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For those who might be interested, I've created a page with information about the history of the organ (with links to specifications and a much more detailed history), a bit about the City Organists, and an outline of the future plans for the organ.   More details will gradually follow.  Any comments welcome!

http://www.dariusbattiwalla.com/Darius_Battiwalla/cityorganist.htm

Darius

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20 minutes ago, DariusB said:

For those who might be interested, I've created a page with information about the history of the organ (with links to specifications and a much more detailed history), a bit about the City Organists, and an outline of the future plans for the organ.   More details will gradually follow.  Any comments welcome!

http://www.dariusbattiwalla.com/Darius_Battiwalla/cityorganist.htm

Darius

I for one am very grateful to you for this information.  I believe we (I say 'we', although I no longer live in God's County) are very lucky to have such an excellent instrument, especially at the time when it seems that interest in the organ is dwindling and instruments continue to be replaced by electronic substitutes or scrapped completely.  I think that we are also fortunate that work is to be done to improve and/or extend the instrument.

I should be particularly interested to learn of the proposed alterations and improvements to the organ as and when these become available, and would ask if you might kindly provide such details on this forum.

In the meantime may I ask you whether, in view of the addition of a fourth manual, the stops of this new division will be taken from the existing ones or be new additions?  Also, is the enclosed fourth manual division to be sited above the Swell or located elsewhere?

Thank you again.

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Darius - I’m not sure you have the answer for this but I was a little puzzled attending a couple of orchestral concerts over the last year (Also Sprach and something else which had an organ part). Both times a toaster was used. Is the Town Hall organ perhaps not at concert pitch or might there be another reason? It seemed unusual the first time and I wasn’t sure of any reason.

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Thank you very much for the opportunity to see this, Darius, and to comment on it.  It is really good to have this information all in one place perhaps for the first time, and to have it so attractively presented and well written.  I think it is excellent.  The NPOR entry has some of my photos on now (I used to be COG but mysteriously I have become CoGo) so there is a visual record there of the console and stop knobs.   What an exciting and dramatic sound this organ makes even in its less than perfect current state and how wonderful for it to have such a positive future.  Thank you again.

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Thank you Darius. My wife and I were in there on 23rd November singing in Elgar's The Kingdom - a combined choir concert with us in Cambridge University Symphony Chorus and the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus with the BBC Philharmonic orchestra - David Hill conducting. My first visit to Leeds for many many years. The organ was used in typical Elgar style - to underpin - and was lovely and warm and concert pitch!

We did a return match concert in Ely Cathedral last Saturday and the organ was very flat - hardly surprising as it was terribly cold! The concert was dedicated to our former conductor Sir Stephen Cleobury.

Peter

The-Kingdom-ElyFlyer.jpg

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On the electronic question, I'm not sure about this - the only reason I can think of is either: the organ part was so small that they didn't want the overcrowding you get on the stage with the existing console (one of the reasons we want a new one) - or it was a touring orchestra playing at a higher pitch so they brought their own organ.

On the questions from John about stops/manuals: definitely new stops, as the colours we're missing (clarinet, vox humana, open/harmonic 8' flutes) don't exist anywhere on the organ at the moment.  If I could try to summarise the layout/division thing:

As you look at the case, before 1972, from the bottom: behind the grille, just wind system etc, no pipes.  Next level: Great (divided front and back with G&D).  Third level: Swell behind, unenclosed choir organ in front. Top level: Solo box and horizontal 8'ophicleide.  (Pedal at the sides mostly on the Great level).

In 1972, the Great and Swell stayed where they were.  The unenclosed choir was removed and replaced by the Positive behind the grille at the lowest level.  The solo box was removed so only the Ophicleide remained on top of the Swell box.

All the builders we asked had no desire to return the Solo box to the top of the organ, for reasons of climate and access.   The Great will be rationalised and brought forward (it's very spread out at the moment) and the new Solo (nearly all new pipes) placed behind it.

In front of the Swell there is a large empty space where the choir was pre-1972.  It's been boarded-out to project the sound of the Swell, which it does very well.   The new Grand Chorus would go here (it's only 6 or 7 stops, but should be stronger than the Great).

Pedal stays largely the same, but with minor alterations, including a full-length 32' reed for the first time.  

Hope that helps!

Best

Darius

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Darius, thank you for this additional information.

I do think the projected alterations/additions sound excellent choices.  The Solo with a Vox Humana (my favourite - perhaps I'm a bit odd!), a dominating Grand Chorus with, presumably, six or seven independent stops (rather than an all-in-one stop as at Liverpool), the Positive remaining where it is and with (from my own experiences) a surprisingly direct sound rather like a 17th century Rückpositiv, and above all a full-length 32' reed - no doubt a big improvement on the underpowered (my own opinion only) existing half-length reed.

I look forward to the work eventually being completed and shall make sure that I undertake the trip across the Pennines to listen to the (hopefully) opening recital.  I'll even drag along my long-suffering wife.  Please let us know when that will be, won't you?

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