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Roger Yates

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Greetings - a new member posting. Thought I'd get something going about Roger Yates. Having had the good fortune to play at St Catherine's Gloucester a few years back I remember vividly the magnificent 4 rank mixture (apparently based upon Armley's five ranker) which took your breath away when you dared to draw it. Superb reed-voicing throughout and a real sense of balance and tonal contrast. By complete contrast I also played now and again at Kegworth (St. Andrews) which was a delightful but equally robust instrument, most of which was hand-built by RY (according to Elvin). My stint at Kegworth was as a deputy for the wonderfully eccentric Wallace Ross who had recently retired from Derby Cathedral (now there's something for another thread, a truly remarkable musician, just look at his track record on Wiki to see how good this man really was).

Anyone else had any Yates' moments?!

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Greetings - a new member posting. Thought I'd get something going about Roger Yates. Having had the good fortune to play at St Catherine's Gloucester a few years back I remember vividly the magnificent 4 rank mixture (apparently based upon Armley's five ranker) which took your breath away when you dared to draw it. Superb reed-voicing throughout and a real sense of balance and tonal contrast. By complete contrast I also played now and again at Kegworth (St. Andrews) which was a delightful but equally robust instrument, most of which was hand-built by RY (according to Elvin). My stint at Kegworth was as a deputy for the wonderfully eccentric Wallace Ross who had recently retired from Derby Cathedral (now there's something for another thread, a truly remarkable musician, just look at his track record on Wiki to see how good this man really was).

Anyone else had any Yates' moments?!

Yes. As an infant, my clergyman father used to take me into St Michael's, Newquay, when Nicholsons were installing the new 3-manual in about 1963. It was voiced by Roger Yates and designed by him and John Dykes-Bower. Fast-forward and I found myself frequently playing at St Michael's as a teenager and later for concerts, services and recitals. It was thought to be one of the finest organs in Cornwall and was recorded by the BBC in the days when they broadcast Organ Recitals. Indeed, I turned the pages for someone whose recital was being recorded once. The organ wasn't entirely satisfactory. The swell wind pressure was never properly stabilised so that the notes shook in an unattractive manner when many stops were drawn. I once found myself at the console with a nameless Oxbridge eminence from the organ world who disliked the organ a great deal and spent the half an hour we were there improvising on the Great Quintaton! In about 1985, I fear that someone lit a fire inside the organ and apart from the pedal Bourdon which was transplanted elsewhere in Cornwall, the organ and much of the church was completely destroyed. The story goes that, as a cost-saving measure, the organ was not separately insured and so although the church was very beautifully rebuilt, there was little or no money to provide a new pipe organ. Thus a large 3-manual Wyvern was installed (which I played for the service of re-dedication in about 1994. I believe that Lance Foy is installing or has recently installed, a new organ based upon the organ from St Paul's church, Truro. I haven't seen it, heard it or have knowledge of the scheme. The Yates/Nicholson organ certainly had a splendid 4-rank Great mixture that made its presence felt and there was a nice resonant acoustic in the church prior to the fire to which the organ was well-suited. Many, many years ago, I played (as a child) the organ of Kilkhampton church and am pretty sure that Yates was involved there. PCND (a frequent and erudite contributor) knows this organ well and there are other references to it in this blog somewhere.

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Greetings - a new member posting. Thought I'd get something going about Roger Yates. Having had the good fortune to play at St Catherine's Gloucester a few years back I remember vividly the magnificent 4 rank mixture (apparently based upon Armley's five ranker) which took your breath away when you dared to draw it. Superb reed-voicing throughout and a real sense of balance and tonal contrast. By complete contrast I also played now and again at Kegworth (St. Andrews) which was a delightful but equally robust instrument, most of which was hand-built by RY (according to Elvin). My stint at Kegworth was as a deputy for the wonderfully eccentric Wallace Ross who had recently retired from Derby Cathedral (now there's something for another thread, a truly remarkable musician, just look at his track record on Wiki to see how good this man really was).

Anyone else had any Yates' moments?!

 

I wrote a quite detailed article on RY for Organists' Review back in 1993 so was involved in a large amount of research and tried a number of his instruments still in their 'Yates' states. The rebuilt organs at St. John's Bishop's Hull, Taunton and Kilkhampton show off his work well and are well worth a visit. Likewise Stogursey which was completed by William Drake after Yates' death. Ulcombe is nice too - this is an 'all Yates' creation with some extension. The Nicholson organ at Newquay which was voiced by Yates was destroyed by fire in 1993.

 

If anyone would like a copy of the article please PM.

 

A

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Kilkhampton was an eye-opener for me when I spent a short holiday there in the early seventies. A very classy instrument indeed.

 

Another memorable Yeats was Bozeat, Northamptonshire. A triumph of economy, the Great borrowed two stop from the Swell, like one of Willis III's model jobs, but the tonal scheme was incredibly advanced for 1939. Good case, too.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=D03362

 

St. John, Bishop's Hull, Taunton is yet another exceptional instrument. I suppose one should deprecate the alteration of a Father Willis, but this one is such a glorious job that it must be judged an exception to the rule. (There's another 3m Father Willis in Taunton, anyway!).

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Kilkhampton was an eye-opener for me when I spent a short holiday there in the early seventies. A very classy instrument indeed.

 

Another memorable Yeats was Bozeat, Northamptonshire. A triumph of economy, the Great borrowed two stop from the Swell, like one of Willis III's model jobs, but the tonal scheme was incredibly advanced for 1939. Good case, too.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=D03362

 

St. John, Bishop's Hull, Taunton is yet another exceptional instrument. I suppose one should deprecate the alteration of a Father Willis, but this one is such a glorious job that it must be judged an exception to the rule. (There's another 3m Father Willis in Taunton, anyway!).

 

==============================

 

 

I've never had the pleasure of hearing or playing a Yates organ, but Roger Yates got an honourable mention in "The Organ" by

W L Sumner, when he referred to an 'enlightened design' at Oakham PC. Sadly, that organ is no longer in existence; a new instrument built by Kenneth Tickell now replacing it.

 

I don't begrudge any organ-builder their bread and butter, but the fact that the old organ combined the best period from Brindley & Foster (1870's) and the work of Roger Yates, placed this instrument on my list of organs I would like to have heard.

 

MM

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==============================

 

 

I've never had the pleasure of hearing or playing a Yates organ, but Roger Yates got an honourable mention in "The Organ" by

W L Sumner, when he referred to an 'enlightened design' at Oakham PC. Sadly, that organ is no longer in existence; a new instrument built by Kenneth Tickell now replacing it.

 

I don't begrudge any organ-builder their bread and butter, but the fact that the old organ combined the best period from Brindley & Foster (1870's) and the work of Roger Yates, placed this instrument on my list of organs I would like to have heard.

 

MM

 

It was ok - a bit 'of it's time' (1930s) so the upperwork and mutations on the stopknobs did not quite have the impact 'in the flesh' - unlike Kilkhampton etc. When I played it things were a bit unreliable but all the same it made a fair 'continental' roar with all the octave coupers on etc. There were also some quite nice quiet and mid level effects. The organ was at the west end of the north aisle with the console behind the north choir stalls in the chancel so there was a bit of a time lag. There was also a strange Glockenspiel like contraption near the console operated from the keys which seemingly had nothing to do with the main instrument at the other end of the building.

 

A

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It was ok - a bit 'of it's time' (1930s) so the upperwork and mutations on the stopknobs did not quite have the impact 'in the flesh' - unlike Kilkhampton etc. When I played it things were a bit unreliable but all the same it made a fair 'continental' roar with all the octave coupers on etc. There were also some quite nice quiet and mid level effects. The organ was at the west end of the north aisle with the console behind the north choir stalls in the chancel so there was a bit of a time lag. There was also a strange Glockenspiel like contraption near the console operated from the keys which seemingly had nothing to do with the main instrument at the other end of the building.

 

A

 

 

I was assistant at Oakham for a short time in the mid 80's and also got married there in 1991 so knew the Yates organ quite well. By my time it was in a very poor state of health though did fill the building quite well (notwithstanding the choir in the chancel with the organ at the West end!). The Glock mentioned above was most odd and pretty much useless. I think I used it once in a moment of madness during the hymn "rejoice the lord is king".....!!

The Tickell, though much smaller is impressive and speaks well throughout the church and just as important, is close to the choirstalls.

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Likewise Stogursey which was completed by William Drake after Yates' death.

This is the only Yates instrument I have encountered, but it is certainly one to cherish. I first came across it more years ago than I would want to calculate when I played it for a wedding. I had to play the voluntaries before and after (Bach's E flat Clavierübung prelude and his Toccata in F) and conduct the choir during the service while the hymns and anthem were accompanied by a certain Colin Walsh. (Even though this was in the days when I could play a little, it would obviously have been more satisfactory the other way around, but there were reasons for the chosen arrangement.) I was frankly stunned by the instrument. The tracker action seemed perfection itself and I could never forget the wonderfully blending, yet incisive Great diapason chorus, with the Mixture its most telling component. It was just the most responsive joy to play, with all the intimacy of playing a harpsichord. My abiding memory of Colin's playing is a most wonderful, Dupre-like legato which achieved the remarkable feat of making the organ sound almost like a Father Willis!

 

Earlier this year I was able to reacquaint myself with the instrument when I played it for the wedding of a daughter of the very same couple. (She was rather amused when she learnt that she had unknowingly chosen the same recessional voluntary as her parents). Again I was well impressed, though perhaps slightly less than before. I could not help feeling that the Swell division did not seem to partner the Great quite as well I would have ideally liked. However, this is splitting hairs and I am probably churlish to criticise since both Yates and Drake were probably (rightly) constrained by their respect for the existing pipework. The feather-light tracker action is really quite wonderful. It is the most cruelly exacting I have ever encountered. I really have come across some keyboards on electro-pneumatic action that have a heavier touch resistance. Whether this is due to Yates or Drake I do not know. I should think it makes a good recital instrument, but as far as accompaniment goes it has to be said that it is really effective only in the spacious area of the chancel and transepts; as one moves into the (small) nave its impact falls abruptly and nothing less than full organ will lead a congegation of any size.

 

I did feel that the "secret" Pedal 8' Bourdon/Flute was a bit precious. If the previous player had not left it "on", I doubt I would ever have discovered the switch for myself, for its Dymo label is not that obvious.

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I wrote a quite detailed article on RY for Organists' Review back in 1993 so was involved in a large amount of research and tried a number of his instruments still in their 'Yates' states. The rebuilt organs at St. John's Bishop's Hull, Taunton and Kilkhampton show off his work well and are well worth a visit. Likewise Stogursey which was completed by William Drake after Yates' death. Ulcombe is nice too - this is an 'all Yates' creation with some extension. The Nicholson organ at Newquay which was voiced by Yates was destroyed by fire in 1993.

 

If anyone would like a copy of the article please PM.

 

A

 

I would recommend this article to anyone who is interested to learn more of the work of Roger Yates.

 

I have written elsewhere on this board regarding the organ at Kilkhamton Church, North Cornwall. Suffice it to say that the following points stand out as either interesting or worthy of note:

 

The Pedal Organ includes a superb 32ft. Subbass (added by Lewis, in 1892), a pungent wooden Principal-Bass (open pipes) and a French-style Bombarde (added by Yates, in 1962 - not William Drake).

 

The G.O. includes an Open Diapason with a wood bass, and a four-rank Mixture, which commences at 22-26-29-33.

 

The Swell Organ includes two good reeds - a Bassoon and a Trumpet.

 

This was the first organ in Cornwall to have general pistons as part of the accessories (two general pistons, in fact). The three Pedal (and G.O.) foot pistons give different combinations to the three G.O. (and Pedal) thumb pistons.

 

It has to be said that this organ is a little top and bottom heavy - one is conscious that it could do with a little more tonal 'weight' in the mid-range. However, it is one of the most unusual and exciting two-clavier instruments in Cornwall - and a refreshing change to the plethora of organs by Hele & Co.

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I did feel that the "secret" Pedal 8' Bourdon/Flute was a bit precious. If the previous player had not left it "on", I doubt I would ever have discovered the switch for myself, for its Dymo label is not that obvious.

 

The action was finished off by Drake and set up exactly as Yates would have liked it, even though his (and my) preference is for a little bit more resistance than that - an over-light action is just as harmful as an over-heavy one.

 

Bearing in mind it's the original pallets and original soundboards, this serves as a useful example to those who tell me I'm talking rubbish when I state that most tracker instruments don't need to be as heavy as they are. Most - well, many - British organ builders appear to be woefully inept at getting the simple adjustment of pallet springs (and coupler set-off) right.

 

On that note, I have recently seen again the 1974 Drake now at Bristol University, which has been got at by a local builder. Also Bridgetown (Totnes) has been ministrated to by a gentlemen who is neither too loud nor too soft. In both cases the pallet springs have been messed with and the soundboards extensively bled, thus spoiling the two best-engineered instruments you're likely to have encountered.)

 

On the hidden Flute control - there was a good reason for this which I half-forget; as well as not wanting to spoil the console (there isn't space for another stop without pushing everything closer together) I have a feeling it was also something which Yates wanted to include but the church didn't, so he did it anyway. I could be getting my stories muddled up. Drake has done the same for a Tremulant on one of the London organs which he felt it really needed even though the church or the organist disagreed.

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Also Bridgetown (Totnes) has been ministrated to by a gentlemen who is neither too loud nor too soft.

 

;) Took me a moment... a shame that the instrument may have spoiled, though - I found it to be a proper eye-opener. Vox may still remember having to drag me away...

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Mr H, when did this dynamic person tender his loving ministrations and what did he do? Surely not in the last few years? My understanding is that the church doesn't use the organ much, if at all, and would quite like to get rid of it. When I last went there three years ago it hadn't even been tuned for about two and a half years. The organ still sounded wonderful, though, and, apart from a couple of reed pipes, the tuning was still spot on.

 

For those who don't know the instrument it can be heard here: http://www.simondunbavand.com/page5.htm. On my computer it took a while for the sound clip to kick in.

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Mr H, when did this dynamic person tender his loving ministrations and what did he do? Surely in the last few years? My understanding is that the church doesn't use the organ much, if at all, and would quite like to get rid of it. When I last went there three years ago it hadn't even been tuned for about two and a half years. The organ still sounded wonderful, though, and, apart from a couple of reed pipes, the tuning was still spot on.

 

For those who don't know the instrument it can be heard here: http://www.simondunbavand.com/page5.htm. On my computer it took a while for the sound clip to kick in.

 

===================================

 

 

What an amazing organ, which must sound so much better live!

 

This is the sort of sound I have travelled extensively to hear abroad, and to say that I am impressed would be a big understatement.

 

MM

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The Stogursey organ is indeed a fine instrument. The regular organist is a friend of mine and I have had the pleasure of playing it occasionally. The pedal 8' flute is something of a mystery. There would appear to be plenty of room on the jamb to add another stop control for one of the 16' stops, and use the vacated space for a drawstop for the flute. As it is, the pistons don't include this stop and is easy to forget that it is drawn. The organ is superb for the baroque repertoire, but less effective for the romantic school, lacking as it does, any strings. As VH commented, it sounds best in the chancel and sanctuary area, and it can be very hard to see and hear the congregation in the nave. As a point of interest, has anyone else experienced the ghostly presence of the former monks of Lonlay who can be 'felt' processing from the vestry into the old chancel, particularly during the singing of the psalms?

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As a point of interest, has anyone else experienced the ghostly presence of the former monks of Lonlay who can be 'felt' processing from the vestry into the old chancel, particularly during the singing of the psalms?

 

Not at Stogursey but somewhere I used to play had a choir that to all intents and purposes created the same experience.

 

A

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