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Southampton Guildhall


Colin Harvey
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See www.guildhall-compton.org.uk

 

I thought this might be of interest to folk. The Southampton Guildhall Compton Organ has been brought back into full working order. The inaugural recital is 19th October 2008 at 3.30pm with Carlo Curley and Richard Hills. Further details on the website.

 

This organ, Compton's largest all-new installation, is a dual-purpose instrument with two consoles, one controlling the 'classical' pipes of the organ while the other is designed and is connected to the 'theatre' or 'variety' part. It is possible to play both consoles at the same time - quite a spectacle!

 

This organ is quite a marvel of construction: it was designed in collaboration with the Guildhall architects and is an ideal fusion of building and organ. It sits in chambers above the stage, apart from the 32' Diaphone (in full working order) and 32' reed, which are in a pit to stage left of the stage. The electro-mechanical relays have their own room and are in perfect working order after 70 years - it's quite a marvel to see them in operation.

 

The organ lapsed into an unplayable state due to lack of use and poorly managed maintenance. As the organ didn't get used, many of the electro-pnuematic actions leathers (more accurately, rubber-coated cloth called "tosh") seized solid, rendering the pipes off speech.

 

This organ's voicing and regulation are diametrically opposed to what was written about many theatre organs and organs built in the 1930s by early organ reform movement authors. The speech and regulation are excellent and the sounds are musical and sibilant. There is no "thickness" or "heaviness" about the diapasons, despite sitting on 6'' of wind and some being heavily leathered - it challenges the assumption low pressures are necessary for musical speech and sounds. It really is a superb and versatile musical instrument.

 

Specifications (from NPOR):

Classical: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N11620

Theatre: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N18285

 

Looking through the specs, you'll see it has everything imaginable - second touch, early electronic sounds (a melotone in full working order!), Cornet des Bombardes, etc...

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See www.guildhall-compton.org.uk

 

I thought this might be of interest to folk. The Southampton Guildhall Compton Organ has been brought back into full working order. The inaugural recital is 19th October 2008 at 3.30pm with Carlo Curley and Richard Hills. Further details on the website.

 

This organ, Compton's largest all-new installation, is a dual-purpose instrument with two consoles, one controlling the 'classical' pipes of the organ while the other is designed and is connected to the 'theatre' or 'variety' part. It is possible to play both consoles at the same time - quite a spectacle!

 

This organ is quite a marvel of construction: it was designed in collaboration with the Guildhall architects and is an ideal fusion of building and organ. It sits in chambers above the stage, apart from the 32' Diaphone (in full working order) and 32' reed, which are in a pit to stage left of the stage. The electro-mechanical relays have their own room and are in perfect working order after 70 years - it's quite a marvel to see them in operation.

 

The organ lapsed into an unplayable state due to lack of use and poorly managed maintenance. As the organ didn't get used, many of the electro-pnuematic actions leathers (more accurately, rubber-coated cloth called "tosh") seized solid, rendering the pipes off speech.

 

This organ's voicing and regulation are diametrically opposed to what was written about many theatre organs and organs built in the 1930s by early organ reform movement authors. The speech and regulation are excellent and the sounds are musical and sibilant. There is no "thickness" or "heaviness" about the diapasons, despite sitting on 6'' of wind and some being heavily leathered - it challenges the assumption low pressures are necessary for musical speech and sounds. It really is a superb and versatile musical instrument.

 

Specifications (from NPOR):

Classical: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N11620

Theatre: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N18285

 

Looking through the specs, you'll see it has everything imaginable - second touch, early electronic sounds (a melotone in full working order!), Cornet des Bombardes, etc...

 

Hi

 

For those so inclined, there are pictures of some of the work on the UKCinemaOrgans Yahoo group web site.

 

I shall at some point update the NPOR surveys to include the recent work (by a theatre organ specialist) and to check the stop lists against pictures of the stop jambs/tabs.

 

The organ is one of a small handful of true dual purpose organs every built in the UK - and the only survivor with 2 consoles designed for the two tasks. There are rumours of another organ, by Spurden Rutt, having had a theatre-style console at one time, but I've not yet found any real details. Another dual purpose organ, also recently restored, is the Hill, Norman & Beard/Christie in the Dome, Brighton, but that only has one console (all stop tabs).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Back in the late '70s we used this organ for concerts - the combined forces of the Uni. Choral Soc., Southampton Philharmonic Choir and usually one of the Bournemouth orchestras - everything from the Britten War Requiem to Messiah. Mostly the organ was played then by Robin Bowman from the University Music Dept. a fearsomely splendid player - now better known for his work on French Song. It coped with much that was put before it including the continuo and 'padding out' parts of Messiah. Not quite an organ played by Handel but it did the job well - I seem to remember the lighter choruses as being decidedly sprightly. 'Never touched the theatre side console - it wasn't the done thing for us seriously musical types at the time!!!

 

AJJ

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This is good news - I used to play this organ regularly (once a week) for dancing when I was a teenager, many years ago. As I was on the casual staff there, I often had the opportunity to play the classical console well into the night after everyone had gone home! The instrument sounded even better when the carpet in the hall was removed to expose the very fine fully sprung dance floor. In those days, organists were dissuaded to use the 32' Contra Bass during the working day as it could be felt in most of the offices adjacent to the hall. I remember a running battle with the port health officers whose offices used to be only one floor down from the organ chambers. It was very loud up there! Although it was a bit hissy (due mainly to the leaking conveyencing) it used to work well in those days. It was also in pretty constant use in those days.

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  • 1 month later...

Dear All

 

There are now some recordings of Richard Hills playing the Southampton Guildhall Compton on the website:

www.guildhall-compton.org.uk

 

I hope to meet some of you at the forthcoming concert on 19th October.

 

 

Regards

 

Peter Hammond

HWS Associates LLP

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