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Pierre Lauwers

Worcester Cathedral's Organ

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WORCESTER CATHEDRAL ORGAN

 

It has been most interesting to read such a variety of opinions about the Worcester organ. Thank you all for such passionate discussion!

 

I can assure you all that the decision to move in this direction is not one which has been taken lightly. A lengthy process of discussion has been taking place over the last nine years to assure that all options in this beautiful building have been considered. In short, it is not an easy building for the transmission of sound, largely due to the softness of the sandstone, but also due to its length and relatively narrow Quire and Nave. Our aim is to provide organs where they are needed so that the need for overwhelming power is greatly reduced. Having said this, I have no doubt that each of the organs will have great gravitas and balance of tone which are needed for the wide range of uses to which they are put. There are, however, some key problems to be addressed to allow this to happen.

 

The location of the bulk of the instrument in the Quire is actually at ground level - some of the pipes are only about 10 feet behind the lay clerks' heads during evensong. The voicing of these self-same ranks however is largely designed to throw the sound down into the Nave, making accompaniment at this proximity very difficult indeed. Our proposal to lift the new organ into the triforium arches (currently blind arcading) will allow the instrument to sing around the Quire in a way not possible before. If our predecessors had been able to tackle this problem in their day, we should not be facing this difficult situation now.

 

The comments about balance and quality may have been made by some with rather rose-tinted spectacles concerning the facts. It is true that the organ can sound quite grand and imposing from a distance - in fact recordings are frequently the best way to hear this instrument, since they can balance the divisions in a way impossible by the human ear alone. In practice, there is not one principal chorus on the instrument which balances from top to bottom, by any standard or style. Many of the reeds are so unevenly voiced and slow in speech as to be almost unusable. The attempts of the 1890s and 1920s to take Hill's work and encourage it to fill the whole building make for impossible balancing in the Quire. On closer inspection, the voicing of almost every rank is so uneven that it would take a huge investment of time to try to make good what has gone before. It becomes clearer still from inside the instrument that the vast majority of Hill's pipework was removed by Hope Jones anyway, leaving the extraordinary patchwork of sounds we have today.

 

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. At this stage it would be far better to look forward to the future, rather than dwelling on the problems, errors and misjudgements of the past.

 

The comments about the Rogers Electronic instrument are partly correct. We are purchasing a three manual instrument to tide us over, though not closing down the pipe organ when its use is practical. For our BBC Broadcast on Wednesday, for example, we were able to nurse her through a demanding programme, though not without spending considerable time in creating novel registrations, some of which look extremely bizarre on paper. With the Three Choirs Festival at the start of August, we felt that the risk of severe embarrassment was too much to bear and we decided to cover ourselves lest the worst should happen. I have no doubt that the two instruments, plus Ken Tickell's box organ will keep things moving along in a way as satisfactory as is possible in the circumstances.

 

There have also been comments about the Quire Scott cases from several correspondents. Whilst the Quire cases are, undoubtedly, unique it was felt that they were not his best examples by a large margin. Their squat design is also such that their transplantation to the Triforium would be unsatisfactory and that the use of his carved details would perhaps be a better testament to his work. The Transept case and pipework are really part of the Nave organ, a project which is still under discussion at present, and I am therefore unwilling to comment in detail. I would say, however, that we are currently intending to restore this case to its original splendour, rather than to remove it.

 

This message can only give you a small impression of the detail of the new project and I hope that, if nothing else, you will gain the impression that the painstaking work which has been undertaken on behalf of the Cathedral at Worcester has been done with broad consultation and aims to set the Cathedral up for at least another 100 years.

 

Adrian Lucas

Master of the Choristers and Organist,

Worcester Cathedral

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Dear Mr Lucas,

 

Thank you very much for joining us and for your very interesting comments.

 

I shall try to stay short with some comments:

 

1)-It is not an easy building. Of course it is not. It was an achievement to have realized what obtains now.

 

2)-Why shoudn't we today tackle the problems our predecessors did so beautifully?

 

3)-The organ is made to sound at a distance. True. And this is the case with every romantic organ. Mr Walcker demonstrated me the "Registerkanzelle" (with a common wind per stop, not per note) favorizes the blending far away from the organ. Such soundboards were expressly designed for that. So it was an aim (I know Worcester don't have such chests)

 

4)-Records. Of course I have some. I came back from Worcester with (on a moped when I was 16). But I heard it live as well -during days-.

 

5)-There are of course many technical problems, no doubt. As far as I know, this organ never had a torough rebuild. Incidentally, it was said (in a 1978 brochure) very little of Hill remains. But none of these problems cannot be fixed.

 

6)-Hundreds of thousands? The organ deserves it.

 

Of course I see that from an historical, not practical point of view. But this instrument is something unique. "Errors of the past", well, this was said for Schnitger's, Cavaillé-Coll's organs. Now we regret on the continent to have destroyed far too many beautiful organs.

 

Here arises a somewhat deeper question, that is:

-Is an organ a piece of furniture or an art work?

 

If the answer is it is a piece of furniture, then we may adapt it to our

needs and/or wishes, update it to suit "today's requirements".

(that will change tomorrow again)

 

The classic revival -something I fought against during 25 years as a "romantic guy"-

has teached us an organ is a piece of art we should keep and preserve as it is.

But of course only the "correct" organs were meant (a handfull of german builders plus one or two french).

Now I suggest maybe all builders from any period might deserve respect; including

Green, England, Smith and Harris of course but also Willis, Hill, Lewis, Harrison(s),

and yes Hope-Jones as well.

The germans now agree Carl Weigle's organs should have been preserved.

Weigle's ideas were not very far from Robert's (The difference lies for instance high pressures he tried with the flues not the reeds. His organs were dismissed as railways's features...A song yet heard elsewhere, isn'it?).

 

The best compromise-wherever possible- is to build a new organ in one part of the building while leaving the old alone. Let's dream for a moment the romantic builders had done precisely that; we would have say a Harrison & Harrison 1925 plus a genuine Snetzler in the same place!

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers

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It was both enlightening and a relief to read Adrian Lucas' posting as it seems to me that quite a large ammount of recent dialogue about Worcester on this list has bounced back and forth somewhat without going anywhere much. The whole project has (as one might expect) been throughly thought through by people involved in the daily musical life of the cathedral with due consideration to the 'contexts' of both old and new instruments and a first rate organ builder engaged. We should congratulate them on a daring solution that will hopefully provide for all their needs and furnish the cathedral with something that will not cause problems for their successors. We also need to have have some faith in the fact that they do know what they are doing and look forward to hearing the results of their deliberation and Kenneth Tickell's work in the Quire and whatever else goes on in the nave.

AJJ

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It was both enlightening and a relief to read Adrian Lucas' posting as it seems to me that quite a large ammount of recent dialogue about Worcester on this list has bounced back and forth somewhat without going anywhere much. The whole project has (as one might expect) been throughly thought through by people involved in the daily musical life of the cathedral with due consideration to the 'contexts' of both old and new instruments and a first rate organ builder engaged. We should congratulate them on a daring solution that will hopefully provide for all their needs and furnish the cathedral with something that will not cause problems for their successors. We also need to have have some faith in the fact that they do know what they are doing and look forward to hearing the results of their deliberation and Kenneth Tickell's work in the Quire and whatever else goes on in the nave.

AJJ

 

Well said: and thanks, too, to Adrian Lucas for his admirably clear explanation of the rationale behind the project. Should we not rejoice in the fact that a leading British organ builder at last has an opportunity to create a brand new cathedral instrument for the 21st century? And also, in due course, at the prospect of a second such instrument? Tempora mutantur et nos mutamus in illis.

 

JS

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Further to Adrian Lucas' posting I would add that a contract has been signed with us for a new four manual organ, which we will begin working on in 2007 and intend to have ready for the Three Choirs Festival in 2008.

 

Two new 16ft cases are to be positioned at triforium level, containing the unenclosed divisions of the instrument. The blind triforium inner arches are to be opened up behind the cases to allow the swell boxes to be positioned in the triforium roof spaces. This has been approved by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission. The new cases are tall, shallow, and I hope elegant. They will enable the Quire aisles to be opened up by the removal of the present organ, which should be an enhancement to the architecture in this part of the building.

 

It is not really my place to make judgements on the present organ. The decision to replace it had been made before any of the contenders for the work were invited to quote. Of the Scott cases I would say that personally, I find their proportions very squat and not especially elegant. They contain mostly dummy pipes, some not even being pipes at all, but just zinc tubes sitting on a wooden support. However, the carvings are fine, and we hope to be able to incorporate many of these in our new cases.

 

Adrian Lucas has commented on the tonal aspects of the present organ, and he knows the instrument far better than I do. It can sound impressive, at a certain distance; equally it can be quite oppressive at close quarters in the Quire, at full registrations.

 

In a matter such as this, it will be impossible to please everyone. My philosophy has always been that good organs result from pursuing a single minded purpose - that is why the whole discipline of building tracker organs where every part of the instrument has a relationship with every other is so beneficial. Of course the Worcester organ cannot be a tracker instrument, but we will apply the same design criteria. That means the use of slider soundboards throughout the instrument, and scalings and wind pressures chosen to achieve the intended final result. So to my mind selecting this, that or the other rank of pipes from the present organ, on varying wind pressures and styles of voicing could not produce as good a result. The new work would be immediately compromised by the older material.

 

I understand that the Cathedral are to formally announce the whole project very soon, having recently recieved a substantial donation. I had been asked not to advertise our contract until that time, and have so far respected that commitment. So for the time being I will restrict myself to these remarks. No doubt there will be plenty more discussion in the months to come.

 

Kenneth Tickell

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I'm sure we all hope the new organ will be a great success and will await its opening with great interest, but I have to say that, as someone who daily attended evensong in Worcester over several years, Adrian Lucas's desciption of the existing organ is scarcely recognisable to me.

 

I never once heard the organ overwelm the choir. Its true that it needs to be used with discretion, but thats true of most cathedral organs and is how it should be. Its certainly far easier to accompany a choir in Worcester Cathedral than it is in Bath Abbey - and no one's proposing to scrap the Klais just yet as far as I'm aware.

 

I also think its grossly unfair - and not at all a fair reflection on the overwelming majority of opinion on this discussion board - to suggest that the organ is being judged by those who have only heard it on recordings, and furthermore to suggest that it is due to the skill of the recording engineers that the organ is made to work acceptably with the choir.

 

Good luck with the scheme, but I wish to God you weren't doing it, and God alone knows how future generations will pay for the upkeep of these vastly overinflated proposals.

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There is often a moment of terror when one is about to do something radical, but I do think that Worcester cathedral is going to end up with an instrument which will be wonderful for accompanying on, amongst other things. Having played the present instrument for a week for a visiting choir, I know that it is not easy for get a good balance - even were it all working fully. I look forward to seeing the new cases, too. Was Wells cathedral the last one to have a new case?

 

Theo

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Its certainly far easier to accompany a choir in Worcester Cathedral than it is in Bath Abbey - and no one's proposing to scrap the Klais just yet as far as I'm aware.

 

Marcus Sealy the Assistant Orgainst at Bath seems to manage to accompany week in week out without too much trouble on the Klais and certainly, singing there in the early 90s with the organ in its previous manifestation I can testify to some strange things that went on then. As with Adrian Lucas' description of Worcester I remember some strange registrations needing to be used to make things sound right. On one occasion various bits and pieces (including the Positive 2') were coupled down at the start of the Britten Te Deum to make the Pedal sound as if it were all playing in sync. When I was able to play it then it was certainly noticable that all was not well - to look inside revealed a a total lack of organisation generally with pipes on chests all over the place and a real mixture of actions and voicing. As page-turner for Peter King playing the 'almost new' Klais some time ago now it seemed to me then that tonally and action-wise things were certainly much more positive and immediate - altogether an exciting noise with some lovely soft effects. As perhaps with Worcester - the people who lived with the instrument had very definite views on what should be done and whatever one feels about the work going abroad the instrument as it now stand has personality and above all seems to do what is required of it.

AJJ

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Guest Roffensis
Further to Adrian Lucas' posting I would add that a contract has been signed with us for a new four manual organ, which we will begin working on in 2007 and intend to have ready for the Three Choirs Festival in 2008. ..............

 

................No doubt there will be plenty more discussion in the months to come.

 

Kenneth Tickell

 

More like the old pipework being compromised by the new material. That is exactly what is happening! It seems the "powers that be" (whoever they might be) have the whole thing done and dusted, but a lot will however remain unconvinced. Siting the organ in the triforia will lead people to criticise this, both canterbury and peterborough being examples. The current cases should be increased in height, and anyway they suit the rather heavy Gothic architecture well as they are. A nave organ would quite suffice for any problems with the choir organ, and careful use of the present organ will simply continue to confirm its well recognised and established suitability for choral work. There is perhaps no reason not to tone it down a little here and there, but to out the entire tonal system is wrong in my mind. A lot of arguments are set forth by Mr Lucas, but i feel a vast amount of the organs ailments stem from evidently poor maintenance. I know of no other cathedral organ reaching such a pathetic condition. Having heard the organ from all parts of the cathedral, it always impressed. In the cases of recordings, Michael Smythe used a single point stereo for his vista records including the Elgar....in the choir!!! Other Engineers have used simple techniques from nearer the steps, but the fact is that on Smythes simple recordings, there is recorded proof how magnificent this organ is. Countless choral recordings, in the choir stalls also confirm this. It all comes down to careful registration. I have no personal gain in any of this, just a very real concern for a "sound" that is much loved.

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Marcus Sealy the Assistant Orgainst at Bath seems to manage to accompany week in week out without too much trouble on the Klais and certainly, singing there in the early 90s with the organ in its previous manifestation I can testify to some strange things that went on then. As with Adrian Lucas' description of Worcester I remember some strange registrations needing to be used to make things sound right. On one occasion various bits and pieces (including the Positive 2') were coupled down at the start of the Britten Te Deum to make the Pedal sound as if it were all playing in sync. When I was able to play it then it was certainly noticable that all was not well - to look inside revealed a a total lack of organisation generally with pipes on chests all over the place and a real mixture of actions and voicing.  As page-turner for Peter King playing the 'almost new' Klais some time ago now it seemed to me then that tonally and action-wise things were certainly much more positive and immediate - altogether an exciting noise with some lovely soft effects. As perhaps with Worcester - the people who lived with the instrument had very definite views on what should be done and whatever one feels about the work going abroad the instrument as it now stand has personality and above all seems to do what is required of it.

AJJ

 

Whatever one may say about Bath, the organ retains a substantial part of the old Hill organ, and both have been integrated in a remarkable way. Bath still is recognisable, even now. Some may disagree, but it can be heard there still, in a reincarnated form. Of the porposed Tickell organ, I shall be most interested to hear what style of voicing he is to employ. Eton uses a French broad style, and given the fact the acoustic is dead, I find it a little "tinny". Of course the building does not help at all, but I know of other organs in equally dead acoustics that fare better. Certainly the grandness of Worcester is entirely missing, but again this is a French design, broadened. As to Worcester, well thats English and does French well with it. One would hope for a return to the Hill style, which if we really must lose the current, would be a worthy voicing style. Metal compostion would all need to be called into question, and plain metal rather than tin will give a better "duller" quality to the overall concept, rather than another Christchurch Oxford or St Giles Edinburgh, neither of which will in any way suit Worcester. A genuinely well voiced English organ would be good, but again, given the current very hard act to follow, one finds it hard to imagine anyone matching the current sound, which has evolved in a very unique way, hence the sound. I am extremely wary of any relatively new organ builders being given such huge jobs, and hope we will not all be doing another Oxford in years to come, and saying "if only we had the old back". I wish Mr Tickell very well, and hope he will not disappoint us, if things go ahead, and English Heritage allow for the building alterations to be done. They certainly are very strict about such buildings. I firmly feel the sheer "eclat" of Worcester will be forever lost. Its very odd history are all part of the sound, and Mr Tickell himself says he does not know as much of it as Mr Lucas, which in itself concerns me. Slider soundboards on electric action do actually allow for heavier pressures, not necessarily ten inches!, but surely there is more that can be kept to retain its essentrial character that is so loved.....

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To reconstitute an Hill organ?

 

I begin to think this could happen on the continent first.

(maybe, afterwards, in the UK, if it becomes a craze here).

 

Has any alternative relocation solution for the "canticle's bin" (as people used

to say for such organs in Belgium 20 years ago) be searched for?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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To reconstitute an Hill organ?

 

I begin to think this could happen on the continent first.

(maybe, afterwards, in the UK, if it becomes a craze here).

 

Has any alternative relocation solution for the "canticle's bin" (as people used

to say for such organs in Belgium 20 years ago) be searched for?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

I thought it was common knowledge that modern organ builders are every bit as good as the old..... It is possible to copy a older style of course, and this requires a lot of skill and means that scales, cut ups, nicking, in fact everything down to pipe metal has to be faithfully copied. I know it is possible, and that the Hill sound we hear for example at Eton College upper Chapel would be quite wonderful. Another style option would be Lewis, with its emphasis on bold ringing diapasons. A good second hand Lewis or Hill of adequate scale would be quite glorious, but again we are back to old arguments. If that is to be done, why not simply re use the old. Anything modern in the least aggressive would be a disaster, and some builders do favour this such as at Oxford, which is unusable for anything English. We are currently now debating what sound would suit the place it seems, when the old isn't broken. The thing with all old pipework is that it gains a "patina" to the sound, caused by a number of factors. Metal softens with age, and thickens at the bottom of the pipe, and there are many other considerations. Any organ that is old will never sound as it did when first built. New organs always sound "new". How new Worcester is set to sound is anybodys guess, and despite the long time it has been in the pipeline, we still do not have a specification, to see how English it looks on paper at least. To my ears, one hopes for a boldly ringing Diapason chorus, with good but not too brassy reeds that are not in the least "buzzy", quint and tierce mixtures, a good array of non chiffing flutes (that are not typical of the English), soft strings, a few good "orchestral" colours and a good pedal underpinned by fine 16 and 32 foot reeds. All this currently exists. Enough said!

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I know little of the Worcester Cathedral organ, but I guess that the need for two organs is based on the fact that many of our cathedral main organs were designed to speak into the choir (or quire if you prefer it) and not so much into the knave. This is the case at Southwell Minster where a second, nave organ (largely a wonderful instrument originally by J J Binns) was installed in the cathedral's triforium for nave congregations.

 

There is a similar situation at St. Jame's in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Although this cathedral is much smaller in scale than most UK cathedrals, it is no small building. But instead of having two organs, the majority of the organ is separated into two in the chancel (pulpit and lectern, speaking into the south choir and aisle and north choir and aisle respectively) and to support congregational singing and for special effects, there is an antiphonal division at the west end of the nave.

 

organclose2.jpgCATH_4_web.jpgLTRGY_Poole2Lg.gif

 

This division is very effective in playing duos or dialogues. For example, once when the JSB Passagalia was played, the organist alternated the repeated arppegios between the great and the swell with great effectiveness and interest. Similar effects can also be created with a front vs. back echo effect rather than a left vs. right response effect.

 

It's a mavelous instrument. Quoting the website, "ST. JAMES' CATHEDRAL ORGAN is a fine English Romantic / American Classic instrument in beautiful acoustics with a large, colourful antiphonal division on the rear wall of the Cathedral. The organ was built originally in 1888 by the Samuel R. Warren Company of Montréal, Québec, and then expanded and maintained through the first three quarters of the 20th century by Casavant Frères of St. Hyacinthe, Québec. The solid-state console was built by J.W. Walker of England in 1979. Since 1999 it has been maintained by Andrew Mead and Associates, Port Hope, Ontario."

 

Also, because the organ is so close to the nave, evident from the second and third photo, (because of the lack of a crossing and trancepts) the experience is even more "up close and personal".

 

The current music staff are:

Michael Bloss, Director of Music and Organist

David Low, Assistant Conductor

Andrew Ager, Assistant Organist/Composer in Residence

 

For further specification and information, please check these sites:

 

Information sheet

 

Another page by former organist, Christopher Dawes (scroll down for the English version)

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Guest Roffensis
Further to Adrian Lucas' posting I would add that a contract has been signed with us for a new four manual organ, which we will begin working on in 2007 and intend to have ready for the Three Choirs Festival in 2008.

 

Two new 16ft cases are to be positioned at triforium level, containing the unenclosed divisions of the instrument. The blind triforium inner arches are to be opened up behind the cases to allow the swell boxes to be positioned in the triforium roof spaces. This has been approved by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission. The new cases are tall, shallow, and I hope elegant. They will enable the Quire aisles to be opened up by the removal of the present organ, which should be an enhancement to the architecture in this part of the building.

 

It is not really my place to make judgements on the present organ. The decision to replace it had been made before any of the contenders for the work were invited to quote. Of the Scott cases I would say that personally, I find their proportions very squat and not especially elegant. They contain mostly dummy pipes, some not even being pipes at all, but just zinc tubes sitting on a wooden support. However, the carvings are fine, and we hope to be able to incorporate many of these in our new cases.

 

Adrian Lucas has commented on the tonal aspects of the present organ, and he knows the instrument far better than I do. It can sound impressive, at a certain distance; equally it can be quite oppressive at close quarters in the Quire, at full registrations.

 

In a matter such as this, it will be impossible to please everyone. My philosophy has always been that good organs result from pursuing a single minded purpose - that is why the whole discipline of building tracker organs where every part of the instrument has a relationship with every other is so beneficial. Of course the Worcester organ cannot be a tracker instrument, but we will apply the same design criteria. That means the use of slider soundboards throughout the instrument, and scalings and wind pressures chosen to achieve the intended final result. So to my mind selecting this, that or the other rank of pipes from the present organ, on varying wind pressures and styles of voicing could not produce as good a result. The new work would be immediately compromised by the older material.

 

I understand that the Cathedral are to formally announce the whole project very soon, having recently recieved a substantial donation. I had been asked not to advertise our contract until that time, and have so far respected that commitment. So for the time being I will restrict myself to these remarks. No doubt there will be plenty more discussion in the months to come.

 

Kenneth Tickell

 

One can hardly call the Worcester plan well thought out, and why is there is this huge silence concerning it? still we await the spec. Any organ builder should thoroughly examine all pipework himself, but Mr Tickell mentions that Mr Lucas knows more of it than he. I certainly do not in the case my "own" organ. For instance, Worcesters choir organ is only on 3 inches, hardly high, and that in itself would fit into any new scheme, where the builder matched up to it. The Harrisons work, which is not insubstantial, could easily be built around and enhanced. His works exists in many and fine organ, and is perfectly good. Why not retain the overall tone, and match to it, and gain a bit of respect in the bargain?. As to the major cash injection, here we go again, more silences, and why? to me it all seems most odd, very cloak and dagger, and one has to ask exactly what body of people are involved with all of this. There are of course very powerful charitable organisattions out there, and I have to say that from start to finish the whole thing seems to ring with a in house "jobs for the boys" attitude. I do not ever recall seeing or hearing of any tendering, and I do not ever recall such destructive complaints until the reign of Mr Lucas. Donald Hunt and other big names have had a long association with it, but no one has ever in the past advocated such wanton destruction. As to the Tickell firm being classed as a major organ builder, that I cannot say either way, but I do know that he has built no major organ in any cathedral, and it would have been far better to have a well proven, long established builder do anything to it. I have to say in all honesty I could never risk "my" organ to any relative newcomer. I am sure Mr Tickell is a potentially good builder, but he most certainly also a relative newbie. New firms sometimes want to make a mark, a dramatic statement. Thats understsndable. But Worcester looks to me to be a potential Guinea Pig.

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Of the 189 posts to date under this heading - though not all, admittedly, on the subject of the Worcester organ itself - 103, or 54%, come from just three contributors.

 

We have had honest and comprehensive responses from two of the parties most directly involved, namely the cathedral organist and the organbuilder, yet these seem barely to have registered in the blinkered minds of certain forum members.

 

For some, at least, the buzzing of bees in bonnets is becoming rather wearisome. Isn't it time we had at least a moratorium on this endless, circular debate?

 

JS

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Of the 189 posts to date under this heading - though not all, admittedly, on the subject of the Worcester organ itself - 103, or 54%, come from just three contributors.

 

We have had honest and comprehensive responses from two of the parties most directly involved, namely the cathedral organist and the organbuilder, yet these seem barely to have registered in the blinkered minds of certain forum members.

 

For some, at least, the buzzing of bees in bonnets is becoming rather wearisome.  Isn't it time we had at least a moratorium on this endless, circular debate?

 

JS

 

I quite agree it is a monotonous circular and most boring debate that has had its run. I for one am very tired of hitting my head against a brick wall, and have said everytihng I wanted to, my fears and concerns, await anyone else to bother to argue the cause, to me it seems pointless. The whole thing seems to be stitched up, while it appears yet another organ is to be sacrificed at the Altar, this time at Northampton. So be it. Quite frankly, I find the whole sorry saga is most depressing. I am literally past caring anymore. I certainly will forget Worcester very swiftly, and not bother whatever with the place, and content myself with memories of what I have heard in the past, and tell my grandchildren what they missed.

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Well,

 

I believe it would be fair not implying Mr Thickell in this matter.

If I was in his clothes, with the responsibility to have a business

running, what would I do myself?

It's easyer for a foreigner to criticize! Anyway, whatever happens,

I wish Mr Thickell full success and won't blame him.

 

This thread is yes worn-out, like no organ never was ( or we'd have put

Alkmaar to the bin when this one was considered obsolete). For our

grand-children, we can still print and file this:

 

http://www.walckerorgel.de/gewalcker.de/PD.../Worcesterl.pdf

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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(Sorry - I posted some comments last night which on reflection I've now decided to withdraw)

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Guest Barry Oakley
We have had honest and comprehensive responses from two of the parties most directly involved, namely the cathedral organist and the organbuilder, yet these seem barely to have registered in the blinkered minds of certain forum members.

 

For some, at least, the buzzing of bees in bonnets is becoming rather wearisome.  Isn't it time we had at least a moratorium on this endless, circular debate?

 

JS

 

 

I quite agree, John. Insofar as Worcester is concerned it's simply a case of "you will never be able to please all of the people all of the time." No doubt Ken Tickell's new instrument will also become fodder for the critics in due time. As a lifelong champion of the skills and abilities of British organ builders, I am over the moon that a British builder has been awarded the contract. I only wish every other diocesan organ advisor would follow suit. Whilst no official announcement has been made it's rumoured that when Sheffield Cathedral finally gets a new pipe organ it will not be from these shores.

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Guest Roffensis
I quite agree, John. Insofar as Worcester is concerned it's simply a case of "you will never be able to please all of the people all of the time." No doubt Ken Tickell's new instrument will also become fodder for the critics in due time. As a lifelong champion of the skills and abilities of British organ builders, I am over the moon that a British builder has been awarded the contract. I only wish every other diocesan organ advisor would follow suit. Whilst no official announcement has been made it's rumoured that when Sheffield Cathedral finally gets a new pipe organ it will not be from these shores.

 

Yes I think I quite agree, and trying to think long and hard again about it , well I don't know really, its so hard to make an analysis, honestly and without bias, I'm actually quite flummoxed by it all. I think if this is what is wanted at Worcester then I suoppose yes, and I guess Mr Lucas will enjoy playing it for many years, as Simon Preston must have done I suppose at Oxford with the very fine Reiger organ there. I think that our new batch of organ builders should be allowed to build new instruments in our cathedrals, some of which are very poor in terms of their heredity. Durham also sounds very loud indeed in the quire, it once gave me headache and I had take three Hedex pills, and remote in the nave, and has been altered a lot by builders, and could easily be replaced. I doubt anyone would miss that noise. The old Smith case in the nave would make for an excellent nave organ, and the chancel would be ideal if reduced in size, and something new built, modern but "respecting" traditional English tone, to a degree, but being also "eclectic". Sort of learning from the past but moving on. Something wishy washy.

I am delighted to hear that Sheffield is also getting a new organ, and look forward to learning who it will be.

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Guest Barry Oakley
I am delighted to hear that Sheffield is also getting a new organ, and look forward to learning who it will be.

 

The rumour is Kuhn.

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It does - bet they will be glad to replace their toaster....

 

So what is going to happen to the old Mander organ which was at Sheffield? There was a possibility (about five or six years ago) that it was going to replace the sadly-lamented Nicholson organ at Newquay, in Cornwall. However, this scheme seemed to founder fairly quickly. It would be nice to think that a good home could be found for the instrument.

 

For the record, I found the Worcester organ an absolute joy on which to accompany choral services (and play voluntaries) - is it really necessary for the incumbent organists to resort to such subterfuge in order to create 'acceptable' accompaniments? Certainly, none of the faults or problems mentioned by Mr. Lucas were apparent to me on playing this glorious and exciting (and, for me, well-behaved) organ! Perhaps Mr. Lucas is unkind to it - organs can tell, you know!! :blink:

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For the record, I found the Worcester organ an absolute joy on which to accompany choral services (and play voluntaries) - is it really necessary for the incumbent organists to resort to such subterfuge in order to create 'acceptable' accompaniments?

 

I couldn't agree more. I think the argument that the organ is "too loud" to accompany the choir is a dangerous one to pursue as quite a number of notable organs would be at risk if everyone took this line. I've already cited Bath Abbey as an example.

 

Yesterday I had the priviledge of playing the famous Harrison organ at St. Mary Redcliffe for the first time, quite an experience. If Mr Lucas thinks the Worcester swell is too loud I suggest he takes a drive down the M5, the Worcester swell is not in the same league - probably half the volume. Full organ, as experienced at the near-attached console, is a pretty overwhelming experience.

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I too have had the good fortune to have played St Mary Redcliffe. Yes, at the console the Swell is pretty overwhelming, but then it is just the other side of the North Choir aisle. The point is that distance, i.e. in the Nave and Choir, puts the Swell into perspective.

 

That being said, perhaps the most pertinent aspect of this instrument is that for visiting organists not used to the unusual layout. it can be difficult to play. Given the distance between the Swell and the Choir, Harrisons placed the softer stops usually found on the Swell and ideal for accompanying St Mary Redcliffe's fine choir, in the Solo swell box on the South side of the Choir. The orchestral reeds, flutes and strings usually found on the Solo are actually on the Swell. Apparently, seasoned users of the organ tend to use the Solo to Choir coupler to get over the need to reach the top manual for these soft strings, flutes etc.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

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