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Mander Organs


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About handsoff

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    Playing the organ, listening to organ music both live and recorded, railways, photography, walking, swimming, cooking and eating, driving (1969 Morris Minor amongst others) and keeping my wife in the manner to which she has become accustomed. That means that I took very early retirement and she still works!

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  1. handsoff

    School choirs and organ suggestions

    Stainer: The Crucifixion ...and yes, I really mean it! I am very fond of this work with its drama, word-painting and simply wonderful hymn tunes. A good tenor soloist is clearly needed and I'd allow you to omit the Prelude! I know it's unfashionable to like Stainer at the moment but his time will come again...
  2. handsoff

    Christmas music 2018

    I have two carol services at different churches within the Benefice; for the first, a very cheerful and quite light-hearted affair I shall end with a simple arrangement of "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" - short so that it can finish before the kettles boil and catchy enough to make the audience listen. The second service is more traditional and they shall have "In Dulci Jubilo" by Wilbur Held. On Christmas morning I'll play "God Rest Ye Merry" also by Wilbur Held.
  3. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    If she were ever to come back..!
  4. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    I've always been a fan of a good last reharmonisation and in most circumstances much prefer one to a descant with a few exceptions such as Andrew Fletcher's "Hark the Herald" and one to Divinum Mysterium we used to do at Warwick. Last verse jobs do seem to have gone out of fashion although I don't go to nearly as many services in cathedrals and other churches with good organists as I once did. When much younger I went to a residential accompaniment course at Addington Palace and learned a huge amount, including the art of last verses, most of which I seem to have lost over the years. In my own small way I always try to vary the harmonies of at least one hymn per service but bearing in mind there are rarely more than 15 in the congregation and the organ is, umm, limited, I have to be circumspect. One funny story from recent years. In our annual carol service not long ago there was a woman in the congregation with a very pronounced and uncontrolled vibrato coupled to a loud voice and apparently equally large ego. She was the sort that would finish a loud carol by say, going to the upper 5th and then the tonic an octave higher to finish. In "O Come all ye Faithful" I had prepared an alternative harmony for the final verse ("Sing Choirs of...." as it was before Christmas) but she took it it upon herself to belt out the Willcocks descant in competition. Even with the limited organ, I won. Enough to say that she didn't hang about for the mince pies... 😈
  5. handsoff

    Organ Scholarhips and Conservatoires

    That'll spur me on mightily - I like the idea of "Dripping poison on the Dons" (if that was the quote I think I remember reading somewhere!).
  6. handsoff

    Organ Scholarhips and Conservatoires

    Woohoo, a chance of an organ scholarship at last! My last exam was Grade 7 so St John's Cambridge at least please.😁
  7. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    Thank you Wolsey, that will explain the apparent change in volume in the broadcast. Time for another visit, I think...
  8. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    I echo all the thoughts about the service expressed above. It sounded to me, listening with a mid-price soundbar and subwoofer, as if the pedal reeds were more forceful than I remember either from other recordings or being in the building. Has any revoicing been done recently or was it likely to have been simply the placement of the BBC's microphones?
  9. handsoff

    List of beautiful English Organs

    During a short break in the village of Coln St Aldwyns, in the Cotswolds, I was able to play this organ. The front, Open Diapason, pipes are beautifully decorated as are, more unusually, the Bourdon pipes placed at either end of the organ. This view shows them to a reasonable extent. The console can hardly be described as beautiful but the sound of the organ is decidedly so. The Gamba is almost Oboe-like and blends perfectly with the Stopped Diapason and 4' Flute; the OD and Principal and quite powerful and bright and supported well by the Bourdon Treble, an unusual manual double for such a small organ and judging by the stop knob a later addition to the organ. The console is unusually sited at the East end of the organ facing West and directly under one set of Bourdon pipes and needs a double mirror setup for the organist to see the choir stalls.
  10. handsoff

    Blind Listening Experiment

    I played a new organ with fully electric action in Witheridge, North Devon, a couple of years ago. This had four different settings available for the general crescendo pedal and they all were set to do exactly what most GCPs don't in that the superfluous quieter ranks were taken off as the louder stops came on. In this case it was clearly up to the player to choose the sound required in each of the settings. The level of playing aids was almost overwhelming to me; used to playing instruments with none! I do appreciate that older organs don't have the flexibility that a new state-of-the-art electric action can provide. Here is a rather blurred picture that Mrs H took on a very basic digital camera as i was playing. The GC pedal is the the right-hand (foot!) of the two. This is the specification although the GCP isn't shown in the leaflet from which it was taken.
  11. handsoff


    A masterful improvisation from Daniel Roth. The relationship between M. Roth and the régistrants is almost telepathic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxJuwWP_s6Y
  12. handsoff

    Last Night of the Proms 2018

    Mmmm. From the BBC SO website. No mention of an organist. Funny that... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/sXnJWD6dprbBG2LK4wN9Cj/whos-who
  13. handsoff

    Organs that you can play?

    My advice would be to pick an area in which there are organs that you would be interested in seeing and then, using the "A Church Near You" website, ask the contact listed for each church if you might be able to arrange a visit to see and perhaps play the organ. I use this approach when going on holday and have, without exception, been made welcome. I have always made a generous donation upon leaving. My particular interest is village church instruments and I have little interest in playing the much larger multi-department organs and suspect that on occasions access to these might be more limited anyway. A loud tuba or big pedal reed is a tiny part of the experience of being an organist and constant loud playing is tiresome to any audience and will win the player few friends. The pleasure, to me at least, of discovering little used small organs and exploring their resources beats into a cocked hat the "Full Organ" large instrument approach. As has been said elsewhere on this forum the quieter stops on a organ usually provide the most beautiful and expressive sounds and small organs often have some real gems.
  14. handsoff

    St Asaph

    This is terribly sad news for music in Wales. I can't help but think that the problems lie here... Earlier this year, new facilities – costing more than £600,000 –were opened. A third of a million-pound extension and refurbishment of the cathedral’s vestries created a new Translators’ Tearoom, gender-neutral toilets and a community meeting space. The project was funded by more than £130,000 of grants secured from various bodies, including WREN – £50,000 – and the Garfield Weston Foundation, £25,000. The rest of the money was raised by the cathedral or had been left as legacies. A £286,000 grant from the National Lottery went towards the creation of a major interactive project that features interactive displays. All this points to the low regard in which church music and musicians are held in this country. The exceedingly wealthy, in terms of invested assets, Anglican church is, in my very humble opinion, appallingly badly run. Two of the churches in my own benefice are set to be abandoned within the next 2 or 3 years. The tiny congregations are expected to contribute over £4000 each per annum to the diocese. For what? We see nothing other than pastoral letters and last year another Bishop appointed. There is no "backflow" of support and is hard to see where our money goes. In most forms of business the "branch offices" are supported by "head office". Not so in the Anglican church...
  15. handsoff

    Music That We'd Rather Not Play

    I have certainly not been offended in way or form at all. It takes an awful lot to do that and nothing here has come with a light year of it!