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Mander Organs
Neil Crawford

Canterbury Cathedral & Manchester Cathedral, New organs

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I admire the intellectual capabilities (far beyond mine) of those who can apparently design organs by doing nothing more than scribbling down a list of stops in some room far remote from the building in question. The late Lt Col George Dixon was one of these, as was his mate Cecil Clutton (and he could barely play a note, apparently). I am glad that we seem to have moved some way beyond this dilettante phase of organ consultancy which was so prevalent in the Imperial British era of organ building - though there is still some way to go.

 

CEP

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It was a nice 32', too, of metal I think.

 

Dixon may not have been able to play, but he pulled together a lot of theory into a cohesive whole and no one can deny that the result, as realised principally by Arthur Harrison but also by every other builder to some extent, was a tremendously successful instrument in the opinion of the day, and one which is still infuential and admired.

 

Sam Clutton did learn to play in later life. I heard him play Guilain's Second Suite on his Mander organ at Blackheath, and he tried the organ in St. Magnus Cathedral during my time, having turned up unexpectedly one Sunday. In any case, he knew better than most organists of the time what various schools of organ building sounded like and his influence was good.

 

There are still some organ-playing advisors about whose idea of an organ is still heavily North German neo-baroque, and some organ builders who have funny ideas about specification and balance.

 

Although I'm sure Harrisons' would make a wonderful job at Canterbury, I very much admired the organ as left by our hosts at the last rebuild. It did the job it was meant to do very well indeed, and no one is going to tell me it ceased to sound like a Father Willis. It was a mistake to lose the Solo Organ, although the argument at the time was sound enough.

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pcnd5584    0

It was a nice 32', too, of metal I think.

 

Dixon may not have been able to play, but he pulled together a lot of theory into a cohesive whole and no one can deny that the result, as realised principally by Arthur Harrison but also by every other builder to some extent, was a tremendously successful instrument in the opinion of the day, and one which is still infuential and admired.

 

Sam Clutton did learn to play in later life. I heard him play Guilain's Second Suite on his Mander organ at Blackheath, and he tried the organ in St. Magnus Cathedral during my time, having turned up unexpectedly one Sunday. In any case, he knew better than most organists of the time what various schools of organ building sounded like and his influence was good.

 

There are still some organ-playing advisors about whose idea of an organ is still heavily North German neo-baroque, and some organ builders who have funny ideas about specification and balance.

 

Although I'm sure Harrisons' would make a wonderful job at Canterbury, I very much admired the organ as left by our hosts at the last rebuild. It did the job it was meant to do very well indeed, and no one is going to tell me it ceased to sound like a Father Willis. It was a mistake to lose the Solo Organ, although the argument at the time was sound enough.

 

David, you make several excellent points - with which I would agree. I also wish that Allan Wicks had decided to retain the Solo Organ at Canterbury. Whist I take your point, I do know a few colleagues who have had to play choral services on the instrument and who state that it is really only a large two-clavier organ for this purpose - the Choir Organ is not quite so useful for accompaniment as it may be for playing some repertoire.

 

I can appreciate Colin's point regarding simply drawing up a desired stop-list for an organ in a building which may not be intimately known to the person drawing up the scheme. On the other hand, I can think of a number of cases where a consultant drew-up a scheme (which was, ironically, nothing more detailed than a list of desirable stops, couplers and accessories) and which was built to the letter, as it were. In one case, the instrument was clearly inadequate from several standpoints, right from the day of its inauguration. It was necessary to spend many tens of thousands of pounds within a year or two, in order to attempt to make good some of the deficiencies. For the record, these shortcomings were apparent to all who played the instrument as first rebuilt; this was not merely some whim of a power-mad organist.

 

For the record, I think that the 32ft. flue at Canterbury was of wood. I believe that it was added around 1905 - again, if my memory serves me correctly, by Norman and Beard. As far as I know, the reason for removing it in 1978, was that the pipes leaked and were thus ineffective. Presumably they were past economic repair. Metal pipes would be extremely unlikely to leak - at least not in a way which could not be repaired successfully.

 

Whilst holding the post of Sub Organist at one of England's greater churches (not the one at which I am currently employed), my boss became objectionable and, as I felt, rather unreasonable for a few weeks. Out of spite, I did re-design the pipe organ on paper with nothing above a Piccolo on the G.O. and with a plethora of dull 8ft. flues on most claviers. It then occurred to me that it would be I who should have to play the wretched machine several times each week. Needless to say, the scheme was quickly discarded in the nearest waste-paper-bin.

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Ive heard but not sure if true. Canterbury Cathedral have awarded Harrison & Harrison the contract for a new organ in the Quire perhaps including original pipe work?

Also Manchester will getting a Ken Tickell organ.

 

Anyone got any news?

 

 

Regards

 

 

Neil

The completion date for the Canterbury H&H has not yet been made public. According to Cathedral sources, the Manchester Tickell should be playable by Christmas 2017.

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Goodness, that is a stunningly generous gift! Indeed, it's double the figure that the Cathedral originally had said a new organ could cost in a newsletter a few years ago. What will happen to the existing Harrison - is there much in it that is worth saving? How much of it still works? I heard it many times growing up but never played it, and always had the impression that it was a somewhat untamed monster compared to its more refined peers in Coventry Cathedral and the RFH. With such a generous donation, Manchester will have no excuse not to gain a world-class organ - and I have no doubt that any of our country's finest organ builders could deliver such an instrument.

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pcnd5584    0

Goodness, that is a stunningly generous gift! Indeed, it's double the figure that the Cathedral originally had said a new organ could cost in a newsletter a few years ago. What will happen to the existing Harrison - is there much in it that is worth saving? How much of it still works? I heard it many times growing up but never played it, and always had the impression that it was a somewhat untamed monster compared to its more refined peers in Coventry Cathedral and the RFH. With such a generous donation, Manchester will have no excuse not to gain a world-class organ - and I have no doubt that any of our country's finest organ builders could deliver such an instrument.

 

Possibly so - but is the Harrison organ really that irreparable? Or is this another Worcester? From what I have heard, it sounds as if the intention is to dispose entirely of the existing instrument and start afresh. Whilst the present organ does have a somewhat unusual scheme (I thought that the stop-list immediately prior to its rebuilding at the hands of the Luftwaffe was better and more cohesive), it includes a vast quantity of almost certainly superbly made and voiced pipe-work. (There are, for one thing, two full-length 32ft. ranks - I wonder if these at least will be kept?) I cannot help but wonder if a rather cheaper solution would have been to restore and alter the existing instrument, replacing unused ranks - and those judged to be unsuitable for some reason. Surely it would have been possible to create a fine instrument from the re-use of much of the existing material. In any case, a fair proportion of the present instrument probably dates from 1952-57, since the previous instrument was grievously damaged.

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pcnd5584    0

I believe much of the Solo is being retained, as well as a significant amount of the Pedal.

 

Thank you for this, GrossGeigen.

 

However, whilst this does at least provides some re-assurance, surely there is plenty of material within the G.O. and Swell organs also worthy of retention.

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Vox Humana    0

However, whilst this does at least provides some re-assurance, surely there is plenty of material within the G.O. and Swell organs also worthy of retention.

 

That is as maybe, but with this sort of money sloshing around, where's the incentive? If you have a particular end result in mind, why not go straight for it with new pipework? I do note GrossGeigen's comment, however. I will be interested to see how Manchester use all this funding.

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sprondel    0

Well, shouldn't that be an easy one? Do a reasonable, well thought-out rebuild/restoration for 1.5 or even 1.8 million, and set the remainder aside to support maintenance, a decent recital series along with the necessary PR work, an educational programme etc. If you spend it all on the product, and it finally sits there, not a single note has been played yet, let alone found its mark.

 

Best wishes,

Friedrich

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I hope they replace Norman Cocker's Tuba, which I believe was removed some years ago (there's another "Orchestral Tuba") and was in store at Durham.

 

Although I also believe that Cocker's Tuba Tune was composed for a different instrument - the Hill at St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork.

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sbarber49    0

I hope they replace Norman Cocker's Tuba, which I believe was removed some years ago (there's another "Orchestral Tuba") and was in store at Durham.

 

Although I also believe that Cocker's Tuba Tune was composed for a different instrument - the Hill at St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork.

Out of interest, how much of it is Hill now?

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pcnd5584    0

Out of interest, how much of it is Hill now?

 

Probably some of the pipe-work. The last time I played it, I was rather disappointed with the sound. Since then, it has been rebuilt. Whilst I can find a number of photographs of parts of the new instrument, I have so far been unable to locate a stop-list for the present organ. However, I think that there have been some substantial changes, including a new West End division and the re-siting of the Choir Organ, together with a new console. Does anyone have any further information on this instrument, please?

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Cork - I think Hele added the Solo Organ and a large open to the Great. The local builder, Megahy, had previously moved it into the famous pit which it inhabits.

 

I always liked it - it was one of the relatively few Hills which I admired (I am somewhat of a Philistine that way). The recent rebuild, with west end division et al, seems rather extravagant to me. It's not a particularly big church, although it has a great air of space and majesty. Still, at least it means they are still supportive of the music there. More power to the elbow of Malcolm Wisener, the organist.

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There is a bit about the organ on the Wikipedia page for the cathedral. Unfortunately, the link at the bottom of the page did not link through for me and the Cathedral website also appears to have bits no longer there under the music section. This used to be on the Shepherd Bros Irish tuning round so I don't know if Eric has access to an up to date spec.

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Kenneth Tickell

Manchester Cathedral, UK

Kenneth Tickell and Company are proud to announce that they have been commissioned to build a new organ for the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George in Manchester.
The new organ has been designed to enhance worship in both the chancel and nave of the cathedral, as well as being a distinguished concert and recital instrument. The musical and liturgical needs of a cathedral should govern the design and placement of an instrument, and for most of the working life of this cathedral an organ, or portions of an organ, have been included on the screen. The beautiful medieval screen will be reinforced to allow the new organ to sit above it with case fronts facing both East to the altar and quire, where daily services are sung, and West to the newly paved nave where Sunday morning services, many concerts and diocesan services take place.

The new organ, of six divisions, comprises 79 stops over four manuals and pedal. The main screen case will contain the Great, Swell and Pedal, arranged to speak equally east and west. A Choir organ speaks east into the chancel and a west facing Positive organ provides solo repertoire orientated stops. Both of these divisions will play from the same manual. On the south side of the chancel, a two-level Solo organ will be provided in a position least evident from the nave, allowing new eastward vistas to be revealed when the current organ is removed. The Jesus Chapel pedal 32' stops will be retained as will two of the high pressure solo reeds and the Contre Viole. The organ will have tracker key action for Great, Swell, Positive and screen Pedal, and electric action for the Solo, Choir and 32' pedal chests. All coupling will be electric.

The organ may be played from either of two consoles; a mechanical action screen console positioned on the north side of the case, or the mobile electric-action console in the main body of the building. Construction will begin in the workshop in 2015 with completion early in 2017.

 

 

The specification for Manchester Cathedral:-

http://www.tickell-organs.co.uk/specInfo/Manchester.htm

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AJJ    0

This looks very exciting. One point however - I wonder how the divisions in the main case can be equally effective from the east and west. I note the 2 x Open Diapason arrangement on the Great as at Gloucester but unless the other pipework is divided west and east (also as Gloucester) then there would presumably need to be some sort of compromise. Hopefully it will not be on a north/south orientation as at Exeter or Wells where to my ears at least the overall effect can be disappointingly diffused - indeed at Wells it often sounds to me as if it is in another building! Presumably also the Swell will have two sets of shutters.

 

We await further details with interest!

 

A

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Canterbury Cathedral Organ , Project Confirmed awarded to H&H.

 

Chapter have appointed an organ builder, Harrisons & Harrisons of Durham, to design the reconstruction of the Willis Organ in the Quire triforium as a four manual. The plan is to divide the organ’s pipework between the north and south triforia of the Quire so that a better musical balance is struck as well as restoring the organ to its full 19th Century capacity. Moving forward depends on finding an acceptable design for a new organ console which is to be positioned in the North Quire Aisle, above and behind the choir stalls. Once the console issue has been resolved, the Organ rebuild can move ahead, but it will take up to 2 years to reconstruct the organ and we still have to achieve full funding for the project.

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Interesting you have homed in on aspects of the console Neil as it has now assumed even greater importance in the UK now it is described as 'the office'. I would have thought that with the organ now to be split between north and south, design work might have been directed to the two organ cases, if this has not already been done, or are the two haves to be just positioned at the front of the triforia? I realise you have just relayed the information as released but surely all those goodly bodies who vet such things after much committee consideration will be more focused on the cases and the ensuing discussions, which must also have gone on at Worcester and Llandaff, rather than a structure to support a console (which we know H&H are very good at making)!

 

I wonder what the cases will look like?

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Canterbury Cathedral Organ , Project Confirmed awarded to H&H.

 

Chapter have appointed an organ builder, Harrisons & Harrisons of Durham, to design the reconstruction of the Willis Organ in the Quire triforium as a four manual. The plan is to divide the organ’s pipework between the north and south triforia of the Quire so that a better musical balance is struck as well as restoring the organ to its full 19th Century capacity. Moving forward depends on finding an acceptable design for a new organ console which is to be positioned in the North Quire Aisle, above and behind the choir stalls. Once the console issue has been resolved, the Organ rebuild can move ahead, but it will take up to 2 years to reconstruct the organ and we still have to achieve full funding for the project.

 

 

Is the Nave organ remaining as it is? Having the console above the north stalls would make it very remote - visibility and hearing-wise - for nave services...

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Interesting you have homed in on aspects of the console Neil as it has now assumed even greater importance in the UK now it is described as 'the office'. I would have thought that with the organ now to be split between north and south, design work might have been directed to the two organ cases, if this has not already been done, or are the two haves to be just positioned at the front of the triforia? I realise you have just relayed the information as released but surely all those goodly bodies who vet such things after much committee consideration will be more focused on the cases and the ensuing discussions, which must also have gone on at Worcester and Llandaff, rather than a structure to support a console (which we know H&H are very good at making)!

 

I wonder what the cases will look like?

 

Are there now going to be cases?

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Interesting you have homed in on aspects of the console Neil as it has now assumed even greater importance in the UK now it is described as 'the office'. I would have thought that with the organ now to be split between north and south, design work might have been directed to the two organ cases, if this has not already been done, or are the two haves to be just positioned at the front of the triforia? I realise you have just relayed the information as released but surely all those goodly bodies who vet such things after much committee consideration will be more focused on the cases and the ensuing discussions, which must also have gone on at Worcester and Llandaff, rather than a structure to support a console (which we know H&H are very good at making)!

 

I wonder what the cases will look like?

They may be further along then we think as the statement i found on the Canterbury Cathedral USA Friends website published 2014! Harrisons are not saying much on the project

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pcnd5584    0

I note, with interest, that the authorities at Selby Abbey are hoping to acquire the redundant console from the former Harrison instrument in Manchester Cathedral. There is a photograph of the console (sans draw-stop heads, and a largely blank ebony panel on the extreme right-hand side of the console) on the abbey website. It is intended that this will be restored and connected to the Hill/HN&B organ as a Nave console, in the hope that it will encourage people to attend organ recitals - which may well be the case. The lunch-time recitals at Christchurch Priory are generally well-supported, probably partly due to the fact that the Nave console and the player are on full view to the audience. It will be interesting to see if this scheme comes to fruition.

 

On the subject of the new Tickell instrument in Manchester Cathedral, does anyone know whether there are any further photographs of the installation (or at least the preparation of the site), please? I found a few of the dismantling of parts of the instrument, but nothing else since, except for one of the new console (on Facebook), again minus draw-stop heads.

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