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Colin Harvey

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Everything posted by Colin Harvey

  1. Yes, that's right. The reason for this was that there were a couple of articles being prepared on the organ and it seemed right that these should be published first before you started commenting on the organ in public.
  2. Not really. I would say is that having lived with it for 5 years, the organ works extremely well in practice, especially underneath the choir, where the organ has all the colour and variety you would wish for and expect in an organ of this size. In repertoire it has proved to be very versatile and satisfying to play and listen to. The previous swell organ was far less effective, the swell organ (and the swell box required to house it) was far too big for the location and the division was very poor - it promised much on paper but didn't live up to much in practice. Comparison of the old and the new organ is conclusive about which design works best - the new, smaller Swell organ has far more presence and is far more useful and incisive than the old one. You will forgive me for being human, but I found your comments above offensive. However, I ought to correct the incorrect facts and points in your message fairly, all the time making it clear I would far rather be doing something different with my Sunday evening: 1. There are 3 8 ft stops on the Swell organ. 2. It is spelt "Stopped Diapason". Perhaps if you had really paid attention when you visited you would have noticed this? 3. The Oboe is designed as chorus reed and functions as such. It is based on mid-romantic lines (pre-Walker pepperpots) and so it is a little louder than late-romantic ultra creamy examples. In practice it colours the chorus very nicely and does as you would expect. A Cornopean in addition may have been nice, but there wasn't space - the space for the swell box is extremely limited (this really isn't a large organ at all and there is actually very little space for the organ in the church). The organ is really built more on the scale of a "village church" organ of 12-15 stops lines than "Town church" organ lines, where I would expect to see Swell mixtures and two swell reeds. In practice, life with the Oboe has been fine - I haven't missed the Trumpet as some might imagine and the Oboe gets used a lot in different roles. 4. Actually, the swell organ isn't really ideal for Stanley - it is not a treble-only solo division as Stanley would have envisaged and doesn't have the Trumpet and Cornet Stanley would have expected. It really is at its best colouring and augmenting the smaller stuff on the Great organ (up to 4ft principal, but also upto 15th if needed). Above this, the Great mixture, double and trumpet dominate and take the organ to another level of grandeur, as you would expect. So it's designed to work from the pp to mf level, which makes it very useful underneath the choir. Balences with the great organ are easy to achieve and there's a lot that can be done with it. Finally, I ought to make it public knowledge that you visited the church and "helped yourself" to the organ, without contacting anyone at the church that you were planning to visit and asking permission to play. I feel this was bad manners and I now find it extremely bad manners indeed that you now dare to bad-mouth the organ in public.
  3. You should look at some of his own compositions on his website. www.wrightmusic.net
  4. Going back to one of the original subjects of this topic, I trust we are all well versed with the writings of Dr. David Wright on the subject of Britten (and other composers and musicians)? http://www.wrightmusic.net/pdfs/benjamin-britten.pdf http://www.wrightmusic.net/pdfs/britten-more-thoughts.pdf
  5. Agreed but if you click on the website link at the top of the petition, it takes you to a flickr website that states: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visionthing64...57614126360274/ From what I understand, the organist of St Marys Warrington approached the Parr Hall authorities/project team two years ago to investigate the possibility of moving the organ from the Hall to the church. They investigated the option, only to conclude that the organ would require major surgery to fit the church. The rest of the church recognised that they wouldn't be able to afford to maintain the organ, let alone pay for it to be moved and rebuilt. Therefore, the idea was dropped.
  6. I hope Ian Bell will not mind if I re-post the message he sent to the orgue-l distribution list earlier today:
  7. I'm sorry but this scheme doesn't appeal to my tastes at all - it seems firmly stuck in 1950s when the worst misunderstandings of the neo-baroque movement were blowing through. I can't see what purpose it serves or the rationale behind it. A mixture on top of 2 flutes? Vertical development of so-called "choruses" (at the expense of anything else) AND octave couplers? A lack of any family of stops together? Why are the only 2 8ft stops on the manuals both flutes? I don't see any intelligent thinking about how this organ would be used and its possibilities. There is a mis-mash of terms used - the so-called "Swell" division (although I see nothing Swell-like about it) predictably covers Germany (SpitzFlute), England (Nason Flute) and, of course France (Plein Jeu). This isn't eclecticism in three stops, it is an incoherent jumble. I agree with Hecklephone - Why go to the bother of making a bass for an 8 foot principal on a small organ and NOT have it available on the manuals? Even Ralph Downes in his most peverse moments would have baulked at that. I think this organ would be colourless and lacking variety of sounds in practice - you can only build vertically and it would only take half a dozen combinations before all the possibilities are exhausted - and so many of the possibilities would sound pretty similar anyway. I don't see what music you would play on this organ, except perhaps tinkly trio-based 20th century neo-classical music. A North German Chorale Prelude would be colourless at best; Romantic music is a no-no; it isn't optimally designed to accompany a congregation or a choir and it isn't designed for more intimate environs like a house or practice organ. With the octave couplers, borrowings and 73 note soundboards, it would be best to build this organ with electric action (I rather think the only way to build it would be on unit chests for the pedal/great division), rather than mechanical action so beloved by the neo-baroque proponents that drew up schemes like these, sixty years ago. So what's the thinking behind it?
  8. I think there have been some stunning concerts this year in the proms. The Simon Bolivar Symphony orchestra with Gustavo Dudamel performing Mahler 2, Heitink and Ax playing Brahms over two nights stand out in particular for me this year. This evening we've got Marc-Andre Hamlin on the piano (if you want to see an outstanding keyboard technique watch this concert) and David Goode premiering the Berkley organ concerto, which looks very promising. And Stephen Farr gave a superb solo recital premiering a new major work for organ. I'm pleased to see the organ being given good coverage, showcasing some of the best British organists and promoting new works for the instrument. Personally I was slightly dissappointed to find TV coverage given to Spagetti Western Orchestra last Saturday - after the first piece I didn't feel there was enough music to sustain a whole concert - and the rest of the evening seemed to be more about sensationalism and I found myself getting rather bored. Great for a jazz joint, I felt, but it didn't really work in an arena like the RAH, or on my television. But I can understand the reasons why they televised it, even if it didn't appeal. But I could turn on the radio and listen to Mahler 6 live instead. There have been some great children's concerts - watch Horrible Histories if you haven't already - the music in it is simply great (quite often done very tongue in cheek by people who clearly know a lot better) - and I think it's important for some of the concerts to be aimed at encouraging a new generation of audience goers. I've got friends who've taken their children to the Children's proms and the whole family have loved them - the parents said how brilliantly done they thought it was. And in such a large platform, where else are there the facilities to explore the strange and experimental in those late night concerts? So I think they've got the balence about right.
  9. Yes - very good article I thought. You get to hear Jan-Geert do the double pedal thing (tune in right foot on the Trumpet, bass with left foot) in the Fugues at the end of the partitas - he usually uses the approaches Mark Duley outlines in his article when playing psalms in services - he gave a demonstration of iso-rhythmic Dutch Geneva Psalter accompaniment (where we participated by singing) when we visited. Mighty impressive stuff. If you get the chance to go to Crosshaven, do go - it'll be an extraordinary organ.
  10. Here are some recordings of the Van Eeken organ at the Norderkerk in Rijssen, played by the church organist, Jan-Geert Heuvelman. Improvisation on Psalm 85 (4 variations): http://youtu.be/rUip9MaOT7w Improvisation on Psalm 96 (8 variations): (this is a playlist - after each clip, the website should go onto the next verse after a brief pause). I was very lucky indeed to visit this organ earlier this year (the church is ultra-orthodox and access to visit the organ is not easy). Due to the nature of the church, it is highly unlikely there will be commercial recordings of this organ, or even organ recitals. This organ was built really with one purpose - to accompany the congregation of 2,000 in their singing of iso-rhythmic psalms acording to the Dutch Psalter. Its strength of purpose is immense: it is one of the most uncompromising and the least compromised organ I have ever come across and it is possible to trace every element of this organ to its purpose and, further on, to the church's purpose of the glory of God. It seems incredible this organ was finished in 2005. More details here: http://www.henkvaneeken.com/completedprojects/Rijssen.html I've heard the organ at the Meiji Gakuin University in Japan is even more incredible: http://www.henkvaneeken.com/completedproje...eijiGakuin.html At Rijssen, one is very aware of the strong differentiations between the manual divisions - the Rugwerk is sharp and sweet, the Manuaal rich and grand. The reeds are incredible, with remarkable body and nearly no harmonic development on the Manuaal Trompets. In Japan I understand van Eeken has developed the concepts even further, with different vowel characteristics of the principals as they develop from bass to treble and between divisions. His organs are in a league of their own...
  11. How about the Tuba Mirabilis at York? That's pretty devastating in the nave. Ever since the rest of the organ was emasculated in the last two rebuilds, it has stood completely out of all proportion to the rest of the organ. I have to say it sounds far finer in the recordings I have of it in the 1950s than it does today.
  12. I second headcase's message. Shame there's no "like" facility on this forum...
  13. I think this is one of the most interesting topics on this discussion board for a long time. A lot of the small cabinet organs built in the 18th century found their ways into private houses of well-to-do people, such as merchants, lawyers, etc. It's interesting to investigate the work of builders like Hess, Manderscheidt, etc - and all these small organs were found in domestic situations. There is a problem that these small organs haven't survived as well as their larger brethren in churches - because they are less conspicuous and private property, they are more at risk from their owners' whims or neglect. And of course, being in private situations, there is not the same level of archives or records to consult. However, many of the chamber organs we find in churches today were originally built for domestic situations. It is a bit difficult to know what these organs would have originally been used for. These households would have been highly cultured and of course religion was far stronger than it is today. They may have been used to accompany other musicians on other instruments or to accompany household members singing songs and psalms. However, many of the Dutch Bureau organs have split stops between bass and treble so there is the possibility of playing duets with two registrations at the same pitch: sometimes in the work of Hess the lowest pitched stop in the bass will be a 4ft stop, suggesting this practice. These instruments became less popular with the rising dominance of the piano in the late 18th and 19th century but it is interesting to consider the French school of harmoniums, like Debain, Alexandre and later Mustel. In some ways they are the spiritual successors to these bureau organs. Here, once again, we find stops split between bass and treble and the possibility of a duo of voices at the same pitch, which composers like Franck, Vierne and Karg-Elert exploited. The winding of these bureau organs is an interesting feature rarely replicated in today's box organs. Typically there would be a large single-rise reservior fed by a feeder bellows operated by the player's foot. There is usually a bellows indicator in the shape of a wood rod coming out of one of the slips at one end of the keyboard. It takes a certain knack to keep an eye on the bellows, pump the feeder when required and play music but with practice I'm told it is possible. You can see an example of the winding system in this photo here (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/wtVgWtqHtmmFj-AXCvdXbQ), which shows a new bureau organ built by Rini Wimmenhove with the wind system. Although new, this organ is built closely along the lines of an 18th century Dutch Bureau organ. Those of you who are organ builders will know that as the single rise bellows inflates there is a pressure drop, for which the usual British solution is a double rise reservior with an inverted fold. However here Rini has used a wooden spring on top of the bellows to maintain the pressure as the bellows inflates to counteract this effect and keep the pressure constant. It's clever stuff. Rini has also built a chest organ with this winding system - more details can be seen here: http://www.huisorgelbouw.nl/page/Fotopagina_22/, along with much other information on cabinet, bureau and chest organs. He has restored many period house organs and has made a great study of small organs from an historical perspective so his site repays careful reading.
  14. Gosh! Even an H&H mirror is a fraction that price. And that includes fitting and matching of the oak to the rest of the console.
  15. The Dover Franck facsimile comes highly recommended - it's a reproduction of the Durand edition and it's very good indeed. It's oblong format and the binding is properly stitched these days - mine is still going strong after 12-14 years. It is my prefered edition for Franck. The Dover Preludes and Fugues and Toccatas, Fantasias & Fugues are excellent too. Being Bach Gesellschaft you get the barring (of quavers, semi-quavers, etc) as Bach wrote it - you don't have the standardised barrings (plus some funny readings) that you get in the Barenreiter NBA, which are not useful. Th BG is a bit cramped in places but I still rate it highly. I have to say though that the my Dover edition of the Chorale Preludes and Trio Sonatas generally stays on the shelf - it doesn't get much use. I have the Widor Symphonies in Dover editions but I would get the later editions from Leduc/Hamelle first. Widor revised quite a few of his symphonies and there are some quite notable differences between them! The Dover editions only real value is as an oddity to compare to see what Widor changed when he re-edited them - I wouldn't play from them. There's a lot of music here which will take a long time to get through so I don't think you'll save much money buying the big Dover editions. I'm surprised Dover haven't done the Rheinberger Sonatas - I have all of them in the original Forberg edition, which has all of the composer's indications as he wrote them and they are extremely well laid out. I still think it's the best edition. They could do all of them in 3 volumes and it'll be far better than Harvey Grace! For Schumann I cannot recommend the Henle edition highly enough - you get the sketches, canons & BACH fugues in an excellent and practical oblong book. The Dover Sweelinck and Fitzwilliam Virginal books are excellent too.
  16. I wonder if it's a typo? I calculate about 5,500 pipes (give or take 100-200) in this organ. I'd be surprised if there's (m)any doubled ranks - it's not really in the style of this French Classical/Romantic concept. We're not talking a copy of the organ in the Nieuwekerk in Amsterdam! I saw the new Thomas organ in Vianen a couple of weeks ago: http://www.orgues-thomas.com/website/index...=89&lang=en. There should be an article about it sometime in Choir and Organ.
  17. It's really difficult to give any meaningful advice without seeing the organ and fully understanding the organ's history. However, I felt Hecklephone gave largely sensible practical advice above. I would start by uncovering the organ's history fully and determining the provenance of every aspect of the organ. With that knowledge you can start to make informed decisions about what to do next. Starting with a wish-list of stops to add, as you have done, is definitely not the place to start! Build up your understanding of the organ first. If this is the case, I would aim to restore the organ's character so it can be experienced in its best light and expunge the "messed about" bits that are at odds with it. I would concentrate first on getting the basics of the organ right first - frame, soundboards, wind system, actions, console, casework and the preservation of the pipework, making sure that everything is in keeping, to the smallest detail. On the tonal side, I would aim to respect/restore the organ's tonality, making sure that nothing incongruous is added. So this:- Is a definite no-no. This ridiculous pedal organ is completely out of keeping with this style of organ. It looks like an "extensio ad absurdum" pedal organ of the 1950s-1980s: Although I know you say no extension, this type of specification was only ever found in the UK on pedal organs that had been extended beyond the Styx and back. The eclectic mix of continental and British nomenclature suggests a fundamental lack of understanding of stylistic issues. If the pedal organ really needs enlarging (and for that you'll need space and a way to do it that is in keeping with the rest of the organ), I would think in terms of how Hill or Wadsworth (whichever's more appropriate) would have done it: The first stop they would had added to the Bourdon would be a wooden 16ft Open Diapason, then an 8ft Principal or Violoncello, then a 16ft Trombone - but this last stop, though very desirable, would only start to be found on mid to large sized 3 manual organs. Thinking in these terms will beget a more harmonious and musically successful pedal division for this organ. Don't worry about the stories of wooley, booming, Open Woods. These stories were borne out of the organ reform movement in the UK in the 1950s to the 1990s and they had an agenda, rather than really refering to good examples. You can get good, well-defined notes out of these sorts of pipes and the best examples are extremely useful. I would find a few good examples from which to copy and learn. There may be the possibility of finding pipes of the right provenance to use rather than making new pipes - this option shouldn't be overlooked. Space will probably prevent your suggested additions to the Swell Organ, which can only be a good thing as they are unecessary and would only serve to obscure the character of the organ further.
  18. Mark, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I think we've all encountered these sorts of weddings at some point and I know how miserable these things can be. From bitter experience I've made the following "rules" for weddings. I usually make these clear to wedding parties, although a little less bluntly than I put them below. * The music I play before the wedding is entirely my perrogative. I make this clear to wedding parties, especially the more pushy ones. As I see it, I know best because I've played for weddings for so many years, have impeccable taste in music and so I know what works best for weddings at our church. Taking a leaf out of the vicar's book for the sermon, I normally play the same pieces before every wedding, varying things slowly over time and sometimes adapting for couples as I wish. This cuts down the amount of preparation considerably. It also means I can play music I actually like so even if people don't listen much I don't care much. This year, everyone gets Toccata and Fugue in F major. * Hymns and music choices for entrance of bride/ signing of register/ procession can only be taken from the list. Many couples struggle with hymns and music choices. So I've prepared a sheet of hymn suggestions and music choices and very useful they find it too. In practice it's very rare for people to stray outside this list and I point out that anything not on the list is extra. I've also got a list of the music choices on an email with YouTube links that many people find helpful. Longer term I've got plans to do my own recordings on the church organ so they can hear the pieces as they'll sound at their wedding. * Speak to the Church Wedding Co-ordinator, not the organist. We have a wedding co-ordinator, who deals with all aspects of the wedding at the church for all the couples - from the initial booking, banns, bells, flowers, heating, music, meeting the vicar, etc. So I tell the couples to tell the church wedding co-ordinator what their music choices are. If they want something special, the church wedding co-ordinator puts the couples in touch with me to discuss it. Our church wedding co-ordinator is wonderful - this system really works for us. Bear in mind this wedding coordinator works for the church - not the couple so please don't confuse this with that strange breed of people who become wedding co-ordinators for couples. * Singers and musicians - do the bare minimum, under no circumstances take any responsibility. I don't usually have a problem with singers and other musicians performing during a wedding, even if they are more off the wall than Florence Foster-Perkins. If they want me to accompany, I ask for the music and an extra fee. We organise a practice, usually just after the wedding party practice the evening before, to run through the music. Even if it is a 5-minute run through of panis angelicus with an ex-Cathedral Girl Chorister I've know for 10 years and who knows it all backwards, I still charge. It makes up for those times when it's considerably harder work. I try to avoid responsibility for organising practices or getting the music - I see that as the singer's responsibility and they're usually keener than I am to have a practice. * Parking. Find a parking space where you won't find yourself parked in after the wedding so you can make a speedy exit and you don't have to wait for the photographer to finish. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting around after a wedding for your car to become free again. * Seating Plans. At the poshest and most control-freaky weddings at our churches, seating plans of who sits where are not uncommon. Whatever happens, make sure that no wedding guests sit too close the organ console for comfort. Certainly the choir stalls should be out of bounds, even if there is no choir. I once had a wedding where wedding guests occupied the choir stalls according to the seating plan and I had to put up with a Very LOUD conversation 6 inches behind my back about where Fiona was going to University, her Gap Year, her New Boyfriend James and other idle family chit-chat while I was playing for the signing of the registers. This was completely unacceptable. * Emotional detachment. I completely switch off the emotional involvement switch for weddings these days. I stopped caring a long time ago what the wedding is actually like. Everything is lovely, even if it sounds or looks like a car crash. I have a perma-smile stuck on my face for everyone, except ushers, who I scowl at. Smart phones with Facebook, Twitter and mobile web have revolutionised my wedding experience. I usually like to have a treat planned for after a wedding - like a meal, a drink, visit a friend - it gives me something to look forward it during the wedding and it makes it seem less worse if it turns out to be horrible.
  19. When I turned the radio on this morning, Rob Cowan was playing the Star Wars theme tune on BBC Radio 3. For a brief moment I entertained the idea it might be Mars from Holst's Planets suite but no, it wasn't. Whatever next?! Which theme did they want from Star Wars? I've threatened the Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme) for the entrance of the Bride if she's unfashionably late. I play it sometimes if I'm in the church during a wedding practice with the party if I can get away with it.
  20. When was the organ built? It would appear that if this console makes Cortege et Litanie easier to play, this would be a further benefit of keeping it? The RCO dimensions are a relatively modern phenomena. I believe the RCO dimensions came about during the installation of the HNB organ at the RCO. Hence the only people that made consoles that actually fully conformed to the RCO standard were HNB... All the others - H&H, Compton, Willis III etc - followed their own standards... There are other standards - AGO in the US, BDO in Germany and am I right that there is an ISOB standard? They are all slightly different. However, I'm not sure how much builders really stick to them - they either have their own formula or they vary them for individual organs. For example, if your organs are based on different historical styles you'll build an organ console to completely different dimensions if it's, say, a Cavaille-Coll copy in the Orgelpark in Holland to, say, a Hinsz copy. I'm not sure what value there would be to rebuilding organs so they have standard console dimensions. Would someone explain please? Would it be necessary to do this to St. Sulpice in Paris as well?
  21. Some good advice here. I would say "stick at it" and keep working at it until the fluency starts to come, which it will. Small steps and all that and don't feel shy practising at a slow tempo until you've got it under your fingers. I would second just going and asking if you can practise on the church organ. I'm sure they'll be more than happy to help develop an organist that could one day occasionally help out. I can't think of a vicar or organist that would turn down that opportunity. Do get in touch with your local organists' association. I know our local Organists' Association hold workshops for reluctant organists in the area to help people in a similar situation to you - see here: http://www.wdao.hampshire.org.uk/index.php...anists_Workshop One or two students have invested in the AMT The Organists Hymnbook. While it's very useful, I sometimes feel it goes in to too much detail, such as studiously writing out every crotchet into quavers plus quaver rests in middle parts to indicate breaths and ends of lines. I've found this over-application of ideas has hindered rather than helped some students as they get caught up trying to perfect unecessary details added by the book and worrying about them rather than develop a feel of musical line and breath. On balence, I think it's better to use a normal hymnbook and work out for yourself how to adapt hymns and apply the "tricks of the trade" the AMT book sets out to document. I think it is better to teach the general principles and let organists develop their own feel for the tricks of the trade and how to apply them rather than be spoon-fed all the time.
  22. Congratulations! This is the most gloriously anoraky thread I've ever seen! MM is quite correct: the 64ft reed at Atlantic City Hall is the 64ft Dulzian. It is also available at 42 1/3 pitch as well, and also again at the console as Diaphone 64. It is constructed as a Diaphone, with the resonators resting their feet on the floor. There are individual pipes for the bottom octave. Naturally, it is full length. More recently, Dobson experimented with ravellement into the 64ft octave at Verizon hall in Atlanta - there is an extension of the 32ft reed to bottom AAAA. http://www.dobsonorgan.com/html/instrument...ladelphia2.html I feel that once the limits of human hearing and perception have been breached, there is little point to continue to break them furthur. A vibration half the speed of another vibration is not twice as impressive. I suppose it might be quite impressive to play a 32ft C at middle C on the pedal board but the bottom octave is a dissappointment. But the bottom BBBB and AAAA are useful for pieces like the third Franck Chorale and the Liszt BACH. By 32ft G the sound is impressively meaty that a 64ft G wouldn't add anything extra.
  23. This is a very interesting subject but one that very few people know much about. I think it is a very difficult subject because we know of so little evidence. I think it would make a good subject for a research paper, maybe under the aegis of BIOS or an academic institution. I think a good deal of practical tuning knowledge would be an asset for anyone considering taking up the subject.
  24. Who is the DOA for the diocese of St Asaph? I'd be interested to know what's wrong with this organ. A replacement Wyvern is going to cost about the same as a routine overhaul of this organ... but will only last about 20 years before it needs replacing itself.
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