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Mander Organs
Pierre Lauwers

Save The British Organ Heritage

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'and work against the interests of the communities in which organs may exist to serve an evolving purpose.'

 

 

The problem here is that the 'interests of the communities' involve, for instance, the attitude of most Baptist churches and the NHS, which want to throw out all the organs, good, bad or indifferent. And there are similar feelings in the Church of England in many places, for instance Emmanuel Church Loughborough, an organ widely regarded as one of the best in the area.

 

'A traditionalist at heart, I am nevertheless very conscious that many British instruments are the sum of their alterations over the years,'

 

And some aren't. So how are we supposed to preserve either sort from random alteration without controls?

'

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Guest drd

My point is that regulation could, of course, be a good thing - but only if there are sufficient checks and balances built into the regulatory process. The mere hiving off of regulation to a body with its own axes to grind would not serve the community well. The production of a valuable regulatory decision needs debate, evidence, expert opinion and non-expert opinion, consideration, room, and process for appeal - and, above all, time.

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My point is that regulation could, of course, be a good thing - but only if there are sufficient checks and balances built into the regulatory process. The mere hiving off of regulation to a body with its own axes to grind would not serve the community well. The production of a valuable regulatory decision needs debate, evidence, expert opinion and non-expert opinion, consideration, room, and process for appeal - and, above all, time.

 

Given that an organ is a totally subjective and multi-dimensional thing, I have concluded that this is completely impossible. The attempt by the Lottery board to have a few simple rules about what qualifies for funding and what doesn't proves that.

 

The customers must do the regulation. Every PCC considering major organ work should be made to view a 45-minute training film on the subject they are discussing. Every scheme ever proposed should have Trinitarian aims - to respect the organ as a musical instrument, a piece of furniture and a unified and pure piece of engineering, all rolled together in one cohesive package. There must be parity between what is seen, what is heard, and what goes on behind the scenes. Any proposal from anyone which compromises any of those ought to be discounted. I fail to see what could go wrong.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I fail to see what could go wrong.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Please tell me you are joking....

 

As Jeremy Clarkson often says - how hard can it be?

 

Yes, tongue in cheek. But think of a disastrous or (at best) misguided rebuild, whether it's a floor-up solution or the addition of one or two ranks. Consider how an authenticity of vision and a consistency between sound, look and engineering would have impacted on what was done, and to what effect. Are there very many instances where this falls down?

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I'm sorry to be a terrible spoilsport, but I should point out something which, as far as I can recall, hasn't appeared on this thread yet. (Please feel free to correct me on this point.) The vast majority of churchgoers would know relatively little/next to nothing about organs, yet it is people such as these who would be involved in making decisions about organs. Even if we organ-lovers can easily see the merits of a particular instrument, or its historical importance, even if it's not to our taste (let's ignore the question of objectivity in such judgements for a moment), how on earth are we to persuade those not in the know that an instrument for which they are responsible is worth maintaining? If an instrument is not in good working order, it won't sound good for all the world, even if all that needs doing is a particular kind of renovation, for example, repairing split soundboards, or sorting a leak in the wind supply, etc. It may have the best pipework ever made, but if it's not working properly, it won't sound as it should, and thus persuading a church of its merits and getting it renovated may be very difficult, unless someone who is in the know is involved. In addition, if it can't do the job that is required of it in a particular church, for example, if it is at just the right volume for accompanying the choir but too quiet for a full congregation, then any investment is that bit less likely to be forthcoming.

 

Another important issue is money. In many cases, an organ may have been the gift of a wealthy benefactor, or a church in a once-prosperous area may have been able to pay for an organ at one time. If a church's financial situation is such that it barely keeps going anyway, it doesn't really make sense to spend a large proportion of their money on maintaining an organ. It does seem to me that many (smaller) churches require little more than a machine for playing hymns, and perhaps the odd voluntary for funerals and weddings. In such churches, if a new organ is needed, the provision of a good-quality smaller organ whose upkeep costs are much smaller, and which can do all that the church asks of it, is of much greater advantage to everyone than a larger organ. The main reason for wanting an unnecessarily large organ is vanity, whether that of a benefactor, or of an organist!

 

I don't intend to be comprehensive in my amateur-ish assessment of the threats facing our organ heritage, but I think I should point out another foe, namely self-proclaimed church modernisers (in the Anglican churches). These people have a deep-seated antagonism towards anything that smacks of traditionalism (by definition, just in case anyone wishes to accuse me of generalising), and the organ is just one of many of their pet peeves. Of course, I don't wish to deny people the opportunity to worship in the way they see fit, and ultimately everyone has to make their own spiritual journey, but all I see from self-proclaimed church modernisers is another kind of iconoclasm, partly guided by a Romantic notion that any order or discipline is antithetical to freedom (I have seen this at first hand spelt out by the actions and practices certain modernising clergymen, and for my part think it's complete bunkum), but also a Puritan antipathy towards anything that smacks of High Church. This latter point is obviously informed by the former. Choirs and organs are clearly the most obvious manifestation of discipline and order in worship, and are also, for obvious reasons, associated with High Church, but in the Anglican church the tradition of organ and choral music has stubbornly survived, despite all that's been thrown at it, including Cromwell et al. Ironically, the main excuse given for not having a choir by such modernisers as I have met is that is detracts from congregational singning, whereas my own experience tells me that a congregation often needs a strong lead from a choir (or at the very least a dedicated group of leaders in the singing, called codwyr canu in the Welsh chapel tradition). It is to these self-proclaimed modernisers that we need to appeal, if we possibly can, if we are to have a chance of saving our organs before it becomes too late.

 

==================

 

I think it must now be something like 32 years (at least) since I wrote in the Otganist's Review about this. At the time, I mentioned iconoclasm and what I saw as the development of a new puritanism, backed by something I called retreating into the womb of biblical fundamentalism.Does it not come down to power struggles and politics, as well as kack-handed, populist theology?

 

In my own lifeime thus far, all I have seen is a church on the run; failing to come to grips with scientific discovery, which presents such a threat to the business of myths and legends.

 

At least Cromwell had a good political reason for acting the way he did, and one has to say that he was brilliantly effective. The same is also true of Henry VIII, whom I would compare to Stalin.

 

With the churches now stripped of real political clout, and having lost much of their wealth through asset-stripping and mediocre investment decisions, there is no longer a struggle between church and state such as one still finds in some countries.

 

As I see it, when people search for certainties, the first victim is truth: yet it is a common error in matters social, political and spiritual.

 

I have always argued that modernists are rather like old ladies wearing mini-skirts. They lack a certain something in aesthetic appeal and credibility; yet they drone on, infinitely removed from infinity, and disticntly finite. I would go further, by suggesting that any religion which fails to embrace dispassionate truth, and which relies for its support on those it has stirred up but failed to teach properly, is dangerously misleading and faces an uncertain future. After all, there are none more self-destructive than those who cannot see a way forward.

 

As I see it, the deliberate destruction and removal of church-organs is about as useful as throwing stones through the stained glass windows of York Minster, and then replacing them with double-glazed units. What on earth is the point? Can't they just leave them alone if they either don't want to use them, or cannot afford to repair them?

 

After all, these instruments were often gifts or part gifts, and no-one should have the right to discard them or show such disrespect to the founders and benefactors, as well as those congregations who raised money themselves. That doesn't mean that other instruments and styles of music cannot be used, or where funds cannot be found and an organ is considered desirable, a temporary electronic substitute installed.

 

I would regard myself as a complete revolutionary in spiritual matters, and I would dearly love to consign much of the Bible and most of the Prayer Books to history, but I wouldn't dream of hurling stones at windows or destroying good musical instruments in the process.

 

MM

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I happen to know the Wallbanks well, they were the couple caught in the long legal battle with the church over glebe land. I´m sure they could tell you all about the C of E's darker side.

 

Just out of interest, the house in question near Stratford-upon-Avon is now for sale, the agents stressing (several times!) that the property is now unencumbered by any future liability to the C of E.

 

A very nice farmhouse for anyone with c £.75m to spend - plenty of outbuildings for the organ...

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Not wanting to open a new topic for a small announcement (hopefully no double-posting), but here is another indication for the growing interest in British Organ Heritage abroad:

 

GOArt, the Göteborg/Gothenburg Organ Academy (where that famous Schnitger clone organ was made) has put its 2011 Summer Academy under the headline "The British Organ in the 19th Century". The website is still quite empty, but a rough outline can be found here and there.

The Nya Örgryte Church, where the Schnitger clone is situated on the eastern wall, houses a Willis from 1871 (III/31), originating from St. Stephen's Hampstead, London.

Present location here.

Then there is a Walker from 1907 with 55 stops, (transferred from First Church of Christ Scientist (now Candogan Hall), Sloane Terrace, London) in Kristus Konunges Katolsk Kyrka (Christ the King Catholic Ch). NPOR says 44 stops, but the Swedish website names 45 and 10 borrowings/extensions. (More details about its present state here in Swedish, but with a spec link (Disposition)).

 

Peter Williams (named in the Welcome section), Andrew McCrea and Gordon Stewart are the first names to be found, more information will obviously follow.

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Not wanting to open a new topic for a small announcement (hopefully no double-posting), but here is another indication for the growing interest in British Organ Heritage abroad:

 

GOArt, the Göteborg/Gothenburg Organ Academy (where that famous Schnitger clone organ was made) has put its 2011 Summer Academy under the headline "The British Organ in the 19th Century". The website is still quite empty, but a rough outline can be found here and there.

The Nya Örgryte Church, where the Schnitger clone is situated on the eastern wall, houses a Willis from 1871 (III/31), originating from St. Stephen's Hampstead, London.

Present location here.

Then there is a Walker from 1907 with 55 stops, (transferred from First Church of Christ Scientist (now Candogan Hall), Sloane Terrace, London) in Kristus Konunges Katolsk Kyrka (Christ the King Catholic Ch). NPOR says 44 stops, but the Swedish website names 45 and 10 borrowings/extensions. (More details about its present state here in Swedish, but with a spec link (Disposition)).

 

Peter Williams (named in the Welcome section), Andrew McCrea and Gordon Stewart are the first names to be found, more information will obviously follow.

 

This is most interesting - I have often wondered what happened to the organ in St Stephen's. It is also interesting to note that the Willis specification is almost identical to that of St. Michael & All Angels, Croydon before Noel Mander rebuilt and enlarged it.

 

M.

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I am curious to know when the 1890 H-J organ of Worcester will be reconstituted;

if the evolution goes on at that pace, I could well be still living !

 

Pierre

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I have just seen the paperwork that says the grand Taylor from Loughborough (details) is to be installed into a church in Brittany. This is the organ with a Violon on the Pedal that sounds like Bassoons, Contra Basses and Trombones rolled into one. A huge and splendid Gt Chorus and what I have always thought to be the finest organ in the Diocese of Leicester. There were a few odd additions on the Choir - but this is a stunning sounding organ of immense stature - now sadly lost to us. Brittany's gain.

N

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I have just seen the paperwork that says the grand Taylor from Loughborough (details) is to be installed into a church in Brittany. This is the organ with a Violon on the Pedal that sounds like Bassoons, Contra Basses and Trombones rolled into one. A huge and splendid Gt Chorus and what I have always thought to be the finest organ in the Diocese of Leicester. There were a few odd additions on the Choir - but this is a stunning sounding organ of immense stature - now sadly lost to us. Brittany's gain.

N

 

How interesting! Let's hope the new owners will see fit to replace the alien French substitutions of Nazard and Larigot with something more in keeping with the original concept.

 

JS

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How interesting! Let's hope the new owners will see fit to replace the alien French substitutions of Nazard and Larigot with something more in keeping with the original concept.

 

JS

In other words, ditch the garlic granules and bring on the horseradish?

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