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Colin Pykett

The organ in the chapel, King's College London

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I'm aware that the organ at King's London has been in Mander's workshops this year, but little seems to have been said about it so far.  Although there is some information on the Mander website there is little detail as to what has been done.  The NPOR entry is not up to date, and as an aside it's also difficult to find - why does one have to search for an address in Middlesex for an organ which is actually bang in the middle of the Strand? (!)  Anyway, for this reason as much as anything else, here's the link:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N06609

I have a personal interest in this instrument, having had its Willis III incarnation placed at my disposal in the mid-20th century thanks to the kindness of the late E H Warrell (and it was kind of him, considering that I was reading physics not music and there was always a queue of far better qualified musicians and theologs waiting for a practice slot).  I'm also aware that one or two other forum members here have similar connections to the old thing.  So is there a write-up about this recent work somewhere that I've missed, or does anyone know of plans to publish one?

While on the subject, I came across what must rank as one of the weirdest problems ever when trying to make a recording of the instrument back then.  It had what is now an old fashioned electromechanical action between console and pipes, as did every other electric action instrument in those days (i.e. all relays, no electronics).  Although the recording engineers were using state of the art gear such as gorgeous Revox tape decks, every time you pressed a piston an audible click or crackle appeared on the tape.  This was due to the sparks generated at the piston relay contacts of course, and despite all attempts it proved impossible to eradicate (we decided that the signals were probably entering the mains supply - the organ used a transformer/rectifier rather than a dynamo - and thence getting into the microphone preamps).  So the attempt was a costly waste of time and had to be abandoned.

CEP

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I remember the Willis III incarnation of this organ.  E.H. ("John") Warrell said that its effect had been spoiled when the chapel ceiling was lowered.  I never heard the Bishop rebuild, but the scheme looked like a good one for the chapel with its altered acoustics (although, personally, I like the Willis/American-style provision of a full set of couplers by tilting tablet and regret that they were reduced).

The Bishop rebuild was done over forty years ago, so it is not surprising that the organ now needs another going over. No doubt our hosts will supply further information on their website in due course.

I also have reason to be grateful to the late John Warrell.  He let me play the organ at Southwark Cathedral whenever I liked, which was a generous gesture to someone he only met by chance when I was in the Cathedral and asked to see the organ.  Many years later, he directed a choir from King's College, London, at Lambeth Palace when I, together with two others, received the ADCM (I believe this was the most candidates to pass at one session), and I think he was pleased to know that his kindness had paid off in giving me encouragement and experience.  After that, when I went to Belfast, I used to see him quite regularly at Cathedral Organists' Association conferences.  A very nice man....

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Hi

A couple of points re. Colin Pykett's post above.

1) NPOR searches are best if you enter the minimum amount of information.  I found the relevant survey very quickly just now by simply entering "King's College" in the search box, and then selecting the relevant entry from the half a dozen or so King's Colleges in the database.  As to the county, NPOR locations are based on counties as they were a good few years ago - and updating would be a mammoth job!.  Most if not all of London North of the Thames was in Middlesex at one time - areas South of the Thames appear under Kent - but since there's no need normally to specify a county in the search, it really makes little difference.

2) I had a similar problem to that described by Colin when recording a Wurlitzer theatre organ.  I traced the problem to running mic. cables parallel and close to the main action cable between console & organ chamber ( and that was using quality balanced microphones).  Rerouting the mic cables solved the problem.

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42 minutes ago, Tony Newnham said:

I traced the problem to running mic. cables parallel and close to the main action cable between console & organ chamber ( and that was using quality balanced microphones).  Rerouting the mic cables solved the problem.

This reminds me of what used to be a famous (infamous?) story of Clitheroe Parish Church. In 1961 Nicholsons did a very extensive rebuild, with the organ in the North gallery and the console in the South gallery. The cable connecting the two went underneath the chancel floor.

One Christmas, the organ pistons started operating of their own accord when the organ was being played. It turned out that the problem was that the cable to the (flashing) Christmas tree lights was interacting with the organ cable.

The organ was subsequently destroyed in a fire. I still have - somewhere - the programme for the great Fernando Germani's opening recital.

Ian

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12 hours ago, Tony Newnham said:

As to the county, NPOR locations are based on counties as they were a good few years ago - and updating would be a mammoth job!.  Most if not all of London North of the Thames was in Middlesex at one time - areas South of the Thames appear under Kent - but since there's no need normally to specify a county in the search, it really makes little difference.

Call me old fashioned, but I still think of counties as they were pre-1974.  The 'traditional' counties.

I believe the 'new county' boundaries were only put in place for political reasons!

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On 07/12/2018 at 22:27, John Robinson said:

Call me old fashioned, but I still think of counties as they were pre-1974.  The 'traditional' counties.

I believe the 'new county' boundaries were only put in place for political reasons!

I wasn’t born then, and I still think of the traditional counties as the correct designations. 

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Following this thread with interest having been an organ scholar myself first under Ernie Warrell then subsequently David Trendle and many fond memories from that wonderful Byzantian style chapel. Somehow I managed to combine that with medical studies too.

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