Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Birmingham Town Hall


Recommended Posts

I went to one of the concerts at the newly re-opened Birmingham Town Hall on Monday (Programme was "I Was Glad", Colridge-Taylor's Violin Concerto, and Elarg's The Music Makers), and very fine it was too.


I had not heard the organ for about 17 years - after many, many years of attending GTB's and Thomas Trotter's weekly recitals. The Hall itself has been beautifully restored in the sense that a very modern and functional interior now sits within its elegant Victorian shell, with the organ presiding as dramatically as ever over the whole piece. The acoustics seems to have improved considerably too, with the removal of the old balcony.


I am sure there will be lots of controversy aboput that - but we could so easily have lost the lot had the City fathers and others decided not to fund the Hall's restoration project, which was imperative as the building was unsafe.


In the Parry, i was a bit disappointed, as the organ never really emerged above the orchestra (CBSO) and the CBS Chorus (in fine voice I must say). The pedal came through right enough but that was about it.


In The Music Makers, I thought we were going to have the same experience, and began to wonder whether the organ was actually all there. However, gradually as the work progressed, from "therefore today is thrilling..." onwards it projected more and more. Snarling swell reeds here, the great diapasons there, a sustained note on the 32 open metal which absolutely filled the hall, was magical. When we got to "we are afar with the dawning..." and those lofty maestoso chords, we received the full organ full on. The effect was amazing and I noted faces around beaming at the sound.


As a brummie exiled in London I was so thrilled to hear "my old organ" doing its stuff again, with the CBSO and CBSC back in their old home performing with it.


The Town Hall has an exciting programme for forthcoming months, with pretty well weekly recitals by Thomas or guests on the TH organ, and of course on the Symphony Hall Kleiss.


The first organ recital by Thomas is next Wednesday 17th, afternoon and repeated in the evening and I will be heading North for that too.


The programme says that there is a new bourdon on the bombarde, harmonic flute on the great, and a new violoncello on the pedal (replacements?), and i wondered why (can Mr Mander tell us?). Also the Bombarde division and attendant 32 reed unit on the pedals has been hushed up a bit apparently, and again I wondered why? I understand that the organ won't be playing with a big orchestra/chorus as much as it used to, but the TH may prove a better sized venue for organ related concerts on occasion in the future and i predict that the full orchestral resources will play along, plus jobs like accompanying a packed audience from time to time. The bit of extra "oomph" may well be missed. The 1982 rebuild allegedly reduced the organ's power somewhat as it returned to the Victorian Hill spirit, rather than Willis' 1933 style, and i understood the Wills reeds which sit on the bombarde and the new pedal 2/16 unit were there to compensate.


Anyway - a great night and congratulations to everyone involved in bringing the TH and organ back to life.


PS - new CD available now from the hall (recorded in July by TT), and on general sale in November.


regards to all


Will :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes I was there - sitting a couple of rows back from Mr Mander himself.


It was great to see people queuing for returns - not a seat left in the house.


The organ certainly sounded different - more like it used to pre-1984 I thought (ears play tricks of course), but it was certainly very enjoyable.


Thomas seemed to like the bells, but I thought they were a bit loud and clangy.


Was that Stephen Disley turning the pages (and nearly falling down the stairs)?


I feel better now that I know the weekly organ recitals are now back on in Brum - even though I now live in London - it is nice to know that I can pop up now and then for a fix on the old organ .


There is a schedule from now to May, not only on weekly recitals at teh Town hall and Symphony Hall, but a series of evening concerts too with Messrs Trotter, Curly and Latry playing (plus another chap whose name escapes me). It will all be on the Town Hall web site if it isn't published elsewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was there. And I enjoyed every bit of it :-)

Very good performance, and a great event with very enthousiastic people.

I was with a group of 27 dutch people and it was the highlight of our week, in which we also visited quite a number of organs in the surroundings of Birmingham.


I agree with willy that the bells were a bit clangy (that's exactly the right word). And full organ was only just a little bit too loud to my taste. But on the whole it's a beautifull instrument!


And the paganini variations! wow, you need skillfull feet for that :-) amazing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's good that the Town Hall organ is now back in use. I was unable to attend the concert - sold out! - but I have played it since it was cleaned after the Hall had it's make-over. The T T Cd is now on sale and it's good that Regent Records have done it.


I was disappointed however on the Mander website (one of the best of it's type on the UK) that is never advertised any concerts about the Town Hall and the portfolio shows what the previous interior looked like in the Town Hall. I would have thought that along with the Albert Hall at St. Paul's London, Birmingham Town Hall would be high on the list - maybe I'm wrong.


Nevertheless Manders have done a really good job and I look forward to hearing the organ in the building - rather than at the console!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...