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Mander Organs

New Organ For St George's Hannover Square


bazuin

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Dear Boarders

 

This is very exciting:

 

http://www.richardsfowkes.com/index.php

 

These guys are among the half dozen best organ builders in the world - this organ is going to turn heads and drop jaws...

 

(I was already excited about 62 ranks of Koegler coming to Glasgow...)

 

Bazuin

 

Why??????????????????????

 

Where were the British builders in all of this?

 

Unbelievable!

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Why??????????????????????

 

Where were the British builders in all of this?

 

Unbelievable!

I'm excited about this. British organ builders have successfully tendered and built organs abroad, notably in the USA, and that should quite rightly be part of a two-way process; will this Richards Fowkes be the first US instrument in the UK? It has been suggested before that the Frobenius in Oxford actually had a much more significant influence on British organ building than the H&H in the Festival Hall - maybe the new instrument for Hanover Square will revitalise the UK organ industry.

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It is clearly written: first US organ built *in London*.

The european builders often work in the U.S., so I do not see any

reason we could not have U.S. builders working in Europe. And it

is extremely good for the diversity of our instrumental pool.

 

Pierre

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"Why??????????????????????

 

Where were the British builders in all of this?"

 

For once in this ever-running argument we can objectively say that this new organ will provide the UK with something on a level which no builder in Britain has yet reached (in the modern era).

 

"It has been suggested before that the Frobenius in Oxford actually had a much more significant influence on British organ building than the H&H in the Festival Hall"

 

It should have! Did it really?

 

"And it is extremely good for the diversity of our instrumental pool."

 

Absolutely. And it is the first organ in Europe which represent the pre-eminent organ-building school in the world today (certainly when it comes to building organs for situations beyond style-copies. Although it is precisely because those builders did the style-copy-thing for so long, and in such a scholarly and artistic way that their modern instruments are so good).

 

Bazuin

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When I met Bruce in London he was a mighty fine enthusiastic organ builder and certainly a person who had many exciting ideas. This is taken from their site:

"After college he worked in London, England with Matthew Copley where he studied voicing and was able to examine many historic English organs. In 1983 he returned to the U.S. and worked with Michael Bigelow and John Brombaugh & Assoc. where he met and worked with Ralph Richards."

It is indeed refreshing to have a confluence of styles and ideas meeting again in the UK. Those who might wag a finger about imports should look about their own home and garage, not to mention perhaps, the computer upon which they are writing their comments. In many areas of Art, I suggest that we would be the poorer if we had had exclusions or comfiscated the brains of those returning from The Grand Tours or stopped the likes of Handel, Mendelsshon or Van Dyke, Snetzler, Schulze, Cavaillé-Coll or Smith and the Dallams from disembarking on the Southern shores over the past few centuries. London was renowned as a liberal and enthusiastic place for public music-making without the stictures of Patronage.

 

But things don't change over the years! Thomas Hearne writing on 6th July in 1733 when Handel stood in for a theatre company which had been banned and gave a series of 5 concerts in the Sheldonian says; The players denied coming to Oxford by the Vice-Chancellor, and that very rightly, tho' they might well have been here as Handell and his lowsey crew, a great number of foreign fidlers. But England would surely not have had such a bountiful supply of public misic-making had not been for the stance of John Banister after he was dismissed as leader of Charles II's royal band after making rude comments about some of the French musicians whom the King had hired. He then started a Parley or Instruments and moved from tavern to tavern - very much like most musicians today, except they played to an adoring public for an entrance fee of 1 shilling! After Banister died in 1697 it was dear Thomas Britton (the humble charcoal seller in London) was the 2nd impressario and promoted concerts for 36 years. But it must be stressed that much of the best in music in Britain were from foreigners and like art, music was seeminly only acceptable if it was imported.

 

I rejoice that we are not at all narrow and that we are constantly open to the ideas from others. Yesterday, whilst on one of my diocesan pilgrimages with the DAC, I can report that one largish organ (from George Eliot's Parish Church) was bought by a church in France and another offer made for another, (a beautiful William Hill in fine order - it has been carefully maintained but not played for 30 years as an Allen is preferred as it is modern!). These UK places prefer digital and have little pride in what they possess. So, there are swings and roundabouts in all of this.

 

All the best,

N

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Why??????????????????????

 

Where were the British builders in all of this?

 

Unbelievable!

 

Not sure about that. Judged purely on recordings, Americans seem to be building some absolutely superlative instruments along what might be called post-neo-baroque lines: Fisk, Brombaugh, Taylor & Boody, Paul Fritts etc. etc.

 

And then there are some pretty impressive post-romantic/orchestral instruments from the likes of Dobson, Schoenstein et al.

 

I've just acquired the George Ritchie Bach set on Raven, all played on modern American organs: quite stunning.

 

To my ears, they make the imported Euro-organs of the last twenty years sound very dreary...

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I count this very good news indeed: A little cross-pollination makes for a healthy and interesting organ community. The organ scene in this part of North Carolina is much improved by instruments from builders near and far: Richards, Fowkes & Co., John Brombaugh, C. B. Fisk, Lynn Dobson, Orgues Letourneau, D.A. Flentrop (more than once), even Harrison & Harrison. Wouldn't I just love to add Mander to that list (contingent on my lottery numbers coming up)!

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  • 1 month later...

It has been interesting to read about this in the latest Choir & Organ - and to view pictures of other instruments too of the work of Richards, Fowkes & Co. I have heard splendid reports of these organs and greatly look forward to their essay in London although first thoughts about the dire proportions of the case leave me a touch anxious.

Best wishes,

N

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I wonder what the faithful at St Ignatius Loyola would say to anyone who dares to question why they had to go for an English builder when there are perfectly decent companies in the US of A?

 

I just hope that Mr Mander has kept the orginal blueprints for that instrument as I'll be ordering an exact replica the moment I receive the $11 million that I've been promised by email from the heir of a former west African finance minister...

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I just hope that Mr Mander has kept the orginal blueprints for that instrument as I'll be ordering an exact replica the moment I receive the $11 million that I've been promised by email from the heir of a former west African finance minister...

 

Yeah, me too, I sent off my £5,000 cheque today for the "facilitation" fee. Funny though, I never heard any more from the other lot, and they seemed so eager..........

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Interesting promo

 

Less successful in

repertoire, perhaps, although a poor recording. I could live with
strings though.

 

Interesting to hear these snippets - thanks for rooting them out, Ian. I have not heard any of these instruments in the flesh, so cannot yet comment. I teach somebody who has spent a lot of time on their Opus 1 and he is most enthusiastic - and he will even help them put it in Hannover Square because of his enthusiasm. What happens at his Cathedral whilst this happens remains to be seen!

But one thing concerning recordings that constantly comes to my mind is the fact that some builders I know voice their instruments for at least a building 1/2 full of people and not for an empty space. Recordings are done in this and sometimes folk have heard the organ solely in this acoustic when making a visit and have lampooned the instrument for being too loud when it is perfect when folk are there. It is Catch 22 in some places. On the other hand, I have encountered organs which the builder has voiced and scaled for a more empty place and thus provides a diddler of an organ when the Dedication comes along. Many long faces! I do believe that a number of us forget the difficulties a builder must encounter in a rather lively building and also in a dry one.

All the best,

Nigel

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An organ should be clearly audible throughout the building. I have found many people mistake, 'hearing the organ' for 'the organ is clearly audible' - note the word clearly. Wherever the instrument is positioned in the building there will have to be an allowance made for that position to achieve the latter state. In this country we have innumerable organs that fall into the 'hearing the organ' category and I think that has contributed to people's minds becoming atuned to thinking that this is what it should sound like. When listeners say the organ is too loud, I find myself needing to ask so many questions to find out whether this is a valid opinion, that I normally can't be bothered.

 

Allowances for position will therefore inevitably mean it's loud in some places, and less so in others. Many instruments are not sited to fulfil their primary function, or if they are, they may experience compromise to fulfil secondary functions, so someone will say it's too loud, or too quiet, depending on what the instrument is being asked to do. What we need is more focus to help instruments perform more than 1 role from one position, or adopt an entirely different philosophy. This is not just about adding an odd stop here and there, but an integrated plan. Consider this question. How many cathedral organs can adequately lead and support a full nave congregation on full Great, not an unreasonable suggestion I think, and when making the judgement, ask yourself if you have ever stood in the 2nd bay from the west door, and not felt like you are singing a solo. I am not saying that there is nowhere where this is not the case, but rather looking for suggested weight of evidence leading to analysis.

 

In a square dry box room, scaling and overall conceptualisation are so important, you have much less margin for error. Warmth with clarity tends to work well, but if your client wants fat or brittle and you know they won't work, they are probably not the right customer for you, trouble is they have £800.000 dangling over your pocket, so don't be too critical of the organ builder. This type of room throws up another issue. To take an example, in my opinion sharp mixtures and french type chorus reeds are very rarely successful. This is not necessarily loudness, but tone quality, and we have to differentiate between these two things as well. Again many people say it's too loud, when in fact it's too sharp toned. A sound can be quiet but still be aggressive, likewise it can be loud but bland, and equally as unsuccessful.

 

We are very good at hearing, but not always so good at listening, and often fail in thinking about what we are listening to in terms of where we are when doing so, not just physical position, but our position in the entire environment.

 

AJS

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"To take an example, in my opinion sharp mixtures and french type chorus reeds are very rarely successful. This is not necessarily loudness, but tone quality"

 

Of course. French reeds sound well in French churches becuase the churches develop the overtones. (Arp) Schnitger reeds sound well in any room because there are so few overtones to develop. Sharp mixtures only work well in rooms with an acoustic to absorb them. I still can't believe the number of organs with sharp mixtures being built in the UK for unsuitable rooms.

 

Bazuin

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You lead me to a fundamental point which I have oft mentioned, and never really got very far with. When we build an organ, what we should collaboratively seek is the right organ for that space and for its use. My own standpoint is that the latter should be tempered by the former, in other words, you have broadly the stops you want, but the tonal philosophy, ie rightness for the space must be the final arbiter. That can therefore be any type of organ, from a style existing, or indeed not yet created, and until we stop following the old Irish addage for giving directions 'well if I wanted to go there, I wouldn't be starting from here', we will always potentially compromise the foundation of the philosophy behind the piece of art. The basic building block will not be in place. It is however next to impossible to say to the customer, in effect, you shouldn't have what you want because it's wrong for the room. You end up doing what the customer wants and trying to make it fit the room as well as you can, sometimes more successfully than others and we regularly call the more successful ones a success, not knowing how much more could have been achieved if we hadn't started from the thinking of, I want a French Romantic, North German Baroque, Victorian English, American Classic, etc etc organ, or indeed from the organ builder saying, my preferred approach is a ... insert all of the above. We all have our preferences, but we come and go. The organ and building remain, and we have a duty beyond our own desires to use the opportunity to get it right.

 

AJS

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