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Cheltenham College

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Guest Cynic
I was just wondering whether anyone has experience of this instrument. It certainly looks impressive on npor ...

 

 

Impressive? Yes, in its way. Good gallery position and a bold tone.

 

I was kindly allowed to use it for personal practice for a few years 1995-7ish, and ended up giving a few recitals upon it (by kind permission) in the fringe of the Cheltenham Festival. I also got called in to accompany a few evening chapel services from time to time - great fun they were - a good chapel choir, excellent director of music, a terrific 'congregation' and a 100% 'take no prisoners' attitude to rhythm!

 

The Chapel is splendid - anyone who has seen 'If' by Lindsay Anderson has seen it - a large bright, open, neo-perpendicular barn. The organ is largely an old Norman and Beard, with later Harrison and Harrison additions. It's fairly thick in tone, but a 'stonker' and that's definitely what the chapel needs because of the 'congregation' as above and the way that they really sing. I'm sure Cheltenham College is not rare in this (even these days), hearty singing, especially after good days on the sports field was traditional where I grew up as well.

 

The chapel acoustic is good, sandstone walls and either a slate or marble floor IIRC. Generally the organ sounds more impressive that it should by rights. I don't honestly think there is one single really attractive stop on it, but it all hangs together pretty well. The Choir division is fairly gentle, no baroque positive here even with the box open. Almost the most useful stop on the choir is the Transfer that brings the Great Reeds across. It's a Basil Harwood or Harold Darke organ - apart from the later Mixtures which stand apart a bit. H&H don't have a good record when it comes to adding mixtures on top of older work - take the Wells Mixtures (forgive me if they've been improved in the last ten years, they used to be shocking!) or the 1970s ones at Redcliffe! This organ to my ears sounds a bit like the N&B at Norwich Cathedral, and that's not universally popular either. Even so, if one was giving a recital in Cheltenham, the 'Boys' College, as it's sometimes called, or St.Gregory's RC Church, which is a strict neo-classical two-decker by Sebastian Blank (Dutch) from the 1980s would have the two best instruments for the purpose. Chalk and cheese of course.

 

If they've got any sense, they'll leave it alone. A while back there used to be a small two-manual tracker elsewhere in the school, I don't know if that's still there. Hope this helps. Friendly place, or at least it used to be!

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Impressive? Yes, in its way. Good gallery position and a bold tone.

 

I was kindly allowed to use it for personal practice for a few years 1995-7ish, and ended up giving a few recitals upon it (by kind permission) in the fringe of the Cheltenham Festival. I also got called in to accompany a few evening chapel services from time to time - great fun they were - a good chapel choir, excellent director of music, a terrific 'congregation' and a 100% 'take no prisoners' attitude to rhythm!

 

The Chapel is splendid - anyone who has seen 'If' by Lindsay Anderson has seen it - a large bright, open, neo-perpendicular barn. The organ is largely an old Norman and Beard, with later Harrison and Harrison additions. It's fairly thick in tone, but a 'stonker' and that's definitely what the chapel needs because of the 'congregation' as above and the way that they really sing. I'm sure Cheltenham College is not rare in this (even these days), hearty singing, especially after good days on the sports field was traditional where I grew up as well.

 

The chapel acoustic is good, sandstone walls and either a slate or marble floor IIRC. Generally the organ sounds more impressive that it should by rights. I don't honestly think there is one single really attractive stop on it, but it all hangs together pretty well. The Choir division is fairly gentle, no baroque positive here even with the box open. Almost the most useful stop on the choir is the Transfer that brings the Great Reeds across. It's a Basil Harwood or Harold Darke organ - apart from the later Mixtures which stand apart a bit. H&H don't have a good record when it comes to adding mixtures on top of older work - take the Wells Mixtures (forgive me if they've been improved in the last ten years, they used to be shocking!) or the 1970s ones at Redcliffe! This organ to my ears sounds a bit like the N&B at Norwich Cathedral, and that's not universally popular either. Even so, if one was giving a recital in Cheltenham, the 'Boys' College, as it's sometimes called, or St.Gregory's RC Church, which is a strict neo-classical two-decker by Sebastian Blank (Dutch) from the 1980s would have the two best instruments for the purpose. Chalk and cheese of course.

 

If they've got any sense, they'll leave it alone. A while back there used to be a small two-manual tracker elsewhere in the school, I don't know if that's still there. Hope this helps. Friendly place, or at least it used to be!

 

I totally agree. As my son was the college organ scholar at Cheltenham College during last year, I heard and played the instrument several times. Exactly as Cynic says, the organ is not very special but it works perfectly for the college services.

There is no two-manual tracker elsewhere in the school anymore. And yes, it's still a friendly place! I really enjoyed my visits to Cheltenham College Chapel!

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