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Jonathan Eyre

News from Bradford Cathedral

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We are pleased to report the completion of the first phase of restoration work at Bradford Cathedral. The instrument now benefits from a revitalised and redesigned console, with new keyboards, pedal board, swell pedals, toe and thumb piston layouts, sequencer and stepper facilities, and a new bench, all commissioned from P&S and installed by A J Carter of Wakefield, working in conjunction with Andrew Cooper. The new console has considerably eased the experience of playing the instrument, and resident players and visitors alike are delighted by it.

Fundraising is ongoing, with £118,000 raised in total since the launch of the Organ Appeal two years ago. We are now turning our attention towards plans for a nave pipe division, playable from the console, to enhance the projection of organ sound through the building, and in the second phase we will also attend to the transmission for the whole instrument.
We are pleased with the progress that has been made, not least as the project was embarked in the eye of a severe recession, and we are most grateful to the many individual donors and supporters as well as the grant-making trusts and bodies that have kindly supported the restoration appeal.
Alex Woodrow and Jonathan Eyre
Bradford Cathedral

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Hi Jonathan

Hope you are well...

Congratulations so far...

However....a Nave division? Wasn't one there before?

 

Best wishes

Richard

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Hi Jonathan

Hope you are well...

Congratulations so far...

However....a Nave division? Wasn't one there before?

 

Best wishes

Richard

 

 

Yes - there was - replete with a 'Purcell Trumpet' and an undulating rank, (And a controversial four-faced case, by Sir Edward Maufe.) This was, I believe, later replaced by some kind of electronic division, I believe - which had an almost identical stop-list to the old pipe section.

 

Out of interest, what happened to the pipe-work from the old Nave organ? and will the new department be sited in a similar position?

 

However, it is good to hear the news of the console and electrical upgrade.

 

On paper, the scheme of the main organ looks to be reasonably sensible (save for the lack of sub-unison tone on the G.O. and a Solo Organ which does not know what it wants to be) - is it as useful in practice? Also, are there any photographs of the upgraded console which are available, please?

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We are now turning our attention towards plans for a nave pipe division, playable from the console, to enhance the projection of organ sound through the building, and in the second phase we will also attend to the transmission for the whole instrument.

 

I'm very pleased to hear it (or will be, hopefully!). I have always regarded the replacement of a perfectly good pipe organ in the nave by an electronic substitute as a mistake. As I understand it, the objection at the time was that the presence of a 'box on stilts' got in the way of the view! I, too, would be interested to hear where the new division will end up and, for that matter, what its composition will be. I don't think there are many suitable places for it, actually.

 

I also agree about the lack of a double on the Great, although there is on the Swell of course. As I understand it, there isn't really much available space in the organ chamber, certainly for a 16' stop.

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I'm very pleased to hear it (or will be, hopefully!). I have always regarded the replacement of a perfectly good pipe organ in the nave by an electronic substitute as a mistake. As I understand it, the objection at the time was that the presence of a 'box on stilts' got in the way of the view! I, too, would be interested to hear where the new division will end up and, for that matter, what its composition will be. I don't think there are many suitable places for it, actually.

 

I also agree about the lack of a double on the Great, although there is on the Swell of course. As I understand it, there isn't really much available space in the organ chamber, certainly for a 16' stop.

 

I was thinking more of the lack of flue doubles; providing that it is not a badly voiced Bourdon, with an indistinct bass and a muddy treble, a good flue double on the Swell Organ can be invaluable, particularly when accompanying Psalms.

 

As far as the G.O. is concerned, it should be possible to provide something. Is the bass octave of the Pedal Open Metal any use for the lowest twelve notes (in order to save space), or is the scale too big? If not this, what about the Violone - or is this a wooden rank?

 

It does seem odd that there are four chorus reeds on the G.O. (albeit with one stop being an extension), but no sub-unison tone of any kind.

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Look at the Hill spec of 1904. Flue doubles on Great and Swell - how it was deemed musically advantageous to have these removed is a mystery, yet it happened elsewhere. Whatever is now on the Swell Bourdon slide (even if it is not the added Mixture God forbid) might be awkward enough to tune - reaching down between various 8ft basses in the vicinity.

Somewhere I have press cuttings from the time of the removal of the Nave organ - it was quite well covered in the Yorkshire Post at the time. It was suggested that the organ had found a home in Australia.

As one of the fore-runner nave divisions in any British Cathedral I believe it fulfilled its musical role very effectively.

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The Purcell Trumpet was moved to the main organ, wasn't it?

 

I remember visiting Walkers' works at Brandon in 1977 and seeing pipework from Bradford awaiting attention. They made some modifications to it at that time, mainly taking the sting out of the mixtures, if I remember rightly.

 

I liked the Maufe nave case - pity they got rid of it.

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Paul Hale may know what happened to the Nave organ. I have a memory (maybe faulty!) that it was bought and installed in a church in Kent that needed a Nave division but I can not remember where. Paul was advisor I think.

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Even the earliest recorded specification (1822), a three manual Booth of 1822, had no 16 foots on Great or Choir but there was a 16 foot flue on the Choir. However, the Great had a Quint 5/1/3!

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Possibly the slightly eccentric stoplist dating from the HN&B work in the '60s is simply down to what HN&B were doing then. A trawl through some other of their jobs and indeed those by others will reveal decidedly top heavy choruses, stratospheric Cimbel mixtures, unsupported mutations, fractional reeds (does anyone still ask for a Rohr Schalmei 4' in their pedal division?) and other chiffing exotica. Rebuilds at Bath Abbey, Chelmsford Cathedral, St Mary's Cathedral Glasgow etc. come to mind - all changed now with hindsight but all very much signs of the times. Great fun to play though!

 

A

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Would it be possible to ask Alex Woodrow and Jonathan Eyre about the possible location and composition of the proposed nave organ?

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... I remember visiting Walkers' works at Brandon in 1977 and seeing pipework from Bradford awaiting attention. They made some modifications to it at that time, mainly taking the sting out of the mixtures, if I remember rightly. ...

 

 

 

I am amazed that anyone was doing this as early as 1977. This was still the era of mutations which were capable of upsetting the local dog population and mixtures which sounded like glass being deposited in a bottle bank.

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You don't need sixties mutations for that. We have an annual Blessing of the Animals Service and I've worked out exactly what combinations make the dogs howl :P

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We used to have two cats, sisters. One of them promptly left the room whenever I started to play the piano, though she was unfazed by the (loudspeaker) organ in the house. Therefore, it could have been that my piano technique was less attractive to her ears than my organ technique. However her sister slumbered on, unperturbed by any of it. We later discovered she was almost deaf.

 

CEP

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You don't need sixties mutations for that. We have an annual Blessing of the Animals Service and I've worked out exactly what combinations make the dogs howl :P

 

We have one of these, too.

 

We have also experienced a perhaps even more spectacular display of canine behaviour. A couple of years ago, the service had just started, when the door opened again, to admit a little old lady and her (female) poodle, who then proceeded up the aisle. The church fell silent as about twelve (male) dogs all turned, their eyes fixed on this vision of loveliness, while pints of drool formed puddles on the stone floor . The silence continued for a few seconds, then chaos ensued as twelve dogs simultaneously attempted to drag their owners across other members of the congregation, in order to um, 'make themselves known' to the new arrival.

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'Many thanks for all of the interest in the Bradford organ project. If I were able to register as a member in order to post, I would gladly have done so; this not being possible, I am grateful to Jonathan for posting on my behalf.

 

To confirm, yes there used to be a nave pipe division at the west end, which was dismantled in 1987. The Purcell Trumpet was indeed retained and can now be seen en chamade at the very top of the chancel organ case. If anybody knows for definite what happened to the remainder of the pipework, I should be fascinated to know. My understanding is that nobody knows quite what in fact ended up where, and that various ranks went to various places, in a rather piecemeal fashion.

 

The previous nave organ occupied a central position at the back of the Cathedral, blocking the (rather fine) West End window, not to mention eclipsing a good deal of natural light. The proposal for the new division is that it be sited above the space taken up by the current shop. This is on the south west side of the nave, but far enough forward and not too far off-centre such that we (and our builders A J Carter and consultant Paul Hale, as well as delegates from the CFCE) are entirely confident that it will assist the projection of organ sound immeasurably and lend the extra presence of sound that is needed for larger services, especially those of a processional nature.

 

As to the make-up of the division, exciting prospects are afoot, and a specific instrument in mind that will form the basis of this division, but the proposals will not be formally ratified by Chapter until later this month. I hope to post in a couple of weeks' time, in the light of the impending Chapter meeting, to report our exact plans for the specification and to let readers know of the provenance of the pipework.'

 

Alex Woodrow

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This all sounds very exciting - I for one look forward to hearing more anon.

 

Thanks

A

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This from the "Music and Musicians Diary" in the Yorkshire Post, published sometime during 1987 but the exact date is missing. Entitled "Stop and go....."

 

"A piece of Bradford's musical heritage could soon be heading Down Under if negotiations for its purchase are successful.

 

The chance to buy a cathedral organ is a rare occurrence but the opportunity arises this month and a potential Australian buyer has already emerged.

 

Work on re-ordering the interior of Bradford Cathedral which involves removing the pews and creating a meeting area at the rear of the Nave is scheduled to begin next month. However, the centre of the planned open space is at present occupied by a 34ft. tall Nave organ, an insensitive example of 1960's ecclesiastical kitsch, designed by Sir Edward Maufe.

 

The free-standing Hill Norman & Beard instrument of 13 stops is played from the console of the main organ some 60 or so feet away and was installed to reinforce congregational singing.

 

The only solution was an organ transplant. The instrument, whose purchaser must supply his own console, is therefore on the market for between £8,000 and £10,000. Talks have already taken place with one American and negotiations with a school in Australia are proceeding. In the meantime the organ is to be dismantled and crated.

 

Some form of computerised amplification of the main organ is envisaged to replace the present division. The Cathedral's administrator says: "The Nave organ is hideous and it was in the way of the re-ordering scheme. There were no objections to our selling it." "

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The above item prompted a few letters, and from this Bradfordian...

 

"...The planned re-ordering certainly exhibits the whims of the Cathedral authorities. Twenty five years ago they were determined to have this instrument. Now they are equally keen to have it out. In AD 2012, Bradfordians may well ask "What on earth made them remove that perfectly good Nave organ, which belonged where it was?" "

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Hi

 

It all sounds very interesting Alex. Almost makes me wish I was still in Bradford. I can certainly vouch for the need for the Nave organ, having once played for a funeral with a sizeable congregation when the digital department was unusable. Since the large congregation sang well, it needed a lot of organ (including the chamade for "thine be the Glory" - although at the console the Solo Trumpet sounds a little louder. A larger congregation would have left the organ inaudible at the back I guess.

 

Hopefully I will be able to visit once the work is complete/

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

(former President, Bradford Organists' Assoc)

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