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Royal Albert Hall - Last Night


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I was at the Glory of Christmas Concert last night and my other half booked the tickets. Believing that i wanted to be close to the organ (pretty right), we were in the first box at 2nd Tier level next to the organ. Far too close to hear the organ and the rest of the performers in any kind of balance - but very good for viewing the action at the console.


I was surprised to see John Birch assisting Malcolm Hicks all through the concert. As well as page turning - he seemed to be doing all the stop changes on the Great/Pedal side of the console. Registration for everything except a few last verses in the last half was very subdued!


It was apparent that some of the organ was under the control of the pistons - but looked like a lot of it wasn't. as well as accompanying the carols (with orchestra) and a bit of continuo playing there was also Widor's Toccata, and here again the registration was lumpy and gave the impression not under the control you would have expected.


What was going on?

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A colleague had occasion to play this instrument shortly after the completion of its restoration. He found the experience distinctly unpleasant, largely due to the fact that the pistons constantly operated themselves (seemingly at random) throughout the time he was playing. I believe that he may even have abandoned one of his solo items mid-way.


Whilst one expects some initial problems, particularly in a restoration of this magnitude, he was somewhat un-impressed. He wrote to Manders and received an apology and an explanation regarding the origin of the fault, the nature of which I cannot now recall.


I wonder if a similar occurrence was the cause of the incident to which you were a witness?

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