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Colin Harvey

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About Colin Harvey

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    http://www.twyford-organ.com
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    Hampshire, UK
  1. York Minster

    York Minster organ has been in the care of Harrison & Harrison for several years now. I understand the Minster are awaiting all the necessary permissions to be in place before they make an announcement, hopefully later this year. A lot of work and careful thought has gone into the best course of action for the organ; as many people will be aware there are many strands and considerations for this organ; musical, historical and how the instrument works in the building. There have been a number of experiments on the organ recently, mainly around returning the pressures back to their 1930s levels, which is likely to be the musical and artistic inspiration for any future work. Those of us who can recall the organ (or have recordings of the organ) from before the 1960s Walker work (including Francis Jackson's early recordings) will understand the desirability of this.
  2. Keble College, Oxford

    Thanks for the update Martin. I'm sure all of us would be interested to understand the rationale behind re-voicing this organ by Ruffatti. Would you enlighten us please? I played the new Tickell at Keble a year or two ago. I was very struck by the unashamedly romantic - if not orchestral - spirit of the organ. It's as though the style had gone full circle from Compton through GDB to Ken Tickell and here was Tickell building an organ that wasn't a million miles away from his grand-organ builders in John Compton! In particular, the orchestral reeds and strings of this organ impressed me with their colour and finish. Keble is a far cry from his early classically inspired organs such as Oakham. The organ feels very assured in its orchestral style, as though the organ builders didn't feel ashamed of making a 4 manual English cathedral style instrument and have gone for it. There's a definite confidence and assurance of hand in it. In this context, the Choir Organ makes perfect sense. There is no attempt to build a secondary principal chorus on the choir - the mutations are not really what this division is about, rather soft foundation stops and the (excellent) orchestral reeds, all under expression. The impression of playing this organ, with electric coupling throughout, feels much more like an electric action organ than a mechanical action organ. Indeed, you can't but help feel the feel of an electric action was the objective when building this (only nominally) mechanical action organ In this context, it does not feel inappropriate. How long will it be until mechanical action is eschewed entirely in these styles of organs for EP or direct electric? It is impressive how much organ Tickell managed to squeeze into a comparatively small space; this could not have been possible without modern design tools and modern approaches to winding and action design. Indeed, if I were to mention a weak spot on this organ, it would be the choruses. Tickell seemed to follow the quest for a chorus which had exactly the same tonality at every point of the compass with a fairly scientific approach. This has resulted in very neutral choruses which are inert to any sense of musical growth or expression when playing a musical phrase. We all know every other instrument changes across its register - human voice, strings, brass, woodwind - so why should the organ attempt to sound the same? This organ's choruses feel musically numb, especially if you prefer the treble ascendancy of choruses by builders such as Cavaille-Coll or Hill.
  3. Chamber organ for sale

    Hi Colin, Yes, Anglican church. The DAC made the decision in the absence of the DOA because of a perceived conflict of interest by the Archdeacon and Chairman of the DAC. I'm not sure what the conflict of interest was, except that the DOA occasionally deputises at the church. The funding for the electric was given by the friends of the church organisation, on the proviso it was only for the proposed electronic organ. The faculty also allowed for the removal of the organ, on the proviso it passed to an organ builder or another parish. I had fairly extensive correspondence with the DOA and organ tuner on the subject, as well as a little bit with the incumbent at the church. I could write a lot more - I know a lot of the people involved and there is a long history of schemes for the organ at the church, none of which have materialised. The church has a good link with the nearby university for choral music but they had struggled with the organ for a long time. There are very real and practical problems of ensemble and balance between choir and organ as it currently stands but these could have been resolved. For now, I will refrain from saying any more for now except pondering whether a large whistle needs to be blown at some point.
  4. Chamber organ for sale

    Absolutely. I'd add while the organ is in pieces, it's usually sensible to seize the opportunity to carry out any repairs and maintenance which may be required. By way of an example, the organ I alluded to above (at Owslebury *) cost £600 to buy. The costs of transplanting it into the new church was in the 'teens of thousands. It was in a pretty tired state when we bought it. So the cost included a restoration of releathering the bellows, cleaning and overhaul of all components (including pipe repairs - the front pipes were badly dented) and refinishing the case (it was in quite a state and the best thing was to strip it back and refinish it in its original finish of button polish). Nothing done to the soundboard except an inspection to confirm it was still sound and had many more years in it before it would require work. Even if we hadn't done this, the costs of moving the organ would have been many multiples of the purchase cost. Still, it's a lot cheaper and longer-lived than an electronic installation, and a heck of a lot nicer to play and listen to, but that's a topic for discussion for another day. By way of an example, there's a church quite close to here which is spending £40-50K on a Hauptwerk based installation (complete with 4 manual console for a church which seats 250...). The pipe organ could be brought into a relatively good state of repair for about half that. The pipe organ may be the work of a not-particularly-distinguished local builder, and rebuilt in the 1950s (detached console, EP action and an unfathomably stupid layout, all that sort of thing), but it sounds well in the church and the issues of delay could easily be resolved by re-siting the console where they intend to put the 4 manual Hauptwerk console. It's completely bonkers. * Owslebury is roughly pronouced "Oz-el-bury" in case you're wondering.
  5. Chamber organ for sale

    I followed this organ with growing interest when a friend suggested it for a church in our area. It's always sad to see yet another organ like this, with some provenance and historic interest, on eBay and it raised a few questions about custodianship of historic organs in private hands: Is it possible to ensure good custodianship of such instruments in private hands and protect them from inappropriate alterations and work? Is it possible that, if they need to be sold or changed hands, there's a way of tracking and monitoring historic organs? What about the situation when the owner dies or is no longer able/willing to keep the organ? Is there a way the organ's future can be ensured and not left to executors or sales people or buyers who may not understand what they're dealing with? On these questions, I felt In this organ's case it's clear the organ case had recently had an amount of relatively inappropriate, albeit minor, alterations, like screwing bits of brass on it, repainting some of the pipes (why?!) and panels, and re-purposing one of the panels to make a larger music desk. Certainly it was enough to put me off and any sensible purchaser would want to reverse those alterations. Is selling an organ like this on eBay really the responsible thing to do? Shouldn't the overriding concern be that the seller goes about ensuring the organ has a safe future? A longer and more thought-through sale may have also gained a better price if it is important to them. Any idiot can end up spending a lot of money bidding for an organ on eBay but it doesn't mean they know what they're letting themselves in for... what about the several thousand £ it'll cost to engage someone suitable to move it? I know BIOS do a lot of good work in these sorts of cases - I've been involved with them before rescuing an organ from eBay (see below for the results) and I know this sort of situation is unfortunately a very common occurrence for them. Is there more which could be done to help and assist them with this work? The CofE has the faculty process which should stop this sort of thing but we know it is imperfect, while other denominations and organs in private hands have a variety of checks and balances ranging from non-existent to something approaching the faculty process. I thought the Bates organ was charming. Bates was a good builder as far as I can tell - I occasionally play one, rebuilt by Bryceson and it really is a stunning organ. This organ looks like a Dulciana and 4ft flute (possibly by J.W.Walker, judging by the stop heads?) have supplanted a couple of earlier stops (maybe a Twelfth and Sesquialtera?) but I thought it sounded very good in the YouTube video. I remember seeing score after score of estimates in the Hill archives of the 1840s for organs of similar size to this Bates organ - the specifications end up being very repetitive; such novelties as Dulcianas and 4ft flutes didn't really start to materialise until the late 1840s and even then they were very rare. Hopefully this organ has found a good home but if it has, it is more by luck than design in this case! Footnote: Organ rescued from eBay in 2013: http://www.tomccparishes.org.uk/owslebury-organs/ plus see http://npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=V00095. CH
  6. Nave Booster Organs

    The appearance of nave organs over the past 20-30 years is an interesting development in Cathedral and large church organs. I wonder how much of it has been driven by evolving liturgical practices and evolving practices with hymns? I heard a recording of the Old 100th conducted by Edward Elgar and was struck by the tempo of the singing (which was at English Hymnal tempos) and the accent put on (the start of) each note. It was not dissimilar to the iso-rhythmic psalm singing found in the most traditional areas of the Dutch Gereformeerde Gemeente churches. Hymn tempos seemed to have increased dramatically over the decades since and the organist is often encouraged to "push the hymns on" these days. Personally, I found the energy and power of Elgar's group singing in a lusty, controlled and very coordinated, communal manner exciting. It may be helpful to think about the purpose and requirements for nave organs. The main purpose of nave organs seems to be for accompanying/ leading congregational singing in the nave. They aren't used much for choral accompaniment or repertoire performance, which tends to remain at the East End, unless certain antiphonal effects are desired. So what sorts of stops and sounds do we need for a nave organ? The main foundation of hymn accompaniment is borne by a Diapason chorus. I think most organists reach for the Great Open and Principal as a starting point when registering for a hymn (this is just a generalisation) and go from there. A sub-unison is very helpful for hymn accompaniment. While still highly unfashionable in some quarters, it's worth noting 1. most men sing naturally at an octave below unison pitch so a sub-unison supports these voices at the pitch they're singing 2. Lower pitches are better at getting the sound around corners - e.g. from a high triforium to the floor of a narrow nave. Higher pitches (e.g. mixtures) will use reflection and scattering to disperse but higher frequencies are attenuated by air far more than lower pitches. So it would follow a large, fairly strongly voiced Diapason chorus would be a good starting point for a nave organ, ideally on a 16 ft basis or with a strong sub-unison. It may be worth considering some historical models of organs which were built with a strong emphasis on congregational accompaniment. One of the first models is the Dutch organ from the 17th century to the 19th century to ... well, really the present day. The 2005 Henk van Eeken organ at Rijssen (see http://www.henkvaneeken.com/completedprojects/Rijssen.html) and 2014 Reil organ at Bodegraven (see http://www.orgelmakerijreil.nl/bodegraven-en/bodegraven-bethelkerk/?lang=en) are built in the Dutch tradition and are both designed to accompany congregations of c.2,000 on about 25 stops. Note the use of 16 ft flues and reeds on the manuals and the powerful choruses - Rijssen was originally going to have a 5 1/3 quint and the mixtures are based on the 16 ft series (with a 5 1/3 rank from fairly low down the compass). There are also lots of solo possibilities - Rijssen has a Ruispijp on the pedal with a double drawer - at the first point it acts as a (very powerful) tenor cornet in the tenor octave of the pedalboard, effectively creating a pedal divide if you want to solo out the tune on your right foot and play the bassline with you left (they do, frequently) and there are many other effects, using Tertiaans and Carillons as solo stops. The solo effects are designed to work as a solo with the full chorus and are powerful, telling stops - think Tuba rather than a 1960s Marcussen Spitz-Nazard. Another model to consider is the British tradition of the first half of the 20th century in the late Walkers and pre WWII H&Hs - the so called "Imperial Organ" if you like. Here we find the development of The Large Open Diapason. Reading through the contemporary reports of the day, much emphasis is put on The Large Organ Diapason and how its "floods of Diapason Tone fill the building" and lead congregational singing. Although there are examples some people find coarse to their modern tastes, and some examples which *are* genuinely coarse , I think there is some mileage considering the qualities of the LOD and what it provides: by providing a lot of unison tone, the lower frequencies help to transmit the sound "around the corner" most British organs found themselves speaking into, while the prodigious amounts of unison tone helps to reassure singers they're singing along to a large group. That said, most people find having at least 1x 4ft drawn is essential to leading congregational singing as it helps the organ be "heard above" the singing and lead the congregation. Another part of the design of the British organ is the use of the swell organ and how the organ is registered/used in hymns. I think most British organists gravitate towards the Great Diapasons 8 & 4, with Swell coupled in and everything coupled down to a pedal of perhaps 16.16.8 when drawing stops for a hymn. The organist will typically colour paint the words and thoughts of the hymn by changing registrations - a verse or line about glory, crowns and triumph will herald the arrival of the Swell (or Great) Trumpets, spirit, angels and being On High will see the appearance of the mixtures, grandeur and foundation will see more 16 foots and gravity. If the organ has one, the Tuba will make an occasional appearance soloing out the tune, usually (but not always) in the last verse, while the merest whiff of thunder will encourage all sorts of 32 ft reeds and 32 ft effects. Obviously the Nave Organ would be best placed in the UK to fit in with this tradition but I would suggest it should provide the foundations first, leaving the "colour effects" of the paragraph above to the main organ if necessary. So, if designing a Nave organ, my starting point would be a large Diapason chorus - something along the lines of 16.8.(5 1/3).4.2 2/3.2.Mixture with a bit of pedal. If I was to suggest an improvement at the current crop of nave organs, it would be to have a 16ft flue on the manuals and to encourage more emphasis on the 16.8.4 pitches than the higher pitches. Perhaps after those items have been provided and space and money allows, the next item to add is some reeds, maybe enclosed, to lend some colour with the word painting, followed by a large solo reed (available on another manual). You could probably do everything in 15 stops. Each church/cathedral is different in design and acoustics so provides its own challenges. Some cathedrals have a tight or non-existent triforium; balance and coordination with the main organ need to be thought about carefully (would we want to consider putting in a delay into the nave organ action, as PA systems have with their speakers, so the sound is coordinated as it travels down the nave?). It would make sense to me if the style of pipework in the nave organ mirrors that of the main organ - so the design, manufacture and scaling of the pipework in the nave is homogeneous with the main organ to give the best blend and help give the impression only one organ is speaking. # # # # # Some comments against some of the comments I've seen on this thread: Other examples of Nave organs not yet mentioned are Romsey Abbey (JWWalker, 1998, includes a separate console) Christchurch Priory - here more organ has be introduced in the south triforium since the 1990s Nicholson organ was built Sherbourne - the Tickell Nave division at the West end Southwell - transplant of a J.J.Binns Winchester - this is possibly the only Nave organ which is in the liturgical Quire. Seriously, it has to travel 2-3 bays of the nave before it reaches the congregation, which is only one less than the main body of the organ. It has a very hard job to do and it is questionable how effective it really is, although it certainly helps. Winchester is a very difficult example due to the extreme length of the nave and the lack of an open triforium in the nave. The whole organ is pushed hard to do its job in the nave and can be uncomfortably direct for Quire services, especially if it is played loudly. York - who on earth in their right mind would use the Tuba Mirabilis for a nave organ, accompanying every verse of every hymn on it? Come on guys, get real. However, it's an impressive stop (although it sounds far better in the pre-1950s rebuild recordings) and goes to show sound can travel down the nave from the organ where it is ... and I don't think it all needs to be from a solo reed on 30" w.p!
  7. Youtube

    Here's the best video I've yet seen of Saint-Sulpice, showing off this organ's many incredible features, like the quadruple rise reservoirs, the barker lever stop actions. Also remarkable for its stunning aural recording and performance, this time of non French music, Mendelssohn's piano prelude and fugue in E minor, another stunning performance by Daniel Roth. https://youtu.be/1V2xhAdtodM
  8. Diapasons and Flutes

    Dear MJFarr - I think you make the point very well. A lot of the success of whether Open Flutes and Open Diapasons go together depends on the voicing and treatment of the pipes. I would suggest it is perhaps unhelpful to try to define hard and fast rules as it imposes entirely arbitrary self-imposed strictures, the value of which I don't really see; although I can see HWIII's attempts are probably borne out of his own experience. Perhaps this has something to say and influence how we should approach and register on his organs? The closest to a 3 manual HWIII instrument with solely Open Diapasons and reeds on the Great organ I can think of is St Marys in Southampton City Centre (see http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N11630). It only really has a Gedeckt on the Great, which had quickly supplanted a Claribel. The 4ft Gemshorn is really a small Principal, somewhere between the ODII and ODIII if I recall correctly. As such the division only really provides a variety of Diapason tonalities at various levels of power and pitch (none of which quite go together) and a battery of chorus reeds. If one wants to engage with flutes, strings and orchestral reeds, one has to use the Choir and Swell divisions, except for the lone Gedeckt on the Great Organ, which is a curious outlier with mere solo possibilities in combination with the other Great stops. The Gedeckt could just as easily be on the Choir Organ. I do question the value of such a sharp delineation of tonalities across the divisions. I would have thought a more varied distribution could make for a more usable instrument (for example if you want to play an imitative reed off a flute and a string on different divisions as some kind of 3 way dialogue) and perhaps make a more intriguing and flexible instrument to discover. A nice example is the Richards Fowkes at St Geroge's Hannover Square, which has imitative solo possibilities on all three manuals - the classical distribution of its fabulous imitative reeds; Great Fagott, Choir Dulciaan and Swell Oboe being one example of many on this organ. Another example would be Harrison & Harrison's incomparable early masterpiece at All Saints' Tooting. Although it is 2/3 the size of St Marys Southampton and a similar style of organ, it has far more variety of nuanced colours and possibilities through careful planning and design.
  9. Organ design for a parish church

    Just as Stephen Bicknell's brilliant article relates "Your architectural sense of the space you are given should affect the kind of organ that you think would work", surely it would be most effective if the organ case also influences the kind of organ in it too? Not just in size and layout but also stylistically? If the main and chaire case are to be retained from an earlier instrument, would it show the right sensitivities and artistic/musical imagination to raise the idea that "the chair case may be ditched" (sic) so early on in the discussions? I had the pleasure of working with Stephen Bicknell on just such a project (building an organ, not ditching a chaire case), resulting in what amounted to a new instrument in an old case, although for a slightly smaller church than the one considered here. Stephen was also involved in the early stages of St Giles in the Fields, which I would consider to be an excellent example of the sort of thing you're considering here: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=P00119 Although he found working at JWW difficult and he never quite managed to do what he wanted, I think he was quite proud of Oriel College Oxford: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N09161 Emmanuel College Cambridge came up, an organ which I encountered (as have many others) at Oundle Summer Schools. It's OK but I think one of the best examples of a college chapel organ I've played has to be this: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=H00727 This organ is one of the most musically engaging and beautifully made organs anywhere, capable of a far wider scope of literature than one might imagine and entirely at home accompanying choral evensong.
  10. Peter Collins

    Very sorry to hear this - my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at Peter Collins Ltd. I met Peter Collins while at Southampton University (the Turner Sims Concert Hall organ was the obvious link) and ended up working for him for part of a summer holiday while at University. He was very good to me. Obviously a great loss to the British Organ Building community; he played a leading role in the organ reform movement in Britain and built some key organs of the movement. I felt he had a great sense of conviction and energy in what he wanted to achieve and his fiery energy comes through in the character of many of the organs he built. An organ builder leaves behind a legacy of organs after him and I hope the best examples of his work will continue to be preserved as a testament to his zeal and revolution.
  11. Loudest Tubas

    One of the reasons the Tuba Mirabilis sounds so huge in the nave is because the rest of the organ has been so nullified by the drastically reduced wind pressures. The H&H primary great flues were originally voiced on a pressure of around 7-8 inches, at the time of your visit they would have been barely half that. The silly mixtures don't really get out of the case. From what I understand the high pressure flues weren't revoiced when the pressures were reduced, merely tuned! The enclosed solo tubas were down from 20 inches to about 6. I agree, the Tuba Mirabilis was so ridiculously out of proportion to the rest of the organ in the nave the effect bordered on the comical. Maybe "brightness" is not quite the word to use. What is clear from my old recordings is the refinement and polish with which the harmonics are handled. The harmonics are there and beautifully handled from note to note. It was clearly a beautifully voiced stop. Playing the organ a few years ago it was apparent that refinement and polish was now wholly absent. Harry Bramma and I had a long conversation about the H&H Tuba Mirabilis at York (which he remembers) and we felt the way it sounds was not a patch on how it originally sounded - he speaks of a "golden tone" and there's a part of me which gets what he's talking about. Now it sounds like it's just trying to be loud rather than beautiful - a bit like a singer that shouts rather than produces a beautiful tone. I think I would rather have Fischer-Dieskau than someone who brays! Harrisons have been experimenting with restoring parts of the organ back to their original design pressures and the organ is sounding much better. Some of the later stops weren't working when I last visited and there are possibly still problems of projection in the organ (the Great Organ is hemmed in to both the east and the west with thick walls of basses inside the case) but the whole organ sounds much more cohesive with a far better ensemble. The Primary Great chorus has much more focus and Tuba Mirabilis is now sounding more in proportion with the rest of the organ but there is still some way to go: parts are missing and the Great Reeds cannot yet be returned to their original disposition. These experiments are certainly validating the potential direction for future work on the organ, which will be to return the organ to something closer to the 1930s H&H vision.
  12. Loudest Tubas

    The Tuba Mirabilis is not in perfect condition at York Minster. Just to clarify, it isn't exactly horizontal; the boots and shallots are vertical, on top of the soundboard in conventional fashion. The treble pipes are heavily hooded to project over the parapet of the screen and the basses are mitred at 90 degrees at no great distance from the boot. The extreme bass pipes double back into the organ before being mitred 180 degrees to speak west over the screen parapet. A little more than the tuning scrolls have been disturbed on this stop! The stop was re-tongued, either in the 1950s Walker rebuild or the 1990s Principal Pipe Organ work. I don't remember if the pressures were altered but I'm sure somebody on here will know. Listening to it now, it has none of the brilliance, tone or regulation which is apparent in the recordings I have of it before the 1950s rebuild.
  13. NEH v Common Praise hymn books

    Many thanks Richard - look forward to seeing EHR! The new Ancient & Modern, published in March 2013, ought to be mentioned as an addendum to this topic. Our church adopted it and I found it to be an excellent hymn book for a middle-of-the-road Anglican church. It is an evolution from Common Praise. So called "Worship Songs" have a reasonable representation, with a generally sensible selection and there are many new words and texts set to more familiar traditional tunes which stimulated our thoughtful congregation. At the other end of the spectrum to the worship songs, feast days and the church calendar are far better supported than in AMNS. We found the harmonies in the new A&M generally follow EH harmonies, more so than they followed AMNS.
  14. Hand-operated Devices For Moving Swell Shades

    Bringing the topic back to its original subject, the Wanamaker organ has brass strips below the keyboards for operating the swell shutters. Wanamaker Organ Console Photo
  15. BBC Proms 2015

    Yes, I agree - I thought the BBCSO and Stephen Farr played brilliantly. The Leifs Organ Concerto is a brutal and terrifying piece. I found the opening arresting (even if a health warning is advised) and the similarly tough passacaglia developed effectively towards a fitting climax. After that, I felt the coda continued for about 6 minutes after the music had finished. It lost all momentum for me, where the thrashing around on the timpani followed by the orchestra and organ playing in glacial alternatum developed the musical picture no further. The final cadence was effected more by sheer brute sonic force than musical argument. That said, I'm glad to have heard it and take my hat off to those who scheduled it and performed it.
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