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Imperfectly-done Toast

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Convocation Week this week at Memorial University, nine ceremonies held in the Arts and Culture Centre, St. John's, yours truly as Convocation Organist. The instrument (no names, no pack-drill, but the firm was once famous for juke-boxes and before that produced some splendid pipe organs with consoles that came up through the floor) is a smallish two-manual (there is a room back-stage full of parts from its predecessor - think Carlo). Arrived there on Monday afternoon and found that the bottom 16 Pedal notes weren't working. Mildly alarming, because the programmes were printed last week and the organ music includes Bach Passacaglia and Great G minor, Crown Imperial, Widor Toccata, Carillon Sortie, etc. Hammered through today as best I could: Susato La Mourisque and Vierne Carillon de Longport (not too many problems there) at the first ceremony, Purcell Trumpet Tune ("Cheer, boys cheer, me mother wants the mangle") and Bach Passacaglia at the second. Managed the Passacaglia somehow and fortunately didn't need to play the fugue. Local toaster repairer in there now scratching his head and wielding a screwdriver in a purposeful fashion.


It's amazing what we do when we have to. Wish me luck for tomorrow!

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The joys of the jobbing organist! Even pipe organs, as we know well, can be problematic. One wedding I played for was in a church that rarely used its pipe organ - to the extent that water could be heard bubbling in the pneumatic action. Swell had loads of missing notes (but strangely, worked OK via the Swell to Choir coupler - so the lower manual served as Swell throughout the servicce). The real issue though was during the first hymn, when everything started sounding thin & unbalanced. I discovered that the lowest 2 octaves of both Great Diapasons had stopped working (both on off-note chests), leaving a quiet stop as the only Great 8ft.


Not as bad as a cyther on the pedal Bombarde that I once heard - droning through half the final hymn and the closing prayers of a service until the reservoir emptied! Glad I wasn't playing that time!


Hope it all goes well and the orgn is fixed for tomorrow.

Every Blessing



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Well, Convocation Week is over and the organ never got fixed. It was good practise in playing in the upper half of the pedal-board - much more than Boris Ord's advice, "you should aim to get up there at least once a week." I substituted BWV 565 for the F&F in G minor (and got an audible chuckle from the audience when it started), but otherwise played the music as printed in the programmes.


Actually, tonally it wasn't bad for a cheap toaster. The Great Principal 8' with the 'box open' sounded just like a Walker Large Open and the build-up was very satisfactory. It also avoided the tendency to have more stops than its intended home needed. Draw-stop console, although the action was a bit chunky.


Great: Bourdon 16, Principal 8, Gedeckt 8, Octave 4, Super Octave 2, Mixture III, Trumpet 8, Chimes

Swell: Bourdon 8, Viole de Gambe 8, Viole Celeste 8, Chimney Flute 4, Nazard 2 2/3, Flautino 2, Cymbel III, Oboe 8, Tremulant

Pedal: Sub Bass 16, Octave 8, Bourdon 8, Super Octave 4, Fagott 16

3 unison couplers


But I wish I could have used the bottom half of the pedals......

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