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Historic Organ Certificates


Malcolm Farr
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In another thread, Nigel Allcoat mentioned that his church was St. Augustine's, Kilburn. This rang a dust-laden bell in a rather musty corner of my mind and, sure enough, on checking NPOR, I was pleased to discover that I was correct (for once!) in recalling that the instrument there is an old Harrison with numerous registers prepared for, including the entire Solo division. It is also the recipient of a Historic Organ Certificate, grade II.

 

Not having been in England for quite some years, I must confess my ignorance of the way in which Historic Organ Certificates work there. In particular, what is the position regarding Certificates and future work? A hypothetical question: if some wealthy philanthropist were to march into St. Augustine's and say, "I have pots of money, and can think of nothing better to do with it than funding all your prepared-for stops!", could the work be carried out under the terms of the grant of the Certificate?

 

Rgds

MJF

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In another thread, Nigel Allcoat mentioned that his church was St. Augustine's, Kilburn. This rang a dust-laden bell in a rather musty corner of my mind and, sure enough, on checking NPOR, I was pleased to discover that I was correct (for once!) in recalling that the instrument there is an old Harrison with numerous registers prepared for, including the entire Solo division. It is also the recipient of a Historic Organ Certificate, grade II.

 

Not having been in England for quite some years, I must confess my ignorance of the way in which Historic Organ Certificates work there. In particular, what is the position regarding Certificates and future work? A hypothetical question: if some wealthy philanthropist were to march into St. Augustine's and say, "I have pots of money, and can think of nothing better to do with it than funding all your prepared-for stops!", could the work be carried out under the terms of the grant of the Certificate?

 

Rgds

MJF

 

Hi

 

An interesting question. In principle, the HOC would probably be reconsidered, but I (speaking personally) can't see any problem as long as the original stop list was adhered to, and either s/h Harrison pipes of the correct vintage or new pipes in the correct style were used.

 

Maybe the HOCS coordinator for BIOS would be able to say more.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
A hypothetical question: if some wealthy philanthropist were to march into St. Augustine's and say, "I have pots of money, and can think of nothing better to do with it than funding all your prepared-for stops!", could the work be carried out under the terms of the grant of the Certificate?

 

Rgds

MJF

 

Ha! If only, - but I would steer him well away from such a project. As I have written at great length elsewhere on this Board about the organ in St Augustine's I don't really need to do so again, I think. But this must be the last monumental organ left in London to be 'restored'. It has exercised my mind over a few decades now and as I have grown older I realise that perhaps two things need to be done. Firstly the 4ft flute on the Swell and secondly the 16ft reed on the Gt. All awaits the pipes.

As for the Solo, I cannot see any use for it at all - and the cost would be better spent elsewhere. A new gothic organ in St Michael's Chapel for instance. This is the most beautiful place of any church in London. Recently the frescos have been painstakingly restored after having been painted over when I believe Lord Rothermere (more likely)or his brother Lord Harmsworth had given a Titian or two to the church (now removed). An instrument at ground level would be of great use for concerts, teaching etc. Much restoration has been done to this extraordinary building. It should be seen by all.

But the organ languishes somewhat. Thankfully the central heating is going back to traditional wet methods installed in the 1880's. The 'rocket' devices have been disconnected DG. How the organ survived such Sahara-like temperature changes defeats me. When the Royal Philharmonic (one of a number of professional orchestras using the place for recording) came, a battalion of Calorgas heaters came too and the temp in the organ was once touching 90 F. And then the Churchwarden would switch off the humidifier as it disturbed the recording! How the 'Old Girl' has got this far is only due to the remarkable heroic size of the construction and the magnificent workmanship of both Fr Willis and Harrisons - the latter supplying the most fine pneumatic action just before the Great War and going on very well thank you. The Clarabel Flute on the Gt is still for me the finest example anywhere in the land - even with all the rocket-heating dust and incense-laden air attacking it for well over a century. The judicious changes (for the better I would argue) done about a century ago, did not spoil the original, but enhanced. Much of the money was going to the fabric and vestments and furnishings. The organ was just given a more responsive action (the mechanical one would have been immensely heavy considering the layout). The console became a H & H one with the keys still by Willis I should say. But on that I might be wrong.

The Organ Tribune is still the same and offers the player the most spectacular view of the Pearson East Window and the High Altar beneath.

S%20Augustine%20Kilburn.jpg

All best wishes and thanks for allowing me a moment of nostalgia this Monday morn.

Nigel

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
It actually began as a Father Willis.

 

R

 

And in reality it still is, albeit with the gentle tweaking by H & H. These things no doubt came about because of fad and fashion as well as necessity because of the action. I am so grateful that no electric console arrived too and a move away from the Tribune nearer our own times. There is still a wonderful sense of attachment when playing. The Great and Choir are above the console and the Swell comes from everywhere. When the Pedal Organ was working (only Subbass and Open Wood do at the moment) that spoke in the North Transept with terrific clarity. The Full Swell effect so beloved by UK organists is a stupendous example - St Paul's Cathedral coming a good close 2nd in London. Strangely enough, the undulant on the Swell works perfectly with either 8ft String or Flute as well as the Diapason. Most useful I found for different literature and for improvisations when a touch of the exotique was called for. St Augustine's is a truly mysterious place with endless vistas and vaults as well as a complete Festal processional route at an upper level (as well as at Aisle level) which goes through the lower part of the organ!

It must be said that through the latter part oif the last century Mr David Chapman of H & H nursed and bandaged the organ through a number of ills and I had the pedal reed rebuilt as metal fatique was taking its toll on the substantial weight on the joints near the boots. Thanks to David's totally dedication to the Old Girl, I was able every weekend to use every note and every pipe as I lived in the country and commuted up to town every weekend and Holy Day when there was always a High Mass. It was necessary to make sure that everything was in apple-pie order when I left for Leicestershire after Solemn Evensong and Benediction on Sunday evening. Somewhere I have a glorious picture from the organ of my view of the ceremonies at the High Altar with the vestments adorned with half the jewel box of Lady Rothemere. I will find it one day for everyone. Sensational vision. And that gave me such inspiration to play my very best. Liturgy + Architecture + Chant + Organ = Paradise for me.

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

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Surely St Augustine's is Pearson's finest building and I think the present people there try to make it relevant and welcoming to the people living around. How wonderful it must have been between the wars when Anglo Catholic worship was at its peak and - possibly - most effective. I hav eonly heard the oran there once and was most impressed by

it.

 

Malcolm

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Surely St Augustine's is Pearson's finest building

 

St Augustine's is on my list of 'must visit' churches, Nigel's photo is the only one I've ever seen which actually shows the organ!

 

On the subject of the 'Anglo-Catholic' tradition, a couple of weeks ago we visited William Butterfield's masterpiece: All Saints, Margaret Street. A century of incense burning has certainly taken it's toll on much of the ornate decorations which cover the interior with a great deal of cleaning/restoration needed.

 

I was quite surprised by how small the church is, especially considering that the organ is very large indeed and divided either side of the chancel. We didn't get the chance to hear it; does anyone know what it actually sounds like?

 

DT

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The organ in All Saints Margaret Street sounds magnificent although in the wrong hands it can sound deafening. There are two tubas and I think one came from Gloucester Cathedral (although I am open to correction on this). I once heard someone play the Whitlock Toccata as a final voluntary and it was so loud I had to leave the building quickly. In the right hands it is H&H at their best and from ppp up to fff it can sound very exciting. An ideal instrument for accompanyinhg and complementing the kind of liturgy they (literally) enjoy there.

 

A few years ago I played there for the Golden Jubilee Mass of a former Vicar of mine (in the presence of at least two Greater Prelates) and I found it a very comfortable console to handle. My experience is that Harrison consoles are lmost always very comfortable. It is even designed so that you can see the conductor over the music desk without straining your neck.

 

Malcolm

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
St Augustine's is on my list of 'must visit' churches, Nigel's photo is the only one I've ever seen which actually shows the organ!

 

On the subject of the 'Anglo-Catholic' tradition, a couple of weeks ago we visited William Butterfield's masterpiece: All Saints, Margaret Street. A century of incense burning has certainly taken it's toll on much of the ornate decorations which cover the interior with a great deal of cleaning/restoration needed.

 

I was quite surprised by how small the church is, especially considering that the organ is very large indeed and divided either side of the chancel. We didn't get the chance to hear it; does anyone know what it actually sounds like?

 

DT

 

Willis never liked organ cases and St Augustine's is no exception. Considering that Pearson could create rather magnificent works in this department, it is a shame that Zinc reigns supreme - as at Salisbury. However, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (I am sure - although there is a bevy of Scotts!) encased to some degree, the Transept pedal case which completes his ensemble of furnishings for the Lady Chapel immediately below it. He also designed the statue od Our Lady at the right in the Nave, for which Lady Diana Duff Cooper was the model.

As for Butterfield's famous church in Margaret Street, the space is a miracle of design as it not only housed a large Clergy House but also a Choir School attached to the church. The Courtyard also gives a sense of space too with the rising spire overseeing all. It constantly fascinates me every time I go. Yes - the church is small yet still hugely mysterious. The organ for me is far too large - perhaps the object of far too much available finance. It was made larger and louder by the welcoming and instalation of the old Gloucester Cathedral Tuba - made famous on the Sumsion Elgar Sonata on the Great Cathedral Organ Series. In this enclosed space (it his housed on top of the Choir Box in the South side) it can wake the dead - in Southwark. However, just because there is a multiplicity of stops and decibels, it doesn't mean that the organist needs to use them all at the same time or even at all. There is a thing called taste.

In Walter Vale's day, I seem to remember that to switch the organ on the organist had to attend the water stop-cock in the road. Sundays provided fine pressure it was said, although mid-week when shops and businesses were in full operation, it was somewhat less. Michael Fleming was the last Organist and Master of the Choristers in the late 1960's when the Choir School was closed. It would be grand to know some of the illustrious folk that sang there over the decades. Michael left and became the greatly loved Tutor at the RSCM at Addington Palace as well as Organist of Croydon Parish Church. He supervised the restoration of the grand Hill into the H & H that is there now.

 

Best wishes

Nigel

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The organ in All Saints Margaret Street sounds magnificent although in the wrong hands it can sound deafening. There are two tubas and I think one came from Gloucester Cathedral (although I am open to correction on this). I once heard someone play the Whitlock Toccata as a final voluntary and it was so loud I had to leave the building quickly. In the right hands it is H&H at their best and from ppp up to fff it can sound very exciting. An ideal instrument for accompanyinhg and complementing the kind of liturgy they (literally) enjoy there.

 

A few years ago I played there for the Golden Jubilee Mass of a former Vicar of mine (in the presence of at least two Greater Prelates) and I found it a very comfortable console to handle. My experience is that Harrison consoles are lmost always very comfortable. It is even designed so that you can see the conductor over the music desk without straining your neck.

 

Malcolm

 

I attended a Jane Parker Smith recital here a few years ago, and sat as far West as I could - it was still very loud, but also exciting.........a similar effect to halfway down the nave at Redcliffe, Bristol, and yes, those ex-Gloucester tubas certainly do make their presence known!

 

Going back to Pearson Churches, and without checking the facts, is not St Stephen's Bournmouth one of his? If so, that must rank very highly and is, so I once heard, a scaled replica (internally) of Truro. The organ is pretty good too!

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[i was quite surprised by how small the church is, especially considering that the organ is very large indeed and divided either side of the chancel. We didn't get the chance to hear it; does anyone know what it actually sounds like?] Quote.

 

I played the St Margaret's organ 6/7 weeks ago on a visit to town, the day after it had been tuned, and it sounded magnificent, typical of Harrisons at their best, with some very lovely and refined quieter registers. Sure, it can go very loud, and the tuba over the choir box (ex-Gloucester) is very loud, especially if you're anywhere near it as you are at the console. The 16,8,4 great reeds are enclosed which is an advantage in this situation. I understand that the 2002 restoration aimed to get the organ back to something like the 1911 sound including reinstatement of the great harmonics mixture, then plus a bit. It looks large for the size of the building, but it was perfectly possible to get a variety of fortissimo effects without it being oppressive. The nave of the church is very lofty which helps the acoustics. I liked it very much.

 

R.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Going back to Pearson Churches, and without checking the facts, is not St Stephen's Bournmouth one of his? If so, that must rank very highly and is, so I once heard, a scaled replica (internally) of Truro. The organ is pretty good too!

 

Indeed it is - and a glorious church with a grand musical past & present. Fine instrument in the South Transept too. A fine view of the church is had from the outside and the interior is most notable.

St Albans in Birmingham has a fine apsed Sanctuary with excellent acoustics too. Again - some noted living musicians are associated with that church.

A really quirky Pearson is the Apostolic church in Maida Vale London (amended :they do have an organ although I have never heard it as I went on a tour with the Victorian Society). An often overlooked gem is of course St John's Upper Norword (I used to sing in the choir there!!) with a grand interior and another famed tradition of Liturgy and Music. Sir Ninian Comper lived nearby and there are some fine vestments of his design there. St Peter's Vauxhall, again in London, is freqently overlooked and I wished that Hitler's bombs had never found the stupendous church of St John's, Red Lion Square. All Saints, Hove and St Michael's, Croydon must never be overlooked - the latter being a mecca of Anglo-Catholic worship. Michael Fleming had his Requiem there as he became the organist in later life I think. Oldroyd (Mass of the Quiet Hour etc) was the noted 20th Century musician there and the Willis was given an overhaul and slight enlargement my our hosts some time ago now. I went to a Centenary (I am sure) when Archbishop Ramsey presided at a glorious Pontifical High Mass - still fresh in my memory - and I was a yoof and an Organ Scholar (Ancient & Modern!!) at the RSCM at Addington. Ah! the halcyon days.

 

N

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A really quirky Pearson is the Apostolic church in Maida Vale London (they have no organ).

 

It is a mgnificent building. Not only a church but corridor with "offices" almost built-in confessionals, though that is not at all as they are seen by the Catholic Apostolic body, and a complex of rooms off that corridor on the south side. In church planning the Catholic Apostolic Church combined the best elemnts of "establishment" good taste in the church and non-conformist provision of many rooms. Interesting to note that this Particular Church is the only one built by Pearson outside the C of E. The C A Church's Central Church is known as Christ the King, Gordon Square said by Betjeman to be London's third cathedral-though this is not by Pearson.

 

I am a great fan of Pearson's work. Edward Benson (first bishop of Truro, without whom that cathedral would not have been built, and later archbishop of Canturbury) said that Pearson could make a new building look old - or words to that effect. And in the ninteenth century there was, probably, no higher praise! I think his buildings have a look of the nineteenth century about them but it is his genius of combining elements of the past moulding them and making them "his". Though cleary a gothicist it is his use of proportion that really makes the buildings work-using "classical" theory, golden section etc!

 

However, this is getting away for organs! In the catholic Apostolic Church in Maida Vale there IS an organ!

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N17421

 

I was able to play it in the early 1990's I think. It needs sympathetic restoration. It stands in a chamber, typically provided by Pearson, at triforium level on the north side of the chancel. I think that the casework was added alittle after the main instrument. It rather felt like a time-capsule. Nothing seems to have changed, pottery stop-heads included. If anyone has played the "Grove" organ in Tewkesbury Abbey then it's a bit like that.

 

Not an easy building to gain access but the congregation do (did) still meet on Sunday mornings (10.30 I think) for the Litany. Yes, the Litany. They are a facinating body of Christians, sometimes wrongly called "Irvingites". I won't go on any more here now!

 

Best wishes to all for the impending few stressful days!!

 

F-W.

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Another very fine J L Pearson church is All Saints, Hove (not that I have ever visited!).

It contains the equally fine 1905 Hill organ, restored by Manders in 1987, it's famous casefronts was designed by J L's son Frank Loughborough Pearson in 1915.

 

DT

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Guest Echo Gamba
The organ in All Saints Margaret Street sounds magnificent although in the wrong hands it can sound deafening. There are two tubas and I think one came from Gloucester Cathedral (although I am open to correction on this). I once heard someone play the Whitlock Toccata as a final voluntary and it was so loud I had to leave the building quickly. In the right hands it is H&H at their best and from ppp up to fff it can sound very exciting. An ideal instrument for accompanyinhg and complementing the kind of liturgy they (literally) enjoy there.

 

A few years ago I played there for the Golden Jubilee Mass of a former Vicar of mine (in the presence of at least two Greater Prelates) and I found it a very comfortable console to handle. My experience is that Harrison consoles are lmost always very comfortable. It is even designed so that you can see the conductor over the music desk without straining your neck.

 

Malcolm

 

The Tuba did come from Gloucester. Are there 2? I haven't checked NPOR but I seem o recall an Orchestral Trumpet......

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Guest Roffensis

Another Pearson church, double transepts and stone vaulted, very Truro, is St. Agnes, Liverepool. The pipe organ is silent, most regretably.

 

R

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My error - there is just one tuba playable from either the Solo or the Choir. The NPOR shows a picture of the console where you can see what I mean about provision for seeing the easily from the console. I wonder why this was not adopted more often; I don't recall ever having seen another console arrangement quite like it.

 

I've not been in the congregation at a service since Paul Brough took over as D-of-M but all reports say that he's doing a superb job there and is very popular. In the days when I used to go there a lot most of the organ playing was done by Nick Luff who was assistant to Harry Bramma.

 

Like a number of other churches that specialise in a very high standard of choral music and have compartively little congregational singing, when the congregation does have a chance to sing (ie in the hymns) they sing extremely well. Hearing the Sunday evening congregation singing "Sweet Sacrament divine" enthusiastically but quietly during Benediction is an unforgetable experience, and all for the right reasons.

 

They also seem to have had a policy of playing a soft final voluntary on Sunday evenings. The absolute silence in church before sung services - no sound at all until the sacristy bell rings as the service begins - is inspirational.

 

Malcolm

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Guest Echo Gamba
My error - there is just one tuba playable from either the Solo or the Choir. The NPOR shows a picture of the console where you can see what I mean about provision for seeing the easily from the console. I wonder why this was not adopted more often; I don't recall ever having seen another console arrangement quite like it.

 

I've not been in the congregation at a service since Paul Brough took over as D-of-M but all reports say that he's doing a superb job there and is very popular. In the days when I used to go there a lot most of the organ playing was done by Nick Luff who was assistant to Harry Bramma.

 

Like a number of other churches that specialise in a very high standard of choral music and have compartively little congregational singing, when the congregation does have a chance to sing (ie in the hymns) they sing extremely well. Hearing the Sunday evening congregation singing "Sweet Sacrament divine" enthusiastically but quietly during Benediction is an unforgetable experience, and all for the right reasons.

 

They also seem to have had a policy of playing a soft final voluntary on Sunday evenings. The absolute silence in church before sung services - no sound at all until the sacristy bell rings as the service begins - is inspirational.

 

Malcolm

 

The only problem, for me, with policies like this is that it precludes the hearing of a lot of repertoire, as well as (and this is a purely personal point of view) in effect implying that the organist is incapable of making apt choices.

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Another Pearson church, double transepts and stone vaulted, very Truro, is St. Agnes, Liverepool. The pipe organ is silent, most regretably.

 

I was about to mention St. Agnes myself, being based in the Northwest myself, I can recommend their website: lots of good photos. The organ case on it's gallery look very striking, I presume they were both designed by JLP. Looking at the details of the R&D organ on the NPOR it doesn't look like it was particularly distinguished but it's still a shame that it is now silent.

 

We have 2 notable 19th century RC churches up here, both by Joseph Aloysius Hansom (whose claim to fame was the invention of the Hansom Cab).

- The church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Manchester is very spacious and light, containing a large 3 manual Hill which received typical unsympathetic treatment mid-century which has been somewhat reversed in recent years by David Wells.

- The other church is St. Walburge in Preston, which boasts the tallest church spire in the UK, at 309 feet third only to Salisbury and Norwich Cathedrals. The building is a most striking landmark whose future is sadly now in doubt. The last organ survey lists the Hill organ unplayable. :(

 

DT

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Another Pearson church, double transepts and stone vaulted, very Truro, is St. Agnes, Liverepool. The pipe organ is silent, most regretably.

 

R

 

And another, although NOT in Liverpool is this: http://www.willis-organs.com/auckland_general.html

 

It is considered to be one of the finest church buildings (and therefore possibly one of the finest buildings per se) in New Zealand and also has the 'purpose-built' organ chamber in a triforium position, though being in the Southern Hemisphere, on the south side to avoid the sun. Difficult to get your head around, or at least it was for me!

 

Although designed entirely by JLP it was executed entirely by FLP after the former's death. The local stone is used, very soft and very white.

 

DW

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I was about to mention St. Agnes myself, being based in the Northwest myself, I can recommend their website: lots of good photos. The organ case on it's gallery look very striking, I presume they were both designed by JLP. Looking at the details of the R&D organ on the NPOR it doesn't look like it was particularly distinguished but it's still a shame that it is now silent.

 

We have 2 notable 19th century RC churches up here, both by Joseph Aloysius Hansom (whose claim to fame was the invention of the Hansom Cab).

- The church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Manchester is very spacious and light, containing a large 3 manual Hill which received typical unsympathetic treatment mid-century which has been somewhat reversed in recent years by David Wells.

- The other church is St. Walburge in Preston, which boasts the tallest church spire in the UK, at 309 feet third only to Salisbury and Norwich Cathedrals. The building is a most striking landmark whose future is sadly now in doubt. The last organ survey lists the Hill organ unplayable. :(

 

DT

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I was about to mention St. Agnes myself, being based in the Northwest myself, I can recommend their lots of good photos. The organ case on it's gallery look very striking, I presume they were both designed by JLP. Looking at the details of the R&D organ on the NPOR it doesn't look like it was particularly distinguished but it's still a shame that it is now silent.

 

Rather a sweeping statement. I don't know whether or not you have come across Wordsworth & Maskell organs of this period, but they are, without exception, of great tonal quality - equal to Hill of this period. I can't speak for the Rushworth & Dreaper alterations. Hopefully, they didn't add too much tonally!

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If we are listing Pearson churches with significant organs, then we can't forget Cullercoats and its T.C.Lewis- though the best stop is often said to be Pearson's acoustics...

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D00013

 

http://www.music-room.freewebspace.com/organ.html

 

http://flickr.com/photos/howick/3068571368/in/photostream/

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