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Anthony Poole

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About Anthony Poole

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  • Birthday 12/04/1965

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    New York City, New York
  • Interests
    Music of almost all types, plus musical instruments. I am a very keen cyclist who would love to race, but has to balance family life with the many hours required for training. But I like to do long rides in excess of 100 miles a day, and get a great thrill of descending hills above 35 mph, when conditions allow.
  1. That's as maybe, but it is the high price of metals that are likely to attract the thieves and, while they may not make as much as they thought, in today's high-priced environment, they could still stand to gain considerably. Prices are at a level where it is substantially worth the cost of recovering lead from alloys. And I read a report yesterday, which was forecasting average tin prices at $8,500/tonne for the rest of this year and $9,000/tonne for the whole of 2007. I shudder to think what today's metals prices are doing to organ builders' margins these days, or the cost of organ building. But that's another story!
  2. I've wanted to post this for a while, but was reluctant to do so as I did not want to give anyone ideas. However, with metals prices at, or close to record levels, including tin and lead on the London Metal Exchange, I strongly urge organists to make sure their churches beef up their security. It would be a tragedy to hear of organ pipes diesappearing to thieves intent on melting them down to make a quick, small fortune on the scrap market, but it is a sad and real possibility in today's environment of staggeringly high metals and commodity prices. Primary copper is worth well over $7,000 a tonne and has even been above $8,000 a tonne this year and it has an extraordinarily high value on the scrap market. In the US thieves risk their lives regularly trying to steal copper wire from overhead telephone wires and it often ends in tragedy with people either falling, or being electrocuted by overhead power lines. Entire lamposts and traffic lights are regularly stolen for their aluminium and copper wire. Earlier this year, a nickel producer in France had two full trucks of high purity nickel stolen which, at today's prices, the value of the two cargoes was approximately $1 million. Fortunately, nickel is not used in pipes. Also at risk are the lead from stained glass windows and a church's silverware. If you have a pipe organ under you care in a church, a concert hall or your home, please do all in your powers to make sure it is secure. Today's metals prices are unprecedented, but opportunistic thieves have probably been around for as long mankind. So please be on your guard.
  3. In no particular order: Laurencekirk, Alkmaar (tonally, it has been lovingly untouched over the years) St Ouen, Rouen Westminster Cathedral (the big one) St Ignatuis Loyola, New York St Sernin, Toulouse A very nice Ken Tickell 3 stop continuo organ I saw used at St John's Smith Square once. Good for portability and adjustable pitch, including an extra pipe to allow a bottom C when working at A=415. I wouldn't mind also playing the Wurlitzer at the Winter Garden in Blackpool. St Ignatius happens to be my local parish church, so I get to hear it frequently.
  4. I think the 8ft flute on the swell, with seven ranks would be just as costly to build as seven individual stops, although you mention it would be an extended rank. That would give you some tuing issues, as for a mutation stop, you would want perfect fifths, or whatever the intervals are, as opposed to the unperfect fifths necessary for the 8ft stop to be in tune with itself at equal temperament, or other temperaments. That aside, I think a more useful stop than the Pedal 8ft Octave Wood would be an 8ft Open Diapason on the Swell, giving you two really independent choruses on the manuals. I might be tempted to exchange the 16ft swell reed for a 16ft pedal reed of some description. I've always preferred manual harmonic flutes at 8ft pitch, especially if their role is as a solo stop. I've never understood the reason for a Gt 4ft harmonic flute in the absence of an 8ft harmonic flute. But this is entirely academic, as we have no idea what sort of a room this instrument is intended for and, if it is for a church, what its liturgical role would be. When real organ builders have to come up with real solutions to real instruments and buildings, I think it is much more interesting than drawing up fantasy stop lists. But there's no harm in it. If we can play fantasy football, or fantasy cricket or, in my case, fantasy profesionall cycling team management, then there is no reason why we shouldn't play fantasy organbuilding.
  5. Try listening to Test Match Special during the cricket season, with headphones. Failing that, keep an eye on the time and after 15 minutes, draw the 'Open Pullpit Trapdoor' stop.
  6. Given the shameful record of one well-known French music publiser, it is perfectly possible that there are inaccuracies in Louis Vierne's published symphonies. The only way of telling for sure is to go back to the manuscripts. Even then, you have to bear in mind that Vierne was blind for most of his adult life and, therefore, probably relied on dictating his compositions, which could have created the opportunity for the introduction of errors to his scores as they were being committed to paper. If you take some of the published works of Widor and Fauré by Hamelle, it is not hard to find scores that are littered with misprints. Indeed, the choral reduction of Widor's mass for two choirs and two organs, published by Hamelle, is full of errors - a real triumph of French music publishing. And Hamelle's originally published version of Fauré's Requiem, the enlarged 'concert' version that the composer wanted no truck with, is a litany of misprints. Widor kept revising his symphonies, and I'm not sure he stuck with Hamelle for later versions, having been frustrated by the publisher's incompetence. But in fairness to French music publishing, there are misprints and errors elsewhere. Much of Dvorak's published output is full of errors, including such well-known pieces as the B minor Cello Concerto and the New World Symphony. The conductor Denis Vaughan, a former assistant of Thomas Beecham, did go back to Dvorak's manuscripts and was astounded at what he found. Even the famous tune from the New World Symphony, immortalised by the 'Hovis' TV commercial, is not exactly what Dvorak wrote, although I don't know where the errors are. Vaughan has been trying for years to get a record company to let him record the symphonies in new versions, based more faithfully on the composer's manuscripts. But, to-date, I am not sure the project has ever got off the ground. Of course, the cynical among us believe that some publishers deliberately publish misprints, so that when the copyright is about to expire, they can republish with some of the misprints corrected, thus keeping their stranglehold on a piece for another 75 years.
  7. Unfortunately, I cannot attempt to answer all of your questions, because I simply do not know enough of the history. However, I understand from all accounts I have read that the Altar division you referred to was inaudible. Why spend the money to restore it, or worst still, why spend the money on trying to make the division audible, which could have proved to be an exercise in futility and, therefore, a waste of money? I believe the pipework is still there and the soundboard, just disconnected. I don't believe Williss III made any attempt to pass off the diapason chorus in the southeast quarter gallery as his own, new work. It was Lewis pipework salvaged from a church that was bombed in WWII. Its scaling was insufficient for the Cathedral, but demonstrated the accoustic qualities of the various quarterdomes in projecting sound across the dome and a good way down the length of the nave - something the Chancel Organ could never do and hope to lead a congregation. The Mander Dome Diapasons were scaled and voiced for the job they were required to do. Although my son thinks I'm a dinosaur, I wasn't around in 1872 or 1900 and neither, I suspect, were you, so who are we to say that Willis ruined a perfectedly good Chancel Organ that he had built? As I said, I am unable to answer your other questions. The only thing I would say about the North Choir organ is that if an organist does not like it, he or she is free not to use it. While some of the stops on that division appear on paper to be out of whack with the rest of the Chancel Division, I believe it is voiced sympathetically with the rest of the Chancel Organ. But, as John Mander pointed out, much earlier in this growing thread, the original idea was for a Positive division. And one can well imagine it would have been very much along neo-classical lines and entirely inappropriate. But the then organist, Christopher Dearnley, was quite clear about it needing to be a North Choir division and steered Mander away from going fully-down the neo classical route that so many organ builders chose to do in the 1970s. I believe it was an attempt to make the Chancel Organ more versatile to take account of choral music written in the second half of the 20th Century and is, perhaps akin, to the lengthening of bridges and general loudening of violins in the late 19th Century, to meet the demands of new orchestral repertoire. At least it did not replace anything else. The space it occupies was occuppied by the old console The position of the old console made it impossible for an organist to hear the instrument. I once read somewhere that when Willis first built the Chancel Organ, he had seriously underestimated the vastness of the St Paul accoustic and had to voice and louden the pipework on site to its limit. Interestingly, if I remember correctly, the bottom C of the biggest Dome 8ft Diapason has a circumfrence only an inch wider than the bottom C of the Gt large 8ft Open. This, to me, seems to suggest that there is something about the accoustic property of the northeast quarter dome that throws sound out much more readily than the Chancel, allowing for a comparatively modest scaling of the Dome Chorus compared with the Great Chancel Diapason chorus. But John Mander is, naturally, much better qualified to answer that question. I am only going on a vague memory of an essay written by Ian Bell, which I read probably 20 years ago.
  8. I am loathe to judge an instrument purely on the basis of a single hearing of a recorded performance over the web. I listened to it over headphones and the bass is huge, just as I found with the Pipedreams webcast of the new Mander in Atlanta. I guess headphones over the web really pushes the bass. But my computer is not wired up to good speakers, just the built-in laptop speakers, which are like a small, transistor radio type speaker. That said, from what I heard, this organ does not strke me as a true neo-classical organ, as Pierre described it, in the full sense of what I understand the term to mean. To my ears it sounds like an eclectic approach, perhaps not unlike that of CB Fisk of Gloucester, Massachussets. There seems to be more than one style going on here in this new Letourneau instrument. On the one-hand, there appear to be some romantic leanings, especially in some of the flue work and strings with what seems to be fairly prompt speech and no hint of 'chifs' or 'quacks', and then there is the more neo-classical approach in some of the other flue work where some 'chiff' is audible, but, perhaps, not to the degree of a true neo-classical instrument. So I suspect there is some flue work that has open tip voicing, minimal nicking and the languids placed where they produce some 'chiff' and then there is other flue work that seems to have much prompter speech. Both styles can be heard in the Duruflé Siciliene, which is a little unnerving. As for the reeds, the chamades sound fairly brash and vulgar and do more than just provide a crowning glory to a tutti in the manner of, say Cavaillé-Coll. Instead, they tend to dominate the tutti. Some of the softer, solo, manual reeds sound rather unrefined to me and not particularly romantic. But this could just as easily be something caused by microphone placement. I'm not sure whether the instrument relies solely on the reeds for power as has been suggested elsewhere in this thread. I think the mixtures have some part in this too and it is not just force of tone, but harmonic development too. But the missing clue to this puzzle is a live hearing in the flesh. Without that, I do not want to judge this instrument. I'd like to hear how it sounds in the room, how it fills the room and how it sounds with a live orchestra. The eclectic approach is still favoured by many organ builders, unfortunately. I think Fisk achieved a more cohesive result in the big concert hall in Dallas, even though this instrument is also eclectic. Again, I can't tell for sure, because I've not heard the instrument live. But I have talked to somebody who has played it, who says that it does work well in the hall and with orchestras and in the concert hall context. Regards Anthony
  9. I'm guessing that it was the microphone placements, as I have been told by an organist who played there that the room is pretty good.
  10. This is an interesting response. I never said the piece was well-written, only that it was fun to do. But I disagree with your view that it is a badly written piece. But this is subjective. If you look, or listen to the choral writing, it makes no attempt at minimalism, there is too much material for it to be minimalist in the Glass or Adams school. And the other movements are not strictly minimalist either. I'm not a great fan of the minimalist school but, personally, I believe John Adams has had something to say where others have failed, but, again, this is subjective. I only see a very vague passing reference to Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms in the Paulus concerto, rather than a crude attempt at Symphony of Psalms pastiche, but perhaps I am missing something. I don't understand your point about the final bars being considered "overblown had Schoenberg ended Gurrelieder with them". The point is that Schoenberg did not write the piece and compared with the vast and lush, romantic score of Gurrelieder, there is nothing in Stephen Paulus that could possibly considered overblown. Incidentally, one of the revisions by the composer I referred to, I think, occured at the end of the piece that makes for a more powerful ending. And not to belittle Proms audiences, but they do tend to like exuberant pieces and there is plenty of exuberance in this concerto. And, you have no idea of the enthusiasm with which the St Ignatius audience received this concerto. I have never seen such an enthusiastic standing ovation, where the audience got up on their feet immediately. And this is an audience with a diet of repertoire from Gregorian chant, ealy music, polyphony, through the Baroque, classical and romantic periods, spirituals, gospel, contemporary, etc, etc with composers from both sides of the Pond. My main criticism of what little of Stephen Paulus's music I have encountered generally, not this piece, is that there can be too much emphasis on rythm for my liking. I often feel that parts of his faster music cry out for the occasional phrase of some length to break up the relentless, percussive, rythmic drive. But he is hardly a minimalist in the same vain as Adams or Philip Glass. You don't get the same tiny fragment repeated endlessly several times before moving onto the next slice. Incidentally, I don't believe that Glass, Adams and a few other like-minded composers were the true inventors of minimalism in musical composition. Listen and look at the beginning of Louis Vierne's Les Cloches de Hinkley from the 24 Pieces of Fantasy and you will find an example of minimalism that dates back to 1927 in the manual part in the opening measures and another example near the beginning in the right hand.
  11. I listened to a large part of this programme yesterday, but wished I'd heard the radio broadcast, because I am sure the sound would have been much better. Nevertheless, the organ sounded good. But the pedal foundation tone sounded very strong and thick, and that could be to do with the webcast as well. The accoustic sounded on the dry side, although I am reliably informed by an eminent organist who gave one of the early recitals that the room is actually pretty good. The strings reminded me of St Ignatius, sometimes, which is not surprising given that it is the same builder, although somebody might tell me that the scaling and style are completely different. But that is just an observation. It was interesting to hear the Stephen Paulus concerto for organ, orchestra and chorus in its original version. This piece was especially commissioned for the opening of this instrument. There have been a few revisions in the last movement, which were made in time for the New York premiere at St Ignatius, New York in March of last year. I was lucky enough to sing in the New York performance, and had a real blast doing it. It's a great piece and deserves wider recognition, especially in New York. I think it would go down a real treat with a Proms audience in London. Anyway, I recommend listening to this concert. You can listen to it in stages if you don't have an hour and a half to hear the whole thing at once.
  12. It all looks spectacular to me, including the console. The case is a real architectural gem and fits in well with the older architecture of the church. This looks like really imaginative and inspired work and visually, at least, it all looks like a breath of fresh air. The case designer has been very bold in doing something, which is not the norn, not a cliché or a piece of pastiche. I fear that all too often, new instruments look like pastiche reworkings of classic old 18th century cases and this looks like a refreshing change to me and a product of our own times. I look forward to hearing this instrument some day, because it certainly looks like it has a lot of character. I'm a little puzzled by reading (if I read it correctly) that the 32ft reed on the Pédale was accoustic. Is this achieved in the same way as accoustic 32fts in flue ranks? I would have liked to have seen a real 32ft flue rank in the Pédale. Somebody asked about the temporary wall that was there. I can imagine the pictures may have been taken before installation was fully complete and the temporary wall was there to hide the builder's on-site workshop from the rest of the church.
  13. A comment like this is just crass and uninformed, especially when one considers that Mander restored the RAH organ (adding one additional stop) tonally as it had been left by Harrisons in the 1920s, which was radically different from the organ originally built by Father Willis. And in any case, HW IV retired some time ago. Regardless of whatever the reputation of Henry Willis & Sons was under HW IV, it should have no bearing on its reputation today. To question the professional reputation of another company in writing in a public forum like this is libellous if people take your remark seriously which, hopefully, they will not. And as it is on a forum that is hosted by a competitor of Henry Willis & Sons, it exposes the host to a potentially unacceptable liablity. It pays to engage brain before fingers on a computer keyboard.
  14. From what I've read about new organs built by Mander in challenging buildings, the company has done its best to design the internal layout to maximise the egress of sound into the building. The new organ built in St Louis, Missouri, a couple of years ago was one such example, but the good work of the builders and voicers has reportedly been destroyed by the subsequent installation of carpeting. In some churches, where a lack of height forces the swell to be placed behind the great, some organ builders put the bigger reeds on separate chests and voice them on higher pressures and make them louder, perhaps with more generous scaling than might seem necessary. I believe some organ builders also use swell shutters on more than one side of a box to improve egress. I believe the new organ that Mander is building in St Alban's incorporates this into its design, but best to check with JPM. Interestingly, at Westminster Cathedral, the grand organ has the swell placed behind the great, even though there was plenty of height to put the swell above the great, or the other way around. But the egress of the swell into the building is still splendid and the swell box effect of opening and closing produces a considerable dynamic range. I once conducted a band in a theatre, which had so much sound absorbing material that I was able to tell the brass and percussion that no matter how loud they played, they would not be able to drown the singers. The performers on stage were in front of the orchestra. But even with the percussion appearing to beat the **a% out of their instruments, it rarely sounded like more than a generous mezzo forte. I think organ builders sometimes come up against this in churches and, no matter what they do, the organs sound like they are wrapped in cotton wool. My understanding of Symphony Hall, Birmingham was that Arup was the project manager, but Artec and Russel Johnson had carte blanche when it came to the accoustic design and specification of the materials used. His other big success is the Meyerson Center in Dallas, although there are other noteable examples too that don't come to mind right now.
  15. I think you are right that what people consider to be good accoustics is subjective. Personally, I think the Royal Festival Hall has a far worse accoustic than the Royal Albert Hall, despite the latter's faults. The RAH does at least have some warmth to it. That said, piano recitals work pretty well in the RFH. I've not heard the Marcussen at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, so I cannot comment. I have heard orchestras play there and the accoustic is nothing like that of Symphony Hall, Birmingham. However, I would not say that it is a bad accoustic. Speaking of Symphony Hall, despite the use of modern materials, where it mattered accoustically, such as large, flat reflective walls and surfaces, the choice of material was marble and solid timber. And the choice of seating materials was also a crucial component in the success of the space. The success of this accoustic owes more to the acoustician Russel Johnson of Artec, rather than Arup. I've only heard orchestras, small ensembles and vocal and choral ensembles in Symphony Hall, and I've yet to hear the organ, so I've no idea how it sounds. But I do think that Symphony Hall has one of the finest concert hall accoustics I have ever experienced. How materials are used is just as important as the choice of materials. The most successful concert halls have one thing in common: they are basically the same shape, which is the shoe box shape, turned on its side. This provides lots of large, flat walls, which provide listeners with early reflections of higher frequencies. Symphony Hall is slighly different in that the ends are rounded. The shoebox and the early reflections really help with clarity and help instrumental players with balance and ensemble. The classic examples are the Musikverein in Vienna and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The Town Hall in Birmingham should also have been a good example, but the effect was ruined by carpet. However, as part of the renovation, the carpet was removed, revealing a much more lively accoustic. The importance of large, flat walls can be demonstrated by taking a walk down the street. If you are next to a building with a large flat wall, walking towards a busy street in front of you, it will sound like the street noise is coming from the large flat wall. If there is a pneumatic jack hammer going 100 yards down the road, it will still sound like the noise is coming from the flat wall that is next to you. And if an aircraft flies over head, the noise will sound like it is coming from the flat wall and you will hear the aeroplane long before you see it. I have sat in various parts of Symphony Hall, listening to a solo violin practicing, and sometimes it sounded like the player was just a few feet to the side of me. Something like 80% of the sound that an audience hears at Symphony Hall is reflected off the side walls, rather than coming directly from the performers on the stage. Of course, the ceiling and floor play their part too. The large flat floor of the Royal Albert Hall means that orchestras sound superb in the arena during the Proms season. If you stand in front of the fountain, the notorious 'double note' almost disappears, save for when a snare drum are playing softly. The fan shape of the Barbican is a disaster. The only flat surfaces of any accoustical use are behind the woodwork on stage, which means performers can hear every noise the audience makes. Churches come in all shapes and size. In addition to the overall shape of the building, the placement of the organ and any choral or instrumental group is key. Generally speaking, churches on continental Europe have organs housed above the west door that speak down the full length of the nave. If the nave has lots of flat surfaces and is free of sound-absorbing materials, the organ will often sound superb. Take for example, Westminster Cathedral and also St Alban's Holborn. And if you happen to be in New York, try St Ignatius Loyola too. When organs are sited in a chamber next to the choir stalls, they struggle to speak into the church and organ builders have a hard time to make them do so. The disadvantage of a good accoustic that is free of sound absorbing materials is that instrumentalists, soloists and choral groups have to work really hard to achieve a genuine pianissimo, and few can really do it. A mezzo forte is effortless and fortissimo does not take much effort. A poor solo trumpet player can easily achieve an ear-splitting fortissimo in such an accoustic. And I have heard orchestras overplay in Symphony Hall, largely because they were used to performing in such poor accoustics.
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