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Mander Organs
Geoff McMahon

William Drake

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I am sure the members of this discussion board will be saddened to hear that Bill Drake died on Saturday after a long illness.

 

Bill produced a number of significant instruments over the years, one of the most recent being the new organ in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral in London. His work was always of the highest standard, following historic principles and also very interesting tonally. He was also something of a loner, he never wanted to join either the ISO or the IBO, preferring to paddle his own canoe without outside interference. But there is no doubting the quality of his work.

 

Knowing his time was limited, he ensured an orderly passing over of the firm to his experienced team, so the firm will continue without a break. It is currently working on the restoration of the very interesting Bridge organ at Christ Church Spitalfields, which is due for completion later on this year.

 

Bill was one of only two British organ builders to train in Germany right up to completion of the German Master's Certificate.

 

John

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Bill will also be remembered for the pioneering work he did along with John Wellingham at the John Loosemore Centre in Buckfastleigh when one could experience some superb instruments (both old and new) along with highly appropriate tuition and amazingly varied performance opportunities. There was always a warm welcome and I also received a great deal of assistance when researching the organ builder Roger Yates with whom Bill had worked. Bill's legacy is both large and varied and many will have been affected by his work.

 

A

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In prayer, I remember a lovely man.

 

With gratitude, I recall some marvellous courses: e.g. Jacques van Oortmerssen on Sweelinck, Harald Vogel on Buxtehude.

 

Soon after his masterful restoration of the Father Willis in Totnes, I was fortunate to play a recital; another time, one on the totally different 'Dutch' organ, in the same town. A great privilege.

 

His meticulous craftsmanship will act as one memorial.

 

His organs will last down the generations.

 

Bill, RIP.

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Although I never met the man I have seen pictures of his work in Choir & Organ and I was also lucky enough to attend the opening recital on his organ for the Victoria Rooms (University of Bristol Music Department), NPOR D07093, back in 1996.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D07093

 

The organ world has lost another great. RIP.

 

Dave

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