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Gray's Inn Organ

Colin Harvey

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Hi john


I played your organ at Gray's Inn the other day and it quite shocked me but I rather liked it. The things that made an impression on me were:

  • the key touch is quite robust - not exactly light and quite deep - completely unlike most modern organs - like say something by, say, Ken Tickell.
  • the Great chorus sound was very full and rather loud - surprisingly so for what is quite a small church. It also seemed pretty much straight line. I had read that it was "designed for modern music" and was expecting quite a thin and spiky sound. Not a bit of it - this was more Gottfried Silberman in Rotha Georgenkirke than Rieger circa 1975....
  • ....Keeping up the Silberman connection, the pedal trombone and trumpet seemed to have no problems balencing the full Great mixture chorus - something Silberman Posaunes do too.
  • The swell organ, which looks like a mixed bag on paper turned out to be really versatile.
  • Rather a opulent feel around the console - but the pedalboard seemed quite deep and set a little way under the bench than is normal.

Could you shed some light on the thinking behind this organ and what you wanted to achieve/ try out on it? I'd be interested to know....




PS: Please can you turn html on this forum - for geeks like me with physics degrees and who, as the breed of geek who invented it, are happiest writing in html... you will be admired by all geeks on this forum (if that is something you desire... and if you do, i suggest you need help. Hmm - implies if you turn on html on this forum, then you need help. Oh dear, have I contradicted myself again?

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Guest Geoff McMahon

I am pleased that you were intrigued with the Gray’s Inn organ. It was an interesting project to work on. The organist, Christopher Bowers-Broadbent had fairly specific ideas as to what he wanted the organ to manage and that was driven by his interest in contemporary music. He wanted the versatility, but of course the organ was not very large. It is bold in the room, but once it is full of people, the acoustic is much reduced and it needs to be quite bold. The position is of course not totally ideal either, but I think it works.


Certainly there was no desire to make it spiky. Rather it was to be warm and full sounding. The scaling is is not quite straight line as the scales reduce a note or two as one goes up the pitches. The Open Diapason is 143 at bottom C with subsequent Cs at 80/49.5/29/17/10. The Pedal Organ is actually modest as the Principal, Stopped Flute and Trumpet are all borrowed mechanically from the Great. This was due to lack of space of course. There was a danger that the Swell might not work together well as there is a mixture of pipes in it, but Christopher wanted that and I have to say I am happy with it. I was a bit sceptical about putting a Cromorne ion the Swell, but he makes it work and it gives him the sounds he was looking for. As far as I am aware, the pedal board is in our usual position, so I am not sure why that should feel different.


I ought to go and listen to the organ again some day as I have not for a long time now. As to what we wanted to achieve on it, there was not really anything specific, other than to try to give Christopher what he was looking for.


I hope that answers your question.


John Pike Mander


PS. HTML is well beyond my ken I am afraid. I leave all that to our capable webmaster.

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For the record, I cannot currently write in html either!


However, I often experience difficulty with the italic feature - whole posts often decide to slope off stage right, leaving me perplexed - why is this?!


A small point, but it would add to my enjoyment. I have been unsuccessful in uploading an avatar (or even selecting one from the prescribed list) they just will not load! I have ensured that they are saved as jpegs, within the size perameters specified, but I always get an error message - usually 'no avatar selected' - huh??


If anyone knows what I am doing wrong or whether (whisper it) there is an error in the programme-writing code of this board, I would be pleased to know!


No, it is not a world-shattering point, but it would just brighten things up a little to have one or two avatars dotted around the board, livening-up everyones' days!

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