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Mander Organs
John Robinson

York Minster organ rebuild

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The Canterbury Hammond was still there in 1970 when I went to try the Willis.  There were, in effect, two instruments, with consoles in the nave and on the screen able to control speakers in nave and/or quire.

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On 14/03/2019 at 06:53, Tony Newnham said:

Hi MM
 

I'd not heard of that in relation to Canterbury Cathedral, but Elvin mentions a similar arrangement at Salford Cathedral in "Pipes and Actions", quoting an item from Musical Opinion in 1938.  Perhaps you could let us know the source of this information.

Every Blessing

Tony

I thought I'd replied once, but it seems to have become a floating division!   I'll try again!

The source re: the auxillary organ at Canterbury, is a primary one, which makes it very interesting. It can be heard in a recorded interview with Roy Skinner, and ex-Compton man who who was actually the Brother-in-Law to "Jimmy" Taylor". I shall have to re-listen to what he said about Canterbury and see if I can transcribe the more important bits.

I'm fairly sure it wasn't electronic. Reading between the gaps, I would suggest that it was a smallish unit pipe-organ placed somewhere outside the cathedral and relayed inside, but I have no firm evidence for that. The thing didn't last long, and it makes me wonder whether this wasn't the basis of the Salford job, which followed soon after.

At Salford, the organ was in what seems to have been a concrete bomb-shelter in the North Aisle, from which no direct sound emerged. Instead, it was "piped" to east or west of the cathedral, where the sound of the pipes were relayed through speakers.

That also didn't last very long....about 10 to 12 years I believe, with only parts of the Compton re-used in the new Jardine replacement.

It would be interesting to be able to find a link between Canterbury and Salford which doesn't include Thomas Becket. :)

MM


 

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Thanks MM

I would agree that the Canterbury Compton was probably pipes.  Interesting to know that they tried the remote organ idea more than once.

Every Blessing

Tony

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I wouldn't want to hi-jack the thread, but the Salford organ wasn't remote. It was just enclosed in a concrete sarcophagus inside the cathedral; the sound picked up my microphones, amplified and sent to loudspeakers. It was a very peculiar arrangement.

MM.  

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1 hour ago, MusoMusing said:

I wouldn't want to hi-jack the thread, but the Salford organ wasn't remote. It was just enclosed in a concrete sarcophagus inside the cathedral; the sound picked up my microphones, amplified and sent to loudspeakers. It was a very peculiar arrangement.

MM.  

Can I assume that the sarcophagus was present to prevent extraneous sounds (audience?) being picked up by the microphones?

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Is my memory playing tricks, or did the Catholic Cathedral at Wrexham in Wales have a similarly entombed and amplified Compton at one time?

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19 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

Is my memory playing tricks, or did the Catholic Cathedral at Wrexham in Wales have a similarly entombed and amplified Compton at one time?

Oh good Lord!

Will this book ever get finished?     😕

MM

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I had the privilege of reading the fascinating correspondence between Edward Bairstow and Arthur Harrison concerning the rebuilding of the organ in Leeds Parish Church. This was in Harrison & Harrison’s archive.

From my recollection, Bairstow was anything but a passsive client when it came to matters of tonal design and the disposition of the console. In particular, I recall their correspondence featured a polite but robust conversation concerning the arrangement of the stops: ease of hand registering was a strong driver for Bairstow. I think that Bairstow wanted the swell stops to be arranged around the strings, flutes, Vox Humana and tremulant being in close proximity, rather than a straight flues by pitch then reeds. 

Robert, I wonder if similar correspondence exists between Bairstow and Harrisons concerning any of these or other aspects the 1931 York rebuild? I wonder what they discussed!

 

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On 15/03/2019 at 10:14, Martin Cooke said:

I think I heard that the Hammond was played simultaneously with the pipe organ for hymns etc - by another player, obviously!

Completely off topic (sorry), but the French organist Charles Balayer, who is professor of Hammond at the Conservatoire in Toulouse, has written pieces that call for both instruments, such as this Jazz Litany, which features a rather interesting chamber organ: 

 

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Talking of playing more than one organ of more than one type, how about this.  I guess the "theatre organ" is a digital though:-

 

Every Blessing

Tony

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2 hours ago, Tony Newnham said:

Talking of playing more than one organ of more than one type, how about this.  I guess the "theatre organ" is a digital though:-

 

Every Blessing

Tony

You should have seen Keith Emerson performing: one man surrounded by several separate keyboards!  He also played a church (or rather concert hall) organ for some performances and was a very competent musician regardless of his style of music (which I, incidentally, enjoyed).

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I have a recording of Bach's Art of Fugue played on three chamber organs whose specifications add up to a typical modest two manual and pedal classical organ.  The group was the Ensemble Wolfgang von Karajan, headed by the conductor's brother.

I bought the original LP release in 1966; but when looking for the link above to a CD release, I came across a review of Herbert von Karajan's 1944 recording of the work with a string orchestra which contained the following fascinating bit of gossip:

Quote

In the 1980s von Karajan proposed to EMI that he record The Art of Fugue with his organist brother Wolfgang, an undertaking that was apparently rejected out of hand by the company. Perhaps that wasn’t entirely to be deplored as Wolfgang is on record as having said of his exalted brother; “He understands nothing of the Art of Fugue”. Some ill-will existed within the clan, Wolfgang’s wife Hedy adding that Karajan’s LP of The Brandenburg Concertos was “bad”.

Paul

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Hi 

Thanks for the comment John, I have seen some of Keith Emerson's performances.  I also like Rick Wakeman - another classically trained musician.  A few years back he recorded a CD on the Lincoln Cathedral Organ, and has used pipe organ on a number of his recordings over the years.  At one time he toured with a 2 rank extension organ built IIRC by our hosts here.

Every Blessing

Tony

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Seeing that this thread has already been comprehensively hijacked, I'll mention that Francis Monkman (who is a founder member of the Curved Air and Sky bands) is also an accomplished and professionally-trained organist and harpsichordist.  He is also known for his personal research and detailed knowledge of Thuringian classical organs, on many of which he has has recorded several CDs.  My only regret is that so few of them seem to be publicly available (and I've told him so!).

CEP

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45 minutes ago, Colin Pykett said:

Seeing that this thread has already been comprehensively hijacked, I'll mention that Francis Monkman (who is a founder member of the Curved Air and Sky bands) is also an accomplished and professionally-trained organist and harpsichordist.  He is also known for his personal research and detailed knowledge of Thuringian classical organs, on many of which he has has recorded several CDs.  My only regret is that so few of them seem to be publicly available (and I've told him so!).

CEP

Hahaha!  Yes, but that's what happens on a discussion forum.  Actually, I started the thread and eagerly look forward to further discussion about the York rebuild, but if people want to talk about other matters that's OK by me!

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On 19/03/2019 at 10:48, John Robinson said:

You should have seen Keith Emerson performing: one man surrounded by several separate keyboards!  He also played a church (or rather concert hall) organ for some performances and was a very competent musician regardless of his style of music (which I, incidentally, enjoyed).

Rick Wakeman who was in the same era as Keith, made a CD of his own works, played at Lincoln Cathedral 

 

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OK, briefly back to York.  I was interested to see the “Pedal divide”, and among other innovations separate transfers for the different reed choruses - more versatile than the fairly standard “Great Reeds on Pedal” or “Solo Reeds on Choir”, etc.  People asked about “Octaves alone” (to which Robert Sharpe replied).  I believe Exeter Cathedral had such a ‘coupler’ some years ago - I haven’t checked the latest specification.  On my last visit to Exeter I thought the organ sounded ‘different’ from as I fondly remembered it.  Now I am guilty of diverting from York to Exeter!  Both are very fine organs.  I don’t think anyone has commented on the York ‘Pedal divide’. Can we expect that as a standard feature in future major rebuilds, I wonder.

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40 minutes ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

OK, briefly back to York.  I was interested to see the “Pedal divide”, and among other innovations

I understand that 'Pedal divide' is becoming a more popular addition to organs.  I can understand its value: one now has the option of four different voices at once - both hands and both feet.   Five, if you include 'thumbing down'!

I once saw an alien musician on 'Star Trek TNG' who had six arms.  Just think what such an organist could do. 😲

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14 hours ago, John Robinson said:

I understand that 'Pedal divide' is becoming a more popular addition to organs.  I can understand its value: one now has the option of four different voices at once - both hands and both feet.   Five, if you include 'thumbing down'!

I once saw an alien musician on 'Star Trek TNG' who had six arms.  Just think what such an organist could do. 😲

I believe the new King’s Cambridge rebuild featured a pedal divide. 

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On 11/03/2019 at 13:30, Paul Walton said:

'The Organs of York Minster' lists the Swell Open Diapason becoming the Voce Umana along with the reinstating of the Solo and part of the Pedal in 1972 following work on the building.

'The Organs and Organists of Ely Cathedral' doesn't mention the Fiffaro before 1975. However, it does mention work done in 1956 (Choir flues transposed into a cornet) and 1962 (repair work and revoicing of reeds). Arthur Wills, in his book 'Organ' (Menuhin Music Guides) discusses the retuning of two Choir flues to become Unda Maris and Fiffaro in the same paragraph as the cornet, and implies this was all done before the 1962 work.

Paul

If this happened in 1956, I would find that even more remarkable, Paul. If what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt you) then, two years after the Royal Festival Hall organ (1954), with all its new-fangled German barockery, out of the blue (?) and in the Fens appears an Italianate confrère.

I’m trying to put all this into context.

Is there any ‘evidence’ that Drs Wills and Jackson communicated about this, with ‘influence’ going one way or the other ? Have you been able to unearth anything more, Robert (Sharpe), please ?

 

 

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On 17/03/2019 at 22:19, petergunstone said:

I had the privilege of reading the fascinating correspondence between Edward Bairstow and Arthur Harrison concerning the rebuilding of the organ in Leeds Parish Church. This was in Harrison & Harrison’s archive.

From my recollection, Bairstow was anything but a passsive client when it came to matters of tonal design and the disposition of the console. In particular, I recall their correspondence featured a polite but robust conversation concerning the arrangement of the stops: ease of hand registering was a strong driver for Bairstow. I think that Bairstow wanted the swell stops to be arranged around the strings, flutes, Vox Humana and tremulant being in close proximity, rather than a straight flues by pitch then reeds. 

Robert, I wonder if similar correspondence exists between Bairstow and Harrisons concerning any of these or other aspects the 1931 York rebuild? I wonder what they discussed!

 

Peter, thank you for this.  There is extensive Bairstow correspondence in the organ archive here.  On particular thing he was of a mind about was the use of combination pedals rather than the H&H foot pistons which by 1930 were more usual.  The Leeds console had combination pedals too, I believe.  Here is a letter about this:1304179676_ECB2.thumb.jpg.6a7e25aca2d08d0474229a10f05b19af.jpg

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2 hours ago, John Furse said:

Is there any ‘evidence’ that Drs Wills and Jackson communicated about this, with ‘influence’ going one way or the other ? Have you been able to unearth anything more, Robert (Sharpe), please ?

 

 

 

Not yet, John.  I will mention this to Francis when i next have an opportunity.

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I mentioned on another thread the wonderful 1970s radio series “Organ Gallery” hosted by John Lade, and the visit to York Minster (Wolsey kindly tracked down the broadcast details). Francis Jackson said then that he preferred playing on the Quire console and specifically mentioned its composition pedals.

So Bairstow’s preference was shared by his distinguished successor.

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