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Here is the start of some information about the building of the new Quire organ at Worcester.

 

Over the next 12 months or so it will be off-site, moving into the Cathedral in the early part of 2008, so don't expect lots of posts from here over the next few months.

 

I thought people might be interested to see some of the photos which were taken during the removal of the old cases (OK, OK don't start on that can of worms again....!!!!) and the resultant spaces and views which have been obstructed for around 150 years. There are also some close-up photos of the historic Viole d'Orchestre of Robert Hope-Jones which will be part of the new Tickell instrument.

 

See here for photos.

 

I will do my best to keep you up-to-date on developments over the coming months so that you can see the progress at each stage of work.

 

Adrian Lucas

Master of the Choristers and Organist

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Guest Roffensis

That's brilliant of you to post the pics. Nice also to at least see the cathedral less cluttered by cases......

 

Onwards and forwards now, no point in bitterness. I was very interested in the HJ stop construction.

 

I hope all goes well with the new organ, and that it sounds English, or, better still, French!!....... :rolleyes:

 

Best wishes,

 

Richard

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That's brilliant of you to post the pics. Nice also to at least see the cathedral less cluttered by cases......

 

Onwards and forwards now, no point in bitterness. I was very interested in the HJ stop construction.

 

Thanks, John and Richard....I will do my best to keep the information rolling!

 

A

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Fascinating pictures Adrian. Thank you for posting them.

 

JC

 

I am delighted to endorse the above comments Adrian. I used to play the old organ when David Willcocks was Organist and look forward to hearing the new instrument in due course.

 

All best wshes

Colin

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Guest Roffensis
I've added a few more photographs here

 

 

Some magnificent carving there. Good that it's being reused. The obvious question is to ask if the new cases will be of much the same dark colour? It matched the rest of the woodwork. Or is the old carving to be stripped to a lighter colour? Are the new facade pipes going to be of silver or gold colour?

 

Mr. Lucas, can you also please tell me what WPG the HJ stop was on?

 

Is it true the swell box was in brick? or was that just the original one?

 

Were there any Hill stops left that had not been hacked about with? I would imagine most stops to have been revoiced with knitting needles up the feet to open them up, and cut ups increased?

 

It would be good to know exactly what had been done to the old organ pipework.

 

Where will the new console be?

 

Best regards,

 

Richard.

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Is it true the swell box was in brick? or was that just the original one?

 

Richard

 

This was indeed the case, Richard - this is stated in at least one of the captions to the photographs.

 

Whilst I am grateful to Mr. Lucas for the fine sets of photographs which he has made available to us, unfortunately I find that it serves to emphasise the sadness of the destruction of what I regarded as a superb instrument.

 

I would certainly be pleased to see more photographs, should Mr. Lucas wish to share them with us - particularly one or two of the elegant and oh-so-comfortable H&H console. Incidentally, what has happened to this part of the old organ?

 

I can only hope that the quality of the voicing is rather different to that of the instrument at Honiton Parish Church, which I had occasion to play once more, yesterday. I confess that I could find nothing whatsoever attractive or beautiful (or, for that matter, blending) about the tonal aspect of this instrument - or, indeed, the rebuilt organ of Sherborne Abbey. Clearly this type of instrument is not for me. I hope that Mr. Lucas will be happy with the completed instrument at Worcester.

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One one hand, I am absolutely delighted about the very nice photos kindly posted by Mr Lucas. But on the other hand, I am personally quite sad that they are only now for forensic and memorial purposes....

 

Happily, the Viole d'Orchestre will survive....!

 

I would personally be very interested in pictures of the diaphone 32', as well as other 32 ft stops. Mr Lucas, would you be so kind as posting some of them ?

 

Thanking you in advance,

 

With best regards,

 

PF Baron

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Some magnificent carving there. Good that it's being reused. The obvious question is to ask if the new cases will be of much the same dark colour? It matched the rest of the woodwork. Or is the old carving to be stripped to a lighter colour? Are the new facade pipes going to be of silver or gold colour?

Actually the wood in the Quire has a very wide palette of colours. We took samples when commissioning our new chamber organ in order to try to make a match. While there is much which is very dark and covered in Victorian stain, there is also much which is really very light.

Mr. Lucas, can you also please tell me what WPG the HJ stop was on?

I believe the Choir was just on 3 inch pressure...I don't have the details of any changes which WW would have made in the 1970s.

Is it true the swell box was in brick? or was that just the original one?

The box was enormously strong and took a whole week to demolish. There was some suggestion that it had been made by the same team who built bunkers along the North French coast in the war... :rolleyes:

Were there any Hill stops left that had not been hacked about with? I would imagine most stops to have been revoiced with knitting needles up the feet to open them up, and cut ups increased?

It would be good to know exactly what had been done to the old organ pipework.

All the pipework has gone to Nicholson's in Malvern.

Where will the new console be?

The new console will be on the South side in a new loft, positioned so that the player is facing East.

 

That's all for now, folks....I must go and do a balance test for BBC Choral Evensong this afternoon!

 

Best wishes,

 

A

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I can only hope that the quality of the voicing is rather different to that of the instrument at Honiton Parish Church, which I had occasion to play once more, yesterday. I confess that I could find nothing whatsoever attractive or beautiful (or, for that matter, blending) about the tonal aspect of this instrument - or, indeed, the rebuilt organ of Sherborne Abbey.

 

I really enjoyed the 3 man in Dulwich (designed by William McVicker - at his church) - I only heard Honiton once and I must admit that to me at least it lacked a bit of 'awe and wonder'.

 

AJJ

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Guest Roffensis
This was indeed the case, Richard - this is stated in at least one of the captions to the photographs.

 

Whilst I am grateful to Mr. Lucas for the fine sets of photographs which he has made available to us, unfortunately I find that it serves to emphasise the sadness of the destruction of what I regarded as a superb instrument.

 

I would certainly be pleased to see more photographs, should Mr. Lucas wish to share them with us - particularly one or two of the elegant and oh-so-comfortable H&H console. Incidentally, what has happened to this part of the old organ?

 

I can only hope that the quality of the voicing is rather different to that of the instrument at Honiton Parish Church, which I had occasion to play once more, yesterday. I confess that I could find nothing whatsoever attractive or beautiful (or, for that matter, blending) about the tonal aspect of this instrument - or, indeed, the rebuilt organ of Sherborne Abbey. Clearly this type of instrument is not for me. I hope that Mr. Lucas will be happy with the completed instrument at Worcester.

 

 

I also loved the old organ, and will always treasure the very many recordings of it I have, both with and without choir. Even so, I have never thought of it as faultless, it was far from it, with an apology for a "Solo" and largely impressing more by it's sheer "over the top sound" than many subtle effects. That said, there were some very special sounds on it, which I don't think will ever be duplicated, any more than the Frenchy tone it had. It was a one off that evolved. But it is also to do with how that was achieved, it had become really a bit of a "no name" (!) I guess, and I can appreciate the reasoning to want to start afresh. Personally I would not have, but nor would I have left it as it was. It's just pointless to argue about it, as it's a lost cause, gone. I honestly believe the way forward for everyone now is to hope for great things. I personally think it will be a hard act to follow, but I also respect Mr. Lucas in his efforts, and wish him and the builders every success. It is going to be a very interesting next year or so, nor do I think the knashing of teeth will be over yet, there are bound to be some "I told you so"s, a colleague today bemoned just one 8' Diapason on the Gt, and no 16' reed either, so it goes on, and doubtless will. Better just to wait and see, and hear, and hope. I hope it all goes very well indeed.

 

Richard

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Thanks for the photos - fascinating! Can I also ask what has happened to the old console? It was very comfortable! I took my choir to Worcester for 4 days around 3 years ago and we had a wonderful time - it was my first and only experience of the old organ and whilst it didn't leave me with any overwhelming impressions (like Salisbury, Ripon, Truro etc), it did a good job in terms of evensong accomp.).

An earlier post mentioned photos of the 32's - those are in the transept case aren't they?

Best wishes

Richard

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I would personally be very interested in pictures of the diaphone 32', as well as other 32 ft stops.

 

The Hill 32' flues will be restored (unaltered) in the Transept Organ which will be playable from both the Quire and Nave organs. Our plans are for the Transept case to be moved to the North Transept where it was originally designed to go, standing forward of the rear wall and containing 2 manuals and pedal. Its purpose is to accompany music in worship in the Tower/Eastern Nave area.

 

There is fascinating history attached to the current position of this sizeable case....the 1874 Hill organ for which it was built was funded by the Earl of Dudley who did not like the donor of the South Transept window....thus the organ case was made to obscure as much of it as possible... :rolleyes: Thus it has never been seen to best advantage since the sun always illuminates it from behind. Once it is restored and moved we shall be able to see it in its full glory.

 

The Transept case currently contains the 13 (I think) lowest pipes of the Hope-Jones diaphone 32' stop. They do not speak, but were simply too large to remove when the rest of the rank was removed. It is our hope to retain one of these for its historical value, possibly to find some scheme of winding it up for demonstration purposes....though quite where all that wind will come from....??? :o

 

The Transept Organ is set to take place once the Quire organ is completed (funds permitting...any contributions gratefully received!!!).

 

A

 

 

Can I also ask what has happened to the old console?

I'm afraid the old console is no more.

 

A

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Thanks for the photos - fascinating! Can I also ask what has happened to the old console? It was very comfortable! I took my choir to Worcester for 4 days around 3 years ago and we had a wonderful time - it was my first and only experience of the old organ and whilst it didn't leave me with any overwhelming impressions (like Salisbury, Ripon, Truro etc), it did a good job in terms of evensong accomp.).

An earlier post mentioned photos of the 32's - those are in the transept case aren't they?

Best wishes

Richard

 

This is interesting - I did the same (except that I went as organist, not choir director). Personally, I would choose the old Worcester organ over Truro any day. The Solo Organ there has but five stops, two open Romantic harmonic flutes (at least, I assume that the Concert Flue is harmonic), an orchestral oboe and another clarinet (none of which is under expression - oh, and a Tuba - which probably should not have been moved, but that is another story.

 

In addition, Worcester had mixtures which I personally found far more exciting and useful than the two at Truro - both 17-19-22 and both breaking an octave (all three ranks at once) at treble F#. Then there were the three full-length thirty-two foot stops, the enclosed Choir Organ, the seventeen stop Swell Organ and the majestic GO, with its French-style reeds, providing a thrilling éclat. I found this sound altogether more vital, clear and thrilling than the rather restricted tonal palette which is available at Truro.

 

For that matter, a fair proportion of the GO foundation stops at Truro speak on a wind pressure of 175mm - quite high, even for 1887. Whilst the diapasons at Truro may not be leathered, they are still a very full-bodied sound. Then there is the solitary Ophicleide. Whilst I am aware that some contributors found this stop to be overwhelmingly exciting, the fact remains that it is useless for anything other than balancing the full organ. However, when it is considered that Worcester had two transfers (Great Reeds on Pedal and Great Reeds on Solo) in addition to a further 16p reed on the Solo Organ (Bombard 16p) it can surely readily be appreciated that there are many points in favour of the old Worcester instrument.

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Guest Roffensis

Hmm. Not sure about that, the Worcester "Tutti" is one sound that will not return, no one could build a sound like that (some cynics would say "who would want to"), and really it was a unique sound, which I must have said before, that "fitted" the building, and also was instantly recognisable. The old recordings of Elgar, particularly the softer registers, had a "glint" to them, and a darkness. I would never have been so ruthless to out the lot, but, that's another story. I still think it will be missed, but it's early days. The pressure is on......to try and match it........but that's my/our opinions!

 

Meanwhile, to comment on Truro. Typical Willis, although here more generous in his Diapasons, which really stand alone. I have heard better, but not I think by Willis. The Tierces in the mixtures? I am still a firm believer that where are two, the swell should be a Tierce, but not the Great. That's before you get into the Willis "bearings" when laying the scale.......

 

The awfulcleide is a good stop, but it's too loud, and there is no soft 16 reed on the pedal. I also think the job cries out for a 32' reed, but not of the power of the 16 there now. As to the Tuba, well!.... used conservatively, but as you know, I don't like Tubas either. If I had to live with one it would be York. The Truro Solo appears more versatile than Worcester was, in my book, but having not played truro I can't comment on the variations in colour......I went there last year, but never got on it. Next time perhaps. I also think the Truro job is thin, vertical, and acidic, which is why I far prefer Hill, in my book a superior, and still underated builder, who was much in Willis's shadow, why I cannot say. If I had to choose between Worcester old and Truro, well yes, Worcester, every time, despite it's chequered history and mixed pedigree. "Eclat" is the word. Few organs have it. Truro has no "eclat", nor Salisbury, although Canterbury does. You know the effect when you hear it, or more importantly, you don't, or can't!!

 

Richard.

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To my mind and ears, the Father Willis of St Dominic’s Priory, Gospel Oak, London is far superior to the Willis of Turo. For those who haven’t experienced the Priory organ, there is a monthly recital.

 

Alan

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The demise of the Worcester console is very sad. Surely it could have been retained as a museum piece?

 

Alan

 

 

I'm afraid the old console is no more.

 

A

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I too would like to thank Adrian Lucas for the wonderful photos and for being prepared to start this thread providing (hopefully) progress reports on the Worcester project despite the criticism it has received, from myself amongst others, on these message boards. Those of us that were not fully convinced the old organ was irredeemable have had our say, at some length, and must now move on. That is not to say that the photos do not inspire some sadness, and many happy memories. I too lament the passing of the old console, which I think was probably the most comfortable I've ever played - although I love the Willis III console at Hereford, even if the massed ranks of rocker-tab couplers are a daunting prospect to the occasional visitor.

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Hmm. Not sure about that, the Worcester "Tutti" is one sound that will not return, no one could build a sound like that (some cynics would say "who would want to"), and really it was a unique sound, which I must have said before, that "fitted" the building, and also was instantly recognisable. The old recordings of Elgar, particularly the softer registers, had a "glint" to them, and a darkness. I would never have been so ruthless to out the lot, but, that's another story. I still think it will be missed, but it's early days. The pressure is on......to try and match it........but that's my/our opinions!

 

Meanwhile, to comment on Truro. Typical Willis, although here more generous in his Diapasons, which really stand alone. I have heard better, but not I think by Willis. The Tierces in the mixtures? I am still a firm believer that where are two, the swell should be a Tierce, but not the Great. That's before you get into the Willis "bearings" when laying the scale.......

 

The awfulcleide is a good stop, but it's too loud, and there is no soft 16 reed on the pedal. I also think the job cries out for a 32' reed, but not of the power of the 16 there now. As to the Tuba, well!.... used conservatively, but as you know, I don't like Tubas either. If I had to live with one it would be York. The Truro Solo appears more versatile than Worcester was, in my book, but having not played truro I can't comment on the variations in colour......I went there last year, but never got on it. Next time perhaps. I also think the Truro job is thin, vertical, and acidic, which is why I far prefer Hill, in my book a superior, and still underated builder, who was much in Willis's shadow, why I cannot say. If I had to choose between Worcester old and Truro, well yes, Worcester, every time, despite it's chequered history and mixed pedigree. "Eclat" is the word. Few organs have it. Truro has no "eclat", nor Salisbury, although Canterbury does. You know the effect when you hear it, or more importantly, you don't, or can't!!

 

Richard.

 

You can't knock Truro, it's gorgeous! I played it back in 1988, pre-rebuild. Unfortunately, have never have had the pleasure of playing it since. Personally speaking, I wouldn't bother with a 32' reed, I'd leave it as it as. The tuba back then was pathetic buried at the back of the organ I believe. I haven't heard it since to comment. There seems to be something strange about the facade pipes which to my eyes are not quite in line. Perhaps there's been some movement in the building? Truro and Worcester are two different jobs, I love both. Hill was a great builder, there's no doubt about it. I'd agree Salisbury has no eclat to my ears, but to me, Truro is way ahead - different, but on a par with Worcester.

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You can't knock Truro, it's gorgeous! I played it back in 1988, pre-rebuild. Unfortunately, have never have had the pleasure of playing it since. Personally speaking, I wouldn't bother with a 32' reed, I'd leave it as it as. The tuba back then was pathetic buried at the back of the organ I believe. I haven't heard it since to comment. There seems to be something strange about the facade pipes which to my eyes are not quite in line. Perhaps there's been some movement in the building? Truro and Worcester are two different jobs, I love both. Hill was a great builder, there's no doubt about it. I'd agree Salisbury has no eclat to my ears, but to me, Truro is way ahead - different, but on a par with Worcester.

 

 

Magnificent though it undoubtedly is, I don't believe that Truro is a typical Willis in tone. There is a reason for this. In an early issue of The Organ (I will endeavour to dig the exact date out) Heles of Plymouth described their work on the instrument and claimed to have revoiced all the reeds. Henry Willis 3 being rather touchy on the subject of competition with other firms (I believe he got into a real spat with Heles on another issue) they couldn't have got away with claiming this if it wasn't true.

 

Regardless, Truro is a wonderful organ and it would be hard to think of improvements that could be made while still respecting the organ as it has come down to us. I believe Manders were careful to ensure that the Tuba can always be moved back to its original (less effective) position, so full marks for that.

 

Some years ago, I did tease David Briggs over his Pedal Divide addition - mostly because (if there had been any way of doing it) I would have asked for something very different: a Great Reeds to Solo transfer. Amongst other things, this would have meant that one could use the Great 16' reed instead of that magnificent (but barn-storming) Ophicleide, enabling the Swell and Great fluework to be used with reed pedal.

 

I take DB's word for it that this was thought of but couldn't be managed. I've been scratching my head to think of the character of the problem; perhaps there is no HP Great chest and everything on that Great is on the same pressure (astonishing, if true) or that if there is one, other stops besides that reed chorus are on it. This would mean, for instance, that the coupler would have to be called Primary Great to Solo, or Great Reeds and Diapason I to Solo. Maybe too many stops would have to transfer to leave a decent chorus behind? It is not impossible (for instance) that the Great Mixture is also on the reed chest. I am sure that someone who has been up in the organ will tell us.

 

I've never been to St.Dominic's Priory, but I am prepared to believe that it really could be that good. Untouched (or at least, much-less-touched) FHW's are wonderful - if you're into that sort of organ at all, of course. My personal favourites amongst the less-updated FHW's are St.Mary's Welshpool, Union Chapel Islington and Blenheim Palace. The lack of acoustic at the last of these is a disappointment, but it's still a fabulous organ with the best Tuba I know.

 

Whoops!

 

[said the T word!!!]

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Magnificent though it undoubtedly is, I don't believe that Truro is a typical Willis in tone. There is a reason for this. In an early issue of The Organ (I will endeavour to dig the exact date out) Heles of Plymouth described their work on the instrument and claimed to have revoiced all the reeds. Henry Willis 3 being rather touchy on the subject of competition with other firms (I believe he got into a real spat with Heles on another issue) they couldn't have got away with claiming this if it wasn't true.

 

Regardless, Truro is a wonderful organ and it would be hard to think of improvements that could be made while still respecting the organ as it has come down to us. I believe Manders were careful to ensure that the Tuba can always be moved back to its original (less effective) position, so full marks for that.

 

Some years ago, I did tease David Briggs over his Pedal Divide addition - mostly because (if there had been any way of doing it) I would have asked for something very different: a Great Reeds to Solo transfer. Amongst other things, this would have meant that one could use the Great 16' reed instead of that magnificent (but barn-storming) Ophicleide, enabling the Swell and Great fluework to be used with reed pedal.

 

I take DB's word for it that this was thought of but couldn't be managed. I've been scratching my head to think of the character of the problem; perhaps there is no HP Great chest and everything on that Great is on the same pressure (astonishing, if true) or that if there is one, other stops besides that reed chorus are on it. This would mean, for instance, that the coupler would have to be called Primary Great to Solo, or Great Reeds and Diapason I to Solo. Maybe too many stops would have to transfer to leave a decent chorus behind? It is not impossible (for instance) that the Great Mixture is also on the reed chest. I am sure that someone who has been up in the organ will tell us.

 

The problem with a GO reed transfer at Truro, is that the reeds are split between two soundboards, one at 175mm, with much of the foundatons and the 8p and 4p reeds, and the other with the upperwork and the Double Trumpet, on 100mm. This obviously complicates matters.

 

I was interested to read about Hele's claim - I, too, have that article. I will check it out.

 

It is also true that the Tuba could be moved back to its original position.

 

Interestingly, at the time of the restoration, DJB was offered a 32p reed* (presumably an extension of the Ophicleide) but declined it - and then regretted it afterwards.

 

 

 

*Not free of charge, of course.

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Whoops - I didn't mean to knock us all off-topic with my throw-away comments concerning Truro, Salisbury and Ripon (funny how nobody has mentioned that one in follow-ups). I only meant that from my perspective as conductor, I was left with no strong memories about ensemble, individual beauty of voices, thrill etc during the services (the organ that is, not the choir!). Having conducted all over the place, I often get something out of the organ and mentioned the above three simply because they all sound so wonderful in their roles as accompanying instruments. So to, for the record does Tewkesbury Abbey where we were this summer! Going to Gloucester next Summer(!) and have just done a Saturday evensong at St Albans, so there are two in a row that (I say carefully), do not sound good in their primary role (and there is another thread!).

Back to Worcester, so what did happen to console - AL says it is gone, so I guess we assume it is chopped up? They should have auctioned off the drawstops one at a time on eBay - that would have give a good start to fund raising for the transept organ! The ideas for the transept organ sound good, so do does the concept of keeping one diaphone winded up for demo usage.

Richard

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I recall seeing a televised service from Worcester, a good few years ago. It was held in the Nave, and there were shots of Paul Trepte playing a 2-man detached console at floor level. Would this have been http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N12743 ? From what I recall, there seemed to be a heck of a lot of noise coming from it..

 

Now incorporated into the organ at Budleigh Salterton PC

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D04787

 

AJJ

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