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Ampleforth Abbey


Peter Allison
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I was wondering if there are any recordings of the fine organ of the abbey church, Ampleforth?. I live only 4 miles away from he abbey and have heard it "live"on a few occasions, but apart from the early EMI cathedral organ series, I cannot seem to find any. Those Trumpets in the tower certainly part your hair at 50 paces, or

so I am led to believe, being a bit follically challenged I would not know :P

Peter

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I was wondering if there are any recordings of the fine organ of the abbey church, Ampleforth?. I live only 4 miles away from he abbey and have heard it "live"on a few occasions, but apart from the early EMI cathedral organ series, I cannot seem to find any. Those Trumpets in the tower certainly part your hair at 50 paces, or   

so I am led to believe, being a bit follically challenged I would not know :P

Peter

 

Not long ago, Amphion and I approached Ampleforth with an idea that we might try to get permission to record there. While visiting and attempting to make friends, we did a little test recording on the organ(s) which was quite fun and came out well.... except, we got at least two cyphers in the course of an hour's playing.

 

The truth is, there are two superb organists on the school staff there (Ian Little and Simon Wright) either of whom would clearly have done an excellent CD of the organ if it were really in record-worthy condition.

 

I understand that a rebuild is being discussed. Not least, there seems to be a need to replace manual soundboards. I was a little surprised to hear that chests which were new in the 60's can be that far gone (and the church is not overheated which is often the main cause of such problems) but they obviously have been advised that this is necessary. This puts the possible cost of rebuilding way up! Fortunately, I think that funds can and will be found. Some folks carp about the standards of Walker's work in the 50's and 60's (especially Stephen Bicknell who has had a go at several of their jobs in print) but tonally I think that they knew what they were doing.

 

Today's Walker management seem not that interested in rebuild or restoration projects, so the Ampleforth work might well go to local firms such as Principal Pipe Organs (Geoffrey Coffin) or Andrew Carter. I believe that both men worked for Walkers at one time, so they might be expected to do a really sympathetic job if funds allow. Watch this space!

 

It certainly is a very fine organ in a stunning acoustic.

 

Does Peter A. have the Mendelssohn LPs that Philip Dore made when the organ was new? I've listened to them many times: some rather imprecise playing, but a splendid sounding instrument is there to be enjoyed!

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Today's Walker management seem not that interested in rebuild or restoration projects, so the Ampleforth work might well go to local firms such as Principal Pipe Organs (Geoffrey Coffin) or Andrew Carter.  I believe that both men worked for Walkers at one time, so they might be expected to do a really sympathetic job if funds allow. Watch this space!

 

 

I was recently at the opening of The London Oratory which was restored etc. by Walkers and there is every likelihood that they will restore the largest extant Holdich upon which I practice (sic) and teach. (It was designed by and for Dr Gauntlet and built 1867) I have also recently seen their fine restoration of a charming mid-Victorian instrument in Hampshire (name forgotten!) Ergo, they flourish in the restoration field.

 

I seem to remember there being a recording of Ampleforth Abbey soon after it was done - I think it was a composite recording using instruments in the North. But at my age, my memory is playing tricks and I just have a recollection. Certainly Philip Dore rings a cloche.

 

Best wishes,

NJA

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''The truth is, there are two superb organists on the school staff there (Ian Little and Simon Wright) either of whom would clearly have done an excellent CD of the organ if it were really in record-worthy condition.''

 

Ian Little is still there but the assistant DOM and Organist is now William Dore MA, FRCO, who I think is the son of the late Philip Dore. Somewhere I have a '45' record of Ampleforth - bought years ago - 'can't remember what's on it but I seem to remember those horizontal trumpets getting an airing.

 

AJJ

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I was recently at the opening of The London Oratory which was restored etc. by Walkers and there is every likelihood that they will restore the largest extant Holdich upon which I practice (sic) and teach. (It was designed by and for Dr Gauntlet and built 1867) I have also recently seen their fine restoration of a charming mid-Victorian instrument in Hampshire (name forgotten!) Ergo, they flourish in the restoration field.

 

I am happy to concede that Nigel may well know more about this than I do.

It is possible, however, that some of the (apparent 'Walker') restorations are in fact being carried out under sub-contract by others*.

 

* Some former Walker men, for instance, now mostly working on their own account - folks like Keith Bance, for instance (one of my heroes).

 

Does anyone reading his site know what happened to the (well-publicised) idea that Sebastian Meakin was going to take over as supervisor of Walker's restoration arm? I have met some Sebastian Meakin organs... they could be a stimulating topic for conversation here!

 

Then there's the short-lived Walker/Lammermuir tie-up - another good topic!

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I.

 

I seem to remember there being a recording of Ampleforth Abbey soon after it was done - I think it was a composite recording using instruments in the North. But at my age, my memory is playing tricks and I just have a recollection. Certainly Philip Dore rings a cloche.

 

Best wishes,

NJA

 

I think you are referring to VPS 1010 Six Famous British Organs issued in 1974. They were Ampleforth - Phiip Dore : Durham - Conrad Eden: Leeds Parish Church - Donald Hunt (?? Why do so many with West Country Connections pass through Leeds: not only Hunt but Melville Cook and SS Wesley) : Hull City Hall - Peter Goodman: Bridlington Priory - Raymond Sunderland: & Beverley Minster - Alan Spedding - (the D minor Toccata sans fugue but complete with tubas ).

 

For the benefit of Alastair (to save him rummaging around to find his copy) the 45 rpm disc comprised Fanfare & Trumpet Voluntary(Clarke arr Dore ); Siciliana in B flat (Handel, arr Dore); "Ich ruf zu Dir" (Bach); Basse et Dessus de Trompette (Clerambault); Toccata (Jongen). The first two items on the 45 were also included on VPS 1010, the remainining item being part of the Grand Piece Symphonique. Number was SP 7/2 and it was one of the first releases by Michael Smythe in 1969 , who subsequently recorded Philip Dore playing the Mendelssohn Sonatas and Preludes and Fugues at Ampleforth, as Paul has already pointed out.

 

Brian Childs

 

PS (With apologies to PCND) the only cloche to be heard on VPS 1010 is used by Peter Goodman in the central section of the Cook Fanfare !

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

 

Thanks to the above for information. I have been interested in the activities of Sebastian Meakin for some while, having given the opening recital on one of his organs some years ago. (St.James' Chipping Campden, Glos.). It should most certainly have featured in these pages before. There is a slowly dying thread which would be the perfect place to mention this instrument in some detail if only I were not a coward at heart!

 

My statement re. Walkers:

Maybe I should restate it more clearly.

 

I have reason to think that Walkers, Brandon, Suffolk (builders of fine new organs) are not interested in rebuild work.

Rebuild work that does come their way is usually dealt with on their behalf by a different work-force based a very long distance away in Wiltshire.

 

The fact that both workforces are under the same ownership might suggest that they are one and the same firm, I would maintain (as in the parallel case of Bishops of Ipswich and Bishops of Beethopven Street, West London) that one is not in fact dealing with 'the same firm' in practice.

 

Once again, please correct me if I am wrong.

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Thanks for the information Paul, I have an original copy of this organ on lp format, I will have to go and see "my mate Dave" and see if he can copy and edit it to cd for me ( it will cost me a curry from Donncasters finest I think :lol: ). I wonder if mr Monkman will eventually do it, running it through the CEDAR??.

Peter

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Thanks for the information Paul, I have an original copy of this organ on lp format, I will have to go and see "my mate Dave" and see if he can copy and edit  it to cd for me ( it will cost me a curry from Donncasters finest I think  :lol: ). I wonder if mr Monkman will eventually do it, running it through  the CEDAR??.

Peter

 

 

Nil nisi bonum (but I'm going to do it anyway.)

 

I'm afraid I have to slur Philip Dore's reputation a little. The reason that I think it very unlikely that anyone will reissue the two Mendelssohn LPs that he made at Ampleforth is that these days that number of cuffs/blemishes in a published recording would not be acceptable.

 

I would contrast, for instance, the absolutely no-edit recordings that Guy Weitz made in the 30's at Westminster Cathedral which Amphion have reissued. There are occasional slips in these performances too, but they are totally forgiveable in the extremely difficult conditions that applied to the recording procedure of the time. Most importantly, the playing is supremely musical and intelligent.

 

Any firm who lays out their own money on a reissue urgently need good reviews to ensure sales. To put it in purely practical terms: ignoring the outlay on engineer's time and copyrights (with time and effort often required to track down master tapes) a typical CD reissue of 1000 copies costs around £3.000. Would you fork out such a sum lightly? the Cedar process is not cheap either.

 

If someone wants to sponsor a reissue project, I would like to have the LPs of my own professor (Richard Popplewell) put onto CD. The original Wealden LPs are a treat to hear - St.Michael's Cornhill sounded quite a bit better then than it does now and the playing is so fresh and exciting. Original programming includes truly massive Reger played to the absolute hilt.

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Guest Roffensis
Nil nisi bonum (but I'm going to do it anyway.)

 

I'm afraid I have to slur Philip Dore's reputation a little.  The reason that I think it very unlikely that anyone will reissue the two Mendelssohn LPs that he made at Ampleforth is that these days that number of cuffs/blemishes in a published recording would not be acceptable. 

 

I would contrast, for instance, the absolutely no-edit recordings that Guy Weitz made in the 30's at Westminster Cathedral which Amphion have reissued.  There are occasional slips in these performances too, but they are totally forgiveable in the extremely difficult conditions that applied to the recording procedure of the time.  Most importantly, the playing is supremely musical and intelligent.

 

Any firm who lays out their own money on a reissue urgently need good reviews to ensure sales.  To put it in purely practical terms: ignoring the outlay on engineer's time and copyrights (with time and effort often required to track down master tapes) a typical CD reissue of 1000 copies costs around £3.000.  Would you fork out such a sum lightly?  the Cedar process is not cheap either.

 

If someone wants to sponsor a reissue project, I would like to have the LPs of my own professor (Richard Popplewell) put onto CD.  The original Wealden LPs are a treat to hear - St.Michael's Cornhill sounded quite a bit better then than it does now and the playing is so fresh and exciting. Original programming includes truly massive Reger played to the absolute hilt.

 

The two RCA (vista) recordings of Dore at Ampleforth (Mendelssohn six Sonatas and deluge and fudges) are not really that brilliant, the playing is, to put it mildly, measured, and the organ does not sound terribly interesting either. The three snippets on the Vista LP with the Franck Final from GPS are better, and he does use the Trumpet in a certain voluntary :blink: and someone did a BBC broadcast of it yonks ago, which I still have on tape knocking about gathering dust as well, but it is not exactly an over recorded organ. Didn't the York Ambisonic label have a record of it, with the choir etc??

R

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The two RCA (vista) recordings of Dore at Ampleforth (Mendelssohn six Sonatas and deluge and fudges) are not really that brilliant, the playing is, to put it mildly, measured, and the organ does not sound terribly interesting either. The three snippets on the Vista LP with the Franck Final from GPS are better, and he does use the Trumpet in a certain voluntary  :D and someone did a BBC broadcast of it yonks ago, which I still have on tape knocking about gathering dust as well, but it is not exactly an over recorded organ. Didn't the York Ambisonic label have a record of it, with the choir etc??

R

 

I do not know whether they did the recording but the School did publish an "own label" of (Christmas) Carols from Ampleforth where that trumpet got the occasional outing. There is also a double CD entitled Spiritus Music from the Monks and Boys of Ampleforth though I do not know the extent to which it features the organ.

 

BAC

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I am happy to concede that Nigel may well know more about this than I do.
It is possible, however, that some of the (apparent 'Walker') restorations are in fact being carried out under sub-contract by others*.

* Some former Walker men, for instance, now mostly working on their own account - folks like Keith Bance, for instance (one of my heroes).

Does anyone reading his site know what happened to the (well-publicised) idea that Sebastian Meakin was going to take over as supervisor of Walker's restoration arm? I have met some Sebastian Meakin organs... they could be a stimulating topic for conversation here!

Then there's the short-lived Walker/Lammermuir tie-up - another good topic!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



This is an interesting point.

I would also be pleased to receive confirmation that Walker's are still interested in restoring organs - particularly their own, even if it has electro-pneumatic action.

I ask, because about twelve years ago, when Bruce Buchanan was largely in charge, they did not seem remotely interested in our instrument. Even the tuning was sub-contracted, as opposed to having dedicated regional representatives - I believe that this does make a difference!

Subsequently, Walker's wrote to us, suggesting that we find someone else to be responsible for our instrument - basically, they sacked us.

A few years ago, I needed some information on our instrument, in order that I might update the booklet available in the church. Walker's wanted to charge us upwards of thirty pounds per hour for research. I pointed out that, whilst I realised that a member of staff would need to spend time looking through records, we had been rather long-standing customers of theirs, until they terminated the partnership (with our church). At this, the lady to whom I was speaking attempted to say that it was us who had terminated the contract.

I pointed-out, gently, that I had actually seen the letter which Walker's had sent to our Rector, and that it was quite definitely the other way around.

I do not know why the firm apparently became so disinterested in our organ - presumably there is more money to be made by building new organs.

As I said, I would be pleased to hear whether JWW are, in fact, restoring organs. They might be the logical choice for our proposed work - although I am slightly alarmed at Paul's reference to the type of instrument which Mr. Meakin produces; naturally, I would wish to see examples of his work.

Any information will be gratefully received.
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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
As I said, I would be pleased to hear whether JWWW are, in fact, restoring organs. They might be the logical choice for our proposed work - although I am slightly alarmed at Paul's reference to the type of instrument which Mr. Meakin produces; naturally, I would wish to see examples of his work**.

 

Any information will be gratefully received.

 

 

 

**This is a most sensible idea - something everyone should do when choosing which firm to trust with an important job (for a major sum).

 

Get him (S.M.) to show you organs which he has completed himself.

Is it spiteful for me to suggest that you particularly ask to see his work in the Cotswolds? After all, yours is an electric action job and the two he did (with this action) there (before he joined Walkers) are very illuminating.

 

You might also obtain advice/opinions from Diocesan Organs Advisers who have become familiar with his work. Michael Peterson (formerly of Tewkesbury Abbey) was involved with the two instruments I have in mind.

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  • 8 years later...

I have recently recorded a disc for Priory at Ampleforth, featuring works by Tournemire, Demessieux, and Philip Moore. This was released in June. Neil Collier did a superb job of recapturing the sound of the organ in the abundant acoustic and we are very pleased with it.

I have this disc and have enjoyed listening to it very much. As I wrote somewhere above I have also a recording (45rpm) from when the organ first went in as well as a tape of the Langlais Mass and other liturgical music where it features. Although one recent review was not all that nice about the instrument I feel that the combination of acoustic and instrument is ideal for the repertoire and that as an organ of its time it works really well. Really good playing too!

 

A

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