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Mander Organs

Organists: Second-class Citizens?


gazman

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I have just played for an `important' funeral. The b****y undertaker has gone off again forgetting to pay me.

 

FF

 

Odd how the important ones can be the worst. Not so long ago, I played for a 'society' wedding - church full, 'special' choir, video, you know, all the usual stuff - surprise, surprise, groom had no cash, couldn't get any from cashpoint (why??), church didn't get paid nor did I. It took about two months and a strong insistance that the church advise me exactly who to take to the small claims court before I eventually got my fee! To make matters worse I knew the bride's uncle personally!

 

R.

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Guest Barry Williams
I have just played for an `important' funeral. The b****y undertaker has gone off again forgetting to pay me.

 

FF

 

This is an interesting problem and occurs quite frequently. In some churches the contract specifies that the church will pay the organist and the undertaker pays the church, (i.e. one fee for everything,) thereby ensuring that the church has the responsibility for payment to the organist.

 

It is arcane and unprofessional for organists to have to chase funeral directors and wedding couples for fees.

 

Barry Williams

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Last Wednesday I attended a carol concert at the RAH, and this venue is the only one where I bother to go, mainly to hear the wonderful Willis/Mander organ.

The concert was not really my cup of tea (too classical), and because a famous orchestra was taking part, plus trumpeters, the organ was not used as much as I would have liked.

I do not know who the lady organist was, but she was very competent, and frankly I was disgusted that when the conductor gave out credits at the close of the concert, he did not mention the organist at all.

The organ is always an intregal part of these concerts, especially when the audience is invited to participate in carols for all, so I feel that it was bad manners, but perhaps the conductor did not acknowledge the importance of the organist.

Any views?

Colin Richell.

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Last Wednesday I attended a carol concert at the RAH, and this venue is the only one where I bother to go, mainly to hear the wonderful Willis/Mander organ.

The concert was not really my cup of tea (too classical), and because a famous orchestra was taking part, plus trumpeters, the organ was not used as much as I would have liked.

I do not know who the lady organist was, but she was very competent, and frankly I was disgusted that when the conductor gave out credits at the close of the concert, he did not mention the organist at all.

The organ is always an intregal part of these concerts, especially when the audience is invited to participate in carols for all, so I feel that it was bad manners, but perhaps the conductor did not acknowledge the importance of the organist.

Any views?

Colin Richell.

In this particular case, the lady in question may have been the orchestra's regular organ/keyboard player and therefore not singled out for special mention or even acknowledged by the conductor. In my experience, guest organists are more likely to be acknowledged, however, it all seems to depend on the conductor.

 

A

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Last Wednesday I attended a carol concert at the RAH, and this venue is the only one where I bother to go, mainly to hear the wonderful Willis/Mander organ.

The concert was not really my cup of tea (too classical), and because a famous orchestra was taking part, plus trumpeters, the organ was not used as much as I would have liked.

I do not know who the lady organist was, but she was very competent, and frankly I was disgusted that when the conductor gave out credits at the close of the concert, he did not mention the organist at all.

The organ is always an intregal part of these concerts, especially when the audience is invited to participate in carols for all, so I feel that it was bad manners, but perhaps the conductor did not acknowledge the importance of the organist.

Any views?

Colin Richell.

 

Not making excuses for anyone, having been on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour (if you can indeed receive a non-acknowledgement!) - though not at the RAH :( - but is it possible that the conductor considered the organist as part of the orchestra and thus not needing a seperate mention?

 

Peter

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Not making excuses for anyone, having been on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour (if you can indeed receive a non-acknowledgement!) - though not at the RAH :( - but is it possible that the conductor considered the organist as part of the orchestra and thus not needing a seperate mention?

 

Peter

 

 

You may be right Peter, but I cannot recall this ever happening before. I would not, for one, attend a RAH concert if the organ was not playing, and it is more surprising when you consider that many of the concerts are advertised as including the Grand Organ !

Colin Richell.

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Hi,

 

I take back everything I said.

 

I got a wonderful public acknowledgement at the Christmas Eve Mass; possibly becauise I spent four hours tuning the organ in the afternoon, due to a new heating system which saw the church temperature go from below freezing to 60F several times during heatng tests, and in a church which had become very damp by the use of industrial gas space-heating powered by propane.

 

The organ was quite hysterical when I tried to play it, with quite a few sticking notes etc.

 

It isn't much fun tuning an organ on your own, using weights and pencils, so it took a long time and a lot of physical exercise; climbing up a ladder 12 ft high no less than 123 times!!!!!!!

 

However, I have made penitential gestures, because the last time the tuner came I was so annoyed with the end result, I rang him. What I discovered, was that the pipes of the C# side were dreadfully out of tune, but the pipes of the C side were a good deal better.....very odd, I thought.

 

Then the truth dawned!

 

The organ was last tuned during a very sunny week, and I suspect that the sunlight had bathed one half of the organ case, and heated everything it touched; the other half of the windchest staying cool!

 

With this combination of negatives, the poor thing was shrieking away like a banshee, and the pedal reed was so bad, it was probably close to kammertone.....just awful!

 

Anyway, I licked it into good enough shape for it to sound musical again, but as a one man operation, it wasn't possible to really set the bearings, and setting everything to the amazingly stable 8ft Rohrflute was the quick method, which worked well enough. I'm sure that isn't the recommended method!

 

Now that we have a NEW heating system which works without either frying the organ or moisturising it to death, I am loking forward to the next proper tuning visit.

 

In the words of the song "Things can only get better."

 

MM

 

 

PS: Sad.....Oscar Peterson died over Christmas!

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It isn't much fun tuning an organ on your own, using weights and pencils, so it took a long time and a lot of physical exercise; climbing up a ladder 12 ft high no less than 123 times!!!!!!!

 

You're not the only one mad enough to do your own emergency maintenance!

I spent several hours on Saturday fixing the Great tenor F, which the tuner (Hi, if you lurk here) thought was working perfectly but intermittently stuck with Gt-Ped on (but no other couplers) when I played it... a slightly weaker pallet spring plus extra friction in the pull-down wire area, I think...

The gentlest possible assistance with knicker elastic :( did the trick. No sticking 'F' at the 9L's and C's, or on Xmas morning.

 

Just to keep the thread on track, it must be said that there was much appreciation from all. They are very kind - I thought I needed more practice!

 

Ian

 

PS Does anyone (among the tuners and builders, say?) have strong feelings about organists doing temporary fixes to their church's instrument? Has anyone seen any howlers?

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You're not the only one mad enough to do your own emergency maintenance!

I spent several hours on Saturday fixing the Great tenor F, which the tuner (Hi, if you lurk here) thought was working perfectly but intermittently stuck with Gt-Ped on (but no other couplers) when I played it... a slightly weaker pallet spring plus extra friction in the pull-down wire area, I think...

The gentlest possible assistance with knicker elastic :( did the trick. No sticking 'F' at the 9L's and C's, or on Xmas morning.

 

Ian

 

The organ may have been OK after this, but one can't help pondering on the other possible consequences! B)

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You're not the only one mad enough to do your own emergency maintenance!

I spent several hours on Saturday fixing the Great tenor F, which the tuner (Hi, if you lurk here) thought was working perfectly but intermittently stuck with Gt-Ped on (but no other couplers) when I played it... a slightly weaker pallet spring plus extra friction in the pull-down wire area, I think...

The gentlest possible assistance with knicker elastic :( did the trick. No sticking 'F' at the 9L's and C's, or on Xmas morning.

 

Just to keep the thread on track, it must be said that there was much appreciation from all. They are very kind - I thought I needed more practice!

 

Ian

 

PS Does anyone (among the tuners and builders, say?) have strong feelings about organists doing temporary fixes to their church's instrument? Has anyone seen any howlers?

 

Worst I've ever seen in 'ad hoc temporary fixes' was at St.Mary's Jackfield, near Ironbridge, Telford. The two-manual Ginns organ (very well made) had been maintained on a particularly DIY basis. In order to make the manual keys come up level, drawing pins and elastic bands had been used at the backfall ends. Why those responsible had not thought to tighten the leather buttons on the pull-down wires is beyond me! Anyway, the effect was that the keys appeared level, but the action was so slack in some places that one had to push notes deep into the felt to get even a (weak) squeak out. Leaks in leather had been repaired with Elastoplast - good one!

 

Mind you, organ builders (working away from home and in extremis) can do some seriously dodgy things too. I will never forget seeing inside the Willis/Rushworth and Dreaper at New College Oxford before that organ was replaced. In one place two large pipes were held apart with a stick of Chatterton's Compound lighted at both ends! Recently a job of mine was photographed by a high-minded professional, highlighting the use of gaffa tape to bring large (sharp) bass pipes into tune and a screwdriver thrust under a top board to help ease a tight slide. Regrettably, I'm no craftsman, ah well.....

 

P.

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You're not the only one mad enough to do your own emergency maintenance!

I spent several hours on Saturday fixing the Great tenor F, which the tuner (Hi, if you lurk here) thought was working perfectly but intermittently stuck with Gt-Ped on (but no other couplers) when I played it... a slightly weaker pallet spring plus extra friction in the pull-down wire area, I think...

The gentlest possible assistance with knicker elastic :( did the trick. No sticking 'F' at the 9L's and C's, or on Xmas morning.

 

Just to keep the thread on track, it must be said that there was much appreciation from all. They are very kind - I thought I needed more practice!

 

Ian

 

PS Does anyone (among the tuners and builders, say?) have strong feelings about organists doing temporary fixes to their church's instrument? Has anyone seen any howlers?

 

Cork stoppers glued into the top of flute pipes where the corks had shrunk...

Tops of pipes scrunched up with pliers where tuner hadn't got a proper tuning cone...

And that was organ builders...

 

I normally try to avoid DIY repairs, unless needs must, on the grounds that I could make it worse! A bit of paper under a pipe foot will silence a cypher without all the hissing; I've used that one a few times. Recently had a situation where swell 5 piston would shoot out and disappear when I pushed it, and after too much grovelling under the pedalboard to retrieve it I did a temporary fix with a bit of bluetak on the end that went into the hole.

 

R.

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I remember playing for a service at a (now demolished) church in south east London in 1980. The 3m organ suffered from a large number of missing notes, mostly due to a previous organist replacing all the lead pneumatic tubing with aquarium tubing.......

 

G

Why would he do that? It sounds a bit fishy to me!

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I remember playing for a service at a (now demolished) church in south east London in 1980. The 3m organ suffered from a large number of missing notes, mostly due to a previous organist replacing all the lead pneumatic tubing with aquarium tubing.......

 

G

 

 

This wasn't St.Silas, Nunhead by any chance?

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It was, Paul - did you know it?

 

G

 

NB This tangent continues - with apologies to those who get easily frustrated by such things.

 

Small world: I put that tubing in! [to replace lead tubing that had, in effect, been trodden flat!]. No money, of course. In case you think that my/our work ruined the organ, it certainly didn't play properly before the work and we were able to have the odd concert and decent musical services upon it afterwards. Stanley Monkhouse who occasionally posts on this site was made organist and choirmaster of the church shortly afterwards and gave them really good music - so the job (bodged or not) did give service as a result! Back to the organ: The reeds were splendid, the action was dreadful. I wondered whether I would ever see the organ again when friend vicar* moved on, hoped that if the church came down I might have been able to rescue some of it. This didn't happen; as far as I know, the lot got pulled down together.

 

The pneumatic action was by Reeves of Nunhead, the pipework was considerably older and had some real merit. There were two terrific 16' reeds, I remember, neither of which played when I first visited. *The vicar helped with the work, Rev.Peter Macan, I think he's still in the diocese, I saw him not long ago officiating at a St.Clement's Church a bit further round the South Circular.

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NB This tangent continues - with apologies to those who get easily frustrated by such things.

 

Small world: I put that tubing in! [to replace lead tubing that had, in effect, been trodden flat!]. No money, of course. In case you think that my/our work ruined the organ, it certainly didn't play properly before the work and we were able to have the odd concert and decent musical services upon it afterwards. Stanley Monkhouse who occasionally posts on this site was made organist and choirmaster of the church shortly afterwards and gave them really good music - so the job (bodged or not) did give service as a result! Back to the organ: The reeds were splendid, the action was dreadful. I wondered whether I would ever see the organ again when friend vicar* moved on, hoped that if the church came down I might have been able to rescue some of it. This didn't happen; as far as I know, the lot got pulled down together.

 

The pneumatic action was by Reeves of Nunhead, the pipework was considerably older and had some real merit. There were two terrific 16' reeds, I remember, neither of which played when I first visited. *The vicar helped with the work, Rev.Peter Macan, I think he's still in the diocese, I saw him not long ago officiating at a St.Clement's Church a bit further round the South Circular.

 

Well, small world indeed. No, I don't think you ruined the organ - it was obviously the only solution given the non-existent finances of the church; the only alternative which the church could afford was silence. At least you made it possible for me to play and hear the instrument! Sadly, when I played it, much of the tubing was brittle and perished, hence the missing notes. I think it went into terminal decline from the mid-80's onwards, and I don't know what became of it. I believe that all available resources were spent on the building, which was eventually shut due to the effects of subsidence.

 

I agree with your point about the reeds. The swell reeds were fiery, especially the 16' Double Trumpet. The (wooden) pedal Trombone was a nice stop too, although more polite in speech. There is a new church on the site now, but I don't know what sort of organ they have. It would be nice to think that some of the old organ found its way into a new instrument there.....

 

G

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But hopefully not the aquarium tubing, though....! :(

 

What you've seen was in fact wine-making tubing (located and paid for by the vicar).

The work was done in about 1972, so it didn't do too badly.

 

Since those times, I have established relations with Messrs.Kimber Allen. In those days, they had a policy of not supplying specialist materials to non-organbuilders.

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Guest Barry Williams
What you've seen was in fact wine-making tubing (located and paid for by the vicar).

The work was done in about 1972, so it didn't do too badly.

 

Since those times, I have established relations with Messrs.Kimber Allen. In those days, they had a policy of not supplying specialist materials to non-organbuilders.

 

 

At one time that company would only supply non-organ builders through a Mr Cyril Milton. The prices were said to be about 300% above the prices organ builders had to pay. I never had occasion to purchase anything, but I know of one school that placed an exceedingly large order for project with a firm in Shirley, rather than use the company you mention. This was, of course, many years ago and I am sure things have changed now.

 

Barry Williams

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I remember that in my Midlands days (1960's) Dr. Francis Jackson had been employed to play for an "important wedding" at St.James the Greater, Leicester. This organ had no case and quite an amount of the unenclosed pipework as a display feature.

 

As an unexpected bonus for the wedding day the sun came out early in the morning and shone through some windows on to the organ (it only happened at certain times of the year when normally the sun did not shine) which put it radically out of tune.

 

As the tuner I was mortified and could only explain what had happened to the Dr. who immediately realised and accepted the situation saying he would do his best to play round it (he did) and with a delightful smile then said "and what's more, I can give them an authentic Continental performance of the Widor Toccata at the end.

 

FF

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Before the last carol, the Scoutmaster awarded the usual prizes and then turned in the direction of the organ console and said "And I'd like to say a special Thank You to the organist, Mr. Gareth Perkins, who has played the organ so beautifully for our service this evening"!

 

'Did a wedding today and was on the 'cast list' in the order of service - along with the Rector and string quartet!

 

AJJ

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  • 4 years later...

Reminded myself of this thread... just spent an hour and a half, the night before 9 L&Cs, working out why tenor D pedal no longer couples to anything... and then replacing the missing leather button. Dropped three before I got one started on the thread.

For good measure, tightened the aforementioned knicker elastic on tenor 'F'.

 

Merry Christmas ! :)

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  • 1 year later...

The night before the 9 L's with C's, and a manuals-to-pedal tracker detaches from the pedal... why only now? Early start tomorrow with a new screw eye and a drill,,,

 

Merry Christmas all, and may your pipes be in tune and your actions be reliable...

Ian

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