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Compton Organ in Dorset

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Does anyone have any experience of playing this organ? It is in Poole/Parkstone in a now redundant church called St Stephen the Great. I am told that there is quite a connection to Whitlock, for whom it was one of his favourites, and I think he may have even recorded on the instrument.

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Does anyone have any experience of playing this organ? It is in Poole/Parkstone in a now redundant church called St Stephen the Great. I am told that there is quite a connection to Whitlock, for whom it was one of his favourites, and I think he may have even recorded on the instrument.

 

 

'pcnd' and/or 'Hecklephone' on here are likely to know the instrument.

 

A

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Does anyone have any experience of playing this organ? It is in Poole/Parkstone in a now redundant church called St Stephen the Great. I am told that there is quite a connection to Whitlock, for whom it was one of his favourites, and I think he may have even recorded on the instrument.

 

 

It was apparently Whitlock's preferred organ for recordings.

 

Some of the recordings are on Youtube

 

 

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It was apparently Whitlock's preferred organ for recordings.

 

Some of the recordings are on Youtube

 

 

 

Thank you for posting these, enjoyable and enlightening.

 

How do you know that this was a preferred organ for recording?

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'pcnd' and/or 'Hecklephone' on here are likely to know the instrument.

 

A

 

I do indeed.

 

For a while, after the church was taken over by the Greek Orthodox Church, the organ was being maintained. However, as far as I know, this is no longer the case - not regularly, at any rate.

 

Initially, it was still a grand instrument, with a good range of sounds - and the possibility of producing an acoustic 64ft., due to the presence of the extremely unusual Sub Quint 21 1/3.

 

Although it was clearly an extension organ, nevertheless, with Compton's usual care, there was still a huge variety of stops available - the Choir Organ in particular was enormous. The tutti was fairly exciting - particularly in the cavernous (almost 'public swimming bath') acoustic of this austere church.

 

Unfortunately, the last time I played it (two or three years ago), the organ was in a rather bad state, with several stops either off, or only partly working. There were various other mechanical problems - and of course the tuning was foul.

 

I do not know what is likely to become of this instrument (obviously it is not used during worship by the present incumbent congregation). It would be a shame to see Compton's largest church instrument in Dorset degenerate into a heap of junk. However, gaining access is not so easy, these days.

 

I hope that the above is of some use to you.

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Thank you for posting these, enjoyable and enlightening.

 

How do you know that this was a preferred organ for recording?

 

My guess would be the acoustic; it is the best in the area - even better than Milton Abbey. In addition, since Whitlock served as borough organist and played frequently on the large Compton in the Bournemouth Pavillion, I would have thought it possible that he preferred both to the excellent Hill organ at Saint Stephen's (which also did not have happy memories for him, hence his decision to resign within a few years of being appointed).

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In Whitlock's day this was St Osmund's Church, very Anglo-Catholic. Whitlock knew the organ from 1931 (when he met there Leslie Spurling and John Compton: 'Was able to hear & try the new organ - which is magnificent. Rolling Pedal & Diapasons - thrilling Full Swell') until March 1946 when, blind and looking like a wraith (from TB), he gave a recital to the local organists' association, some six weeks before his death. He loved the acoustic (all that marble!) and the fact that the whole organ was enclosed made it ideal for broadcasting (good old medium wave mono). He made 8 live broadcasts for the BBC from Parkstone between July '44 and Jan '45.

In the early '80s I was fortunate to be able to spend an afternoon in the church, armed with my trusty stereo cassette recorder and lots of encouragement from the then organist, Gerald Roper and Whitlock's great friend, Bernard Walker (dedicatee of Fanfare from Whitlock's Four Extemporisations). Apart from the roar of the passing traffic (and the staccato ripost from a nearby pneumatic drill) I managed to get quite a few pieces recorded.

Parts of two of Whitlock's 1945 broadcasts were preserved by the BBC (at PW's request) on 78 rpm 'acetates' (actually glass RCA discs with centre starts!). These precious performances have been transcribed and 'CEDARed' and are available on an Amphion Disc PHI CD 147.

I wonder whether anyone other than Whitlock ever broadcast from St Osmund's? Nor do I know of any commercial recordings of the organ.

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If pcnd will arrange it, we'll all congregate there and take it in turns to keep playing it until the magnets wake up again. Then I'll tune it through and we'll make a disc. No talking, just doing. Anyone in?

 

D

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If pcnd will arrange it, we'll all congregate there and take it in turns to keep playing it until the magnets wake up again. Then I'll tune it through and we'll make a disc. No talking, just doing. Anyone in?

 

D

Sounds like the organist's 'A-Team', cue music...

:)

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If pcnd will arrange it, we'll all congregate there and take it in turns to keep playing it until the magnets wake up again. Then I'll tune it through and we'll make a disc. No talking, just doing. Anyone in?

 

D

 

I am happy to try to arrange a playing trip if people are seriously interested. A donation to the church funds or something similar may be appreciated. I am not sure if the CD idea was serious or not. This may require further discussion. In any case, the junction outside is considerably busier than it was in the early 1980s. In addition, there are (or were about three weeks ago), fairly extensive roadworks directly on the junction.

 

However, unless some kind of minor miracle has taken place, people may be disappointed - I doubt that Whitlock himself would recognise it, from the state it was in last time I played it....

 

There may be one slight problem - my contact is an ex-girlfriend and I am willing to do only so much for the good of the cause....

 

:)

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Well then, let's do it - some quiet weekend in February, maybe - lots of playing on Friday afternoon/night and Saturday morning, tuning through Sat afternoon and bashing down some tracks in the early evening.

 

RE church funds, how about advertising a concert from 7.30-9.30, then a quick pint at the Grasshopper over the road, and recording after that? Organ folklore being what it is, we'd have them travelling from miles around to hear it and quite happy to part with a tenner a head.

 

Any Masons here fancy chatting the chief of police into a 2 hour late night road closure?

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Well then, let's do it - some quiet weekend in February, maybe - lots of playing on Friday afternoon/night and Saturday morning, tuning through Sat afternoon and bashing down some tracks in the early evening.

 

RE church funds, how about advertising a concert from 7.30-9.30, then a quick pint at the Grasshopper over the road, and recording after that? Organ folklore being what it is, we'd have them travelling from miles around to hear it and quite happy to part with a tenner a head.

 

Any Masons here fancy chatting the chief of police into a 2 hour late night road closure?

 

Without wishing to be negative, I think that in the first instance, one of us should talk to the church authorities and ask for permission to carry out these suggestions. Until this has been granted, it may be a little premature to advertise a concert or a CD recording.

 

It may also be a good idea to investigate further any admission charges - which may be the purview of the church, rather than ours....

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Calm down! I was thinking of, you know, maybe mentioning it to the church before ordering the posters!

 

We do need to have people on board as participants before we've actually got a proposal to take to the church.

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Calm down! I was thinking of, you know, maybe mentioning it to the church before ordering the posters!

 

We do need to have people on board as participants before we've actually got a proposal to take to the church.

 

Have no fear - I am quite calm regarding this matter. My thought was that it may be easier to achieve the former before acquiring the latter....

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We do need to have people on board as participants before we've actually got a proposal to take to the church.

 

Count me in - I'm about 15 mins away.

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I have now played this instrument, and I would not get excited about any sort of recording project in the state the instrument is currently in. There were several cyphers, the electrics were playing up, I couldn't turn off the reeds, and plenty of the stop tabs didn't work. There was ash and match sticks all over the console, not to mention a collection of cobwebs that would have kept Attenborough busy for a series on BBC1.

 

HOWEVER, the bits I did get working were really tremendous (full organ noise in the key of the cypers, and the choir was mostly working OK) and the organ made such a glorious sound in a fabulous acoustic. I can now see what previous contributors meant about the acoustic. Yes, it is on a busy road junction, though I didn't particularly notice the traffic noise.

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