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Electronic substitute in a Cathedral ?


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I've just read a FB comment regarding an 'un-named' Cathedral where the 2-manual Victorian organ has been replaced (but not removed - it is still played) by a 3-manual electronic. The author did not want to name the said Cathedral. Apparently the electronic is not too successful. Does anyone know where this is ? Nothing springs to mind, but it could be an RC Cathedral, which tend to be less well-known. It could be overseas, of course, but the author is UK-based.

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I am aware of a non-Anglican cathedral which - according to NPOR - has a late 19th century pipe organ, not currently being used, and a pipeless instrument said to date from the mid-1980s using additive synthesis technology; the latter, however, has 2 manuals, not 3. The authorities are investigating a possible replacement.

I won't say more, lest we contravene Forum rules. More info by PM if desired.

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I can think of two RC Cathedrals which have pipeless instruments in them. In one case the old pipe organ has been removed completely. In the second case the Victorian instrument is still there and, I'm told, playable! I visited about three years ago and I seem to remember it was tucked away in a corner - looking at it I couldn't imagine it being suitable for the building it was in - which is, possibly, why there is a pipeless instrument in use!

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I've just read a FB comment regarding an 'un-named' Cathedral where the 2-manual Victorian organ has been replaced (but not removed - it is still played) by a 3-manual electronic. The author did not want to name the said Cathedral. Apparently the electronic is not too successful. Does anyone know where this is ? Nothing springs to mind, but it could be an RC Cathedral, which tend to be less well-known. It could be overseas, of course, but the author is UK-based.

 

I know that Sheffield's RC cathedral is now without its inadequate and historically lamentably maintained T C Lewis three-manual, pending funds for restoration. The said cathedral is presently using a digital substitute and this could well be the place in question.

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I know precisely where this is, and the information is in the public domain, but I hesitate to post as I am not completely clued up with why others might be hesitant!

It's a very large building, Roman Catholic, and the pipe organ is in the South Transept - a very small two-manual with a limited specification and certainly not capable of leading a full congregation.

Toaster replacement has been there a number of years.........two manual stop tab console situated on the North side of the Choir and I would assume an external speaker system somewhere upstairs.

Better not say anymore had I!!!!

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I am not completely clued up with why others might be hesitant...

Mainly because discussion of pipeless instruments is discouraged on this board.

Anyway, this sounds very much like the one I am just off to visit.....

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It's a very large building, Roman Catholic, and the pipe organ is in the South Transept - a very small two-manual with a limited specification and certainly not capable of leading a full congregation.

 

Yes - that's one of the places i was thinking of1

 

I played St. Marie's Cathedral organ years ago for a wedding. The console was almost underneath the pipework and you had hardly any idea of the amount of sound you were making. It was quite scary! But I thought I had read, somewhere,that it had had some work done on it recently and I thought it was used for the installation of Ralph Heskett CssR, the new Bishop of Hallam. If it hasn't been done then I can't see it being done in the future - enough said!!

 

............... and then there is one other RC Cathedral with a pipeless instrument!

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I've just had a look and found a press release (from October last year) which mentions a £496,00 HLF award for the restoration of the Sheffield Lewis. It will be interesting to discover, in due course, who has been entrusted with this project.

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".....................and then there is one other RC Cathedral with a pipeless instrument!".................said SL

 

indeed, and like the one which cannot be named, a pipe organ is still there too (a Hele, though unplayable)!

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".....................and then there is one other RC Cathedral with a pipeless instrument!".................said SL

 

indeed, and like the one which cannot be named, a pipe organ is still there too (a Hele, though unplayable)!

 

I was wondering about that one!

 

So, as Damian says - that makes four!

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Actually I wasn't thinking of Sheffield, and it sounds like its real organ will be restored soon. So in addition to the "mystery" (although obvious to me, and I thought well-known) cathedrals above, there are two more.

 

 

There might be another one - and I can't find anything on NPOR about it. So that will make FIVE, including Sheffield, the one we can't/won't name and two others, one of those with a Hele instrument also present!

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".....................and then there is one other RC Cathedral with a pipeless instrument!".................said SL

 

indeed, and like the one which cannot be named, a pipe organ is still there too (a Hele, though unplayable)!

 

I assume this must be different to the one I am thinking about (not 100 miles from where I live) where the three-manual Hele pipe organ is still maintained and occasionally played, but most services are accompanied on a fairly antiquated toaster because the Hele is pitched rather sharp.

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Well David! You've let the cat out of the bag!

So Plymouth is the one I was thinking of (3 manual Hele - unplayable(?), with a 3 manual tabstop Eminent in front of it.

I cannot think where the other 2 or 3 are..........and I thought I was a real organ buff (both pipe and digital!).....

Best wishes

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I was thinking about Norwich, Salford and possibly Wrexham (which is the one I can't find on NPOR). And then to my list were added Sheffield and Plymouth.

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Thanks all for your replies, some 'cryptic', some more open. I was only asking because of the nature of the FB posting where the author really didn't want to name the Cathedral in question. I'm not sure why. If it's a dud toaster, then let the world know. I respect this Forum is not for discussion of toasters, but what I do strongly believe is that churches need to be 'educated' on the matter of longevity of electronic instruments. They have been successfully employed as short-term solutions during dedicated fund-raising for a pipe organ rebuild / replacement, but as a permanent replacement for a pipe organ, no. You are merely passing the replacement cost on to the next generation. Far better to bequeath a pipe organ.

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I've just had a look and found a press release (from October last year) which mentions a £496,00 HLF award for the restoration of the Sheffield Lewis. It will be interesting to discover, in due course, who has been entrusted with this project.

 

Pre the early 1990's and for several years the Sheffield RC Cathedral's organ was looked after by a rather dubious outfit based south of the city. After them, the reputable Wakefield-based organ builder, Andrew Carter, did what he could on a limited (inadequate) budget to keep it going. I remember the late George Sixsmith casting his experienced eye over the instrument and pronouncing it the worst T C Lewis organ he'd ever clapped eyes on.

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I respect this Forum is not for discussion of toasters, but what I do strongly believe is that churches need to be 'educated' on the matter of longevity of electronic instruments. They have been successfully employed as short-term solutions during dedicated fund-raising for a pipe organ rebuild / replacement, but as a permanent replacement for a pipe organ, no. You are merely passing the replacement cost on to the next generation. Far better to bequeath a pipe organ.

 

Absolutely spot-on. I've spent more decades dealing with loudspeaker organs, and in more detail, than most still alive today (mainly because of my age and my profession), and what Nigel says concerning their lack of longevity in terms of their enabling technology cannot be denied by any honest and right-thinking person. So this is why this forum, dealing only with pipe organs, is the only one I contribute to.

 

Sorry to those who find me coming on a bit strong. Nuff said.

 

CEP

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Time to come clean then. You got all but one of the places I was thinking of.

 

The missing establishment is Northampton, which has a real organ by Hendrik ten Bruggencate by the sanctuary, and an mp3 player (as my organ builder calls them) at the back.

 

Interesting to hear of another Compton stuck in a back room somewhere whose sound was relayed electronically to the outside world. This also happened at Salford, as well as at Newcastle RC, where the original Lewis organ was moved from the original gallery at the back to a cloister at the side of the altar, but effectively outside the building and shouting through the wall. At least they were able to replace it with a real instrument even before the present instrument. I've heard about hiding your light under a bushel, but I'm sure that something came after it, especially for expensive lights. Given that the basic principles of acoustics which apply to placement of organs (and pulpits!) have been known for aeons, albeit greatly refined with time, who could possibly have thought or advised that this was a good idea?

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Wrexham RC Cathedral has a 2-manual Rushworth and Dreaper of 1958 or 59 still working. I've never heard it so can't report on its condition or how it sounds. We have an RC organist in the area and he has never recommended us to go there - might tell you something.

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