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Mander Organs
Martin Cooke

York Minster

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I played Hindemith's Sonata No. 1 at a lunch-time concert a couple of weeks ago and, in introducing it, compared the composer's precise and characterful style with a Mercedes-Benz car. I doubt whether Mercedes will come up with any money when I need it, though.....

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On 27/04/2018 at 05:52, S_L said:

Hull is my home city.

I agree with nearly all of that and I didn't know that the instrument was, presently, unplayable. The problem with Hull Minster is that it is enormous and it is a Parish church bigger than some Cathedrals and, yet, not a Cathedral, with little or no parish! Hardly anyone lives in the old town! St. Mary's Lowgate, just two hundred yards up the road, is in a similar state - and the organ there has been unplayable for a long time! I suspect that the only thing that keeps St. Mary's open is that it is the 'High Church' of Hull!

I perceive that there is a desire, amongst the Minster authorities, to, one day, restore the magnificent organ. It seems, though, that the priority, at the moment, is to 'modernise' the church, making it more open and more of a 'space' to be used day in day out rather than locked and opened on a Sunday for a few souls to worship. Once that is achieved, and they have made enormous strides in that direction, it may be that the organ gets a look-in! I hope so! 

I studied at what was then Holy Trinity back in the 1980's with Desmond Swinburne.  The organ was something of a nightmare even then; the Compton luminous touches were temperamental, some refusing to light up (although the stops were active), others glowing dimly to start with and gradually brightening after a few minutes.  It was a charming instrument but a nightmare to learn on.

After a while Desmond acquired the old extension organ from (IIRC) Hymers College and had it installed in the front room of his house on Lairgate in Beverley where lessons continued, aided no end by supplies of warmth and coffee.

Sadly I never did make it as an organist but between Trinity and Bridlington (where I had keys to practice) I had a lot of fun and gained a tremendous interest in the internal "gubbins" which continues today.

Hull Minster is quite different inside now, it's hosted the Hull Beer Festival for the past few years and is a very popular venue for that particular event!  I doubt if Sundays will ever be as well attended though.  Hope the organ gets the funds it deserves, deep down it's a fine instrument.

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It's very interesting to read about the Porsche style console and even more interesting to read about Holy Trinity, Hull's Compton. 

But why has this thread drifted from its title - York Minster?  

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1 hour ago, quentinbellamy said:

It's very interesting to read about the Porsche style console and even more interesting to read about Holy Trinity, Hull's Compton. 

But why has this thread drifted from its title - York Minster?  

 

I think it is fairly inevitable that threads do go astray sometimes! This one started with York and was moved down the road, by Barry Oakley, to Hull, not so far away. Mention was then made of the heritage lottery fund which prompted a comment about sponsorship and the Nicolaikirche in Leipzig and that was 'thrashed around a bit', and then it moved back to Hull again - only another 46 miles to get back home!!!

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It would be nice to get back to York, just as soon as anyone is aware of what changes are planned to the organ. ?

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Where’s the discussion policeman when we need him! Blimey, I thought Usenet was bad in the old days.

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10 hours ago, innate said:

Where’s the discussion policeman when we need him! Blimey, I thought Usenet was bad in the old days.

Agreed!  But then, I'm one of the worst serial offenders, so I would say that wouldn't I ...

 

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I was being sarcastic. I am a serial offender too. My Music History tutor criticised me for my “butterfly brain” and nothing has changed in 40 years since.

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I find that the tangents introduced are sometimes as interesting as the original thread.  For example, Hull Minster is on my bucket list and it's interesting to learn about it.  There are a number of others in the same area, including Doncaster, Beverley, Grimsby and Howden, the latter two partly because research (not by me) shows that my family name comes from those parts.  Drinkells are first recorded in York in the 15th century, and then can be traced moving east, including Howden, before winding up in Grimsby.  It's not an unusual name in those parts, but unknown elsewhere.  Anyone called Drinkell (or variants thereon) will be of Grimsby descent, in my case through my grandfather.  The footballer, Kevin Drinkell, who was flavour-of-the-month with the choristers when I went to Belfast Cathedral in 1988, started with Grimsby Town and his grandfather and mine were brothers.  It's probably an Anglo-Saxon name.  The toast, "Wes heil!" is responded to with the words "Drinc heil!" - at least, that's one explanation and I rather like it.

The above proves my credentials as one of the chief offenders in veering off-topic.  Regarding York, I understand that there were criticisms after the 1960 Walker rebuild that it didn't cut the mustard down the nave as effectively as it had before.  The same thing was said about Walkers' first rebuild in 1903, giving rise to Bairstow's comment, 'This organ is a woman. I'm going to turn it into a man.'  I'm not so sure that the post-1960 criticisms were justified (and my impressions of the instrument, both in the Quire and in the nave, have always been very favourable) , but when I spent a week there in the early nineties, I think that there was a small nave division tucked into the west side of the case.  The 1993 work helped to pull together various characteristics of the organ from both sides of the screen (for example, adding an east-speaking solo reed), revised the Great reeds (some of which had not felt really happy after a big drop in pressure in 1960) and rebalanced the mixtures.  Such work has not been uncommon with organs rebuilt in the sixties and seventies - one thinks of the cathedrals of Ely, Down and St. Patrick's, Dublin, among others.

It is now nearly seventy years since the 1960 rebuild - more than elapsed between 1903 and 1960 and not forgetting Harrisons' major revoicings and enlargements in 1916 and 1931.  By any calculation, the organ must by now need some fairly major overhauling.  The 1960 rebuild was, generally, a success and subsequent modifications have respected it.  I presume that the imminent work will do the same and that the character of the organ will be maintained and further enhanced. I hope that Francis will still be around to hear and approve!

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On ‎08‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 07:47, quentinbellamy said:

It's very interesting to read about the Porsche style console and even more interesting to read about Holy Trinity, Hull's Compton. 

But why has this thread drifted from its title - York Minster?  

You see - five posts and 46 miles and we are back home!!!

David. Your 'bucket list' is interesting - have you thought of Bridlington and the magnificent village church organ at Rudston. Then there is the GDB at St. Martin's in Hull and a number of villages with beautiful, untouched F & A instruments.

But I digress.........................!!!!

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3 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

It is now nearly seventy years since the 1960 rebuild - more than elapsed between 1903 and 1960 and not forgetting Harrisons' major revoicings and enlargements in 1916 and 1931.  By any calculation, the organ must by now need some fairly major overhauling.  The 1960 rebuild was, generally, a success and subsequent modifications have respected it.  I presume that the imminent work will do the same and that the character of the organ will be maintained and further enhanced. I hope that Francis will still be around to hear and approve!

I assume that the alterations that are to take place in the York Minster organ will be to address the perceived problems of the organ not being strong enough to support the many people who can fill the nave.  As Francis Jackson has said in the past, if the organ is made much louder to support congregations in the nave, it will be much too loud for the people in the chancel.

Even if these forthcoming changes manage to achieve at least a partial solution, I maintain that a better strategy would be to add what was removed in (I think) 1900; a separate nave organ.  More expensive, though, of course!  Still, there are many cathedrals which now have a separate nave organ, I don't see why York shouldn't as well.

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12 hours ago, John Robinson said:

It is now nearly seventy years since the 1960 rebuild

I thought the 1990s work was pretty major and could be thought of as a thorough rebuild?

I agree that it really needs a proper nave organ actually in the nave; that organ has been tinkered with so much to try and get sound out to the west, surely everything possible from the pulpitum has now been tried and found insufficient (raised pressures, baffles, extra west divisions, modifications to the layout etc etc)? 

Whisper it: for a cheap and dirty solution which doesn't clutter up the Nave arcading or floor,  what about some microphones above the organ and some speakers in the Nave triforium?  [Runs and hides]

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