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Colin Harvey

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Everything posted by Colin Harvey

  1. Do you have any evidence to support this? I know Marlborough College got a lot of organ for their money and there was some idle speculation whether or not it had been subsidised but I don't believe there was any conclusive evidence.
  2. @Colin Richell: I'm not sure where you read that. As I explained in my previous posting, profit margins are normally extremely slender in professional organ building, normally about 10%. This is based on conversations with directors of organ building firms and consultants who have held senior positions of organ building firms. There is little money to be made in tuning and restoration either - an organ builder will normally cover costs, with a very small proportion of profit - certainly not enough to subsidise building new organs. I hope this clarifies and corrects your understanding. Colin Harvey
  3. I very much agree with the points and sentiments of Hecklephone's excellent post above. Incidentally, it is worth noting that Paul Fritt's ex-partner, Ralph Richards, is building a new organ for St Georges, Hannover Square. This firm has many of the same standards and qualities of Paul Fritt's work. To pick up on a point made by Colin Richell (and in passing by Hecklephone): The days of organ builders doing loss leader projects to get business in new markets have long gone and will probably remain a myth of the Victorian glory days. There simply isn't the potential market these days to make such ventures viable business propositions. There's virtually no money to be made in organ building and none of the firms can afford to make a loss on work they do as business concerns. The profit margins are very slender - generally 10% if things go well. It's a competitive market, especially in the UK. Merton College, as a major landowner in Oxford, is one of most established and richest colleges in the university. They are more likely to prioritise quality, musical effect and appropriateness of the scheme to their chapel above cost. They are really far too discerning a client to feel the need to make a statement with a controversial organ in their chapel either - they really have no need to do such a thing. Dobsons have done a lot of well-regarded work in the States but they are not a particularly large firm, even by UK standards - I think they're about the size or a bit smaller than Manders. Their smaller, well disciplined organs (such has the scheme proposed for Merton) have been very favourably received in the States and they have now completed a number of very high profile projects that must have broadened their experience and developed their confidence even further. I think this proposed new organ will broaden the outlook and landscape of the UK organ market and I hope it will have a very positive impact.
  4. I think it depends on the nature of the recital but generally I prefer it if the recitalist speaks to introduce his pieces. The organist is such a remote performer that I feel anything to improve the connection with the audience can only be encouraged. Of course, it is not appropriate to speak at some recitals, in which case I am disappointed if there aren't good programme notes. However, the recitalist must have something interesting and useful to say. I get irritated if I hear something inane like "and now we're going to listen to a nice piece of Bach ... Bach the next piece" or just hear a repeat of the programme notes. But I have listened spellbound to some performers talk about their pieces. If the performer has little to say about the music before he plays it, I feel it is likely he will have little to say when he plays it. I want to hear (or read) things that expand my appreciation of what I'm listening to. And the way they speak tells you a lot about what they're going to be like on the bench - from Virgil Fox's dizzying enthusiasm to the erudyte brilliance of someone like Simon Jonstone or Pier Damiano Peretti. Funny stories are fine as long as they're relevant to the concert or the music - I like to be amused and I feel it is miserable and perverse to exclude the possibility of laughter at a concert. To laugh is a very natural, human, thing to do. However, if it's too jokey, or not connected in any way to the music or the concert, it feels like the recitalist is insecure in what he is doing. Speaking at recitals varies so much from place to place it's difficult to have hard and fast rules. If the console is on display right in front of the audience it's easy to address the audience between pieces but it's a different matter if the console is halfway up the side of the wall accessed by a precarious and lengthy staircase. And, please, sort out the microphone and be sure you know how to use it before the recital. I think some recitalists get more nervous if they have to speak to the audience, although I don't belong to that group myself. I've attended one recital where the organist sat at the console while somebody else said some introductory words to each piece. It was very weird really - I wanted that personal connection with the recitalist but it just made him even more remote than if nothing had been said. I couldn't do that myself - I want that connection with my audience. I really cannot abide a recitalist making excuses for the organ. It comes across as so anoraky. I've come to listen to a musician play music on a musical instrument: I haven't come to hear an enthusiast make excuses why the object of their enthusiasm is not 100% that day. The focus is on the music and the performance, not the problems with the organ. It comes across as being unprepared too - if there's a problem with the organ or if it's not up to the task, why are you holding a concert on it? If something goes disasterously wrong, then just deal with it as you would any other calamity in the concert, like the roof caving in, the organ catching fire, a Viking invasion and don't worry the audience about the risks beforehard. When I arrive at an organ recital, I want to find my seat, get comfortable, peruse the programme, check out the audience for people I know/ people I want to avoid/ people I want to talk to/ fit women (same group really; they're a rarity at organ recitals but we live in hope), contemplate the beauty (or otherwise) of the organ and its surroundings and wonder what I'm going to listen to and how the performer is going to play it. I'm not a great fan of greeting or being greeted by the recitalist as I arrive. Personnally I don't want to have a complete stranger introduce themselves when I walk into an auditorium to have a few awkward moments of conversation when we both feel compelled to be polite to each other for no particular reason with nothing in particular to say to each other. It devalues the social status of the performer to be there greeting people as they arrive. They so often stand there looking like an spare part near the ticket selling desk. I've come to hear them play - I haven't come for them to try to make me feel personally welcome before I take my seat. Vladimir Askenazy isn't there on the door of the auditorium to greet everyone personally when he gives a piano recital - why should an organist be any different? The start of a recital is a critical time for me. I like it when the lights dim, an expectant silence falls on the audience and applause breaks out when the performer appears. It's all part of the theatre and spectacle for me and the excitement of the journey to reach the recital reaches its peak. I don't want to hear a poor speaker welcome everybody in a homely or prolix manner, make bad jokes, pray, give announcements to unrelated groups of people and generally waste people's time before the performer appears. It takes away all the energy that has built up to that point. If I'm playing, I usually like some peace and quiet before the recital, where I can rehearse in my mind what I'm going to do, calm my nerves, preferably in solitude, sunlight and comfort. I also like to have had plenty of time to prepare and practice on the organ with no distractions and to be fully prepared. The last thing I want is any shocks or any stressful situations before a recital.
  5. Ah, yes! I saw a British console with double touch pistons the other day - I can't remember who built it but that's just my poor memory. Quite a rarity!
  6. Michel Chapuis improvising in the North German Baroque manner on the Aubertin organ at the Eglise Saint-Louis en l'Ile, Paris http://youtu.be/zZp0f_ETmYQ Highly recommended!
  7. Nigel, Kropf - agree with all you say, thanks. It is certainly an interesting organ and I wish them well in the endeavour and look forward to the final result. Has anyone any experience of the Luebeck organ? @Kropf: yes, when the British organist arrives at an organ, the first stop he pulls out is Swell to Great, followed by Swell to Pedal... It's a natural, subliminal instinct we have. We then usually press a couple of divisionals (Sw 3, Gt 2) and off we go... with our right foot on the swell pedal, of course. The Great and Pedal Combinations combined stop is left out all the time - this stop is unique in that it doesn't normally cancel when General Cancel is pressed. The British Organist always assumes this stop has been left out and will only notice it's been pushed in after some terrible accident has befallen him with the Great Pistons (although he will normally assume there has been a malfunction in the combination system first before investigating this stop, such is the mindset here). If it has been pushed in, the British Organist is immediately wary a foreign organist may have played the organ - there is no other reason he can comprehend. Things are rather insular here, being an island and all. This is a good warning that he should check the divisional pistons haven't been tampered with. We simply cannot understand how American organists can live without this stop.
  8. Kropf asked what British organists think of having the Great Reeds on Manual II. British organists have long been used to the concept of moving the Great Reeds to a different manual - the "Great Reeds to Choir" transfer is a remarkably useful stop and has been exploited by British organists in countless ways. It is particularly useful to pit the Great Reeds against the rest of the Great organ, either in dialogue or alternatum. It is still useful if the organ has 4 manuals and a tuba as the Great Reeds can be used in dialogue against the tuba and the Great Chorus in alternatum... In addition, the idea of enclosed Great Reeds has been done before - All Saints Margaret Street, Kelvingrove Arts Centre and many Comptons spring to mind straight away. These organs all encourage an ultra-romantic style of playing where smoothness of buildup is paramount. Of course, what British Organists will miss on this organ is not having Great and Swell departmental pistons just a nudge away so they can develop the crescendo and diminuendos without their hands leaving the keyboards. This organ, with the Great on I, the big reeds on II and the Swell on III will be hard, if not impossible, to manage with divisionals. Of course, many of the Cavaille-Coll organs were experimental and I immediately saw parrallels between the RAM concept and the idea of the Grande Organ and Grande Choeur divisions at St Sulpice - the principal difference being that the reeds and mixtures at St Suplice are I and the foundations are on II. However, compared against other French builders of the time like Puget, Cavaille-Coll had a more coherent and easily exploitable style which is instantly discernable in all his work. I would say this organ reminds me more of the experimentation of a builder like Puget than Cavaille-Coll when we look at it against the landscape of organ building today. I would seriously question that the Kuhn scheme at RAM has space saving as a driver behind the enclosed Great reeds. This scheme requires 2 Swell boxes, both requiring space for full-length 8ft reeds, 8ft flues and a chorus. This requires a lot of space and limits what can go behind the swell boxes. There is only one, quite straighforward, unenclosed division. Physically this organ will require more space than an equivalent organ with conventional unenclosed Great reeds. I am not sure that the scheme is as clever and as well thought out as some people think. Consider the French Classical tradition: How would we set about playing, say the Recits de cromorne et de cornet separe en dialogue from the Suite du Premier Ton by Clerambault? This piece requires 3 manuals and pedals, with a Jeu doux, a Cromorne and a Cornet on separate manuals. But the Cornet and the Cromorne are on the same manual in this organ! It's not possible - as there isn't another cornet on the organ, you would be forced to use the (I assume Germanic) Fagott on manual I or a reed on manual III. I would have expected this to be covered much more elegantly on a organ that has the French school as a starting point. Of course, this organ does allow the pitting of the Plein Jeu against the Grand Jeu - waters that have lain fallow all these centuries until now! This brings me on to a further point. The French Romantic style generally has Great Reeds that come on with a crash and turn what was a lyrical singing instrument into a snarling monster that intends to shock and overawe in an instant. The concept of enclosed great reeds is counter to this, although I can imagine some uses (e.g. the build up of Franck Chorale III towards the end) where enclosed Great Reeds might be useful. So I find there are stylistic inconsistencies in this organ with the style it purports to be derived from. The Bristish are very well acquainted with the symbiotic relationship between the Great and Swell Organs, with the Swell Reeds acting as enclosed Great Reeds, with the actual Great Reeds only being used at the climaxes - or with the transfer, as a foil to the Great/Swell division. And of course, British organists rely heavily on their divisional pistons and are heavy use of the swell pedal, which is a critical part of our style of playing. Here that relationship is disturbed to our usual way of thinking, with added complexity, a lack of usefully placed divisionals and the typical British organist will struggle to see the advantages of this scheme. I rather suspect the only way to manage a cresc/dim on this organ will be to stick to Manual I, add the reeds on III, then add the reeds on II, opening the boxes. But how will the chorus on I fit in with this? I don't see that it really will... And how will organists manage that crescendo: Answer - the sequencer!! It will be the only way on this organ. And this makes me question whether the tonal architecture is really that clever if a sequencer is the only way to manage this organ. Classical Trios will be interesting as this organ only has 1 unenclosed division. So you either play on 2 enclosed divisions or one division at the front of the organ with another divison behind it in a swell box... Hmm. We have this problem on our late-Romantic British organs too... I will be interested to see how this organ is received by British Organists. I rather suspect they will find it annoyingly designed, not easy to understand and not easy to manage. And that counts for a great deal in the UK! But my main concern is what this organ will teach student organists. As far as I can make out, they will learn little from this organ. Students need to be led and shown the different structures and styles of organs and the music composed on them to make sense of them and know what to listen out for. Their ears need training in the first place so they know what sounds to listen out for and their hands and fingers how to play the organ with its indigenous style of music. They need to know all of this if they are to successfully translate music onto an unfamiliar or foreign style of instrument. This organ is so unlike any form of organ in a recogniseable style that I suspect it will confuse many students and present them with more challenges than answers. In any case, I think all of them will rely solely on the sequencer to manage this organ in performance and few of them will ever fully understand the structure of the instrument, unless they come to the organ with a good knowledge of different styles of organ already and a clear tonal picture in their mind already. With the organ being so foreign to our way of thinking and so different to any other school of organ building (and difficult to manage), it may lead to the organ being underappreciated in the long-term - this is not uncommon for foreign organs in the UK and it does them few favours. Again, what does this teach British student organists?
  9. I've had a quick look at the spec of the new Kuhn at the RAM ... and I think I should play an objective devil's advocate. I'm not sure I understand the objectives of the RAM when they commissioned this organ. It has a number of experimental features that are unique to this organ, and although they are quite clever, they bear no relation to any style of organ building seen before. Therefore, I would question what value it will have as a teaching and performance instrument and I am not sure if this is the right direction to take. Furthermore, this organ appears to be designed and specified in wholly modern style with no regard to the style and nature of the hall it is being built for. Therefore I would question how appropriate this organ would be for its situation and therefore how successful this organ would be at an artistic and musical level in this hall. In a mature market place (such as organ building) many tenderers would be able to fulfil the requirements of a large public body tender. However, a good tender will use a number of techniques and scoring mechanisms to select the right bid. The most obvious danger is to ensure that price does not become the overriding factor but I suspect it would be wrong to assume that has been the case here, with the depreciation of the Pound against the Swiss Franc over the past few years. However, the right bid can only be selected if the client gets their priorities and selection mechanisms right at the outset. It is a black art. I would be interested to understand the criteria and scoring process the RAM have used to arrive at this decision. I wonder what they intended to commission here - an experiment in tonal design or a teaching and performance instrument? http://www.orgelbau.ch/site/index.cfm?&amp...FToken=49626693 There is a great deal of risk with tonal experiements like this, the danger being that the organ is neither fish nor fowl. We will have to wait and see if the features in this organ compete against each other and confuse the tonal outlook or work together effectively. A great deal will rest with the execution of the concept. However, even if it is brilliantly executed, the danger is that this organ will remain a unique oddity, with no style of organ building or organ music evolving from it. Its unique tonal structure will mean that registering large scale organ works can only ever be approached through use of the sequencer, rather than exploiting its tonal architecture, allowing the organ's nature to speak through the music. If that proves to be the case, I will wonder what students will have learnt from playing and hearing this organ and that in turn will determine whether this organ is a success for the RAM. I wish them well and look forward to being convinced!
  10. Not really: That is a quote from Mr. Lucas. I would be surprised if he had any decision over his sucessor.
  11. Yes, agreed. Some of the early H&Hs are rather loud... arguably too loud. I put it down to the exuberance of youth. I agree Compton too dispels the myth too about large Diapasons on high wind pressures - but St Albans in Holborn anyone...? I agree on the Schulze point too: I'm no voicer but I understand the advantage of higher wind pressure is ease of getting consistent results, the possibility of quicker speech on the larger pipes and a larger scope of voicing possibilities to play with. I'm always surprised how quickly H&H Large Opens speak - they go like the clappers, even on quite remote pneumatic actions. I would be quite happy if they spoke slightly slower - it's almost what I expect.
  12. A lot of nonsense has been written about Arthur Harrison Large Open Diapason, much of which is highly inaccurate when applied to his best work. I would suggest to those that haven't heard or played one, to seek out an unaltered example and draw your own opinions. Prepare to be surprised! The Large Open at All Saints Tooting really dispels the myths that have built up about these stops. Tooting's Large Open has beautifully judged (and very extensive) harmonic development, which equally at home in a solo capacity or as a foundation in the chorus, in which it forms a perfectly judged and important part. It is judged brilliantly to work in both roles and the execution is peerless, as you would expect. Although the comments may be applied to lesser builders of the period, or rebuilt H&Hs, I feel uncomfortable drawing the conclusion that all Arthur Harrison Large Open Diapasons are oddities of limited musical use. It simply isn't true. I would also question the wisdom that the only way to accompany them is with strings and all octave couplers. There are many options on a good H&H (some of them very surprising) - to simply use strings with octave couplers strikes me as rather unimaginative and tasteless (as Hecklephone would rightly acknowledge... ).
  13. A genuine Arthur Harrison Open Diapason No.1 is a wonderful thing. I think there's nothing wrong with using one as a solo for O Mensch, although there would be plenty of other possibilities too. Not entirely authentic but then neither is a Grant, Degens and Bradbeer.
  14. It could be a standing wave issue. Because of standing waves waves forming, some random pipes don't sound particularly strongly, especially in tightly enclosed spaces. If the pedal bourdon is in a tone cabinet (if it's the organ I think it is), this could be the cause as tone cabinets and swell boxes are the worst offenders. Several solution to try and improve the situation: consider turing the pipe (not so easy with a wooden bourdon pipe that's stayed in) or consider moving the pipe - maybe with a long foot (if it's a wooden pipe). Alternatively, opening a door of the tone cabinet or adding some sound-deading (or sound reflecting) material in a strategic place might help the problem. Trial and error I'm afraid! Good Luck!
  15. Dear All, I came across a small series of Youtube clips on the 1511 Van Covelens organ of the Grote Sint Laurenskerk, Alkmaar. This organ celebrates its 500th birthday this year, celebrations of which will be held during the Orgelfestival Holland in June (more details at ww.alkmaarorgelstad.nl). I also understand there is to be an article on this organ in a future publication of Choir & Organ (I hope). Until then, more information on the organ can be found at http://www.orgelsite.nl/kerken39/alkmaar1.htm. I should point out that the Holpyp, Openfluyt and Sufflet on the Hoofwerk are on a chest above the Hoofwerk soundboard, feed by tubes from the Hoofwerk soundboard below (vaguely similar to a mounted cornet, I suppose), as a precursor to the Bovenwerk. Scheidemann: Buxtehude: Merula: (the 1/4 comma meantone temperament is thrown into sharp relief here!) Kees van Unen: (the magical Doof is heard alone at about 2:00). Hopefully these clips give an idea of this remarkable organ and its properties. (Thank you to Pierre, whose link on Facebook alerted me to these recordings).
  16. Hi David and Tony Thank you very much for your messages - I'll be in touch via PM. David - yes, well spotted: this is the organ that formed the basis of the Shepherd Brothers' organ at Burnt Oak. I'm writing a little article on the Contra Fagotto of this organ, which we believe now forms the Pedal Bassoon of the H&H organ at Twyford Parish Church. The link comes from Richard Boston, who was active in the post-war years, initially with Charles Whiteley of Chester and then on his own in the Winchester area. He may have done some work in London in the immediate post-war rebuilding. Boston rebuilt the Twyford organ in 1956, when the Fagotto arrived. I believe the Fagotto was never installed in the post-war organ at Manor Methodist Church and somehow it fell into Richard Boston's hands. Eric Shepherd and I have a little chuckle every now and again that we should reunite the Fagotto with the rest of the Willis pipework at Burnt Oak. It would certainly make a very fine Swell double reed. However, the treble pipes were lost in a rebuild at Twyford during the 1980s. If anybody has any further information, I would be glad to hear about it.
  17. I'm trying to track down Cecil Clutton's article on the Willis organ at Manor Methodist Church, Bermondsey in The Organ. Does anybody have it and would they be willing to share it with me? I'm not sure which volume it's in. Any offers of help would be appreciated gratefully. P.S. A quick search on NPOR tells me it is in vol. 59 of The Organ. This is the organ: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N16112
  18. Apparently you're interviewed on it! Have a listen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0103wyx
  19. Golly! I envy you! I have Wunderlich's recording of the Reger BACH at the Berliner Dom, which he made after the inaugural recital (which MM links to on Youtube). It's a really special, wonderful recording - it's unbelieveable he was 82 when he recorded it.
  20. I don't agree. A Swell 19.22 mixture is usually fine on a Hill organ, even of this period and this size. The Great Organ had a Twelfth, Fifteenth and Mixture III from the beginning. The Pedal Organ had an Open Diapason 16 ft from the beginning. I would suggest checking your facts (as any good engineer would do) on NPOR first: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N04613. I don't agree. It is contentious to say that the N&B action is "far in advance of anything Hill did" - the Hill Pneumatics are very good and worthy of restoration. The N&B exhaust actions, although arguably technically admirable, have a rather dead, vague feel and are not universally liked by players. Like what? This organ looks very orthodox to me - good choruses on Swell & Great Organs, including a Great Twelfth, which is unusual to see on an Edwardian organ. Why would you want to introduce new elements that are not part of the outlook of this organ? Such changes would not be in this organ's best interests at musical, aesthetic and artistic viewpoints. If I can be diplomatic for a minute, this is utter poppycock. What are these deficiencies? What are the differences you talk of? Are they really better? The people that regarded the (very traditional - please note) Hill organs of this period in this manner were trying to promulgate their own tonal ideals. Hill was targeted as the "establishment" they were keen to topple. In the best pre-WWI work of H&H & N&B these new ideals produced some fine results but the style that was being promulgated needed very careful judgement and finishing if the results were not to become coarse and heavy. The traditional Hill recipe makes it far easier to produce good results.
  21. Yes, pretty much right. It would be very interesting if you could uncover the original spec and post it up here. I know Dr. George Sinclair drew up the original specification but I'd be surprised if it varied dramatically from standard Hill practice. In any case, the big name doesn't really add very much, except to raise the profile and publicity to influence people. I think we can all guess the gaps pretty accurately but it would be good to have them confirmed. NPOR suggests that the only reed on the Great and Swell Organs when the organ was installed was the Swell oboe. This seems incredibly spartan on a medium sized three manual organ. Would I be right to suspect that money became an issue as the original organ was installed? I would have thought even the most rigid stickler for historical accuracy would question whether it is right to restore an organ to this incomplete state. I think it would be right to complete the organ to original design (or very closely), either using suitable period pipework, if it can be sourced (which means right builder, right period and right scales for this organ) or as near as possible replicas. I understand that the case was envisaged from the outset too, and it seems to have its own provenance in any case, so there is a strong argument that it should be retained too. I would not jettison later additions if they fit in appropriately with the original design - as you say, it's already possible to know what fits in and what doesn't work. Some of the best restorations reflect some of the additions and stages of the organ's history - the planned work at the Vater/Muller/Batz organ the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam is a good example. The most obvious candidate for retention is the Great Posaune. If it is by HNB in the 1920s, it has a clear link with the rest of the organ and good provenance, even if the amalgamation with N&B means that styles moved on slightly. Obviously each addition needs to be considered on its own individual merits and how it fits into the overall scheme and it sounds as though it would be advantageous to excise some of the later additions for more appropriate stops. I think the point MM has been trying to make is that HNB might have converted the action to exhaust pneumatic when they worked on the organ at some stage. This is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility - HNB did the same to the Hill organ at Arundel Cathedral in the 20s or 30s but we are led to believe that the results were not entirely happy. If that is the case, it may not be so clear-cut what approach to take with the action: a restoration to Hill charge pneumatics would be less straightforward and involve a level of guesswork. Hill charge pneumatics are generally very good - long lived, reliable and very pleasant to play - but the most appropriate solution may be elsewhere.
  22. I'm sorry, Colin, this is mainly supposition. According NPOR, Norman & Beard never worked on this organ. The organ was Hill and HNB worked out it in the 1920s, etc. Where did the spurious idea that N&B worked on this organ arise? It appears the only reed on the Swell and Great Organs at the time of the Hill installation was the Swell Oboe - the Great Posaune and Swell Cornopean are later (and probably not by Hill). It is not impossible that the Great Posaune could be quite similar to Ilkley if they are of similar provenance - note there is no HP Swell reed chest at Shrewsbury. Also, it appears the Shrewsbury orchestral reeds on the Choir Organ were enclosed but the rest of this division was not. I don't know if the entire choir division is now enclosed and who did it. It it is, it does indicate that this organ has been rebuilt and the changes may not only be tonal additions but how far these changes go is supposition without a survey. The Hill organ at Eastbrook Hall dates from 1844/5, which is where the Pedal Fifteenth and Mixture come from. By 1961 these stops had disappeared. So this isn't relevant in this case - if anything it strengthens the case for not having them because they've been removed in the intevening years. I note the specification of Shrewsbury Abbey was apparently drawn up by Dr. George Sinclair of Hereford Cathedral. I don't see that this is an argument to *not* restore the organ to its original specification. The rest is mere supposition and does not warrant a response.
  23. Thanks for your comments: Please would provide examples that illustrate your point please? I can't find any instances of Hill organs of this size built between 1895 and 1914 that have 4ft pedal stops. Even the new 1909 Hill Organ of Selby Abbey (47/IVP) doesn't have any 4ft Pedal stops. The only examples with 4ft pedal stops I could find were Bangor Cathedral and Kings College Cambridge, both of which are considerably larger and rebuilds. Hill very, very rarely used the nomenclature "Octave" and "Superoctave", if ever - his typical nomenclature was the traditional English "Principal" and "Fifteenth". Some things are making my ears burn here: This speaks to me of an organ that has no original Swell or Great reeds, the Great Double and large Open are additions, a new case. NPOR tells me this organ received additions in 1927, a new case in 1937, with work by HNB (I assume this is when the Violone/Great Double unit arrived), further additions in 1945 and additions by HNB in the 1960s. Although I find NPOR a bit patchy on the detail of this organ, it is clear that, on paper at least, this organ has had quite a number of changes. You may be right to say that the main structure of the organ hasn't altered substantially. If that is the case, what you're proposing, with a new soundboard for the Swell Reeds, a new soundboard for the Great Reeds/Tuba, eletrification of the action, potentially a new wind system, the addition of new stops (some of which were never envisaged), is actually the most invasive work that has ever been comtemplated on this organ. And you want to call it a "Restoration"?! Who has been to give advice on this organ?
  24. I'd like to return this to the original topic as I think discussing the action is going up a blind alley. Knowing the action's provenance will inform the best direction to take. It could well be that different components come from the various rebuilds and don't really work together. You need somebody far more knowledgeable than me (I'd suggest somebody like Gross Geigen) to investigate this action in detail before advising options. Until then, everything is based on supposition. I don't know this organ at all but I have read about a lot of schemes that aim "to restore this wonderful instrument back into full health" and "complete the instrument to its designer's dream" and ended up doing nothing of the sort. Organists' Review is littered everywhere with articles/advertorials of such projects. The devil is in the detail in these sort of schemes and it is worth getting it right. You have to leave aside your prejudices and likes/dislikes to complete an organ to somebody else's vision. It is not an easy task. Such a project is a journey at every level - technical, musical, outlook - and the rewards are rich; but I have found there are few people (especially in the UK) that are really committed to take such a journey. If you really are genuine in "completing the instrument to its designer's dream", it is really important to understand every aspect and the style of the organ you're aiming to recreate and know how everything in it fits together. On the face of it, the proposed scheme seems pretty sensible but I'd say the first consideration is to investigate the structure of the organ to see whether the long-hoped-for completion is technically feasible. I've come across organs with entire "prepared for" divisions... but nowhere to put them! The proposed scheme seems to suggest, with its 4 swell reeds, that some sort of separate swell reed chest is required. Is this chest already there? Is there space in the swell box for this? Was this part of the structure of the organ in the first case? If it isn't, then you need to consider very carefully whether you really are completing the organ to the original planned specification. The next issue is the wind system. What reservoirs are there in the organ? What is their history? What divisions do they supply? My suspicions are raised here because of the stated lack of tremulants on the organ - original Victorian builders rarely included tremulants if there was just one reservoir in the organ as it would affect the entire organ. Tremulants that are on Victorian organs with one reservoir have usually been fitted later (although I'm sure somebody will come back with some organ that proves I'm wrong on this point). If there is to be a new separate reed chest for the Swell Organ, you'll probably need a second swell reservoir. Where will it go? If you throw out the existing reservoirs in the organ in preference to a system of several modern single-rise regulators, are you really "completing the instrument to its designer's dream"? Similarly the Great Reeds/ Choir Tuba item. This will require a separate soundboard if you want them playable from the Great and Choir keys, which, ignoring important stylistic considerations for a minute, will lead to questions about a different wind pressure as well, which means you'll need to think carefully about the wind system again. Was this part of the original scheme? The (utterly magnificent IMO) Hill organ at Eton has a Great reeds to Choir transfer - and very useful it is too - but the reeds have their own soundboard. Pedal Octaves and Super Octaves are not part of any Hill 1911 scheme and are entirely inappropriate. I doubt they would add value, except in an attempt to play the organ in a neo-classical manner which is foreign to this style of instrument. If you want more weight on the Pedal Organ, I would suggest you look at the solutions Hill used and do something similar - the Pedal Trombone and a 32ft Open Wood are more appropriate suggestions. A Pedal 4ft Principal will be a weak and disappointing stop if it is buried with the rest of the pedal organ at the back of the organ because its sound won't get out. At best it'll be carried on stops beneath it and will only add some harmonic interest to these rather than provide any drive or power. If the Pedal Principal isn't situated with the rest of the Pedal Organ, then where is it going to go? It's going to need its own soundboard, action, the wind supply will need to be worked out... you get the picture? These are all general aspects before we get into the detail. If you're aiming to reconstruct ranks you'll need to get all the aspects of these ranks right - the scaling to other ranks, construction details, finishing and how they fit into the tonal picture of the organ. This is still regarded as quite an unusual request in some quarters and requires a certain knack to get organ builders to respond appropriately to your wishes - but the results can be extremely fine if the builders share your vision - and a mongrel if they get it wrong. One very good option is to find ranks of suitable provenance and include them instead of creating from fresh. Following on from pipework considerations, the action will need careful thought after that. Voicing characteristics changed with the introduction of pneumatic actions from the "quick and dull" speech of early English organs to the slower, hornier speech of late Victorian and Edwardian organs. Again, understanding the stylistic considerations of the organ will inform decisions here. Finally, I would say that it is best to go for a good layout and good design at the expense of a few ranks here and there. Yes, there are nice-sounding organs that are badly laid out and designed but they are the exception rather than the rule. If you want a good organ, then good design and layout is the starting point. However, this shouldn't be read that the organ shoudl be re-ordered, especially as the organ is reported to sound muffled and it doesn't project well. I think it's worth investigating why it isn't speaking clearly. There could be a number of reasons - such as wind leaks, poor conditions of soundboards and actions, or the placement of the organ in the building or the building's acoustics. It may not be a layout issue. If the layout of the organ has been compromised through numerous rebuilds, then maybe there is good reason to re-consider a re-ordering - or to remove additions. Again, it needs somebody knowledgeable to survey it before decisions can be made. Certainly the Armley project (a transplanted organ) was considered very carefully before any decisions were made. This is where my unease about this scheme surfaces. On the one hand, it talks about "completing the instrument to its designer's dream" and yet within almost the same breath it seems to be sanctioning a complete internal redesign, with a new action, a new wind system and quite possibly new soundboards. It looks to me more like a (conservative) rebuild than a completion of an original scheme.
  25. Couple of questions: 1. Is this the organ: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N01933 ? 2. What is the present wind system in this organ?
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