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Bradford Cathedral Organ


Jonathan Eyre

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If any of you happen to be in Bradford this coming Wednesday, Alexander Woodrow (Director of Music) will be launching our £250,000 organ refurbishment appeal. The recital is at 1.05pm with a buffet style lunch at 12.30.

 

There is a regular series of recitals most Wednesdays, and further details can be found at www.bradfordcathedral.org

 

To find out more about the appeal visit our dedicated appeal website:

www.bradfordcathedralorganappeal.co.uk

 

Do join us if you are able.

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As yet we are still in the early stages of fundraising but will be looking for quotes for work in the near future.

Best

Jonathan

 

Jonathan Eyre

Assistant Director of Music

 

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

 

 

It's a pity "they" decided to get rid of the Nave Organ and replace it with electronics. It's a very strange building acoustically, with a very resonant chancel and an almost dead nave, and to me, there seems no other solution, (if we're talking proper pipe organs), than getting a west end division back in place.

 

Best,

 

MM

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

 

 

It's a pity "they" decided to get rid of the Nave Organ and replace it with electronics. It's a very strange building acoustically, with a very resonant chancel and an almost dead nave, and to me, there seems no other solution, (if we're talking proper pipe organs), than getting a west end division back in place.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

I quite agree. I never thought the old Nave Organ 'got in the way' or looked out of place.

 

An oddity which, I hope, could possibly be rectified if and when the work takes place is that there isn't a single double on the Great Organ, whilst there are on the Swell and even the Choir/Positif/Chancel (whatever they're calling it now!).

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How does one know that the work requires £250,000 when no quotations have been received? It seems such a 'round' figure. Just wondering...............

Thank you for your interest in the Bradford Organ Appeal.

I tried to create an account of my own, but was unable to do so as the moderator is apparently not accepting any new accounts at the time being, so thank you to Jonathan for posting this on my behalf.

Anyway, to put the record straight, we shall be inviting further quotes for the work in due course once the public appeal is well and truly underway and once we have started to harness support from grant-making and charitable trusts and organisations. We have one reliable and realistic quote already, based on the repairs and enhancements that Paul Hale detailed in his report to the Cathedral Chapter of 2010, and we have obviously factored in the inevitable variations between quotes from different firms in addition to increases owing to a number of years' inflation while we raise sufficient funds.

While we would very much like to have the work completed by 2019, the year in which the Cathedral celebrates 100 years since its elevation, we have to be realistic that, as a parish church Cathedral with no endowments or historical legacies, we can only carry out the work in stages as the funding becomes available. With no available initial injection of funding to put towards the project, we are having to raise all the funds ourselves, which is both a daunting challenge and a tremendous thrill in just about equal measure! However, having taken advice, we are confident that £250,000 spent on the work in stages, as funds become available, over a number of years, will allow for the necessary repairs, upgrade to the console and the four or five tonal enhancements we are planning.

As to the point about the instrument struggling to project its sound down the Nave, indeed the Chancel is more resonant than the Nave, and as with all reasonably long buildings, an instrument situated wholly in the chancel will have a much less immediate impact further down the Nave. However, this is a problem faced by countless long churches and Cathedrals, and the situation at Bradford is actually far less acute than in many buildings with a longer Nave. A couple of the planned ranks, the 16' manual Open Diapason and the 32' Contra Trombone will undoubtedly assist in this respect. I also believe that a large congregation can be fully supported by a strongly rhythmic lead from the organ and choir at a little above mf, rather than by sheer volume alone.

I have seen pictures of the old West End organ and have no doubt that it had an immediacy and clarity that assisted those situated at the back of the nave. The Purcell Trumpet of course has been retained and is now mounted en chamade at the top of the chancel case. However, I am also assured by those who remember it that the Nave division was nigh on impossible to keep in tune, and therefore often unplayable in conjunction with the rest of the organ in the chancel.

Finally, I do commend the instrument to you; it is a fine organ with some excellent quality pipework, a delight to play, and chameleon-like in its versatility. Once fundraising is well underway we will let you know of our plans concerning who we will ask to carry out the work; I can assure you though that we have been well advised and that we haven't simply plucked the figure out of thin air!

Alex Woodrow

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Thanks Alex. I applaud your decision to include a 16' Open Diapason, presumably on the Great, and a 32' reed which is sure to add to the grandeur of the instrument.

 

Is there sufficient space in the existing chamber (in the chancel)? I should imagine it would already be quite full!

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Thanks Alex. I applaud your decision to include a 16' Open Diapason, presumably on the Great, and a 32' reed which is sure to add to the grandeur of the instrument.

 

Is there sufficient space in the existing chamber (in the chancel)? I should imagine it would already be quite full!

 

Hi John,

 

The plan is to lay the bottom octave of the 32' reed on top of the swell box.

 

Jonathan

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Hi John,

 

The plan is to lay the bottom octave of the 32' reed on top of the swell box.

 

Jonathan

 

Good. Let's hope this work comes to fruition.

 

I seem to remember, before they added the Positif/Chancel division, there was what appeared to be a 16' open metal in the prospect. I don't know whether these were speaking pipes but, presuming they were, I assume they must have been part of a Pedal stop as, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been an open (or any) double on the Great.

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Good. Let's hope this work comes to fruition.

 

I seem to remember, before they added the Positif/Chancel division, there was what appeared to be a 16' open metal in the prospect. I don't know whether these were speaking pipes but, presuming they were, I assume they must have been part of a Pedal stop as, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been an open (or any) double on the Great.

 

There was - unless the following survey is inaccurate. See here http://www.npor.org....ec_index=N04825

 

Actually, this looks to have been a good scheme. Am I correct in thinking that it forms the nucleus of the present instrument?

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The scheme to which the link refers was the original Norman & Beard re-build of the old Booth organ, which few still alive will recall I suspect. You have to be aware of the fact that Bradford Cathedral was originally a big wool-church; not unlike Halifax, Rotherham, Sheffield Cathedral etc. No acoustic much, a quite low chancel; the organ buried under arches. It was a church which needed something like the big wood basses of Norman & Beard and heavy pressure chorus reeds.

 

All that changed dramatically when Sir Edward Maufe designed the new chancel, with marble flooring, high arches and a very resonant space. Because the nave is so dead acoustically, everything sound very distant, yet in the chancel, the musical effect is marvellous and the organ sounds good. (Pity about them taming that original H,N & B Trumpet Major, which was Brian Rundle at his fiercest!)

 

Without completely re-designing the building, it is difficult to see how ANY organ can sucessfully direct sound into the nave from where it is.

 

The curious thing is, that the prospect originally contained the Pedal 16ft metal, but these rather large pipes must have been shoe-horned into the chamber somehow, since the "new" case includes the Positif division planted centrally.

 

It amazes me, however, that after only 35 years or so, the organ needs yet another major re-build, which tends to re-inforce my belief that tracker-action is the ONLY answer to the problem of reliability and longevity. It's fast getting to the point that pipe-organs are no more reliable or long-lived than digital electronic ones.

 

Best,

 

MM

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... It amazes me, however, that after only 35 years or so, the organ needs yet another major re-build, which tends to re-inforce my belief that tracker-action is the ONLY answer to the problem of reliability and longevity. It's fast getting to the point that pipe-organs are no more reliable or long-lived than digital electronic ones.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

I am not sure about this, MM. Most provincial instruments would require a thorough cleaning and overhaul at least every twenty-five years.My 'own' instrument here was last cleaned around 1994-95. It is now choked with dirt - in some cases, quite literally, since the dirt and dust are now affecting the speech of many of the smaller pipes of the Positive section.

 

I can see no reference in the post from the organist associated with Bradford Cathedral (above), to the complete renewal of the action. Rather, the console is to be upgraded (presumably with alterations and enhancements to the combination action) and there are to be a few tonal alterations. This is surely nothing more than the experience of the cathedral's incumbent musicians after living with the instrument for a number of years. I cannot see how replacing the transmission with a mechanical action would help. In any case, this would probably necessitate a re-ordering of the interior layout of the instrument and re-siting (and probably replacement) of the console.* Add that little lot up, and you can forget tonal alterations, if the budget is only £250,000. The remaking of the building frame, re-siting (and re-winding) of the various divisions, allowing room and access for the tracker runs and the action chassis, the re-planning and re-distribution of the wind system; all this will be expensive. Then there is the possibility of having to put the Pedal Organ on new slider chests. For that matter, the present soundboards may not be suitable for rebuilding with mechanical action; pallet sizes may have to be altered, for example. Of course, the G.O. extension of the secondary reed chorus will have to go.§

 

So - how would tracker action benefit an instrument of this size, with this disposition in this building, I wonder?

 

 

 

* I doubt that there is any further room in this organ chamber for a new console - or room to provide safe access to it.

 

§ I am aware that there are a number of examples of extension and the derivation of ranks on instruments with mechanical action - but I regard this as an expensive and unnecessary complication.

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I am not sure about this, MM. Most provincial instruments would require a thorough cleaning and overhaul at least every twenty-five years.My 'own' instrument here was last cleaned around 1994-95. It is now choked with dirt - in some cases, quite literally, since the dirt and dust are now affecting the speech of many of the smaller pipes of the Positive section.

 

I can see no reference in the post from the organist associated with Bradford Cathedral (above), to the complete renewal of the action. Rather, the console is to be upgraded (presumably with alterations and enhancements to the combination action) and there are to be a few tonal alterations. This is surely nothing more than the experience of the cathedral's incumbent musicians after living with the instrument for a number of years. I cannot see how replacing the transmission with a mechanical action would help. In any case, this would probably necessitate a re-ordering of the interior layout of the instrument and re-siting (and probably replacement) of the console.* Add that little lot up, and you can forget tonal alterations, if the budget is only £250,000. The remaking of the building frame, re-siting (and re-winding) of the various divisions, allowing room and access for the tracker runs and the action chassis, the re-planning and re-distribution of the wind system; all this will be expensive. Then there is the possibility of having to put the Pedal Organ on new slider chests. For that matter, the present soundboards may not be suitable for rebuilding with mechanical action; pallet sizes may have to be altered, for example. Of course, the G.O. extension of the secondary reed chorus will have to go.§

 

So - how would tracker action benefit an instrument of this size, with this disposition in this building, I wonder?

 

 

 

* I doubt that there is any further room in this organ chamber for a new console - or room to provide safe access to it.

 

§ I am aware that there are a number of examples of extension and the derivation of ranks on instruments with mechanical action - but I regard this as an expensive and unnecessary complication.

 

 

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

 

 

Sorry to misled 'pcnd'......I meant tracker action for new organs rather than re-builds of existing ones....not always easy in Anglican churches unless we get the choirs back where they belong, at the west end.

 

I wonder if the "transmission" was changed to solid-state back in 1977, when Walker's got involved?

 

In my experience, the old "bush telegraph" system of H,N & B was pretty reliable on the whole, and I often wonder why these can't be re-furbished rather than replaced with all-singing, all-dancing digital systems. Considering the fact that I've personally consumed 5 computers in the past thirteen years, maybe I'm understandably suspicious.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

PS: The tracker job I play was cleaned three years ago, but ot because anything was choked. It was more to do with a winding system which had been faulty for a long time, and which various measures had failed to rectify. So it had managed almost 35 years from new in 1975, and didn't cost an awful lot to put right. The main cost was replacing old-style slider seals with new ones, which was considered prudent as the winchests had to come out in any event.

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

 

 

Sorry to misled 'pcnd'......I meant tracker action for new organs rather than re-builds of existing ones....not always easy in Anglican churches unless we get the choirs back where they belong, at the west end.

 

I wonder if the "transmission" was changed to solid-state back in 1977, when Walker's got involved?

 

In my experience, the old "bush telegraph" system of H,N & B was pretty reliable on the whole, and I often wonder why these can't be re-furbished rather than replaced with all-singing, all-dancing digital systems. Considering the fact that I've personally consumed 5 computers in the past thirteen years, maybe I'm understandably suspicious.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

PS: The tracker job I play was cleaned three years ago, but ot because anything was choked. It was more to do with a winding system which had been faulty for a long time, and which various measures had failed to rectify. So it had managed almost 35 years from new in 1975, and didn't cost an awful lot to put right. The main cost was replacing old-style slider seals with new ones, which was considered prudent as the winchests had to come out in any event.

 

Ah - now this makes sense, 'M' 'M'.... (Why, pray, have I re-acquired inverted commas around my pseudonym?)

 

I am pleased to hear that your 'own' instrument (in Saint Joseph's) was comparatively inexpensive to restore. However, I am alarmed at your admission regarding the computers. Do you mean that you physically ate them - or that you have worn them out....?

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Ah - now this makes sense, 'M' 'M'.... (Why, pray, have I re-acquired inverted commas around my pseudonym?)

 

I am pleased to hear that your 'own' instrument (in Saint Joseph's) was comparatively inexpensive to restore. However, I am alarmed at your admission regarding the computers. Do you mean that you physically ate them - or that you have worn them out....?

 

 

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

 

 

Chips are my favourite bytes, I'm afraid. :P

 

Best,

 

MM

 

PS: Re the inverted commas, those of us who know are aware of the fact that it stands for Pierre Cochereau Notre Dame, therefore it is more abbreviation than it is pseudonym. I suppose it may be better written p.c.n.d., like E.R.A racing cars or A.J.S. and B.S.A.motorcycles, rather than like BL or BMC, which I feel are technically flawed, as indeed they often were. I think that my use of the inverted commas is therefore a warning that pcnd is not quite what it appears to be. This means, OF COURSE, that I have been writing M.M.incorrectly for over a decade.

 

PPS: Best 'horse joke' of the month....."I see they've discovered Zebra DNA in the supermarket bar-codes"

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

 

 

Chips are my favourite bytes, I'm afraid. :P

 

Best,

 

MM

 

PS: Re the inverted commas, those of us who know are aware of the fact that it stands for Pierre Cochereau Notre Dame, therefore it is more abbreviation than it is pseudonym. I suppose it may be better written p.c.n.d., like E.R.A racing cars or A.J.S. and B.S.A.motorcycles, rather than like BL or BMC, which I feel are technically flawed, as indeed they often were. I think that my use of the inverted commas is therefore a warning that pcnd is not quite what it appears to be. This means, OF COURSE, that I have been writing M.M.incorrectly for over a decade.

 

Well, OK - although I am not sure what my name appears to be....

 

 

PPS: Best 'horse joke' of the month....."I see they've discovered Zebra DNA in the supermarket bar-codes"

 

Ha!

 

Well, I went to Tesco the other day, since I fancied a burger. However, initially, I was unable to find them. Then a helpful young lady told me that it I walked past the dairy produce, turned left at The Booth, I would see them - directly after Becher's Brook.

 

I dutifully did so - only to discover that Tesco had a special offer on; they were selling ready-cooked burgers at half price. So I went up and ordered a couple and, when the chap who was cooking asked me what I wanted on them, I decided to splash out and said 'Ten pounds each way, please.'

 

Such nice, helpful people there. However, the mane thing is that they appear to be reaching the tail-end of this crisis now. I cannot tell you how relieved I am. This sort of thing can last for weeks -with people trotting out one lame excuse after another....

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Well, OK - although I am not sure what my name appears to be....

 

 

 

 

Ha!

 

Well, I went to Tesco the other day, since I fancied a burger. However, initially, I was unable to find them. Then a helpful young lady told me that it I walked past the dairy produce, turned left at The Booth, I would see them - directly after Becher's Brook.

 

I dutifully did so - only to discover that Tesco had a special offer on; they were selling ready-cooked burgers at half price. So I went up and ordered a couple and, when the chap who was cooking asked me what I wanted on them, I decided to splash out and said 'Ten pounds each way, please.'

 

Such nice, helpful people there. However, the mane thing is that they appear to be reaching the tail-end of this crisis now. I cannot tell you how relieved I am. This sort of thing can last for weeks -with people trotting out one lame excuse after another....

 

Well I certainly think this one has cleared the hurdle...

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Hi

 

The current DoM & the current organist at Bradford Cathedral have only been in post for a year or so. Andrew Teague, the previous organist, would have liked to get the organ rebuilt - the last lot of work, as is obvious from the varied names used for the lower manual (some couplers say "Choir", others "Positive") makes it obvious that it was done on a shoestring, so it's in effect more than 35 years.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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

 

 

......not always easy in Anglican churches unless we get the choirs back where they belong, at the west end.

 

 

Interesting view. On the continent, a majority of DsOM would like to get the choirs there, where they usually are in England or the Anglican places.

It would suppose this is true for both protestant and catholic responsibles, as singing from balconies - which would mostly be the solution on the west end - is regarded as distant from the congregation, both acoustically and regarding worship, and allowing a "parallel life" up there.

Many "Choir organs" have been purchased here in Germany through the last years, to have an alternative siting of the choirs without losing the possibility of organ accompaniment. Of course, in most cases, there is still a "big one" at the west end.

 

So, the best of both worlds might be desirable - having the choir on any central position with a capable organ there, and another instrument or stronger than the typical "nave divisions" on the west end.....?

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Interesting view. On the continent, a majority of DsOM would like to get the choirs there, where they usually are in England or the Anglican places.

It would suppose this is true for both protestant and catholic responsibles, as singing from balconies - which would mostly be the solution on the west end - is regarded as distant from the congregation, both acoustically and regarding worship, and allowing a "parallel life" up there.

Many "Choir organs" have been purchased here in Germany through the last years, to have an alternative siting of the choirs without losing the possibility of organ accompaniment. Of course, in most cases, there is still a "big one" at the west end.

 

So, the best of both worlds might be desirable - having the choir on any central position with a capable organ there, and another instrument or stronger than the typical "nave divisions" on the west end.....?

 

 

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

 

Two organs can work; I know from personal experience, but England is almost unique, (so far as I know), in having a much narrower, lower chancel area on average. Almost invariably, because of the height restriction, organs have to be installed at "ground zero" and built sideways or lengthways, rather than vertically. (I know one glorious exception, where the building is almost, by design, a continental hall-church, with which you will be familiar).

 

The major problem in England is the requirement that the East window should remain unobstructed, which means that organs have to be built into the sides of the chancel area; more often than not under quite low arches, and as I say,horizontally disposed.

 

But it is worse than that, because there is usually a main chancel-arch between nave and chancel, at which point the roof level drops dramatically; often with the worst possible roof structure consisting of a V-formation. Thus, whatever sound may find its way out of the organ, then bounces around inside the chancel area; never really getting out into the nave. A classic example is Bradford Cathedral, currently being discussed . At the console, (directly opposite the organ chamber), the sound is rather fine and certainly not lacking in volume. Go down the nave, and it tends to sound like it is in another country, for the simple reason that just about everything is heard as reflected sound.

 

Here are a few pictures of the cathedral and the interior, showing the V-formation nave roof, the low side-asiles and the chancel arch. Just beyond the chancel-arch, on the right, can be seen the position of the organ console half way up the chancel wall; the organ-chamber being directly opposite.

 

All that can be said in defence of an east-end organ, is that in the right building, it can work quite well, so long as there is a clear sightline between the congregation and the organ itself. Where the chancel area is spacious and the roof-line maintained, (preferably with a flat roof or a very wide V-formation which is almost flat), then an east end position is not a problem if the nave follows the same style.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Two organs can work; I know from personal experience, but England is almost unique, (so far as I know), in having a much narrower, lower chancel area on average. Almost invariably, because of the height restriction, organs have to be installed at "ground zero" and built sideways or lengthways, rather than vertically. (I know one glorious exception, where the building is almost, by design, a continental hall-church, with which you will be familiar).

 

Would that be Bristol Cathedral?

 

The major problem in England is the requirement that the East window should remain unobstructed, which means that organs have to be built into the sides of the chancel area; more often than not under quite low arches, and as I say,horizontally disposed.

 

Well, possibly. But in many cases, it is surely the fact that, unlike the layout of most non-conformist places of worship, Anglican churches tend to have the Sanctuary and the High Altar in front of (and below) the east window, which prohibits the placing of organs there.

 

... Here are a few pictures of the cathedral and the interior, showing the V-formation nave roof, the low side-asiles and the cahncel arch. Just beyond the chancel-arch, on the right, can be seen the position of the rgan console half way up the chancel wall; the organ-chamber being directly opposite.

 

Um.... where is 'here', MM?

 

Best,

 

MM

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Would that be Bristol Cathedral?

 

Well, possibly. But in many cases, it is surely the fact that, unlike the layout of most non-conformist places of worship, Anglican churches tend to have the Sanctuary and the High Altar in front of (and below) the east window, which prohibits the placing of organs there.

 

Um.... where is 'here', MM?

 

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

 

 

I don't know whether you mean the two organ or the hall church.....no matter...I was thinking Grimsby PC and Shipley PC; the latter just a great oblong box, with the organ situated at gallery level in a fine acoustic. (Harry Bramma's favourite Binns, on which he used to practice).

 

The positioning of the organ became a huge problem after the introduction of surpliced choirs in the sanctuary, but a few of the later churches got around this by allowing the organ to speak clearly from a high position at the corner(s) of the chancel entrance(s) as at Liverpool Cathedral. (Even that sounds very different, depending from where you are listening).

 

There is no doubt but that a west-end position is the ideal acoustically, but would we be willing to sacrifice a sanctuary choir?

 

Sorry about not posting the pretty pictures, which all being well should be ..............here:-

 

http://www.bing.com/...edral&FORM=IGRE

 

 

Best,

 

MM

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