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John Robinson

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Posts posted by John Robinson

  1. 11 hours ago, John Pike Mander said:

    This was a repeat of what happened when the Town Hall was built. The Open Wood 32' pipes for that were delivered by canal barge. Those were the pipes which HW4 cut up with a chain saw for some inexplicable reason, leaving parts of the sawn up pipes in the organ.

    NPOR states that in 1979 the bottom 8 pipes were removed 'to improve access'.

  2. I don't suppose anyone here attended, but the organ was very impressive.  I have never heard it played flat out as tonight, in both the Grande Choeur Dialogue and the Vierne Mass.  I think it would have been more than adequate in a middle-sized cathedral.  The toaster was nowhere by comparison.

    Oh, and the choir was OK as well!

  3. May I please provide details of a forthcoming choir and organ recital by the William Byrd Singers at 7.30pm on Saturday 29th February 2020 at Christ Church, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2DZ.  Conductor: Keith Orrell, organists: Richard Lea and Robert Woods.  Tickets: £12, £10 (concessions), £5 (students), available online (www.eventbrite.co.uk), or at the door (although these events are usually very well attended!)

    Eugène Gigout: Grande Chœur Dialogué from Six Pieces d’Orgue (2 organs – RL RW)

    Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine (with organ – RW)

    Joubert: Pro pace motets

                Libera pleben

                O tristia secla priora

                Solus ad victimam

    Joubert: Prelude on ‘Picardy’ Op. 55 (with organ – RL)

    Clausen: In pace

    Vierne: Messe Solennelle Op 16 (2 organs – RL RW)

                Kyrie eleison

                Gloria in excelsis Deo



                Agnus Dei

    (Although it is advertised as featuring two organs, it is actually one organ (details on NPOR) and a toaster!)FB_IMG_1579456315644.thumb.jpg.0a396c62875e575c0a386415e5c3c9af.jpg

  4. 16 hours ago, ptindall said:

    Apparently not. Klaas Bolt's booklet (1985) says that bottom C of the the 32 is 371mm. The 16ft HW Prestant is 222mm at C. 

    Still quite narrow.  I'll have a look for my booklet tomorrow when I have more time.

  5. On 04/02/2020 at 13:01, MusoMusing said:

    Like all things, there are exceptions.  I cringe to think what the 32ft pure Cornish tin facade at the Bavokerk, Haarlem might cost to-day!

    Image result for bavo orgel

    I seem to recall from a booklet I can't lay my hands on right now, that the 32' Praestant is of a relatively narrow scale, the bottom C of 235mm (9.25") diameter if I recall, which seems very narrow comparatively speaking.  I must have another look for the booklet to check my facts.

  6. 15 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

    Sorry to keep banging on about it, but if one wants or needs to retain recorded information for an indefinitely long time, then the problem of 'media rot' is a major one as I said in a post above.  Hence my interest in keeping backups, not only as backups per se, but backups on different types of physical media.

    Exactly.  I have recorded some of my favourite organ LPs on to minidisc for exactly that reason, but also for the convenience of being able to listen to them in bed (you can't easily play LPs in bed) - listening using headphones, of course, so as not to disturb Marge!

  7. 12 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

    Agree entirely!  It's a pity in my view that the Minidisc came and went so quickly, but the main reason was that there wasn't enough pre-recorded material made available quickly enough to satisfy the largely teenage market, and simultaneously the sub-market consisting of those (like you and me!) who wanted a new, economical and convenient way of making digital recordings just wasn't big enough.  However there are signs of an upturn in interest, though obviously only for the existing equipment still around which seems to be getting quite sought-after now. As an example, I bought a Sharp portable (Walkman-type) player/recorder nearly 20 years ago when they came out at a cost approaching £100.  Lovely little thing, and still working fine and very handy to have.  In 2010 I got a nearly-unused identical model off ebay for less than £10 as a back up.  But now the same items are attracting almost their original prices again.  So there must be a small army of people out there somewhere who share our views!

    Yes, I can believe it!

    I really hope that they begin making these again (though I doubt it) because if and when my Minidisc turns its toes up I shall desperately want to replace it.  Perhaps, if it does pack up, a repair might be possible.

  8. Just my four penn'orth, but I have a Sony Minidisc which I find perfectly good.  I understand from reviews, etc, that it isn't exactly hi-fi, but with my high-frequency hearing loss (discussed elsewhere) I can honestly say that I can't hear the difference (using good headphones) to my hi-fi system with four-way speakers!
    It's also far better than my old tape cassette player (now ditched) which medium, I have to say, has always been hopeless what with low quality reproduction, tapes stretching and getting tangled up.

  9. 9 hours ago, jwillans said:

    On a positive note - the organist training programme run out of Leeds Cathedral under David Pipe seems to be doing tremendously well.  To the extent where they have added additional teachers into the programme.

    I'm pleased to see that Leeds seems to be a forward looking city with regard to the organ, what with this, the proposed alterations and additions to the Town Hall organ and the continuation of free lunchtime recitals there as well.

  10. 2 hours ago, David Surtees said:

    If there were a culture in this country that valued the organ, the demise of Christianity would not be an issue. It is worth comparing the situation here with that in the Netherlands. In an increasingly secular society many churches have closed, but the organs (often of huge historical significance) remain in use. The number of organ recitals that take place seems staggering, and they are by and large very well supported.

    It seems unlikely to me that the Dutch organ building industry will die out any time soon. 

    Our last vestige of hope?

    Yes, certainly the Christian church is dying out in this country and some believe that the organ may die out with it.
    On the other hand, we still have concert hall organs which appear to attract some sort of audience and, of course, we still have cathedrals and Oxbridge colleges in which organ music is still heard.  In fact, there must be still some support as both Canterbury and York cathedrals are presently having their organs rebuilt (per a thread on this web site!).

    To be perfectly honest, as an atheist, churches being closed down doesn't concern me too much, accepting that they are closing because people appear not to want them.  That sort of sounds fair.  Sad, though, that organs are also disappearing locally.

    So what is the answer?  I'd like to think that if the Dutch can do what they're doing, perhaps we can.  Unfortunately, I can't think how we'd go about that.  When a primary teacher, I did attempt to instil some sort of early interest in the organ among my charges.  I have no idea how successful or otherwise I was.

  11. On 31/12/2019 at 09:20, Stanley Monkhouse said:

    I've not started a topic before, so I hope this is in the correct section of the forum. Two questions about 32 ft flues.

    Why did Willis I use metal at Carlisle and Salisbury, but (assuming only one 32ft flue) wood elsewhere? At Carlisle they're the first thing that greets you when you walk in, and metal looks better.  But at Salisbury that is not the reason - they're no more or less obvious than those at, say, Durham, Hereford, Winchester. Metals sound rather different - they can have more 'drive' - but not that much


    Sadly, I have never had the opportunity to directly compare a 32' Wood with a 32' Metal, but I had assumed that the metal pipes would have more harmonic development than the wood ones, giving the metal ones more 'drive' as you describe it, and the wood pipes possibly being more weighty and 'foundational'.
    I'd be interested to know whether or not that is, in fact, the case.

  12. 13 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

    Like you, John, I’m not an organist but an avid listener who also leaned towards construction. So far this Christmas I’ve not played a single carol CD, simply relying on the radio broadcast from King’s. What CD listening I’ve done has been much needed dust-offs of Tournemire, Duruffle, Dupre, Langlais, Whitlock and, of course, Bach, etc.


    Yes, unfortunately I have never been able to develop the necessary skills to play.  If a genie should ever offer me three wishes, one of them would be that I was able to play the organ well.  I have not yet considered the other two!

    My Christmas music consisted, this year, of only two sources: the King's Nine Lessons and Carols and a CD of their Christmas music.
    I was pleased to find that their standard of music has remained, under their new musical director, as excellent as it was under the distinguished Stephen Cleobury.

  13. On 20/12/2019 at 06:54, Andrew Butler said:

    The only time I have had a problem with time lag was when I was playing for a big deanery service at Canterbury (the Mander) and included a Stanley voluntary beforehand.  The Cornet on the Choir Organ, being at the furthest east end of the triforium from the console was ever so slightly "behind" the accompaniment (Swell or Great flutes - can't remember)  Not a lot, but enough to put me off in limited rehearsal time, so I programmed something else.

    That's interesting, and it prompts me to ask whether coupling a more local division to a remote one might help with this sort of thing.  Perhaps attempting to pay more attention to the local sound might help with 'ignoring' the slightly delayed remote sound.

    I should point out that I am not an organist, so please don't be afraid to point it out if I am talking a load of tripe!

  14. 9 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

    I've found this thread extremely interesting and useful.  Just one question - my NHS aids currently do the job quite well at the moment, but if I wanted to try purchasing privately, what's the best route into the private providers' sector?  I would want to avoid those who would say their products and service are wonderful in all conceivable respects, in favour of one which hopefully would be less biased and more objective.  Are the usual high street chains any good or does one need to be more discriminating?

    Many thanks.

    As with most things, it is a good idea to compare different options.  Many hearing aid outlets offer a trial period (mine did, anyway - Boots) and, presumably, you can try a pair here, try a different brand elsewhere, and so on.
    To be honest, I didn't though.  I went with the first pair - Phonak, but on reflection perhaps I should have tried different ones.

  15. I'm sure I've read other threads on here regarding unequal temperament before, but I think here is as good as any.

    What I find hard to believe is that unequal temperament is not employed more widely in organs.  Perhaps not concert room organs which  are required to work with orchestras and many other instruments, but why not churches and cathedrals.  How often do we see cathedral instruments being used with orchestras?  Surely, it is far more usual - normal, in fact - for them to be used with choirs.

    I'd go so far as to say that a cathedral organ retuned in an unequal temperament like Kellner would not even be noticed as any different by most people, whereas many are likely to find that they like the sound in preference to how it was.

  16. 11 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

    However I haven't come anywhere near a point where I'd think of shoving them in a drawer, but nevertheless am a bit picky as to the situations when I put them on, such as when watching TV.  Wearing them in the street verges on the intolerable owing to traffic noise etc, and even when doing the dishes I have to turn the volume down as otherwise the clashing and clattering is almost painful, not that my wife allows that as an excuse not to do it 

    An interesting phenomenon exists whereby one can 'turn down one's own ears' physically when bombarded by loud sounds.  I'm not sure how I achieve this, though I believe it involves tensing muscles attached to the auditory ossicles which, in turn, moderates their movement when transmitting sound from the eardrum to the oval window in the cochlea.  I can't even explain how to do this, but I think it can happen involuntarily when we hear particularly loud sounds.  On the other hand, I have learnt how to do this voluntarily and I'm sure I'm not alone.

    However, I also turn my hearing aids down (left ear button) if the ambient sound is generally too loud, or up (right ear button) if I can't quite hear something clearly.

  17. 12 minutes ago, Contrabombarde said:

    Yes that Didsbury organ is quite the mammoth two manual organ. Paid for by the city council in compensation for changing the position of the main door of the church due to a road widening scheme that never quite happened - what a contrast to today where the same council is unable to afford the restoration of one of the country's finest Cavaille-Coll organs during the restoration of Manchester town hall.

    I didn't know about that.  I assume that the main door was originally facing the adjacent Princess Road.  The main entrance is now at the south-east (liturgical) corner of the building.  Very fortunate compensation payment, I'm sure readily accepted!

    (Marge has asked me to recommend their choral concerts at the church - The William Byrd Singers!)

  18. 15 hours ago, S_L said:


    Some of the phraseology in the write-up on he church website is interesting!

    ………………………. and all paid for by the local council - now that is clever!

    The church, I see, also boasts a high-quality 'toaster' as well as a 'Makin' analogue 'in store'!!!


    I'm afraid I haven't heard, or even seen, the toasters!  The only organ used in the concerts I have attended has been the pipe organ.
    I can't speak for services, though.

  19. Not a cathedral, but the church where my wife sings: Christ Church, West Didsbury, Manchester, enjoys an organ of 43 stops including three Chamades, a 32' Bourdon and a surprisingly effective digital 32' reed.  Not a bad collection compared to some cathedrals, considering this is only a small parish church.

    I have never been particularly enamoured of electronic additions to otherwise completely straight organs, but this one has made me think again.

    I think the church (and choir) are very lucky to have such an instrument.  I suppose it all comes down to available funding, though.

  20. 22 hours ago, Fiffaro said:

    Something to keep in mind when selecting a hearing aid is that all digital aids have some delay between receiving the sound into the aid's microphone and output a sound into your canal. This is unavoidable as their processing transforms the signal from the time domain to the frequency domain where the signal processing takes place and back into the time domain to be fed into your canal. This process relies on storing a small amount of sound before initiating the transformation on it - input and output buffers.

    This delay can be minimised but not eliminated, and for people who find the latency on digital instruments annoying, this could be a problem with such a device. 

    If a manufacturer offers a return by period with full refund, make use of it and don't be shy about taking the devices back if it is not usable. The manufacturers are highly profitable, partly because people that aren't happy simply leave the device in a drawer rather than ask for a refund. It does take time to become used to a device, and audiologist will push customers to try to become used to their device, but if that is not possible, they should be agreeable about acknowledging this.

    Sound advice, if you'll pardon the pun.

    Fortunately, my (expensive) hearing aids are very good, with one exception: I hear people chatting at the back of the room more effectively than my wife sitting opposite me!  Unfortunately, the audiologist can no offer a solution.

    I paid a lot of money for my hearing aids and there's no way I'm going to leave them in a drawer.  On the other hand, my old NHS hearing aids do sit in a drawer on the off chance that I need them in the case of necessary repair to my private ones, which has happened some time ago.  When the six year guarantee runs out and a repair becomes necessary at cost, depending upon the cost, I may decide to revert to the NHS aids.

    Regarding your initial, more important point, I can honestly say that I have not noticed any latency with these hearing aids and I assume that they being near to top-end models (or they were when I bought them) that they would employ the signal processing you describe.  Perhaps I'm lucky! 

    I presume that in the absence of any scientific test equipment, I can gain some sort of evidence by relating the sound I hear from the television to the movement of lips on the screen!  I have also done this without hearing aids for comparison.

    Interesting post.  Thank you.

  21. Darius, thank you for this additional information.

    I do think the projected alterations/additions sound excellent choices.  The Solo with a Vox Humana (my favourite - perhaps I'm a bit odd!), a dominating Grand Chorus with, presumably, six or seven independent stops (rather than an all-in-one stop as at Liverpool), the Positive remaining where it is and with (from my own experiences) a surprisingly direct sound rather like a 17th century Rückpositiv, and above all a full-length 32' reed - no doubt a big improvement on the underpowered (my own opinion only) existing half-length reed.

    I look forward to the work eventually being completed and shall make sure that I undertake the trip across the Pennines to listen to the (hopefully) opening recital.  I'll even drag along my long-suffering wife.  Please let us know when that will be, won't you?

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