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Pierre Lauwers

Worcester Cathedral's Organ

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So we do not really know what the true problems are.

Wether it is only a matter of fashion I do not know, because

I do not know the musicians there. So it's better to start with

the idea there are true problems.

I believe the good plan would not be to "criticize and blame",

but to inventory the problems in the first place.

If we cannot adress them for an organ like that, we have

a civilisation's problem.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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As I stated, Worcester Cathedral appears to possess one of the healthiest supposedly 'worn-out' organs I have ever played. I would gladly play it daily. If it does need some work on the wind system and action, then I cannot imagine that this would cost anything like as much as two new four-clavier pipe organs.

 

That's my point exactly. I remember discussing the Worcester organ with Mark Venning some years ago, he told me that when Harrisons last rebuilt the organ they were only allowed to do a fraction of the work that they had reported as being necessary as the cathedral could not fund the rest. If they have not been able to adequately fund the upkeep of one large organ how are they going to afford two in the future?

 

Incidentally, having played again at Bath Abbey this last Saturday versatile is not the word I would use to describe the Klais. Evensong included the Howells Gloucester Service, so I thought it would be nice to play a Howells voluntary - I gave up on this plan because it sounded absolutely foul. I opted for Buxtehude instead which sounded very thrilling.

 

I'm of the old school that thinks the primary function of a cathedral organ is to accompany the daily offices. Worcester is superb for this and is fit for purpose in a way that the Bath Abbey organ cannot match.

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Well,

 

Would it be foolish to believe an organ that fits Buxtehude does exactly as well in northern german 17th century's liturgy?

 

If not, we should maybe exchange liturgies between countries every

30 years or so...What a pity organs are somewhat cumbersome and

heavy to move...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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It suprises me that David Wells never put in a bid for the work here.

 

I have heard the results of his fantastic reconstruction (2001) of the organ in Christ Church, Clifton, Bristol which was previously JW Walker (1849/1885), WG Vowles (1933), Rushworth & Dreaper (1956) and Nicholson (1978).

 

He replaced the dull-looking side facade with the one now visible (which includes chamades plus a cymbelstern with visible rotating star) and it sounds stunning. I well recall when I went to the reopening concert which was given by Wayne Marshall and featured improvisations on the Flintstones music. Great fun!

 

Before Wells' reconstruction of the Clifton organ, it sounded very dull, a bit like Worcester's present organ. I would have been inclined to let Wells have the contract to build an instrument for Worcester to include Chamades and Cimbelstern.

 

Dave

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Well, dull is the last adjective which I would apply to Worcester. In addition to a wealth of quiet ranks there are two good diapason choruses - not, perhaps, 'good' in the classical sense; they are too round for this context. However, they work well in contrast and make quite an exciting sound. Not as clear as, say, Gloucester, but personally, I would still rather play Bach on this organ than Truro, for example.

 

Then there are the GO reeds - bright, with a slight Gallic accent, but not by any means thin or rough. With reference to your comments re- chamade ranks, I assume that you have not heard the Solo Bombarde or Orchestral Trumpet in the cathedral? I love chamade stops (in the C-C or J-L Boisseau sense) but I did not miss them here.

 

I can only comment on David Wells' work with respect to Coventry Cathedral. Having played it on several occasions before the Solo reeds were revoiced, I must confess that I preferred them the way they were. To my ears, the Solo Orchestral Trumpet and Clarion are now too fat and slightly dull - gone is the wonderful 'scorching' effect that these two reeds had formerly. On the evidence of this, I doubt whether he would effect an improvement to the Solo reeds at Worcester. :)

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The Diapason choruses at Worcester are impressive

in Saint-Saëns, a music that could not do with the

slightest hint of dullness.

I agree for the slight french accent in the Great's reed

choruses, but be sure a french would not!

 

I have nothing against chamades and Zymbelsterns, tough I

would personally never choose them, as long as they are

built in another organ (as said). But as long as any english organ

is concerned, I think of chamades as Ketchup on a scotch salmon's

plate.

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Incidentally, having played again at Bath Abbey this last Saturday versatile is not the word I would use to describe the Klais. Evensong included the Howells Gloucester Service, so I thought it would be nice to play a Howells voluntary - I gave up on this plan because it sounded absolutely foul. I opted for Buxtehude instead which sounded very thrilling.

 

I'm of the old school that thinks the primary function of a cathedral organ is to accompany the daily offices. Worcester is superb for this and is fit for purpose in a way that the Bath Abbey organ cannot match.

 

I would concur with these sentiments!

 

I too have played the new Klais at Bath Abbey, including it must be said, only one service. It has effectively lost a department - there was formerly a Choir organ, a Positive Organ and a Solo Organ. Now the Choir and Solo appear to have been amalgamated. Yes, there were some pleasant sounds there (I think we did Stanford, in A and possibly I saw the Lord - Stainer). The instrument handled acceptably well. However, I like playing reconstructions of Cochereau's improvisations and I found, to my consternation, that I could play repeated chords on the Solo Organ rather more quickly than the tracker action could. (Incidentally, I refer to the Solo main chest action, as opposed to the Tuba, which is presumably still on electric, or electro-pneumatic action.)

 

Personally, I could see no point in an organ of this size being controlled by mechanical action. It was heavy enough to mitigate against clear articulation in relatively fast music. I wonder if there is not a good deal of nonsense purveyed by protagonists of mechanical action? In a small to moderate two-clavier instrument it probably is quite acceptable. However, I have occasionally had colleagues say: "Look, on tracker I can do this"... a key is then depressed very slowly, emitting wind to a pipe by degrees. Naturally, the pipe then speaks with an initial transient. To which I replied "OK, but I do not play anything that slowly - it has no practical use to me. Now please articulate, for example, the Final movement of Vierne Six in the same way".

 

Surely the mark of a good organist is that he or she will be able clearly (and musically) to articulate within a range of musical styles, at varying speeds on any reasonably responsive action?

 

It is interesting to recall Ralph Downes, who stated that "Gloucester is the only organ on which I have been able to give a completely clear account of Dupré's Prelude and Fugue, in B major". I can testify from personal experience, that Gloucester has possibly the most responsive action on which I have played. :)

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Another builder I would have suggested is Klais of Bonn.

 

I went to Cologne three times (1996/7/8) when I was in my last school. In 1997 they were still in the process of installing the case and pipes of the three-manual beast in the nave that was to replace the 1948 crossing organ.

 

When I went back in 1998 the organ had been finished and looked spendid. Whilst I was looking at it, someone struck up and I jumped about a foot in the air.

 

The organ that is now in use in Cologne Cathedral may be only three manuals but it does a fantastic job and, having heard Cologne's Klais in use for a sunday morning service (full house), I can well imagine an organ similar to Kais' organ in Cologne Cathedral being installed in Worcester Cathedral.

 

Köln Dom's organ, which is installed in the nave, has this specification:

 

Pd: 32, 16, 16, 10 2/3, 8, 8, 4, 2, 16, 8, 4

Rp: 16, 8, 8, 4, 4, 2 2/3, 2, 1 3/5, 1 1/3, V, 16, 8, 8, Trem

Hw: 16, 8, 8, 8, 4, 4, 2 2/3, 2, V, IV, V, 16, 8, 8

Sw: 16, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4, 4, 2 2/3, 2, 1 3/5, IV, 16, 8, 8, Trem

 

3 manuals, 53 stops, 76 ranks

 

If you wonder how something like that might sound in Worcester, go and hear Cologne's. Has anyone else on here heard it other than me? If so, what was your assessment, and how might that sound in Worcester?

 

Dave

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"I have heard the results of his fantastic reconstruction (2001) of the organ in Christ Church, Clifton, Bristol which was previously JW Walker (1849/1885), WG Vowles (1933), Rushworth & Dreaper (1956) and Nicholson (1978).

 

He replaced the dull-looking side facade with the one now visible (which includes chamades plus a cymbelstern with visible rotating star) and it sounds stunning."

 

I shudder at this, having actually visited this church. Too many rebuilds and why on earth these registers in a medium size parish church? What is their musical justification? Does the 'new' facade conceal the licorice all sorts within?

 

Too much money, too much ego methinks.

:)

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I shudder at this, having actually visited this church. Too many rebuilds and why on earth these registers in a medium size parish church? What is their musical justification? Does the 'new' facade conceal the licorice all sorts within?

 

Too much money, too much ego methinks.

:)

Mike,

 

I suspect that when you last visited Christ Church, Clifton the side (ie. facing the nave) facade was comprised of wooden pipes.

 

The wooden pipes in question are no longer visible and what is there now is a reed battery plus cimbelstern (with rotating star) with metal pipes as well.

 

Go the the NPOR - http://lehuray2.csi.cam.ac.uk/ - and access record R00089. There is a picture there of the nave-side facade as it now is.

 

An improvement if you ask me. Note that, when the picture was taken, the rotating star (8 notes in C-major) was not there pending a repair on its mechanism inside the case.

 

Dave

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Apropos your comments concerning Cologne; as far as I know the cathedral still posesses its older four-clavier Klais, skulking in the gloom of the North Choir Aisle. It is true that when I visited a year or two ago, it was partly dismantled and encased in scaffolding, but I was given the impression that it was being overhauled, as opposed to being removed.

 

I have a recording of the new organ but would like to hear it live. Presumably Herr Ganz does not suffer from vertigo.... :blink:

 

For my own taste, Worcester is exciting - and it certainly fills the building. We did not have a full house for Mass, but I only needed to use a small part of the organ in order to accompany the singers. Heard from the West end, whilst the main organ is a little remote; however, the Solo Organ goes a considerable way to alleviating this problem. Certainly the organ seemed more able to cope at a distance than, for example, Salisbury or Winchester - both of which tend to lose power considerably a few bays down the nave.

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The 1998 Nave organ at Cologne supplements, rather than replaces the 1948/1956 Transept organ, which was altered in 2002. Both are now playable from a 4 manual console in front of the Transept organ. The specification of the re-organised Transept organ is available on the Klais web-site (www.klais.de/).

 

I suggest you obtain the CD: Motette CD 12191 which includes music on both organs (individually and together) and which, in my opinion, is excellent. It also contains an informative 38 page booklet in English as well as German.

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Thank you! I will investigate this more fully.

 

I am pleased to hear of the restoration of the older instrument - I have the recordings of both Dupré and Cochereau improvising at Cologne (both on Veni Creator, I believe). I will try the Klais website for further information.

 

Regards! :blink:

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Apropos your comments concerning Cologne; as far as I know the cathedral still posesses its older four-clavier Klais, skulking in the gloom of the North Choir Aisle. It is true that when I visited a year or two ago, it was partly dismantled and encased in scaffolding, but I was given the impression that it was being overhauled, as opposed to being removed.

 

I have a recording of the new organ but would like to hear it live. Presumably Herr Ganz does not suffer from vertigo.... :blink:

 

For my own taste, Worcester is exciting - and it certainly fills the building. We did not have a full house for Mass, but I only needed to use a small part of the organ in order to accompany the singers. Heard from the West end, whilst the main organ is a little remote; however, the Solo Organ goes a considerable way to alleviating this problem. Certainly the organ seemed more able to cope at a distance than, for example, Salisbury or Winchester.

I am not sure what is happening to the crossing organ. How interesting, though, that an organ of 3 manuals and 53 stops (the 1998 Klais) can do a better job than an organ of 3 manuals, 89 stops (the 1948 Klais).

 

In Choir & Organ magazine for May/June 2000, Philipp Klais wrote:

 

"The cathedral suffered severely during the war too, and it became necessary to build a wall separating the nave from the choir so that services could continue in the less damaged and already repaired choir and transept. In this situation, my grandfather built the crossing organ in 1948, an instrument which, with its 89 registers, was never intended to cope with the demands of the entire nave, as this area was not in use. Despite this, the crossing organ has, over 50 years, fought for its place in the history of church music in the cathedral, becomming something of a monument; it will be restored in the near future."

 

A couple of links that might be of use to you if you were to go there for a concert in the future:

 

Cologne Cathedral website: http://www.koelnerdom.de/

Cologne Cathedral Organ Concerts List: http://www.koelnerdommusik.de/index.php?id=48

 

BTW: Clemens Ganz finished his tenure as organist of Cologne Cathedral on 30.09.2001. His sucessor is Prof. Dr. Winfried Bönig.

 

Dave

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I wouldn't say that the (Cologne) Nave organ does a 'better' job than the Transept organ, though I haven't heard them 'live'. They just sound different, at least on my recording. If anything, the Transept organ sounds 'bigger'. Isn't it difficult to put sounds into words?!

 

Incidentally, the rebuilt Transept organ now includes an acoustic 64' and some high pressure tubas - although these sound (to me) rather more French than English.

 

Anyway, it's now way past my bedtime!

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Incidentally, the rebuilt Transept organ now includes an acoustic 64' and some high pressure tubas - although these sound (to me) rather more French than English.

 

Anyway, it's now way past my bedtime!

The accoustic 64' is, according to the stoplist on Kails' website, called a "Vox Balenae". Never heard of it. What does it sound like?

 

Dave

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Sorry guys, but it is my personal opinion that there is an awful lot of brown stuff that emerges from male cows in circulation. So, I'm going to add some more.

 

Maybe the issue is that there is no real forum for debate and collective historic decision making. The National Trust, English Heritage and all these other organisations exist to protect and maintain our national parks, historic homes and so on - I may be wrong, but it seems that the Diocesan Organ Advisors scheme is largely suspect and BIOS has only limited, passive influence. I think there is a good case for a little enforced Communist-style dictatorship to say "no - this is a historic organ. It works. The things that are wrong with it can be cheaply fixed and realistically prevented from happening again in the next hundred years. It is necessary to preserve this instrument, and there is no sound justification for scrapping it."

 

None of us, it would seem from another thread, would hesitate to say this about obviously outstanding or important instruments like New College Ox, Pem-broke Cambridge, Grosvenor Chapel, Bristol Cathedral et al. They all have important historical things to say, either as new instruments of their type or as diligent historic reconstructions, and are highly effective musical instruments in their own right.

 

But so was the old Hill at Bath Abbey. I was quite closely acquainted with it, and its main problems were haphazard internal construction and too many actions meaning everything spoke at different speeds. It had some of the most outstanding fluework imaginable - thoughts of the the 4' Flute on the Great still make me go misty-eyed - and I really don't think the replacement can be considered an improvement, if you compare it with how the Hill could have been after a sensitive and thorough reconstruction on new chests and actions. Tonally, it was capable of being absolutely stunningly beautiful, exceptionally versatile, and a testament to the legacy of its maker. I do not hear the same being said of the Klais, or indeed many of their other instruments in this country.

 

The same probably has to go for Worcester. It works! Leave it alone! Are BIOS present in this debate? If the music scene at Worcester supposedly needs reinvigorating, and I'm not sure it does, then I'm sure that has little to do with the organ - the Oundle Festival has no problem being highly invigorated, even with that asthmatic production-line ratbag of a Frobenius centre stage and a clonky old Walker in the parish church.

 

Commissioning Hope Jones was a brave and risky move, and successive generations have made it into a really splendid musical instrument. I for one would crawl on hands and knees to see it even though Virgin Trains could probably get me there in half the time. If Worcester really have money to burn, I could do with some of it and I'm sure Christian Aid could, too.

 

If it really is up to us - as some seem to think - to allow an institution's organist to be responsible for the stewardship (or, in this case, destruction) of a part of national history, we can wave goodbye now to a whole raft of amazing instruments. For many it is already too late. We can then secure ourselves a place in history by becoming the generation that sat back, entrusted the asylum to the lunatics, and wondered why it all went wrong. We currently trust a slew of unregulated advisors and unaccountable private consultants on the payroll of who knows how many organbuilders, and rely on people like JPM to have the commercial integrity to refuse to make fatal or irresponsible alterations. No law or statute stands between that incredible instrument at Bristol and its replacement with a Percy Daniel 6 rank extension with pedals by Copeman Hart, and that stinks.

 

In the absence of any such move, I hereby volunteer my services for helping load the old girl up into a couple of artic's and setting her up where someone will appreciate the generations of hard work, initiative, skill and musicianship she contains. Sad thing is, though, the instrument and the building is the combination that matters.

 

Might sound quite good in Christchurch Priory, actually!

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I wouldn't say that the (Cologne) Nave organ does a 'better' job than the Transept organ, though I haven't heard them 'live'.  They just sound different, at least on my recording.  If anything, the Transept organ sounds 'bigger'.  Isn't it difficult to put sounds into words?!

 

Incidentally, the rebuilt Transept organ now includes an acoustic 64' and some high pressure tubas - although these sound (to me) rather more French than English.

 

Anyway, it's now way past my bedtime!

 

I would concur with this sentiment. Given the difference in locations, there is bound to be a noticeable variation in the ability of the two instruments to cope with a full nave. If the 1948 transept Klais were hung above the nave arcade at triforium level, it would in all probability cope even better than the new instrument. Conversely, if the new instrument were to be placed in the transept location, it may be worse than the 1948 instrument at leading the singing of a nave full of people.

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I took the trouble when in Cologne a while back to have a look at the new Klais, but was not able to hear it unfortunately. The thing which struck me about it was how bold the whole escapade had been. It has all the attributes which could make it into a fantastic instrument and a great visual enhancement to the cathedral. I could not help but bemoan the fact that nobody would be allowed to do anything like it in the U.K. which I think is a shame. It allowed Cologne Cathedral to address a problem it perceived in building the organ whilst preserving the rather interesting original Klais instrument which I believe is to be restored with some additions, including an English style Tuba. They recently came to England to see and hear a few examples of real English Tubas.

 

Incidentally, do you know that Philip Klais sat underneath it for the opening recital? He felt that if the cables supporting it from the roof held up all would be well and if they broke, he would not be around to take the flack afterwards. I am not sure if that displayed great confidence or a lack of it.

 

John Pike Mander

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Yes, the Cologne Cathedral nave organ does look impressive and is in an acoustically advantageous position.

 

Apparently, they were not allowed to attach the organ to the nave wall or in any way alter the fabric other than to make holes in the vaulting to accommodate the supporting cables, which are supported from large steel girders in the loft. The organ simply rests against the nave wall.

 

Strangely, it has a carved wooden clown-like thing which can be released from beneath the Positive section at appropriate moments! I'm not sure of its significance (probably some local custom or personality?), but am very surprised to find such a thing in a Roman Catholic cathedral.

 

Incidentally, I contacted Klais to see if they had produced a book (along the lines of 'Ein Hauch, Ein Ton' - see above posting - which I purchased a couple of years ago) about the rebuilt transept organ. They have not, but I believe are trying to persuade the cathedral authorities to do so. In the meantime, they were kind enough to send me a leaflet providing certain details and plans of the revised instrument - unfortunately in German only, but nevertheless very interesting. Would that it were possible to obtain such things for all organs!

 

The Vox Balenae 64' (voice of the whale?) is derived from the new (wooden) Principal 32', and has no pipes of its own, which prompts me to wonder why, if this type of resultant requires only separate pallets and some extra wiring, such stops are not included in all 32' organs!

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For my own taste, Worcester is exciting - and it certainly fills the building. We did not have a full house for Mass, but I only needed to use a small part of the organ in order to accompany the singers. Heard from the West end, whilst the main organ is a little remote; however, the Solo Organ goes a considerable way to alleviating this problem. Certainly the organ seemed more able to cope at a distance than, for example, Salisbury or Winchester - both of which tend to lose power considerably a few bays down the nave.

The Harrisons scheme for Worcester when they did the rebuild around 1970 was quite imaginative. This provided a (2nd hand) two manual organ on two separate mobile platforms with a detached console on a third mobile platform. When positioned at tower crossing end of the nave this two manual instrument could also play the stops of the transept solo organ with its huge diapason chorus. Although the 2-manual instrument was underpowered for the cathedral and lacked variety for choral accompaniment, with the addition of the solo chorus it provided adequate support for congregational singing in the nave. The whole instrument could be wheeled to the back of the nave for choral and orchestral concerts, although it lacked sufficient power to make much contribution beyond continuo.

 

Surely this would be a useful model to re-visit.

 

I always though the existing quire organ a superb recital instrument, and have heard music of most periods, including large Bach works, played to great effect.

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Yes, the old nave organ was, I believe, purchased by Budleigh Salterton Parish Church Council, for use with the existing instrument there. Michael Farley has rebuilt the organ incorporating the Worcester nave organ ranks.

 

Incidentally, the nucleus of the organ that H&H used for the Worcester nave instrument originally came from St. Basil's, Deritend.

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You can still see the 'non Swell' side of the old Worcester nave organ complete with slatted casework and its own extended 16ft/8ft Pedal Bourdon - parked at the east end of the north aisle at Budleigh as the Positive division of the rebuilt organ. The Swell pipework has been incorporated upstairs in the triforium with the original Hele pipework and some new upperwork etc. 'An interesting sounding organ - including a Tuba Magna and 32ft/16ft Pedal Bombardes - Roger Fisher has recorded a CD on it. See NPOR for details.

AJJ

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Guest Roffensis
It suprises me that David Wells never put in a bid for the work here.

 

I have heard the results of his fantastic reconstruction (2001) of the organ in Christ Church, Clifton, Bristol which was previously JW Walker (1849/1885), WG Vowles (1933), Rushworth & Dreaper (1956) and Nicholson (1978).

 

He replaced the dull-looking side facade with the one now visible (which includes chamades plus a cymbelstern with visible rotating star) and it sounds stunning. I well recall when I went to the reopening concert which was given by Wayne Marshall and featured improvisations on the Flintstones music. Great fun!

 

Before Wells' reconstruction of the Clifton organ, it sounded very dull, a bit like Worcester's present organ. I would have been inclined to let Wells have the contract to build an instrument for Worcester to include Chamades and Cimbelstern.

 

Dave

 

One thing is for sure, if David Wells had been asked to tender, then he would certainly have had more re4spect for both the cases, and the organ itself. I know him, and he is an absolute stickler for conservation, and never does anything extreme. I am delighted to see that he is rebuilding Arundel Cathedral at present, and rest assured that will not be put in bin and a flying batmans helmet case stuck on the wall. To say that nothing of Worcester is slavageable us utter nonsense, and one has to question with suspicion whyt all this happening. That organ has done splewndidly for ages. Of course i know of no Tickell cathedral organ, and we do like to get our name around at the expense of destroying totally unique sound. How very easy to run down an organ, just open a few windchests a bit, you know the sort of thing, the odd cyphers, oh its all so easy. Then you can "justify" axing the job. I have seen it all, and organ building is not all it should be. Personally I hope the new organ is a disaster, it will NOT be any match for the old, it will be "a " sound, but just a anytown shopping mall organ. If I was organist somewhere that I did not regard the organ at all, I'd leave. Some people have no care or sense of responsibility. I would happily pay a one way ticket to various "experts" to places that would love a new Tickell organ. Worcester does not need it, and will regret it. We all will.

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