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I don't think I am breaking any confidences by mentioning this as the abbey are not being secretive about it and the information is circling independently on the grapevine, but I have been told by two sources within the abbey that they are currently seeking quotes from a range of organ builders for two new organs, a west-end instrument and a quire organ. Both my conversations were unfortunately interrupted so I have no further information. I do not know whether there will be two consoles or whether both instruments will be controlled from one. I would guess the latter since I do not see any need for two and I doubt there would be room in the west gallery (though I have never been up there). We will have to wait and see. Either way, it would seem, prima facie, to be goodbye to the Downes/Walker organ.

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NB. Accuracy warning!

 

Picked up from Facebook this week. Ian Bell has been engaged as Consultant here. The Downes/ Walker organ has gone in a skip. Fratelli Ruffatti are to build the new organ(s). No timescale given.

 

I can not see an official announcement on any websites yet so we await details with interest.

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"Picked up from Facebook this week. Ian Bell has been engaged as Consultant here. The Downes/ Walker organ has gone in a skip. Fratelli Ruffatti are to build the new organ(s). No timescale given.



I can not see an official announcement on any websites yet so we await details with interest."



I note your accuracy warning, but is it to be believed that there's now no Downes/Walker at Buckfast? I always felt that the Downes conceived instrument rather stringy in tone, but perhaps this was influenced by the monastic essence of the place. If the Fratelli Ruffatti rumour is to be gospel, they have built some fine-sounding jobs in America. But can no English builder be found?

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I am sure that the abbey will want the new organ up and running in time for their millennium celebrations in 2018.

 

The Downes/Walker has indeed gone. The new organ will have six divisions, four in the quire and a Great and Swell in the west gallery. I don't know whether the fourth quire manual will be an Echo Organ as before, or a Solo division.

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I think the days of protectionism in the organ-building world are over. The client has the option of choosing an instrument from any organ builder in the world, in just the same way that UK builders are free to tender, often successfully, for jobs in the USA, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Japan, and Australia.

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The barriers are, to a large extent, down, but in the past it seemed that there was a denominational bias against British builders (with some exceptions, e.g. Willis built a number of notable organs in RC churches but a foot-in-the-door may have been the amalgamation with Lewis and therefore the Courage connection). Post VAT2, the primary requirements seemed to be "tracker action and not British" and there were some very mediocre, but pretty-looking jobs springing up. But even before that, there were some odd beasts around, such as that by Bettex of Steinsfurt in Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Joseph, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, with its complete set of German gadgets and occasionally hilariously translated names (I bet "Roller Away" had a few people guessing until they worked out what it did).

 

Overall, some of the new jobs look fabulous - Merton College, Oxford and St. George's, Hanover Square (apart from the damn silly console). I bet they sound just as good, too.

 

I was only ever in Buckfast Abbey once and I never heard the organ. From reports, it seemed to be very much an individual so I guess it's sad if it has just been tipped out.

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Does anyone know what actually happened to the Downes organ? Did it all really end up in a skip??

 

It was dismantled quite some time ago when the interior of the abbey was undergoing extensive cleaning. For the last two or three years the abbey has been using an old Copeman Hart toaster (a pretty vile instrument, but one that sounds surprisingly well in the glorious abbey acoustics). I may be mistaken, but I believe the pipework was being stored by Michael Farley, who was latterly responsible for maintaining the organ. If so, I would expect that he now effectively owns the pipes.

 

I do rather lament the passing of the Walker/Downes. It was a slightly strange instrument (it was Downes, after all), but there was nothing really wrong with it that a pair of decent Great reeds wouldn't have cured. It had a wealth of colour at the soft end - just heavenly for plainsong services, I would have thought. Then again, the musicians on site are the ones who have to play it and they have every right to decide what is right for them, especially since money is rumoured to be no problem (it must be all that Buckie!)

 

 

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Having just revisited Ralph Downes' 'Baroque Tricks' it was interesting to read of the many tinkerings that went on at Buckfast over the years and how the pipework was always a bit of a 'mixed bag'. I also recall some nice quiet effects but the choruses etc. did not do too well under closer scrutiny and the best effect was seemingly the abbey acoustic! There were some quite exciting recordings of French music from there sometime back that seem to bare this out. We await future news with interest.

 

A

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The EFTA/EEC/EU began long before the 20th century. We exported Dallams to France and imported Bernhardt Schmidt, for instance. Fair exchange, non/nein ?

 

This will be the first Ruffatti in the UK, will it not ? They have an established international footprint and have built successfully in places with a problematic layout. They have some huge 5-manuals in the States.

 

In any case, a builder with half a brain could hardly go wrong in that glorious acoustic; the proposal seems eminently sensible, too. If money is no object, that is up to them. Is honey that profitable, by the way ? Or, do they have other sources (sauces ?) of income ?

 

I’m sure Michael Farley will make good use of the ‘Downes pipes’, if he is now their custodian. I know some of his work and respect it.

 

As for ‘how many consoles’ ? Ruffatti has provided some with a Dalek-like persuasion in other places and have a penchant (rather, inclinazione) for the orizzontali (chamade). There is certainly a strong case (sorry, unintentional !) for a west end battería, as at St Paul’s, and such eastward fizzing fanfaronades could be sensational.

 

Every couple of years, I find myself in Devon. I hope that I’ll be able to hear a masterpiece there, possibly with the slightest of Italian accents, in the nearish future.

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The EFTA/EEC/EU began long before the 20th century. We exported Dallams to France and imported Bernhardt Schmidt, for instance. Fair exchange, non/nein ?

 

This will be the first Ruffatti in the UK, will it not ? They have an established international footprint and have built successfully in places with a problematic layout. They have some huge 5-manuals in the States.

 

In any case, a builder with half a brain could hardly go wrong in that glorious acoustic; the proposal seems eminently sensible, too. If money is no object, that is up to them. Is honey that profitable, by the way ? Or, do they have other sources (sauces ?) of income ?

 

I’m sure Michael Farley will make good use of the ‘Downes pipes’, if he is now their custodian. I know some of his work and respect it.

 

As for ‘how many consoles’ ? Ruffatti has provided some with a Dalek-like persuasion in other places and have a penchant (rather, inclinazione) for the orizzontali (chamade). There is certainly a strong case (sorry, unintentional !) for a west end battería, as at St Paul’s, and such eastward fizzing fanfaronades could be sensational.

 

Every couple of years, I find myself in Devon. I hope that I’ll be able to hear a masterpiece there, possibly with the slightest of Italian accents, in the nearish future.

Is it definitely to be a Ruffatti? Has an official announcement been made?

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Overall, some of the new jobs look fabulous - Merton College, Oxford and St. George's, Hanover Square (apart from the damn silly console). I bet they sound just as good, too.

 

I was only ever in Buckfast Abbey once and I never heard the organ. From reports, it seemed to be very much an individual so I guess it's sad if it has just been tipped out.

 

Hanover Square console - absolutely. What was the point? (Some of it looks plastic.)

 

Buckfast - I played it once or twice. It was quite an exciting sound in the reverberant acoustics of the abbey. It also had a number of beautiful quiet stops. It was known (amongst some locals) as 'the clarinet organ' - since it had one on the Pedal - but in three pitches (from the Swell), another on the Choir and the afore-mentioned one in the Swell, available in two pitches.

 

However, in the abbey, it made a good sound - and also recorded quite well. (David M. Patrick's LP of Duruflé's Suite, Op. 5, came over crystal clear - and not at all stringy or weak.)

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It was dismantled quite some time ago when the interior of the abbey was undergoing extensive cleaning. For the last two or three years the abbey has been using an old Copeman Hart toaster (a pretty vile instrument, but one that sounds surprisingly well in the glorious abbey acoustics). I may be mistaken, but I believe the pipework was being stored by Michael Farley, who was latterly responsible for maintaining the organ. If so, I would expect that he now effectively owns the pipes.

 

I do rather lament the passing of the Walker/Downes. It was a slightly strange instrument (it was Downes, after all), but there was nothing really wrong with it that a pair of decent Great reeds wouldn't have cured. It had a wealth of colour at the soft end - just heavenly for plainsong services, I would have thought. Then again, the musicians on site are the ones who have to play it and they have every right to decide what is right for them, especially since money is rumoured to be no problem (it must be all that Buckie!)

 

 

 

Indeed. (Particularly with regard to the G.O. reeds.)

 

In fact, there was a space for one further stop-key on the G.O. (between the mixtures and the reeds, if I recall correctly). I once asked the then organist Dom Sebastian Wolff, OSB, what it was for and he replied "Oh, a spare slide - if anyone had any ideas." I suggested a decent 16ft. chorus reed might be a good idea. However, I have no idea exactly how much room was available in the case, nor even on what soundboard (flues or reeds) the spare slide was situated.

 

I

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Incidentally, I appear to have lost the ability to split quoted posts, in order to reply to specific points in order. Could anyone suggest what I may have clicked inadvertently, and how I could revert to the former layout, please?

 

Thank you.

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Is honey that profitable, by the way ? Or, do they have other sources (sauces ?) of income ?

 

Buckie is big business.

 

As for ‘how many consoles’ ?

 

At my age I have great difficulty remembering the last thing my good lady wife said to me, but I think I remember being told that there will be only one console.

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At my age I have great difficulty remembering the last thing my good lady wife said to me...

 

Then again, I am advised that, for a man of my age, this is perfectly normal.

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Buckie is big business.

From this, it looks as if their ‘Tonic’ is dominant in the market !

 

I’ve managed to find the shot below of the west end of the Abbey. It can be seen that the gallery is capacious- in fact, one bay of the nave in depth- and looks more than sturdy enough to support most installations.

 

It would, presumably, be the wish that pipework avoided obtruding on the stained glass windows.

 

[To clarify: in my previous post, #10, I made allusion to ‘Daleks’. I was not imagining a console rasping ‘Excommunicate !’, before zapping the congregation with its en chamade weapon; rather, referring to their floor-roving capabilities. In other words, that Ruffatti had made movable consoles.]

 

761.jpg

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BUCKFAST: Ruffatti; 100 Speaking Stops; Two consoles; Two-year project; Cost: £2.5 million; Non English voicing.

 

Simply what I've heard and I would not question the source.

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Two consoles

 

Assuming that one will be roughly in its former position in the quire, I wonder where the other will be. If it's down in the nave and at, or moveable to, the entrance to the quire, that would be very handy for concerts.

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Assuming that one will be roughly in its former position in the quire, I wonder where the other will be. If it's down in the nave and at, or moveable to, the entrance to the quire, that would be very handy for concerts.

 

I don't know where the consoles are to be sited, one may be on the west gallery where part of the organ is to be installed. My guess is that the other console will be movable, making it available either in the quire or nave,the latter position for recitals.

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Well. it's been a scandal for decades ....all other comments have been redacted because of the increasing restrictions on free speech in our free and fair country

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Well. it's been a scandal for decades ....all other comments have been redacted because of the increasing restrictions on free speech in our free and fair country

 

 

???? - Am I missing something - or just being thick?

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I agree with SL. What on earth can this remark mean? Who's redacted what, where and when? Or maybe we are only now finding out what's happening because of leaks from Edward Snowden? Or Julian Assange?

 

(I jest of course, but it's nevertheless a slightly odd remark).

 

CEP

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