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Philip J Wells

Selby Abbey

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The Church Times of 9 October 2009 page 5 contains the news that Selby Abbey is hoping to install a new organ in the Nave. Their web page at

http://www.selbyabbey.org.uk/task.htm notes under Future Projects

 

Installation of the Harrison Nave Organ - £240,000 - funded

Restoration of the North Porch - £249,000

Restoration of the Hill Organ - £750,000

 

The York Press at http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/4660870.Se..._for_new_organ/ report that:

 

trustees of Selby Abbey have launched the appeal to install a new organ in the nave of the abbey because the original is now unreliable.

Built in 1909 it needs complete refurbishment, which would cost an estimated £1 million.

But the trustees believe to set a target so high would be unrealistic coming so soon after raising £4.5 million to repair the exterior brickwork of the abbey.

But an alternative exists in Harrogate where a replacement organ, built in 1919 by Harrison and Harrison, has been found at the decommissioned St Mary’s Church.

The cost of removal and installation will cost £250,000, although the ultimate dream is to restore Selby’s organ and then link the two.

 

The Harrogate organ is on the NPOR as N02923

 

Whilst it is good to see a UK redundant organ being re-homed in the UK, I always have reservations about two organs possibly being used together from different builders. (The worst example of this I have heard is Northampton All Saints with modern Walker pipework at the west end and the re-homed Norman & Beard in the chancel). Does this ever produce an artistic result without major re-scaling and/ or re-voicing?

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I was in the abbey a short time ago, ( its just a couple of miles up the road) and talking to Roger Tebutt the organist, was told it is basiclly falling apart, shame as well, as its one of the nicest we have around here.

Peter

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The Church Times of 9 October 2009 page 5 contains the news that Selby Abbey is hoping to install a new organ in the Nave. Their web page at

http://www.selbyabbey.org.uk/task.htm notes under Future Projects

 

Installation of the Harrison Nave Organ - £240,000 - funded

Restoration of the North Porch - £249,000

Restoration of the Hill Organ - £750,000

 

What concerns me is once the redundant organ is installed is there any incentive to restore the Hill. Surely, it would be better to put the money towards restoration of the Hill and work hard to raise the extra, or even do a staged restoration.

 

Jonathan

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What concerns me is once the redundant organ is installed is there any incentive to restore the Hill. Surely, it would be better to put the money towards restoration of the Hill and work hard to raise the extra, or even do a staged restoration.

 

Jonathan

 

Do you think that if the refurbed organ is put in, they (the abbey) will live with it for a time , before the "hill" is restored, and might just be forgotten about? excuse my ignorance on church matters, but I have never had anything to do with them before. On a side note, my "best friend" was, for a short while, acting organist there, and having a set of keys, was showing a "famous" american organ/recording chap the organ, when the police arrived along with the vicar, they wanted to know what all the noise was (it was the organ playing) about,,,,,, it was about midnight. this is true as well, I heard the recording of the whole thing :D

PETER

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Do you think that if the refurbed organ is put in, they (the abbey) will live with it for a time , before the "hill" is restored, and might just be forgotten about? excuse my ignorance on church matters, but I have never had anything to do with them before. On a side note, my "best friend" was, for a short while, acting organist there, and having a set of keys, was showing a "famous" american organ/recording chap the organ, when the police arrived along with the vicar, they wanted to know what all the noise was (it was the organ playing) about,,,,,, it was about midnight. this is true as well, I heard the recording of the whole thing :D

PETER

 

Who on earth knows, Peter. Selby Abbey is a goliath of a building in what is now seemingly a forgotten little slumbering town and where once the only major road through the town heading eastwards towards Hull was the A63, now essentially replaced by the M62. I remember hearing the Selby organ around the time that Fernando Germani made his vinyl recording of the then magnificent Hill organ. It's another sad tale of a leviathan, cathedral specification organ that might never get refurbished. And of course, you know of a similar situation at Holy Trinity, Hull. The Harrogate Harrison hardly seems a worthy substitute.

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Who on earth knows, Peter. Selby Abbey is a goliath of a building in what is now seemingly a forgotten little slumbering town and where once the only major road through the town heading eastwards towards Hull was the A63, now essentially replaced by the M62. I remember hearing the Selby organ around the time that Fernando Germani made his vinyl recording of the then magnificent Hill organ. It's another sad tale of a leviathan, cathedral specification organ that might never get refurbished. And of course, you know of a similar situation at Holy Trinity, Hull. The Harrogate Harrison hardly seems a worthy substitute.

 

Hi Barry,

you can guess who made the recording, heard it at his house the other week, what a hoot.

I imagine that Selby, along with HTH, will never get what they deserve now, unless they had packed houses every sunday, and a nice rich benefactor. Sadly those days, along with the hull fishing, have long since gone into the history books

Peter

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...

But an alternative exists in Harrogate where a replacement organ, built in 1919 by Harrison and Harrison, has been found at the decommissioned St Mary’s Church.

The cost of removal and installation will cost £250,000, although the ultimate dream is to restore Selby’s organ and then link the two.

 

The Harrogate organ is on the NPOR as N02923

 

Whilst it is good to see a UK redundant organ being re-homed in the UK, I always have reservations about two organs possibly being used together from different builders. (The worst example of this I have heard is Northampton All Saints with modern Walker pipework at the west end and the re-homed Norman & Beard in the chancel). Does this ever produce an artistic result without major re-scaling and/ or re-voicing?

 

Real shame about the Hill, a grand old instrument of 72 stops, the Harrison looks a nice instrument of its time but going from 72 to 24 stops is a bit much to get used to. I can recommend Roger Tebbets recording of the Hill, soon it may be the only thing left of this.

 

At least joining a 1919 Harrison to a Hill from the previous decade won-t be quiet out of place as the Northampton experience. Having not been to the church since the "new" 1930s HNB was installed I was amazed, both at how loud the Walker was - a highly praised instrument of its period, when Walkers were churning out large mechanical organs it seemed every other week - it just dominated the church, which wasn-t quite how I had remembered it and struck me as too powerful by half and not the gentle creature that a mechanical action organ with featherlight touch would seem - but I was also amazed how the HNB fitted into the space available and had some really lovely tones, from an instrument from perhaps not rhe most noteworthy period of British organ building. But it was far quieter in comparison, fine as an enormous but inaudible choir organ but not really so good for congregationalo support.

 

As for joining such totally different creatures together, I-m tempted to ask, when is an organ not an organ, with reference to the world-s largest church organ, in Los Angeles, except that it is more like half a dozen different organs of varying styles, from a massive Germanic romantic, to a baroque Italian, to a masssive baroque organ on the west balcony, all played from two identical consoles, one at each end of the church. Surely thats cheating?

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Hi Barry,

you can guess who made the recording, heard it at his house the other week, what a hoot.

I imagine that Selby, along with HTH, will never get what they deserve now, unless they had packed houses every sunday, and a nice rich benefactor. Sadly those days, along with the hull fishing, have long since gone into the history books

Peter

 

Perhaps there is a nice career out there for someone with business acumen who wants to set up as a fundraiser entirely for organ projects. There is actually a lot of money still out there, but not in the places traditionally associated with organs.

 

Jonathan

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Perhaps there is a nice career out there for someone with business acumen who wants to set up as a fundraiser entirely for organ projects. There is actually a lot of money still out there, but not in the places traditionally associated with organs.

 

Jonathan

 

A most interesting notion, Jonathan.

 

Fundraising for one particular organ project currently occupies a lot of my time. I'd be intrigued to know just which non-traditional places we should be investigating.

 

JS

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A most interesting notion, Jonathan.

 

Fundraising for one particular organ project currently occupies a lot of my time. I'd be intrigued to know just which non-traditional places we should be investigating.

 

JS

 

 

 

 

 

You might be lucky using the services of a good professional fund raiser, but even that is not guaranteed. in this day and age.

Colin Richell.

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A most interesting notion, Jonathan.

 

Fundraising for one particular organ project currently occupies a lot of my time. I'd be intrigued to know just which non-traditional places we should be investigating.

 

JS

 

There are a lot of organisations and individuals with money who are still willing to donate. Organisation wise, there is an excellent list of sources in an article in OR published earlier in the year about fundraising at St. Giles Cripplegate. Educational charities are worth the effort if you can prove an educational connection.

 

I can supply more off board if you wish.

 

Jonathan

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Perhaps there is a nice career out there for someone with business acumen who wants to set up as a fundraiser entirely for organ projects. There is actually a lot of money still out there, but not in the places traditionally associated with organs.

 

Jonathan

 

:blink:

maybe its time I packed in the butchers shop, and got involved,

peter

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Guest Roffensis

As ever, nothing surprises me. The Hill organ is magnificent, and surely should be restored to it's original state, no questions asked. It seems a diabolical waste of money to install another organ in the nave, particularly as the building is not so big and hardly requires it. One would hope the powers that be will see to it that the Hill is lovingly restored, and kept. It's reputation and sheer quality more than justify this.

 

R

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As ever, nothing surprises me. The Hill organ is magnificent, and surely should be restored to it's original state, no questions asked. It seems a diabolical waste of money to install another organ in the nave, particularly as the building is not so big and hardly requires it. One would hope the powers that be will see to it that the Hill is lovingly restored, and kept. It's reputation and sheer quality more than justify this.

 

R

In this case I tend to agree. This is a great opportunity to have a good Hill organ working like it ought to. The Hill concept can be restored, and there's a potential for money in it if you do. They are, after all, a third of the way there. If it is thought lacking in power for leading a nave congregation, a point with which I entirely sympathise, you can go down the nave organ route, or, as is uncommon in the UK, although the principles exist, as in St. Paul's, have a specific congregation leading soundboard placed as far West as possible within the main body of the organ, speaking West and designed and voiced with one main purpose. If it's bold enough, it'll work, the Hill is left as a bespoke instrument, but it can do its job better. Early days, but the point can be, and is worth arguing.

 

AJS

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........... have a specific congregation leading soundboard placed as far West as possible within the main body of the organ, speaking West and designed and voiced with one main purpose. If it's bold enough, it'll work, the Hill is left as a bespoke instrument, but it can do its job better. Early days, but the point can be, and is worth arguing.

AJS

 

Haven't Llandaff done something like this in their new instrument?

 

A

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It would be good to think that the Hill organ of Selby Abbey was to be restored. However, like the Whiteley/Hill organ of Chester Cathedral, it has been severely messed around with over the years - particularly the Swell upperwork and the Choir and Solo organs. I suspect that a good deal of the Hill pipework has been lost; or did someone have the foresight to store it in the triforium?

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Haven't Llandaff done something like this in their new instrument?

 

A

 

Yes, the West Great is a separate chorus placed across the West face of the North case speaking into the North aisle. In the South case the Swell is on a chromatic chest, bass end to the East and treble end to the West. The box has its main set of shutters facing across the quire, and a further set (which can be switched in or out at will) in the West end of the box speaking into the South aisle. Both these facilities can be used when there is a large congregation in the nave, and will undoubtedly make the new organ far more audible in the main body of the cathedral than was the old one.

 

The cases of the new organ are also placed one bay further West than the former instrument and appear to be far better designed to actually allow sound out. The George Pace designed case, in which the old organ was totally emasculated, had very little open area for the organ sound to go anywhere except straight across the quire.

 

S

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It would be good to think that the Hill organ of Selby Abbey was to be restored. However, like the Whiteley/Hill organ of Chester Cathedral, it has been severely messed around with over the years - particularly the Swell upperwork and the Choir and Solo organs. I suspect that a good deal of the Hill pipework has been lost; or did someone have the foresight to store it in the triforium?

 

============================

 

I recall that we mulled over the organ at Chester Cathedral some time ago, and I've since re-listened to the old recording I have of the old organ.(Ryemuse EP- early 70's?) played by John Sanders,

 

Allowing for changes in recording equipment, it makes a fascinating contrast with the re-build by Rushworth & Dreaper in the days of Roger Fisher. I cannot help but think that the organ improved dramatically with that re-build, and in the building live, it never fails to impress in recital. As an accompaniment organ, it has a problem of balance, but the regular staff have presumably learned how to work around this.

 

There is a massive difference between the organ at Chester and the organ at Selby, and that difference largely starts with the relative acoustic of each building. Although slightly drier than Selby, Chester isn't as large a building, but more importantly, it is wider and more open. The sound from the organ gets into the nave well...too well from the choral point of view. Selby is very different, with a very narrow nave, enormous stone piers, relatively low side-aisles, a big transpet crossing area and then an enormous choir and lady chapel beyond. Although visually wonderful, aurally, Selby Abbey is a bit of a nightmare; the sound from the choir/chancel area just not able to get into the nave. At York Minster, the sound may spread around and attempt to fill the nave, but it doesn't manage it. Nevertheless, the screen position allows at least a certain amount of direct sound to tickle the ears of the listener. At Chester, by way of contrast, the casework stands at the north side of the crossing, and sound gets down the nave rather well.

 

Short of the Chester solution, the ONLY place for the organ, (where the abbey church could visually remain as intended), was to cram the instrument underneath the (quite low) chancel aisles; spreading horizontally and also divided North and South.

 

I suppose I can go back to the years shortly after the HN & B re-build; having first played the instrument when I was all of 14 in the days of the ever charming David Gedge, his organist wife and their organ loving labrador. Then came Mervyn Byers from Aussieland, and I recall hearing wonderful recitals by him. In those days, the only place to sit was in the Chancel, and certainly no further west than the transept crossing. In fact, the best place to hear the organ was at the console in the choir-stalls, which of course, was entirely in keeping with the old-school tradition of the slightly remote, surpliced choir, when things happened behind screens, well away from the turba down the nave.

 

I suspect that people of a past era would never have objected to a lack of involvement....they knew their place!

 

Nowadays, everyone wants to be at the centre of the action and able to contribute their bit; power having moved from the theocratic to the spiritually democratic. So now, we have to have lots of sentimental songs, lots of "happy family moments," popular genres of music and a sense of inclusivity. How fashions change, and how the mighty are relegated to the dustbin of yesterday's wisdom.

 

I have a certain sympathy with the only half-sucessful attempts at Selby, designed to make the organ more audible in the nave. Moving the Solo Organ to a position near to the crossing, at least enabled the Tuba to be heard for the first time....just! The upperwork, I guess, was an attempt to leap the divide twixt chancel and nave, but as at York, it was probably one vanity too far.

 

It seems to me, that plaving an organ in the nave at Selby, simply reverses the problem, and will render most music inaudible in the Chancel. (The St.Mary's, Harrogate organ is neither large nor particularly powerful by the way, but spoke into an excellent, spacious acoustic.....church by Temple Moore as at St.Wilfrid's further up the town?)

 

The furher thought occurs, that it is extremely important to work WITH a building, rather than to works AGAINST it, and at Selby, I am quite sure that this implies that all music takes place in the Chancel, as it once did. However, this does further imply remoteness, and if the clergy go walkabouts into the nave, those in the chancel will feel as isolated as did those of our forebears who sat in the nave. A further problem at Selby, is the fact that the high altar is a bus-journey away from the choir stalls...and still it goes one....and on....and on...'til finally, the exhausted pilgrims reach yon Chapel to our Lady. In spite of the enormity of it, the "turba" couldn't be accomodated in the chancel, except during tiny little mid-week services when almost no-one turns up. The space is completely taken up by high-altar as well as choir and clergy stalls.

 

However, if instead of concentrating the "axis of divine power" West to East, the abbey authorities turned things North-South across the transpets, then the chancel and choir would not be quite so remote. A central altar would suffice, and the space across the transpets would feel almost intimate. If people wish to feel involved by cuddling and snuggling, that has to be a better solution than supplying opera-glasses to everyone, along with a hymn-book, (wishful thinking) and a prayer booklet, (even more wishful thinking). (The abbey really is that long, and the high altar incredibly remote).

 

Selby, I'm afraid, was always the "abbey church" where medieval "hoodies" huddled together and did whatever "medieval hoodies" did; music being restricted to plainsong. It was never a congregation-friendly building, and was never designed as such. After the great fire, ( during the course of which "fast horses" drawing fire-pumps were summoned from Leeds, 25 miles away), the building was a roofless ruin. It was due to the generosity of one man, Lord Grimshaw, (described by Sir John Betjeman as ......"that ultra protestant, clock-making millionaire"), who single-handedly funded the restoration, and in the process, attempted to convert Selby "Abbey" into a rather enormous parish-church....one of the biggest in the land in point of fact.

 

While my heart and best wishes go out to the abbey authorities and music-staff, I just don't think that they have much of an idea. Putting a modest H & H organ in the nave will only serve one purpose so far as I can make out, which would be to destroy the architecture of the building. What Selby really needs, if they want to work East-West AND hear the organ, is for the old instrument to be put on stilts, divided across the transpets, incorporating those magnificent chancel arch organ cases. As for the state of the organ currently, I can't imagine that it is really all that bad. I know of another John Jackson re-build of an HN & B instrument, from roughly the same period, which is working perfectly well......or are there things of which I an unaware?

 

Of course, whatever they finally decide, someone will complain....including everyone on the discussion board who holds a view.

 

MM

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Perhaps there is a nice career out there for someone with business acumen who wants to set up as a fundraiser entirely for organ projects. There is actually a lot of money still out there, but not in the places traditionally associated with organs.

 

Jonathan

 

 

========================

 

 

Nice idea....bad economics.

 

"Children in Need" managed £22m this time, takes a year to organise, has a vast publicity machine and gets thousands of people involved across the UK.

 

Selby need £750,000, in a town with a population of perhaps 35,000.......about £21.50 for every man, woman and child.

 

MM

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========================

 

 

Nice idea....bad economics.

 

"Children in Need" managed £22m this time, takes a year to organise, has a vast publicity machine and gets thousands of people involved across the UK.

 

Selby need £750,000, in a town with a population of perhaps 35,000.......about £21.50 for every man, woman and child.

 

MM

 

Hmmmm. St Davids has a population of 2000 yet has recently raised around £4,000,000 for the rebuilding of the Cloisters and other work including the rebuild of the organ in a magnificent new oak case and with a new West Choir division. The former Dean, now Bishop of St Davids, started the fund raising basically from scratch.

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Hmmmm. St Davids has a population of 2000 yet has recently raised around £4,000,000 for the rebuilding of the Cloisters and other work including the rebuild of the organ in a magnificent new oak case and with a new West Choir division. The former Dean, now Bishop of St Davids, started the fund raising basically from scratch.

 

=====================

 

The Welsh are clearly either being over-paid, or fiddling their tax-returns! :rolleyes:

 

More seriously, I remember the VAST fund-raising effort which went into York Minster, when it was in danger of collapse back in the 1960's.

 

I don't think Selby Abbey would attract quite that level of support, but it is a much loved and very important piece of medieval Yorkshire heritage, so corporate and regional funding would certainly be an important component in raising the dosh.

 

MM

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Guest Patrick Coleman
=====================

 

The Welsh are clearly either being over-paid, or fiddling their tax-returns! B)

 

MM

 

Not the former, and I wouldn't care to comment on the latter as I have to live here...

 

Saint David's has an iconic significance, which helps both when appealing to publicly controlled funds and to private pockets.

 

If Selby can find the trigger for the funding, and do some clever cross-matching, (and some straight hard work) the miracle could happen.

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Does anyone know if the Harrison organ is already installed (and being used) in Selby Abbey?

I found a newspaperstory of february 1st 2010 stating that the organ would be installed in december (2010 I presume).

 

 

 

Selby Abbey's ‘dying’ organ replaced by newer model while trustees try to fund repairs

Monday 1st February 2010

 

(...)

The cost of removing and installing this Harrison organ, which has been found at the decommissioned St Mary’s Church, in Harrogate, is £250,000 – money that is now in the bank.

Jeremy Gaskell, appeal director, said: “However, while we raise the money, we’ve got to be able to provide organ music in the Abbey, so that’s why we are bringing in the Harrison organ."

Mr Gaskell said the organ was due to arrive in the Abbey in the next fortnight and they hoped the installation would be completed by Christmas.

(...)

(YorkPress)

 

 

Anita

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Does anyone know if the Harrison organ is already installed (and being used) in Selby Abbey?

I found a newspaperstory of february 1st 2010 stating that the organ would be installed in december (2010 I presume).

 

 

 

Selby Abbey's ‘dying’ organ replaced by newer model while trustees try to fund repairs

Monday 1st February 2010

 

(...)

The cost of removing and installing this Harrison organ, which has been found at the decommissioned St Mary’s Church, in Harrogate, is £250,000 – money that is now in the bank.

Jeremy Gaskell, appeal director, said: “However, while we raise the money, we’ve got to be able to provide organ music in the Abbey, so that’s why we are bringing in the Harrison organ."

Mr Gaskell said the organ was due to arrive in the Abbey in the next fortnight and they hoped the installation would be completed by Christmas.

(...)

(YorkPress)

 

 

Anita

 

I will have a look see, in the morning. I am doing a Farmers Market, on the square, at the west end, about 20 yrds away,,,,,, if I remember

Peter

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