and all of these examples would have been made there. But that idea is disproved at an earlier date: 1855 St George’s Hall, Liverpool where FW provided Open Diapason 32’ wood and Open Diapason 32’ metal. I have often wondered how these huge pipes were transported. Can David Wyld assist? Some of our organist colleagues with experience of both ought to be able to help on the tonal question. Of course, voicing variations will come into play, e.g., a Contra Violone 32’ as comparison. The questions about Arthur Harrison had never occurred to me before Stanley Monkhouse asked them. I suspect MM might well know the answers.
  16. I don’t have any technical answer, and doubtless someone with organ building experience will enlighten us. Of the organs mentioned, the one I know best, and it is the earliest in date, is Winchester. In a print of it in its earliest incarnation at the Great Exhibition 1851 the 32’ pedal woods are very evident. They came, with about two-thirds of the Exhibition organ, to Winchester in 1854 when this organ, much larger than anything previously, was precariously perched on the roof of the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre under the north tower arch - very much against the wishes of S S Wesley who wanted it to be on the stone pulpitum between the quire and nave which then existed. (Surely he was right about this. The organ has suffered, and still suffers, from its cramped enclosed position.) The 32’ wood and 16’ were at the back of the organ and rather unsightly. I believe H&H much later painted them ‘battleship grey’, but they have recently been completely concealed at the instigation of a former Dean behind an enormous and gaudy cloth masquerading as a kind of tapestry (but, of course, nothing of the sort). The 32’ was originally named “Double Double Open Diapason”. It was of massive scale which was reduced by H&H in their 1938 first rebuild. The 32 notes compass was also reduced to 30 then. The late Anthony Caesar used to relate that as a boy chorister at the time he crawled through the original bottom C pipe. Sadly, that was ignominiously used as a workbench and lost - together with, among others, the FW Vox Humana and Tuba Clarion - a sad example of changing tastes. Apologies for this long digression. Winchester is not properly written-up on NPOR - in no way the fault of NPOR - simply that no one has undertaken the task. But in 1854 it was a remarkable instrument: 49 independent speaking stops, tracker action with Barker lever assistance and hand-blown (three levers) but, in other respects, the ultimate in modernity: thumb pistons, radiating and concave pedal board and (I believe) the first Father Willis ‘full swell’ anywhere. The organ didn’t have that feature (or the radiating pedals) at the Great Exhibition. From the beginning it had complete diapason choruses and mixtures on three manuals and pedals, and a nascent and tentative solo organ. One can see stylistic changes in FW’s later organs: Salisbury and St. Paul’s came a quarter of a century later, and the last, Lincoln, almost half a century. Inevitably they all differ, and in spite of rebuilds each retains its own unique character.
  17. Indeed, and it’s worth reminding ourselves - so far as the C of E is concerned - from Canon B 20: 2. Where there is an organist, choirmaster or director of music the minister shall pay due heed to his advice and assistance in the choosing of chants, hymns, anthems, and other settings, and in the ordering of the music of the church; but at all times the final responsibility and decision in these matters rests with the minister. 3. It is the duty of the minister to ensure that only such chants, hymns, anthems, and other settings are chosen as are appropriate, both the words and the music, to the solemn act of worship and prayer in the House of God as well as to the congregation assembled for that purpose; and to banish all irreverence in the practice and in the performance of the same. I’m not sure that either of these provisions is always observed in practice! There is certainly scope for differences of opinion about Canon B 20 3! I ‘serve’ in a church where the priest tends to delegate musical matters to the churchwardens ... It calls for some diplomacy on the organist’s part at times!
  18. It was interesting, if somewhat surprising, to see the amount of hybrid ‘second-hand’ pipework used in the H&H 1965 organ from elsewhere, including Ripon Cathedral, Hampstead, Belfast, ‘unknown’, pipes labelled ‘tibia’ and, intriguingly, several stops (including the Vox Humana) from Keighley - perhaps MM might be able to throw some light on the last. Usually people deprecate such things in a major organ, e.g., Henry Willis III has often been criticised (probably unfairly) for installing the former Lewis diapason chorus in the Dome at St Paul’s Cathedral. (This was done after war damage, in times of extreme austerity and shortage of materials.) But notwithstanding the above, the Windsor organ was held to be an outstanding instrument and much praised on earlier threads by VH and pcnd5584 and others. It will be interesting to hear views about the 2019 changes from people after experiencing the sound ‘in the flesh’.
  19. Not really the subject of organ screens, but people have questioned the widespread blossoming of “Minsters” (also happening in the south and west of England, e.g., Croydon Minster and Plymouth Minster, to name just two). Here is the explanation from the present Archbishop of York: “The status of Minster is an honorific title bestowed on major churches of regional significance in the Church of England, to reflect their importance and contribution to the local communities they serve”. As mentioned in an earlier post, Leeds now has an Anglican diocesan bishop but no Anglican cathedral in the city of Leeds itself. The Minster’s designation appears to reflect that fact without going as far as calling it the pro-Cathedral. It is, of course, also a major church of regional significance.
  20. Definitely worth looking at NPOR E02082 for the photographs of the unusually fine case and information about the organ’s pedigree: essentially by George Sixsmith partly using a transplanted Binns from Peebles (the chamades, voiced by Nicholson’s, being later additions). I used to play a small organ by Sixsmith in the south of England which also had a striking modern pipe display. It was beautifully made, comfortable to play, and completely reliable.
  21. We discussed the subject of Minsters on a previous thread - it can’t have been that long ago - but I can’t track it down. Hull, and the Archbishop of York’s reason for designating it, was specifically mentioned. But in relation to Minsters, I don’t think it was ever a hard and fast rule that the origins of the church had to be monastic - I’m sure it’s a matter of usage. Unless I am mistaken, York, Lincoln and Southwell have never been monastic, but all are Minsters. In the case of Leeds PC I was under the impression that its ‘promotion’ to Minster was in recognition of the creation of the new Anglican diocese of Leeds, taking in the existing Bradford, Ripon (already a Minster) and Wakefield Cathedrals.
  22. An interesting variant with fine detailed carving: Westminster Cathedral. For some reason I can’t reproduce a full-size colour photograph here. NPOR N18330 gives a glimpse of it in black and white.
  23. This is, indeed, a great shock. I recall Sir Stephen in another capacity. He was formerly Chairman of the IAO Benevolent Fund, and at the Annual Meeting of the Trustees and Board of Management one couldn’t fail to be impressed by his genuine concern and compassion for the Fund’s beneficiaries, whether suffering from ill-health or for those who had fallen on hard times. Under his Chairmanship grants were also made to assist students who were unable to afford tuition fees and for purchasing music. One could add to those his efficiency and courtesy in chairing the meetings. May he rest in peace.
  24. I’m sure there was no mention of it in the original specification, but I suppose matching stop heads can be provided for both consoles. The absence of a 32’ Pedal flue was vigorously debated earlier on this thread. Paradoxically, the previous Downes/ Walker organ had one. There is a photograph on NPOR C00020 showing wooden pedal pipes of the former organ protruding into the aisle, but not excessively so, and they are no more obtrusive than those in the similar position at Hereford Cathedral - or the new Quire console and stairs at Canterbury Cathedral.
  25. As we have allowed liturgical music (the lovely Oldroyd improvisations) and chorale preludes, would it be considered too radical to include Max Reger’s ‘Benedictus’ and, from his Seven Pieces, ‘Pfingsten’. I heard a performance by Catherine Ennis of Pfingsten earlier this year which was simply ravishing! I agree that the Adagio from Vierne 3 is among his loveliest, and wonderfully evocative, music. Without checking, I’m sure we must have already covered ‘Berceuse’ for which the same can be said.
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