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I have been itching to have a play for a while now so with the help of a friend who until recently played at St. James Church, Alveston, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, I contacted the Vicar who kindly agreed to let me have a go. It's about 35 years since last I played so it was going to be interesting to say the least. I went armed with my ancient book of Bach's 8 Short Preludes and Fugues and the thinnest-soled shoes I could find.

 

I had played the organ there many years ago as my teacher, the late and much missed Alan Emmerson was organist there for many years. The instrument, originally a Nicholson was rebuilt and extended in 2001 by Organ Tuning Services of Stratford-upon-Avon. I'll append the specification at the end of this tale.

 

I arrived to be welcomed by a gentleman I took to be a churchwarden who opened up for me and apologised for the fact that I would have to compete with carpet fitters in the south side chapel, but started off by playing a few chords and arpeggios just to hear what the various stops and combinations sounded like. It really is a lovely organ and I had a thoroughly enjoyable hour playing a couple of my old favourites. I'm not sure the carpet fitters enjoyed it quite so much but they were friendly enough!

 

I was surprised just how much came back after so many years - obviously my fingers and toes fell down the cracks a few times and I'll need a huge amount of practice but it was a start.

 

Swell

 

Open Diapason 8

Lieblich Gedeckt 8

Salicional 8

Vox Angelica (TC) 8

Gemshorn 4

Mixture II

Oboe 8

Trumpet 8

 

Tremulant

Swell Octave

Swell Sub-Octave

 

Great

 

Open Diapason 8

Principal 4

Fifteenth 2

Mixture III

Claribella 8

Harmonic Flute 4

Trompette 8

 

Swell to Great

Swell Octave to Great

Swell Sub Octave to Great

 

Pedal

 

Bourdon 16

Octave 8

Flute 4

Open Diapason 16

Quint 10 2/3

Bass Flute 8

Fagotto 16

 

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Swell Octave to Pedal

 

4 adjustable combination pistons to each manual, duplicated by toe buttons.

Balanced swell pedal

Electro-pneumatic action

 

 

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Paul,

 

I really liked it but should need to hear it from the Nave to fully appreciate the sound. The two trumpets are voiced quite differently which gives good opportunities for contrast and the Great mixture, which I gather is new/revoiced, gives the 8', 4' 2' chorus a real lift. From the console I thought the Bourdon 16' was a little loud but I'm sure this is very different from the nave. The Fagotto 16' is lovely, quite gentle but big enough to complement full organ, although I played only a few chords loudly in deference to the carpet fitters!

 

I last played it in, I think, the early 1970s when I had lessons there and it strikes me that the current instrument is much brighter.

 

I'm hoping to arrange regular practice sessions during the week and will take a recording device to get a better idea. The previous organist, John Morris, is an old friend and I'll ask him along to play one day so that I can hear it.

 

Peter

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Guest Cynic
I have been itching to have a play for a while now so with the help of a friend who until recently played at St. James Church, Alveston, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, I contacted the Vicar who kindly agreed to let me have a go. It's about 35 years since last I played so it was going to be interesting to say the least. I went armed with my ancient book of Bach's 8 Short Preludes and Fugues and the thinnest-soled shoes I could find.

 

I had played the organ there many years ago as my teacher, the late and much missed Alan Emmerson was organist there for many years. The instrument, originally a Nicholson was rebuilt and extended in 2001 by Organ Tuning Services of Stratford-upon-Avon. I'll append the specification at the end of this tale.

 

I arrived to be welcomed by a gentleman I took to be a churchwarden who opened up for me and apologised for the fact that I would have to compete with carpet fitters in the south side chapel, but started off by playing a few chords and arpeggios just to hear what the various stops and combinations sounded like. It really is a lovely organ and I had a thoroughly enjoyable hour playing a couple of my old favourites. I'm not sure the carpet fitters enjoyed it quite so much but they were friendly enough!

 

I was surprised just how much came back after so many years - obviously my fingers and toes fell down the cracks a few times and I'll need a huge amount of practice but it was a start.

 

Swell

 

Open Diapason 8

Lieblich Gedeckt 8

Salicional 8

Vox Angelica (TC) 8

Gemshorn 4

Mixture II

Oboe 8

Trumpet 8

 

Tremulant

Swell Octave

Swell Sub-Octave

 

Great

 

Open Diapason 8

Principal 4

Fifteenth 2

Mixture III

Claribella 8

Harmonic Flute 4

Trompette 8

 

Swell to Great

Swell Octave to Great

Swell Sub Octave to Great

 

Pedal

 

Bourdon 16

Octave 8

Flute 4

Open Diapason 16

Quint 10 2/3

Bass Flute 8

Fagotto 16

 

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Swell Octave to Pedal

 

4 adjustable combination pistons to each manual, duplicated by toe buttons.

Balanced swell pedal

Electro-pneumatic action

 

 

How clever of the Stratford firm to make the church a miniature copy of the case at Ste Sulpice!

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I helped out here while at school but haven't seen the organ since about 1997. I'd be interested to hear what you think of the additions, as I've heard mixed feelings.

 

Paul Walton

I did not know the organ before the additions but played a couple of weddings/funerals there about five years ago. At the time I thought the mixture did not blend well with 8-4-2, and from the console the Great Trompette obliterated everything. I do remember it as the coldest church I have ever played in with the wind blowing across the console!

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How clever of the Stratford firm to make the church a miniature copy of the case at Ste Sulpice!

 

<_<:P:lol:

 

I believe some revoicing may have been carried out in 2005 - I'll check with John. The Great Trompette didn't strike me as too loud yesterday but my lack of recent experience may well be the cause of some mis-hearing. I'll hopefully go again next week and have another listen.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
<_<:P:lol:

 

I believe some revoicing may have been carried out in 2005 - I'll check with John. The Great Trompette didn't strike me as too loud yesterday but my lack of recent experience may well be the cause of some mis-hearing. I'll hopefully go again next week and have another listen.

 

A charming church and a fine organ which is possibly housed in a Temple Moore case. There is a strong argument for this as other neighbouring work was done by him. Unfortunately there is a rich curtain that stifles the sound coming from the side of the organ through the great screen.

I think the carpet going in in the South Chapel is part of the refurbishment - which includes a Pieta coming from Italy! A gift.

 

I might add that there are some lovely country organs in the diocese of Coventry. One that is very soon to be re-located in the church at Long Compton is a delicious wow of a 1860's Nicholson and oh! so very idiosyncratic.

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

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Nigel,

 

Thank you for the detail - but it won't be Michelangelo's Pietà I suspect, even in such a clearly well-off parish! I shall look forward to seeing it nonetheless.

 

I shall also have to have a drive over to Long Compton when the Nicholson is installed; having been been brought up around here I have always had a soft spot for the smaller Nicholson instruments, so much nicer than the worthy but sometimes slightly dull Thomas Hewins organs found in the area.

 

Kindest regards

 

Peter

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  • 11 months later...
I do remember it as the coldest church I have ever played in with the wind blowing across the console!

 

I went back to the same church yesterday as I've just started to learn the 2nd movement of Guilmant's Sonate 1 (maybe the other two movements much later... or maybe not) and in the organ loft were a fan heater, a radiant heater of the halogen variety and best of all, a hot water bottle in a nice furry case. I assumed that the kettle is in the vestry as it wasn't in sight. I shall take a teabag, milk and a mug next week!

 

The Pieta mentioned in Nigel Allcoat's reply is stunning. It's in white marble and standing on a beautiful honey-coloured marble plinth; the whole being an anonymous gift to the church.

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in the organ loft were a fan heater, a radiant heater of the halogen variety and best of all, a hot water bottle in a nice furry case. I assumed that the kettle is in the vestry as it wasn't in sight. I shall take a teabag, milk and a mug next week!

 

I would hazard a guess that I'm not the only person to use a tepid water bottle or two to warm up the manuals before I've played a recital. It's so much more comfortable playing when you aren't feeling the heat of the fingers being drained by the keys!

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