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No small organs at the 2012 St Albans Organ Festival


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I am really shocked to see that in this year's programme for the St Albans Organ Festival there is no exhibition and demonstration of small organs!!!


The demonstration of small organs has been a feature of the festival for as long as I can remember (from the late 60s ?). A very interesting showcase for a challenging aspect of organ building. In the early displays, in my view, only one builder stood out as understanding what a small organ was and what it's potential was, particularly in a domestic room. The others approached the issue as a scaled down church job and with inevitable unlikeable results. As the years passed the number of organs increased and more builders understood how to produce a refined sound from small resources. The demonstrations themselves improved, from the initial amateurish pile of music under the arm approach, to a well thought out programme suited to the potential of each instrument.


Many listeners probably didn't appreciate the expense and labour falling on the organ builders in order to take part. I am sure that some orders resulted; it did so from me; but now is this all to be just a memory?


It was exciting and a privilege to be able to meet leading organ builders from this country and abroad, to admire their craftsmanship at close quarters and often to see display boards with details of their other larger instruments. Oh dear, very sad.....


PS The advertised demonstration of reconstructed "Early English" organs, may be of some historic interest but does it lead anywhere? It is hardly a replacement for the former type of exhibition. :(

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This is a great shame. My church bought a chamber organ "ex-display" (sort-of) from this exhibition. It was a great opportunity to compare organs side by side rather than having (mis)remembered details from visits several days apart.

I believe it was a good opportunity for builders to inspect each other's work and learn from each other - perhaps a healthy element of competition crept in as well!

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