Jump to content
Mander Organs

Vandalism in upstate NY


DHM

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 80
  • Created
  • Last Reply
Guest Patrick Coleman

I am inclined to agree with MM on this. This (seemingly quite justified) outrage ought to be expended on supporting the presence and state of repair of instruments this side of the pond, where we can make a difference.

 

And don't even think of relying on Faculty procedure, because that can be complicit in said destruction...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well - going solely by this one picture it does appear particularly nastily made.

 

Well I'm missing the point here possibly. This picture does not look that bad to me, although the pallets may be small for what seems to be one of two pedal chests. If it is the use of Copex tubing I have seen a lot of pipes so winded on a new mechanical action pedal organ only recently by a well known Uk builder.

PJW

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Even if this is simply vandalism on the part of one priest, it pales into insignificance when compared with the destruction of instruments in the UK.

 

We got off to a bad start with Oliver Cromwell, but actually, the sheer indifference towards the organ-maker's art has seen the destruction of hundreds, if not thousands of instruments in the UK; making Oliver Cromwell just the warm-up act for the real party."

(Quote)

 

YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

(Up to recently)

 

Pierre

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well - going solely by this one picture it does appear particularly nastily made.

 

Well I'm missing the point here possibly. This picture does not look that bad to me, although the pallets may be small for what seems to be one of two pedal chests. If it is the use of Copex tubing I have seen a lot of pipes so winded on a new mechanical action pedal organ only recently by a well known Uk builder.

PJW

 

I was thinking mostly of the Copex, of which there is an inexplicably prodigious amount. It's one of those things which really annoys me, like Pozidrive screws in "historic restorations". There are a few other mostly aesthetic details.

 

I read all the builder's report quotes, which are selective to say the least and don't deal with the nitty gritty about what each firm would *do*. What they mostly have in common is an earnest belief that the organ is really very nearly finished, a great deal of flattery for the person who made it (whom they will all know was a recent or current organist of that church) - oh, and by the way, there isn't much work about at the moment and could we have the job please?

 

But, then again, there are several UK builders who would cheerfully rip out and discard the very recent work of other UK builders. There are several who do (q.v. Brasenose College, Oxford to name but one of a great many - and a professional attempt at that, rather than - as here - a one-off first bash by a self-professed amateur). Who are we to say, without knowledge of the instrument, that this isn't another case in point? If sufficiently major work is required that it is necessary to call in six builders after seven years, there must be *something* in the water.

Link to post
Share on other sites
snipe

 

But, then again, there are several UK builders who would cheerfully rip out and discard the very recent work of other UK builders. There are several who do (q.v. Brasenose College, Oxford to name but one of a great many - and a professional attempt at that, rather than - as here - a one-off first bash by a self-professed amateur).

 

snip

 

With respect, Heckelphone, Brasenose is not a terribly good example to give. There the action and chests might have been replaced after 30 years of use, (and yes, they should have been sufficiently robust and well-designed to last many more) but 18 of the original stops were kept in the subsequent instrument and thirty years is not too disgraceful. How about the RAM having to completely replace their Van den Heuvel? That hasn't had anything like 30 years; mind you, AFAIK VdenH are being allowed to take it away themselves and (I think) give something back for it.

 

Yes, some jobs don't have the success that was hoped for them, and we could all list instances. The Albany NY one seems peculiarly distressing because it has suffered such an ignominious demise plus the fact that other possible homes were denied the chance to have it.

 

To answer MM's posting, he is quite correct.

Sadly, most of the cases he lists are places where the church itself was the first casualty. Take away the congregation, and particularly the funding and none of these instruments are safe. I have rescued a fair few organs in my time, but looking at the vast mass of instruments that come up for disposal it is fortunately rare that anything we would all recognise as 'fine', anything in 'as new' condition comes anywhere near to being on the scrap heap. This is happening less that it did even ten years ago because our European friends are wise to the fact that our forebears used to built first-rate sturdy instruments and sometimes people are quite happy to see them go.

 

I have probably written as below before, because it is something I feel very strongly. I believe a great number of written-off instruments get this way because of the current level of work expected/demanded/recommended by the trade. Gone (apparently) are the days when a couple of organ-builders would be sent out by a well-established firm, set up in the church, strip an instrument down, dust it out, patch the leaks, clean and reassemble, leaving an instrument good for another twenty years. Nowadays, your typical estimate goes for four times as much as it used to, covering twice as much work, usually starting with taking everything back to the factory. These sums frankly scare your average PCC into getting what they (not so stupidly) think is a modern alternative.

 

Actually even the oddest, most peculiar, boring little jobs can find good homes. Let me give two examples with which I have been involved: I took a tiny two-manual [6/7 stops] from the Choir room of Westminster Cathedral about ten years ago. I was told nobody wanted it. It is now much loved, the proud possession of a virtuoso Japanese organist in his private studio. It is the only English-made pipe organ his tuner has ever seen. A decrepit two-decker from St.Aidan's Church in Cheltenham was taken down with the help of volunteers, spent months on the high seas and is now serving at Calicut Cathedral in Kerala, South India. They are very thrilled with it. I could go on...I have moved several organs in my time and still enjoy trying to find homes for them. The point is, it would be good if all owners of unwanted organs would at least try to find someone who wants their redundant instrument.

 

For whatever reason, what appears to have happened in this case seems both ruthless in action and wanton waste in end result.

Link to post
Share on other sites
With respect, Heckelphone, Brasenose is not a terribly good example to give. There the action and chests might have been replaced after 30 years of use, (and yes, they should have been sufficiently robust and well-designed to last many more) but 18 of the original stops were kept in the subsequent instrument and thirty years is not too disgraceful.

 

 

For whatever reason, what appears to have happened in this case seems both ruthless in action and wanton waste in end result.

 

First para - the 18 stops which were kept at Brasenose were very extensively revoiced and rescaled, and I understand much more would have been done had funds allowed. The organ was basically not working in the late 80s when I first knew it and by the mid 90s was an absolute liability, with that dreadful farting duck perma-Regal manual speaking unbidden whenever you put a hymn book on the music desk or sat on the bench. I know there are better examples; I only picked on Brasenose to illustrate that its original maker still has a jam-packed order book and a loyal following, despite a 40 year back catalogue of similar instruments. That has not happened in the American example.

 

Second para - well, yes, no denying that, I suppose - I was fixated on the distinct lack of crowds lying in front of the bulldozer and lost sight of that.

 

But - and it's a particularly big But for Cynic - consider for a moment, if you dare, taking charge of the from-scratch, unbounded magnum opus of John Coulson, or perhaps Robin Winn (names chosen because both have passed on), and imagine the almost erotic thrill of getting the very last splinter into a skip. You're only human.

Link to post
Share on other sites
But - and it's a particularly big But for Cynic - consider for a moment, if you dare, taking charge of the from-scratch, unbounded magnum opus of John Coulson, or perhaps Robin Winn (names chosen because both have passed on), and imagine the almost erotic thrill of getting the very last splinter into a skip. You're only human.

 

Checking the list- one of these seems at least to be still a member on here!

 

A

Link to post
Share on other sites

For a short lived installation, what about St Peter's College, Oxford? A new organ in 1987 rather than repair the 1875 Willis; but in 1995 they found it expedient to get the Willis working again, and it was fully restored in 2003. The 1987 organ is no longer there.

 

Paul

Link to post
Share on other sites
The [brasenose] organ was basically not working in the late 80s when I first knew it and by the mid 90s was an absolute liability

This is such a vast exaggeration as to be seriously misleading. (I was at BNC 89-92 and, though not organ scholar, used it a lot for practice). It had its problems, sure, and the organ scholars made the occasional choice remark about them, but I don't, for example, remember any instances of it being out of action for Services.

 

, with that dreadful farting duck perma-Regal manual speaking unbidden whenever you put a hymn book on the music desk or sat on the bench.

This, OTOH, is perfectly fair comment. I don't believe I ever heard anybody use it either in a service or a recital.

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is such a vast exaggeration as to be seriously misleading. (I was at BNC 89-92 and, though not organ scholar, used it a lot for practice). It had its problems, sure, and the organ scholars made the occasional choice remark about them, but I don't, for example, remember any instances of it being out of action for Services.

 

 

This, OTOH, is perfectly fair comment. I don't believe I ever heard anybody use it either in a service or a recital.

 

 

For the life of me, I can't remember who drew up the specification for this organ - the Collins at Brasenose. Does anyone here remember? At least they had the good sense to keep the excellent Jackson case.

 

I certainly remember who was responsible for the Lammermuir at St.Peter's. You could say he has 'form' in the designing of inappropriate instruments.

I think a new topic is needed - we should attempt to list the recent seriously short-lived 'mistake' organs. I'll venture one of mine (in a show of humility) if someone else starts it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Patrick Coleman

Given the latest information perhaps it would be a good idea to end this thread, and maybe for our hosts to remove it.

 

It does show how easy it is to create a witch hunt over cyberspace...

Link to post
Share on other sites

When she says 'pipe system' I presume wind system - and if the deficiencies start at poor planting (the only rational explanation for having more Copex than notes), insufficient pallet size (that was a wind-hungry pedal section with two 16' flues, a Principal chorus to Mixture, and three reeds) and continue on through inadequate trunk size (an explanation for the blanking plate on the photograph), then one also has to question the bits not photographed and assess that a lot of money may have been necessary to get to grips with fundamental problems. That solitary photograph of one side of the pedal suggests that remedial work has been needed. This instrument had a small footprint (the only chorus reed on the whole organ was a Chamade); minus the action, was there adequate space for reservoirs (the opening concert blurb suggests reservoirs rather than inbuilt Schwimmers, and there's no Scwhimmer on the pedal soundboard photographed).

 

More recent comments on Mr Best's wall suggest that the digital replacement was purchased two years ago when the organ proved unreliable.

 

Something which makes me question the motives behind the process are the claims of 'wires burning' and arcing. If the whole action was live (it says it was aluminium in the opening recital blurb) due to some wiring fault, this ought to be easy to rectify. It does seem highly unlikely however.

Link to post
Share on other sites

QUOTE (Heckelphone @ Oct 30 2010, 09:59 PM)

The [brasenose] organ was basically not working in the late 80s when I first knew it and by the mid 90s was an absolute liability...with that dreadful farting duck perma-Regal manual speaking unbidden whenever you put a hymn book on the music desk or sat on the bench.

 

This, OTOH, is perfectly fair comment. I don't believe I ever heard anybody use it either in a service or a recital.

 

 

I HAVE!! I gave a recital at BNC 1985 ish and used the Regalmanuel in the Maxwell Davies '3 Organ Voluntaries'. I've played neither this organ nor these pieces since, and have not missed either.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I HAVE!! I gave a recital at BNC 1985 ish and used the Regalmanuel in the Maxwell Davies '3 Organ Voluntaries'.

 

Well done! Another of life's little mysteries solved. I was once tempted to use it in the opening of the Wedding March but I hadn't had my cheque yet.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well done! Another of life's little mysteries solved. I was once tempted to use it in the opening of the Wedding March but I hadn't had my cheque yet.

It is a matter of personal regret to me that I never heard, let alone played, the Collins Brasenose organ. If I'd had access to the regal, I would have been tempted to play really early stuff on it, eg that Estampie in the Oxford Medieval Collection from the Rebertsbridge MS. Is the consensus that it was bad even for a regal?

Link to post
Share on other sites
It is a matter of personal regret to me that I never heard, let alone played, the Collins Brasenose organ. If I'd had access to the regal, I would have been tempted to play really early stuff on it, eg that Estampie in the Oxford Medieval Collection from the Rebertsbridge MS. Is the consensus that it was bad even for a regal?

It was bad even for the music of Peter Maxwell Davies :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
It was bad even for the music of Peter Maxwell Davies :)

 

I will never forget the sound. We really need Stephen Farr back for the right sort of choice and concise invective, but I'll have a go. For the nearest appreciable example of a similar noise, find the owner of an early 90s Nissan Primera and ask them to turn on the headlights with the driver's door open. It was unique amongst Regals in being just straightforward kazoo-like fundamental, having absolutely no perceptible harmonic development whatsoever. It didn't help that it was on its own chest, action and wind, unable to be coupled, and therefore could not be used with other stops as a way of changing their mood like the outstanding example on the box organ at St John's which turns the peepy little 8421 chorus into a burning cat fired from a catapult. Which is rather the point of Regals.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have probably written as below before, because it is something I feel very strongly. I believe a great number of written-off instruments get this way because of the current level of work expected/demanded/recommended by the trade. Gone (apparently) are the days when a couple of organ-builders would be sent out by a well-established firm, set up in the church, strip an instrument down, dust it out, patch the leaks, clean and reassemble, leaving an instrument good for another twenty years. Nowadays, your typical estimate goes for four times as much as it used to, covering twice as much work, usually starting with taking everything back to the factory. These sums frankly scare your average PCC into getting what they (not so stupidly) think is a modern alternative.

 

I was once the organist at a church with a substantial if somewhat unlovely late Norman and Beard that was creaking at (and between) the seams. The trouble was, it had been built so substantially that it was impossible to repair. The sides of the reservoirs actually doubled as the building frame, and to have releathered them would have required the organ to be totally dismantled. Doubtless not the first of its type, but I fail to understand the wisdom of designing an organ that cannot be accessed for repairs save breaking it apart. Even accepting that reservoirs may last the best part of 100 years, they will eventually fail. And how many more rebuilds are prefaced with "parts of the old organ were simply impossible to gain access to"? That organs have ever been built with pipes so crammed in that it is physically impossible to tune them beggars belief.

 

Surely part of responsible organ building is to ensure that the entire organ is serviceable with minimal disruption, and that if say the bellows do suffer a leak they can be accessed without having to first take the entire organ to pieces? Is it really that difficult to do, and if the space allowed for the organ dictates that, is the organ too big for what is going into it, or the space the wrong place for it in the building? I was seriously questioning whether we could do away with the bellows altogether and retrofit a Schimmer system, though I have no idea if that would work with a tubular pneumatic action.

 

It reminds me of how a headlamp can cost a couple of pounds, but with the complexity of modern cars it can take a mechanic several hours to replace (having removed and replaced the wheels, engine, aircon unit, gearbox and goodness only knows what else in the process), at a cost of hundreds of pounds for the labour. Absolutely daft.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I will never forget the sound. We really need Stephen Farr back for the right sort of choice and concise invective, but I'll have a go. For the nearest appreciable example of a similar noise, find the owner of an early 90s Nissan Primera and ask them to turn on the headlights with the driver's door open. It was unique amongst Regals in being just straightforward kazoo-like fundamental, having absolutely no perceptible harmonic development whatsoever. It didn't help that it was on its own chest, action and wind, unable to be coupled, and therefore could not be used with other stops as a way of changing their mood like the outstanding example on the box organ at St John's which turns the peepy little 8421 chorus into a burning cat fired from a catapult. Which is rather the point of Regals.

That's pretty descriptive, Mr H! But weren't regals stand-alone instruments, in addition to (or maybe prior to) their incorporation into church organs? I have this memory of Henry VIII having several. I'm speaking purely from an authentic point of view here. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


×
×
  • Create New...