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Mander Organs

Organs In Belgium


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I'll be accompanying a school choir on a short tour to Belgium after Easter and I heard today that two of the venues are to be the St Michael Church in Gent and Brussels Cathedral. A quick web search has revealed nothing much on St Michael Gent, and a Swallow's Nest style part-Spanish influenced Nave instrument by Gerhard Grenzing. Though I have been to Gent quite a few years ago, St Michael's (from what I can remember and tell from photos) was closed, and I haven't been to Brussels so don't know if there is also a separate Choir organ. Does anyone on the board have experience of the instruments in these churches that they can share...?

 

Many thanks in anticipation...

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About Brussels Cathedral:

 

http://www.grenzing.com/pdf/BRU_ISO.pdf

 

There are two others organs there, all two neo-baroque organs by Patrick Collon.

 

One which was intended to replace, momentarily, the very-very Worcester-like previous,

post-romantic organ.

 

And then a three-stops accompanimental organ.

Here is a page which summarizes the three organs with specifications and pictures:

 

http://www.cathedralestmichel.be/fr/cult_a...ues.php?lang=fr

 

Pierre

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Thanks Pierre, very helpful- looks like the choir organ might be the one we use- just as well as I don't have a great head for heights! Now to try and discover more about the church in G(h)ent...

 

Hello,

I played the choir organ in St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral, Brussels to accompany a large choral group , 2 years ago. The people at the Cathedral were most helpful.

A problem I did have was recognising which stop did what. Some of them are divided, and if I recall rightly the departments of the instrument are not shown, though I think the stops do have names!

I was very glad of having some (removable) coloured sticky labels with me, which saved the day, in the limited time available prior to our performance, these greatly helped recognition of the right stop.

 

It seems quite powerful sat at the console, but in the body of the building the sound swims around and gets absorbed in other ways.

I found it important to use some bright toned stop even when playing quietly to increase definition, for the benefit of the singers

 

Hope this helps! :)

Best Wishes

 

Philip Lowe

Rochdale Parish Church,

Manchester

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  • 4 weeks later...
I played the choir organ in St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral, Brussels to accompany a large choral group , 2 years ago. The people at the Cathedral were most helpful.

A problem I did have was recognising which stop did what. Some of them are divided, and if I recall rightly the departments of the instrument are not shown, though I think the stops do have names!

I was very glad of having some (removable) coloured sticky labels with me, which saved the day, in the limited time available prior to our performance, these greatly helped recognition of the right stop.

Really helpful advice, and having just returned, you're quite right, the departmental stops were also split between the LH and RH stop jambs- they are named but the pitch was not indicated, though for most it was quite obvious. Also agreed, the cathedral staff were welcoming and helpful, so I can recommend Brussels Cathedral as a tour concert location; also not to be missed is the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels, with a fine collection, well displayed, enough to keep 28 9-13 yr-olds (albeit musical children) interested for over an hour!

 

As for St Michael Ghent, it's one to avoid; a three manual of indeterminate origin, but electrified and badly out of tune with many missing notes. Downstairs in the South 'transept' is an elderly 3 manual toaster with even more notes missing and a tonal quality of a 1970's analogue toaster. I decided we should perform in the choir loft at the west end as the lesser of two evils- and in fact a good aural location for a choir of <30- there were just about enough stops usable for accompanying though any reeds were distinctly overripe, if not covered in penicillin!

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  • 10 years later...

Ten years on, and I need to resurrect this topic, as we are back to Belgium and Ghent in a few weeks time- I'm the only survivor of the 2008 trip! 

This time, we have a concert in Ghent Cathedral and it's rather easier these days to do homework online in advance. The 1935 Klais is documented online plus a number of YouTube clips. It looks as if many english choirs sing there when on tour, and from the steps in the central crossing, facing west, and I don't doubt a number of you have accompanied on this instrument with its rather veteran 5-man art-deco console. Given that I suspect there will not be masses of rehearsal time available, might I ask, when accompanying, what works and what doesn't. Is it best not to touch the "Freie Combinations" and hand register simply instead (I'm unlikely to have a 'savvy' page-turner)? Any tips from those who have played it would be most welcome.

 

 

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Although I would agree that hand registration as far as possible is best, I think it's a waste to ignore the free combinations if they work.  One can at least set up some sort of general selection which can be useful as a default, and under the cover of which one can re-register the main tabs.  Simplicity is best, though.

Some of these organs require the pushing of a piston to activate hand registration - Bruges Cathedral is one.

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