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Pierre Lauwers

Worcester Cathedral's Organ

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It has three full-length 32p stops.

 

Not to mention the fourth 32' (you must understand young hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish, broo-ra-room...)

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Guest Lee Blick
  But it will cost a lot to move. More work and more money.

 

It's not as if this money is being taken out of a fund to finance the parish soup kitchen. A bulk of the cost has been pledged by a doner.

 

Tickells cannot cope? or are to narrow in their designs? they clearly do not respect other organs beyond their own

 

I don't think that is quite fair, and rather unfortunate that it appears on an organbuilders competitor's website such as this.

 

Note also the 32 reed, where on earth is that to go? if in the triforium then it will no doubt be half length,

 

Could the rank be laid horizontally like wooden pipes?

 

The prersent "I want" culture really just annoys me so much, when people cannot accept what is there.

 

This makes no sense at all. Just a meaningless rant.

 

Personally I would just find an organ I did like and go there, not sacrifice a sound for my own personal fetish.

 

I am sure Mr Lucas will be delighted to discover that he has a fetish.

 

but in 1978 they were the best thing since sliced bread, so was everyone drunk in 1978

 

No, but tastes do change and organbuilding like any other industry is influenced by many factors and trends. At one time 'romantic' type instruments were all the rage, but it is a lot different now in 2006, than it was in 1906. With the research and scholarship of earlier organ designs and organ playing practices, with a greater performance of organ repertoire spanning centuries, with the influence of organ building and an awareness of musical repertoire from all around the globe, accessed INSTANTLY through the miracle of modern communication technology (in 1906, it was not quite so easy to hear organs from foreign shores, in the year 2006 you can double click sound files of organ and organ music from anywhere in the world within a matter of seconds), together with technological advantages greatly enhancing organbuilding, you cannot be too surprised that organists want to take advantage of these opportunities. You really cannot blame organists who wish to take the music into new directions.

 

We no longer live in the good old 'Golden Age'. If church and organ music in this country remains stuck in a time warp, isolated, unwilling to embrace new ideas and only holding on to the ideals of the past, it will surely shrink and die. It is already happening in our parish churches and chapels up and down the UK. We need our cathedral organists and musicians to lead the way by demonstrating there IS a future after the 'Golden Age', there can be renewal in our parish churches, there is new music from all around the world worth exploring, new research and scholarship about different performance practices to take advantage of.

 

Someone in another thread mentioned that we need no more foreign organs in our cathedrals and churches in this country. I disagree, I would like to see more new instruments from overseas as well as more exports of organs from this country because if we want an organ-building industry in the future and organs to remain in our cathedrals, churches and concert halls in this country we have to adapt and be open to a two way channel of activity and ideas.

 

So what has this to do with the present organ at Worcester Cathedral? I know little of the actual plans the organist and authorities have with the music there, but I can recognise that perhaps they want to turn a corner in the music life of the cathedral and provision of new instruments is just a part of the bigger picture they may wish to create. A similar metamorphosis has greatly enhanced the worship and musical life at Chelmsford Cathedral. I don't see why a similar one wouldn't do the same at Worcester.

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Not to mention the fourth 32' (you must understand young hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish, broo-ra-room...)

 

Hmmm.... I thought that the diaphones, apart from being disconnected, were incomplete, H&H (or Wood) removing as many as they could reach and just leaving in the lowest few.

 

Pierre would be delighted if the whole 32p rank were still there - I have a copy of the GCOS Worcester LP, with Christopher Robinson using them during a Mendelssohn Sonata (No. 3)- incredible sound!

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Hmmm.... I thought that the diaphones, apart from being disconnected, were incomplete, H&H (or Wood) removing as many as they could reach and just leaving in the lowest few.

 

Pierre would be delighted if the whole 32p rank were still there - I have a copy of the GCOS Worcester LP, with Christopher Robinson using them during a Mendelssohn Sonata (No. 3)- incredible sound!

 

I'd like a copy of that ...

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Could the rank be laid horizontally like wooden pipes?

 

Ummm.... no - have you seen the extremely shallow depth of the triforium bays? Chartres is spacious, by comparison.

 

 

Someone in another thread mentioned that we need no more foreign organs in our cathedrals and churches in this country.  I disagree, I would like to see more new instruments from overseas as well as more exports of organs from this country because if we want an organ-building industry in the future and organs to remain in our cathedrals, churches and concert halls in this country we have to adapt and be open to a two way channel of activity and ideas.

 

Well, there are only one or two overseas exports already - Christ Church, Oxford and Bath Abbey (I know it is a parish church - but it looks like a cathedral). I presently cannot recall any others.

 

This said, there are a worrying number of decent British instruments which are either being scrapped or sold to Norway, or China - or some other exotic place. We are often, in this country, guilty of failing to see merit in our home-built products - yet these instruments are highly-prized abroad.

 

I would like to see more British instruments rescued from the scrap-heap (or a ferry), restored and put to good use in a British church.

 

Lee - out of interest - can you name one French, German, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian# or Belgain cathedral which has, in the last thirty years, installed a new British-built organ?

 

Yes, there are notable exports: Manders have exported instruments to Japan, New York and Australia. H&H at North America - there are several other instances. However, I can only think of four foreign cathedrals which installed British organs* - and these were at a time when two of those countries concerned had little or no organ building trade themselves.

 

The trend is very much one-way, at the moment.

 

* St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town.

Johannesburg Cathedral

St. Michael's Cathedral, Barbados

Auckland Cathedral, NZ

 

# The Mander chamber organ in Stavanger Cathedral, Norway does not count - it is not the main instrument.

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Guest Lee Blick
Well, there are only one or two overseas exports already - Christ Church, Oxford and Bath Abbey (I know it is a parish church - but it looks like a cathedral). I presently cannot recall any others.

 

Flentrop - Dublane? Rieger - Edinburgh? and a number of notable and not so notable instruments central to the seats of learning at Oxford and Cambridge?

 

This said, there are a worrying number of decent British instruments which are either being scrapped or sold to Norway, or China - or some other exotic place. We are often, in this country, guilty of failing to see merit in our home-built products - yet these instruments are highly-prized abroad.

 

But surely this must be a good thing , firstly as way of recycling discarded instruments and secondly it can only increase the profile of British instruments in the emerging markets such as the Far East and encourage further orders of brand new instruments, which is already happening.

 

One should also examine the reason why so many organs are being scrapped or discarded. There is an ever increasing shortage of organists in many areas, if not the whole of the country. Churches and other institutions won't maintain or keep them if they can't find an organist to play, or be able to afford to pay for one/pay for the upkeep of these instruments.

 

Lee - out of interest - can you name one French, German, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian# or Belgain cathedral which has, in the last thirty years, installed a new British-built organ?

 

No I can't but there are British instruments in Cathedrals in the Southern Hemisphere. These markets are bound to be difficult because of the strength of organbuilding in some of these nations and/or influence in neighbouring countries. But it doesn't mean that it won't change in the future. If the Americans can conquer Lausanne then I don't see why a British firm cannot secure contracts on the continent in the future. There are just yet more new opportunities to exploit.

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Flentrop - Dublane?  Rieger - Edinburgh? and a number of notable and not so notable instruments central to the seats of learning at Oxford and Cambridge?

 

I forgot Dunblane and St. Giles, Edinburgh - but I did specify cathedrals, so the only one from Oxbridge colleges is Christ Church - already mentioned.

 

 

But surely this must be a good thing , firstly as way of recycling discarded instruments and secondly it can only increase the profile of British instruments in the emerging markets such as the Far East and encourage further orders of brand new instruments, which is already happening.

 

I disagree - we are in danger of losing our heritage. This stance is at best illogical and at worst, wasteful of resources.

 

Illogical, because, if these instruments are capable of restoration and use in another country, then we could have done this ourselves and used them - perhaps to replace a few toasters.

 

Wasteful, because it is certainly cheaper to rebuild and restore an existing instrument (particularly if things such as soundboards and building frames can be retained) than it is to build an entirely new instrument.

 

No I can't but there are British instruments in Cathedrals in the Southern Hemisphere. 

 

Yes - Auckland - H&H (which I mentioned) - I cannot immediately recall any others.

 

The proposed Tickell organ at Worcester is already being hailed in some quarters as a marvellous instrument - this is plainly nonsense. It presently exists only as plans and drawings - work has not yet started, as far as I know.

 

I have played the new Tickell organ at Honiton Parish Church; this is an instrument which was built virtually new - only a few pipes being used from the previous instrument. It may look nice in the west gallery, but personally, I would have sent all the reeds back to the voicers; I found the Trumpet thin and rough, for example.

 

Having played a few concerts on the old organ (which was quite possibly worth salvaging), the only advantage the new organ has, as far as I can see, is an undulating rank on the Swell - and its position.

 

I am also unsure as to why the organ has been set at a sharp pitch - at least one local choral director is unable to present concerts which involve the organ with an orchestra - they simply cannot tune to it. This seems to be an unnecessary problem.

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Guest Lee Blick
Illogical, because, if these instruments are capable of restoration and use in another country, then we could have done this ourselves and used them - perhaps to replace a few toasters.

 

You obviously have no idea the difficulty many parish churches have to maintain their instruments. The reason these places resort to having digital organs is prohibitive costs to restoring them especially if the neglect has lasted several decades.

 

And what happens when a church closes because there are not enough members left? The organ is scrapped or ends up in the Redundant Organ Company? Believe me, there is no queue for churches with 'toasters' (what a horrid description) lining up with bags of cash ready to throw at a pipe organ.

 

I do think there should be more done to keep some of these instruments in the UK. Perhaps there should be a central fund for churches to draw upon, or out of the goodness of their hearts, a rota of organbuilders could offer to install these precious Victorian octopods, free of charge! :lol:

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You obviously have no idea the difficulty many parish churches have to maintain their instruments.  The reason these places resort to having digital organs is prohibitive costs to restoring them especially if the neglect has lasted several decades.

 

No - actually I have a very good idea, being involved as a consultant for several churches. Funding the work is nearly always a problem.

 

If you read my post carefully, you will find that I compared the cost of providing a new organ with restoring an existing pipe organ - not supplanting one with a digital organ.

 

There are, in any case, plenty of instances of this measure (resorting to a toaster) being a false economy. They do not last for ever. For a while, I was Sub Organist of a large church with a well-known electronic organ, which needed regular (and not always inconsiderable) work. Because of the unique situation, the church did not have to pay for this necessary work - if it had, some of the bills would have been substantial.

 

The organ, after about twenty-five years, became increasingly unreliable (and sounded dreadful) - it was also becoming difficult to obtain replacement parts, since the technology had advanced somewhat by then.

 

I know that there are some old Compton electronic instruments (and many Hammond organs, come to that) which still work, but I would rather have a pipe organ any day - even if it needed a thorough restoration.

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Guest Lee Blick
compared the cost of providing a new organ with restoring an existing pipe organ

 

Yes, but how many churches nowadays can even afford to do that? Presumably if churches had enough money to restore an organ, they would not need a digital one.

 

I agree, for larger churches a pipe organ is much better than an electronic one. But particularly for many small churches, they have difficulty in attracting organists, let alone provide funding for even a modest instrument. An electronic digital instrument provides a solution, if an unsatisfactory one, until, a pipe organbuilder can come up with an affordable design for small buildings.

 

I was looking at a website and one organbuilder was offering a quite nice two manual 'model' (I know, each organ is suppose to be unique to suit the building) for less than 20k (+vat). Surely, until pipe organbuilders put the research and effort into producing something that will compete with the digital organ manufacturer, more and more organs will be consigned to the scrapheap to be replaced by digital organs, or even the guitar and keyboard group, or the ultimate humiliation... the 'organplayer' CD karaoke system.

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Guest Roffensis

It's heartening that you feel some of these Victorian Octopods (which Worcester is not) :lol: should be retained, as opposed, one assumes, to the tinny scream machines with mixtures up to 77/84/96 breaks. Of course there are instances of good modern organs, and only the fool would say otherwise, and Klais have proved also what can be achieved around decent old pipework. Bath Abbey is still recognisable as is Tewkesbury, both gems, after very exhautive "reworkings". Not only Victorian organs, but music also is under threat, and to go down that road will rob the Anglican Liturgy of its staple diet. Of course even choral tone is not what it was, let alone organs or music. The latest trend is Continental tone both in choir and organ, whatever that means apart form screaming chest tone to match the screaming organs with 90% tin voiced on half inch wind.

As to elctronic toasters, many really do catch fire and fry, and do go out of date, but are a useful resource for manufacturers, and a local church I know has had three in the last 20 years, having of course ditched its pipe organ, and choir, as can be the trend. Meanwhile many a parish lets the organ slide until it's too costly to do, and too far gone to do even in part, which is a problem very common. Many churches are happy with the noise in the corner regardless whether Willis, Walker or Hoover, let alone toaster. The latter can provide a quick fix, and most organists will probably walk the other way from electronics. It's a bit like the RLPO sequenced if you ask me. I offer no solutions but suggest one very worthy option....INFORMED opinion.

All best,

R :lol:

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Yes, but how many churches nowadays can even afford to do that?  Presumably if churches had enough money to restore an organ, they would not need a digital one.

 

Whilst I agree with some of the points you make - I can think of quite a number of instances where a perfectly good, if unexciting, pipe organ was thrown out. In one case, it was discovered that the organist wished to play trio sonati and the pipe organ was not (in his opinion) 'up to it'.

 

There have also been cases where a DOA has pleaded with a church to restore their pipe organ (which they could afford to do), but they wanted the floor space for a lounge area - or something equally important.

 

I think that it is also worth considering that it is more likely to be the smaller church (with a smaller organ) which is in difficulty. There are still a number of small firms throughout the UK which carry-out organ restoration and do not charge exorbitant fees, yet produce good work, who could restore many of these instruments for a price comparable to that of a good-quality electronic substitute.

 

Mind you, it is worth remembering that these instruments are not always easy to operate. I usually have to play one (I think that it was a Viscount - of three claviers) in December for a colleague's school carol service. There was a huge array of pistons and other gadgets. But many stupid design flaws. For example, separate thumb pistons for the Pedal stops - usually in an inconvenient place. There was a means to couple the Pedal and GO pistons - but the piston to control this function was un-labelled and in the middle of a group of pistons which had an un-related function. Then there were no hooks for the music desk. Finally, after requesting some for about eight years, this year, some were fitted. Given the chunky nature of books such as 100 Carols for Choirs, trying to play the Shepherd's Pipe Carol with pages flapping - or the book trying to close itself was deeply irritating. Then I found that the volume levels of many of the individual stops had been re-set to cater for a room with the internal dimensions of a telephone kiosk. Since no instruction manual was provided, I had to waste a good deal of valuable practice-time wading through multi-level menus on an obscure digital display. God only knows what the apocryphal 'Miss Smith the local piano teacher and Postmistress' would have done, had she been confronted with this instrument when she was due to lead the provisional wing of the Mothers' Union in song....

 

No doubt you get the idea that I find the very idea of electronic substitutes anathema. I can only say that experience (sometimes over several years) of the best of these machines leads me to conclude that I do not like them and can only see their disadvantages.

 

Certainly, I have not yet found one that sounds convincing, be it a Copeman Hart, Makin, Rodgers, Viscount or whatever.

 

:rolleyes:

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WORCESTER CATHEDRAL ORGAN

 

....Many of the reeds are so unevenly voiced and slow in speech as to be almost unusable.... 

 

....The present mechanical and electrical problems we are experiencing on a day to day basis are increasing exponentially. Of the 8 foot ranks which form the foundation of our service accompaniments, 5 are currently inoperable, unreliable or intermittent, and a further 4 stops on the Great will only work as a group (all together or nothing). Two out of three swell boxes do not function correctly (1 of these not at all) and there are ciphers on a daily basis on the pedals.  Wind leakage on various divisions reached a low ebb in the cold days of February and March, resulting in a complete collapse on one day. There are also about a dozen notes which do not work on different soundboards or stops, mostly due to rapidly failing leatherwork, some of which is now 90 years old. The faults behind all these problems would need hundreds of thousands to repair – an action which we do not consider good stewardship on the Cathedral's behalf....

 

I found this whilst attempting to locate one of my earlier posts regarding this organ.

 

Good grief! I must have been extraordinarily lucky - I played it for several services barely more tham two months later and I did not experience any of the faults listed above - at any time.

 

I find this puzzling. If the organ is really in such a parlous state, surely some of them would have become manifest? Particularly so, in the hot summer weather - which can cause as many problems as cold weather.

 

I also find his comment regarding the swell boxes puzzling. Again, none of them malfunctioned whilst I was playing. True, I did not have occasion to close the Solo box, but the Choir and Swell shutters were used quite a number of times and worked perfectly.

 

I am surprised to hear that it would cost 'hundreds of thousands' of pounds to rectify these problems. Certainly H&H (for example) would be expensive - but not that expensive.

 

I am still not convinced - but I am sure that you all know that, by now.

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Guest Lee Blick
There have also been cases where a DOA has pleaded with a church to restore their pipe organ (which they could afford to do), but they wanted the floor space for a lounge area - or something equally important.

 

Yes, I have seen that happen in some churches. That sort of situation is regrettable. I was talking to an organ builder about a restoration job at a church in Buckinghamshire (our school used to use the church for carol services). The organ ended up being placed hidden ridiculously high up in the north transept because the authorities there wanted floor space to store the youth club table tennis tables!

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Guest Roffensis

Lee!...One job on Wirral by Fr. Willis was outed for nappy changing facilities!.....against advice at that! :rolleyes:

 

PCND, interesting about Worcester, and of course organ reeds can anyway go out of regulation, and mechanisms become faulty etc etc, it's all down to maintenace and a good tuner/builder.How does a cathedral organ get in such a state anyway!? it's hardly good custodianship.

Interesting also that you found it working so very well indeed with none of the problems Mr Lucas has so kindly highlighted for us. Anyone concerned could, of course, write directly to the Dean and tell him how they found the organ when playing it recently, as a matter of polite interest. The whole situation is most odd, and clearly those in authority should be informed of the condition of the organ as found, if they think it is falling to bits and past it.

All best,

Richard

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

The whole situation is most odd, and clearly those in authority should be informed of the condition of the organ as found, if they think it is falling to bits and past it.

 

 

 

Curiously, very soon indeed after Adrian Lucas arrived at Worcester several bits deemed unplayable by his predecessor were reconnected and enjoyed once again by those who had missed them.

 

I am one of those who firmly believe that the first moon landings were 'staged' in a film studio. With that mindset, you may guess what I think has now happened more than once at W.

 

 

P.S. I noted an off-hand (and suggestive) remark about the standard of the cathedral music (in general) in an earlier posting. As one who has heard the choir at regular intervals both under Dr.Hunt and Mr.Lucas, I would like to defend the present musicians. I think the choir's standard is still as high as it was. This, please note, without rancour or friction apparently. If you're searching for anything not up to standard at Worcester (vocally) it is worth a trip to hear their present Precentor 'sing' the office. Bring a hankie!

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Guest Roffensis

The transept organ was disconnected as it was unreliable, until fairly recently major remedial work was carried out by Nicholsons to get it all back on. Obviously this cost money.....

An aspect of Worcester for a very long time had also been wind losses, and this was finally traced to a collapsed earthenware windtrunk under the floor, which was corrected. Thanks go to the cathedral authorities for seeing fit to restore these ailing parts of the instrument.

I apologise for any comment that may have caused offence concerning singing standards, but my comments were to do with singing tone generally. Or today :rolleyes: , the lack of it in many places. My point is that forced chest tone (continental :lol::lol: as it is called) will match a tinny thin sounding organ, wherever that may be. Not anywhere in particular. Re Worcester, I do feel the choir to have been excellent with Donald Hunt, and of course it was wonderful when Willcocks returned to make a recording with them.

Those wishing to hear the organ as it now stands, may like to hear the English Cathedral Organ Series CD issue by Regent, excellently played by Adrian Lucas, volume one in the series no less. Quite an accolade for an organ past it! Or, better still, go and play or hear it and make your own minds up! I am sure the cathedral will welcome the interest and may even be surprised by it.

R

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Ah - it is nice to know that there are kindred spirits out there!

 

I will bask in the remembered glow of the Worcester tutti and wrap myself cosily in all the 32p stops.

 

No - I am not delirious; niether am I suffering from an alcohol deficiency - my (new) boiler died last night and it is already cold in here....

 

:rolleyes:

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I heard the Worcester Organ just before Christmas. It was in fine voice in the hands of Christopher Allsop playing the Naji Hakim "Adeste Fideles" in duet with the Nave electronic. Afterwards I spoke briefly to the Dean, who had clearly been approached by a number of people on this subject. He said quite firmly that there was nothing to be done, as the organ was almost unplayable.

 

He said the Tickell instrument is likely to go in sometime in 2007; the Nicholson in the Nave will be a year or two after that. There are some photographic mock-ups around in the Cathedral showing what the new organs will look like when they are in, and I can't help feeling that the Tickell will be the better-looking of the two. Sorry to say I did not pick up copies to post here.

 

Enough! It is page 23 already...

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I heard the Worcester Organ just before Christmas.  It was in fine voice in the hands of Christopher Allsop playing the Naji Hakim "Adeste Fideles" in duet with the Nave electronic.  Afterwards I spoke briefly to the Dean, who had clearly been approached by a number of people on this subject.  He said quite firmly that there was nothing to be done, as the organ was almost unplayable. 

 

Enough!  It is page 23 already...

 

Well - just one more post (or stop....)

 

I sense a conflict here.

 

How an organ can sound 'in fine voice' at one time and then a few minutes later, be described as 'almost unplayable' is beyond my ability to fathom.

 

 

Help me out here, please.

:D

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Guest Roffensis

I sense a conflict here.

 

How an organ can sound 'in fine voice' at one time and then a few minutes later, be described as 'almost unplayable' is beyond my ability to fathom.

Help me out here, please.

 

 

I expect the "official" line is that it is almost unplayable and generally fit for the melting pot. But of course it isn't as we all know, nor is there anything wrong with it that a good rebuild would not sort out, but that will not convince the people making the decisions, for whatever reason. It's sad.

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Hear! hear! Richard.

 

It is a pity that some rather more appreciative church was not given the option of having the old H-J/H&H. I am certain that it could have been restored as a really superb instrument.

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This initiative in the Netherlands is not going to re-use the Worcester organ (so it is said).

 

The organisation sets out to have an 'English Cathedralorgan' installed in the Hooglandse kerk in Leiden by 2010, which will not only be the largest English organ in the Netherlands, but also on the European mainland.

 

There's a link to a brochure (pdf) which shows the stoplist.

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This is indeed the "proof of the pudding"....

The safest place for a british historic organ seems to be the continent

nowadays...

 

Here is a link to a page that could be interesting for continental

(preferably big) churches in search for something really special:

 

http://s11.invisionfree.com/The_romantic_o...p?showtopic=104

 

The whole history of the "bin" from day one.

 

Pierre

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