Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Recommended Posts

This just in from Ian Tracey...

 

===

Dear Ian,

 

I thought that you ought to be made aware that there is an intention by Warrington Borough Council to have the Parr Hall’s Cavaillé-Coll concert organ dismantled and removed, so that the hall stage area can be widened and deepened as part of refurbishment proposals. The Warrington Male Voice Choir and many of our regular supporters are strongly against losing this unique instrument. We recognise that there are maintenance issues associated with the organ, but this has been the case since it was first installed in the hall in 1926.

 

You will know that the instrument is the only Cavaillé-Coll organ in largely original condition in the UK, and one of few in such condition the World. Quite apart from the pleasure it gives to our audiences, it has become an important part of Warrington’s cultural heritage. There are no plans to replace the organ, and any electronic replacement would be inferior.

 

Tony Whittaker, the choir’s pianist and organist, has set up a Downing Street petition as a first step in our fight to retain the organ in Warrington. If you feel that this warrants your support then can you please add your name to the petition? The link is:

 

 

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Cavaillecoll/

 

 

If you are able to encourage further support, then that would be welcomed.

 

Kind regards,

 

Barrie Johnson

Chairman

Warrington Male Voice Choir

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 88
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

"I thought that you ought to be made aware that there is an intention by Warrington Borough Council to have the Parr Hall’s Cavaillé-Coll concert organ dismantled and removed, so that the hall stage area can be widened and deepened as part of refurbishment proposals."

 

 

 

This implies that the organ is going to be scrapped. Far from it! There are plans to move it to another place, somewhere where it will get daily use and have rather more importance than the authorities in Warrington have ever given it. This is a fabulous organ and deserves to be used regularly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
"I thought that you ought to be made aware that there is an intention by Warrington Borough Council to have the Parr Hall’s Cavaillé-Coll concert organ dismantled and removed, so that the hall stage area can be widened and deepened as part of refurbishment proposals."

 

 

 

This implies that the organ is going to be scrapped. Far from it! There are plans to move it to another place, somewhere where it will get daily use and have rather more importance than the authorities in Warrington have ever given it. This is a fabulous organ and deserves to be used regularly.

So what do you know that all the rest of us don't know? :) Seems to me that if there is sufficient interest to get one of these petition thingies up and running then people need to be in the know lest there be shorted circuits! :D

Link to post
Share on other sites
So what do you know that all the rest of us don't know? :) Seems to me that if there is sufficient interest to get one of these petition thingies up and running then people need to be in the know lest there be shorted circuits! :D

 

 

This is not an even slightly recent development. The desire of the present owners to pass the responsibility of this organ on to others has been known about for a good while and I gather that no less an authority than the famous Ian Bell has been advising the council (for a fair time now) upon the choice of new home for the instrument. I personally know of at least two possible new homes that have made official contact.

 

Indeed, it seems to me that there has been some deliberate foot-dragging, since neither of these two sets of folks are either time-wasters or offering unsuitable homes. In both cases, a premier firm would be engaged to restore this historic Cavaille Coll at the same time as giving it a new home. If I know of two sets of people who had independently come forward wishing to re-house the instrument, there will be several more of whom I have not heard.... why the panic, therefore? A decision needs to be made between all these hopefuls, surely.

 

I remember playing this wonderful instrument very vividly. There is simply nothing like it in this country - I have to say, I don't think even the Cavaille-Coll/Mutin at Farnborough is comparable*. I even applaud the Warrington authorities for recognising its value, accepting that they cannot adequately provide for it and announcing their intention to give someone else the benefit. This contrasts markedly with some owners of large instruments who calmly leave them to rot without a further thought.

 

 

*Though if properly restored the Cavaille-Coll/Jardine organ in Manchester Town Hall could get very close.

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is not an even slightly recent development. The desire of the present owners to pass the responsibility of this organ on to others has been known about for a good while and I gather that no less an authority than the famous Ian Bell has been advising the council (for a fair time now) upon the choice of new home for the instrument. I personally know of at least two possible new homes that have made official contact.

 

Indeed, it seems to me that there has been some deliberate foot-dragging, since neither of these two sets of folks are either time-wasters or offering unsuitable homes. In both cases, a premier firm would be engaged to restore this historic Cavaille Coll at the same time as giving it a new home. If I know of two sets of people who had independently come forward wishing to re-house the instrument, there will be several more of whom I have not heard.... why the panic, therefore? A decision needs to be made between all these hopefuls, surely.

 

I remember playing this wonderful instrument very vividly. There is simply nothing like it in this country - I have to say, I don't think even the Cavaille-Coll/Mutin at Farnborough is comparable*. I even applaud the Warrington authorities for recognising its value, accepting that they cannot adequately provide for it and announcing their intention to give someone else the benefit. This contrasts markedly with some owners of large instruments who calmly leave them to rot without a further thought.

 

 

*Though if properly restored the Cavaille-Coll/Jardine organ in Manchester Town Hall could get very close.

 

So what would you recommend - should we sign the Downing Street petition or will that do more harm than good, would you say?

 

R.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Patrick Coleman

Paul is right - this has been a live issue for over two years. It is a splendid instrument - unique as far as any instrument can be - and it deserves a good home. Given sufficient grant support, which might be available to a venue offering to re-house it, it would be an instrument to be proud of in any venue, or indeed a replacement for an organ that has had its day and does not have the 'historical' credentials of the Parr Hall instrument.

 

We have shown an interest in it, but the authorities are reluctant to make a move without seeing a financial plan for its future, and of course a grant-based plan is not worth embarking on unless there is an in-principle agreement that the organ can be moved.

 

We went to hear Paul Hale demonstrating it two years ago, and made a further visit both to play and have a good look round. David Wells, who loves and cares for it, was kind enough to spend time showing us inside.

 

Another issue perhaps is that the people in Warrington might wish for a prestige venue for it. Our venue would suit it perfectly, but we would be looking to gain prestige from its presence, rather than adding to any existing perception of prestige.

 

One thing is certain: the amount of money needed to put it into tip-top condition is more than Warrington has to spare. At the same time, the use it gets hardly warrants its remaining in its current home, and it is taking up space which could be revenue-earning for the Council in a way that the organ will never be.

 

All those elements, and probably more, go to make up the conundrum...

Link to post
Share on other sites
This implies that the organ is going to be scrapped. Far from it! There are plans to move it to another place, somewhere where it will get daily use and have rather more importance than the authorities in Warrington have ever given it. This is a fabulous organ and deserves to be used regularly.

 

Yes, and replace that awful toaster! :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

It' so sad that a large town the size of Warrington cannot support this fantastic instrument. I understand that the funds also could not be raised to rebuild the Gray & Davison instrument in St Elphins church in the town and that an electronic is now being used.

 

I can remember shortly after I moved 'up north' going to my first recital at the Parr Hall. It was quite a surreal experience after only usually being used to Cathedral organ recitals. Firstly, there was an ever present haze of smog from the chain smokers on the hall floor downstairs and of course considerable amounts of beer being drunk throughout. Brilliant!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis

Parr Hall is an interesting survival. I have given several recitals on this organ and so know it well, and frankly believe that it is totally wasted gem in Warrington. Recitals have struggled there for years.

 

What is certain, is that Parr Hall should be saved, and used. I don't think it has a future in Warrington.

 

 

R

Link to post
Share on other sites
Parr Hall is an interesting survival. I have given several recitals on this organ and so know it well, and frankly believe that it is totally wasted gem in Warrington. Recitals have struggled there for years.

 

What is certain, is that Parr Hall should be saved, and used. I don't think it has a future in Warrington.

 

 

R

 

Interestingly, the wording of the Downing Street petition is simply to "save the Cavaille-Coll organ in the Parr Hall, Warrington". There is no mention of keeping it there: the phrase "in the Parr Hall, Warrington" merely defines which Cavaille-Coll organ is being discussed. If the intention was to petition for the instrument's retention at the Parr Hall, it has been worded very carelessly. Some people may be signing the petition to oppose the proposal to move the organ whilst others are signing to support it!

 

It does not seem to me that it is in the instrument's best interests to leave it to rot under the ownership of Warrington Council. However, I can well understand why people in the Warrington area are hopping mad at losing such a gem.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis
Interestingly, the wording of the Downing Street petition is simply to "save the Cavaille-Coll organ in the Parr Hall, Warrington". There is no mention of keeping it there: the phrase "in the Parr Hall, Warrington" merely defines which Cavaille-Coll organ is being discussed. If the intention was to petition for the instrument's retention at the Parr Hall, it has been worded very carelessly. Some people may be signing the petition to oppose the proposal to move the organ whilst others are signing to support it!

 

It does not seem to me that it is in the instrument's best interests to leave it to rot under the ownership of Warrington Council. However, I can well understand why people in the Warrington area are hopping mad at losing such a gem.

 

:)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just had an invite to join this Facebook Group... It may clarify the thinking of those stirring it up, it seems they want to keep it where it is.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Basic Info

Type: Entertainment & Arts - Performing Arts

Description: The Cavaillé-Coll organ has been in the Parr Hall since the 1920's and it is an important, mostly unaltered instrument, one of the few outside of France, and one of the only Cavaillé-Coll concert organs anywhere. Its removal from the Parr Hall to create more space is a mistake which future generations will regret: it will devalue the Parr Hall as a concert venue. It is an important part of Warrington's cultural heritage.

Please sign the petition!

 

Contact Info

Email:

Website: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Cavaill...

Office: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Cavaillecoll/

Location: Warrington, United Kingdom

 

Recent NewsPlease remember to sign the petition and ask your friends to visit the site too!

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Cavaillecoll/

 

Quite frankly, we need people to make further contact with those in authority and tell them that :

The organ is used and wanted.

It is played much more than the 6 times a year the Organ Society have told the council by other organisations such as The Warrington Male Voice Choir and CODYS (A young persons musical theatre group).

Please feel free to add you own personal touch too!However, you must keep it polite and to the point for it to be taken seriously.

 

Try this to find your MP and contact them:

http://www.parliament.uk/directories/directories.cfm

 

You have to write to your own MP usually. You can also contact the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham if you are from outside (or inside) Warrington:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/contact_us/default.aspx

 

You can also try this website: http://www.writetothem.com/ apparently you can contact your MP, Councillors, MEP, a member of the House of Lords etc...

You can also write to your MP of course, at:

House of Commons

London

SW1A 0AA

Tel: +44 (0)20 7219 3000

 

Warrington South: Helen Southworth Warrington North: Helen Jones

Other useful sites:

http://www.warrington.gov.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

P.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis

The organ should come out of Parr Hall IMHO. It is used yes, but not enough. It's mostly a Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. I can understand those who wish it to remain, and will miss it myself, but the musical climate is very different to what it was even ten years ago.

 

I hope the Organ finds a good home, and is treasured.

 

By all.

 

 

R

Link to post
Share on other sites

I paste below, with the full permmision of Ian Bell, up to date information on this organ. Ian's posting was on another list.

 

Alan

 

I am not sure this organ is really on-topic on this list anyway? But since the subject has been aired...

 

As I say, this is a scare story – those circulating it are implying that the organ is under threat of being scrapped, which it is not of course, and either do not know - or are not telling - the important bits of the story. The image of an uncaring local authority carelessly destroying our wonderful heritage is just not aligned with the facts! I appreciate that this is frustrating for those needlessly asked to rally to an unnecessary cause.

 

The hall management first contacted me exactly 3 years ago this week, and I went up and talked to them about their feeling that they had a need to take a broad view of the future viability of the hall, and about their review (already firmly on the agenda at that time) to investigate what effect the presence of the organ might have on the value of the Hall as a general-purpose venue. The organ both occupies what would otherwise be stage area, and at the same time is constantly at risk from the events that take place there, and from the need for riggers and electricians to climb through it, amongst the pipes and up ladders and over the swell-boxes, to reach the roof space above for rigging lights. It is rarely used, and when it is few people go - certainly not enough in these troubled times to justify easily the public funds needed to return it to good order. Contrary to what these folk are saying, maintenance is not a problem and when requested has been diligent - but is seriously limited by the funds they have been able to find to pay for it.

 

Warrington are fully aware of, and very responsibly concerned about, the value of what they have in this instrument. But if the Hall is not viable, the organ has no home in any case, so they have been carrying out parallel studies on the options with and without the organ, whilst at the same time - to illustrate the options that might be available if needed - asking me to filter the numerous takers that have come out of the woodwork, most of whom had no idea how space-consuming it is, nor that it needs a very considerable sum spent on it (perhaps £300k or more). This includes reversing some of the effects of a pretty economical rebuild 35 years ago. They have consulted closely throughout with the local friends of the organ, who have been to see some of the possible homes. They could not have been more thorough.

 

And the fact as I say is that it rarely gets used, and when it does nobody goes - two or three dozen local supporters, and almost certainly nobody who is now shouting about petitions. And having been voiced as a house organ, it sounds dead and muffled in this shabby building (its third home), which is currently decorated to look like a middle eastern brothel and hanging with grubby drapes which further deaden the acoustic! Front of house is pretty grim - backstage years overdue for upgrading.

 

So my view is that the best thing that could happen to it may well be to get it out into somewhere that it can be played and heard every day, with ideally re-instatement of the barker levers and so on that were scrapped in the 1970s.

 

Sheffield Cathedral laid claim to it several months ago but as with any cathedral there are procedures to be gone through, and permission from outside bodies which may or may not be given. Meanwhile I have five other ostensibly viable takers eager to be considered, if in the end, Warrington decide to part with it.

 

I.

 

--

Ian Bell

49 Chelmsford Road

Woodford

London E18 2PW

Tel: 020 8491 0962 Fax: 020 8559 7477

Mob: 07775 500 189

Link to post
Share on other sites
I paste below, with the full permmision of Ian Bell, up to date information on this organ. Ian's posting was on another list.

 

Alan

 

Thanks Alan for passing this on. It is good to know that Ian Bell is advising, as there can be none better to give the right advice. I believe Ian's comments show that Warrington Council take this seriously, and that they are being very thorough. Perhaps we should really be petitioning the government to set up funds (probably not forthcoming in our current economic climate!), to help save and restore historic instruments such as this. Are we the only country in Europe that doesn't take our (and in this case our neighbours) organ traditions seriously. I know this is wishful thinking, but what you don't wish for you don't get!!

 

Jonathan

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm getting conflicting stories about the pitch of this organ; one person tells me it is definitely a semitone sharp and another tells me it is (or at least was) exactly at "concert pitch" (which I take to be A=440). As a matter of interest, and for the record, could someone please confirm which is correct? I think I can work out which is the more reliable source and shall be interested to see whether I am right or wrong!

 

Thanks

 

Malcolm

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Patrick Coleman
I'm getting conflicting stories about the pitch of this organ; one person tells me it is definitely a semitone sharp and another tells me it is (or at least was) exactly at "concert pitch" (which I take to be A=440). As a matter of interest, and for the record, could someone please confirm which is correct? I think I can work out which is the more reliable source and shall be interested to see whether I am right or wrong!

 

Thanks

 

Malcolm

 

Ian Bell stated the following in August 2006:

 

A small problem for some of the potential 'takers' such as the music colleges, is that the pitch is somewhat sharp - I do not have an accurate measurement, and neither does David Wells who maintains the organ and loves it dearly. This could of course be ascertained if it were a major issue, but is known to be flatter than its original C540, but still markedly sharp of C523.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...

Does anyone know what the latest on this is? It came up in discussion the other day with someone who has a building that would support an organ this size and it would be heard on a daily basis. They are potentially looking for a replacement for an ageing and small instrument.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The latest on the Parr Hall web site about the organ's planned move to Sheffield is dated last October. The cathedral make no mention of the Cavaillé-coll, but proudly announce they have spent money adding more stops to their electronic organ. This seems to suggest they have given up on the idea of having a real organ and a world famous one at that! It makes me ashamed to be a Yorkshireman.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, the Sheffield Cathedral blog dated 1 December 2010 still says that they intend to install 'a historic french organ' from 'a local authority'. I find it hard to believe this will happen, though. What cathedral organist would be willing to be constrained by the limitations of such an instrument? No 32 foot reed, no tuba, no setter, 56 note manuals, no detached nave section.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, the Sheffield Cathedral blog dated 1 December 2010 still says that they intend to install 'a historic french organ' from 'a local authority'. I find it hard to believe this will happen, though. What cathedral organist would be willing to be constrained by the limitations of such an instrument? No 32 foot reed, no tuba, no setter, 56 note manuals, no detached nave section.

 

It sounds ideal....

 

If this is still a possibility, this is indeed good news. Surely it would safeguard the survival of the Parr Hall organ (albeit in a new location)?

 

That is, providing a cathedral organist does not decide to rebuild it with a 32ft. reed, a tuba, an electronic combination system - nor any other excrescence....

Link to post
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...