Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Recommended Posts

On 24/10/2020 at 15:09, Martin Cooke said:

The Chapter wanted it to remain  in the N Transept (absurd!) and a grand piano to do duty instead! 

John Dykes Bower's, Oxford DMus 

Aha! Very interesting, Martin.  I didn't know about the controversy, but I can shed some light on the Dean and Chapter's preferred location for the Willis on Wheels.  It would not have been in the North Transept (which was still boarded off and being restored after WWII bomb damage).  The alternative location would have been its normal roosting place, the first window bay in the north quire aisle.  Prior to Mander's re-build, the WoW (aka Stainer organ) had no case, and pneumatic action, and it was small enough to pass (only just)  through the gates at the entrance to the quire aisle. Leaving it in its roosting place would never have worked.         I must also correct you about DB's hood.  He was organ scholar at Corpus Cambridge (my old college - but I wasn't the organ scholar) .  So he wore the plum and custard hood of a Cambridge DMus.  Only once did he appear wearing the full DMus plum and custard gown.  That was in September 1959, when we recorded Leonard Bernstein's "Christmas Startime"  on film, for US Color Television. There was a problem.  We pitched up wearing Eton suits (black and white) and changed into cassocks and surplices (black and white) and processed through the Cathedral across a floor which was.. black and white.  The lampshades in the choir were red, but not bright enough for first-generation movie film....  The answer was to get DB to wear his DMus gown, to up the wattage of the lightbulbs, and temporarily replace the lampshades with more translucent red cellophane shades.   That worked more or less - but if the cellophane touched the light bulbs (which, mysteriously, it did from time to time)  the shade started smouldering and we all had to go and have a smoke break (so to speak).  For further details, consult your big brother...       

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 24/10/2020 at 15:13, Rowland Wateridge said:

 

 the ‘extra’ 6.30 pm Evensong at St Paul’s, as I said, circa 1960, 
The film clip is fascinating, but unfortunately I am not getting any sound.  I can’t imagine why the Willis on Wheels was played.  Was the Grand Organ already out of action in 1959?  The clergy procession includes Bishop Henry Montgomery-Campbell (who had confirmed me about five years earlier),

I can shed some light on this - I was there!!  The "extra" evensong was instigated  c 1870, with a voluntary adult choir (the"Special Service Choir")  directed by John Stainer, with ladies singing the treble part.  Not long afterwards, the ladies were replaced by the cathedral choristers, but only 2/3 of them.  The rule was 2 weeks "on" one week "off".  Fair enough, given that we had already sung Matins, Eucharist and (3.15) Evensong already.   So we were allowed to bunk off before the sermon.  The service was more of a Parish than a Cathedral affair - canticles to Anglican chant  and a simple anthem.

There is no sound for film clip - film cameras had no microphones.  I actually remember this occasion, and I was the next chorister to emerge after the clip cuts to the clergy.

I was very surprised to see the cameraman crouching there.

The Willis on Wheels was out there because the Grand Organ was being overhauled. 

I, too was confirmed by Montgomery-Campbell....

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Robert Bowles said:

Aha! Very interesting, Martin.  I didn't know about the controversy, but I can shed some light on the Dean and Chapter's preferred location for the Willis on Wheels.  It would not have been in the North Transept (which was still boarded off and being restored after WWII bomb damage).  The alternative location would have been its normal roosting place, the first window bay in the north quire aisle.  Prior to Mander's re-build, the WoW (aka Stainer organ) had no case, and pneumatic action, and it was small enough to pass (only just)  through the gates at the entrance to the quire aisle. Leaving it in its roosting place would never have worked.         I must also correct you about DB's hood.  He was organ scholar at Corpus Cambridge (my old college - but I wasn't the organ scholar) .  So he wore the plum and custard hood of a Cambridge DMus.  Only once did he appear wearing the full DMus plum and custard gown.  That was in September 1959, when we recorded Leonard Bernstein's "Christmas Startime"  on film, for US Color Television. There was a problem.  We pitched up wearing Eton suits (black and white) and changed into cassocks and surplices (black and white) and processed through the Cathedral across a floor which was.. black and white.  The lampshades in the choir were red, but not bright enough for first-generation movie film....  The answer was to get DB to wear his DMus gown, to up the wattage of the lightbulbs, and temporarily replace the lampshades with more translucent red cellophane shades.   That worked more or less - but if the cellophane touched the light bulbs (which, mysteriously, it did from time to time)  the shade started smouldering and we all had to go and have a smoke break (so to speak).  For further details, consult your big brother...       

Hi Robert - Ah yes, that would at least have made some sense I suppose, but hopeless really, as you say. The Willis on Wheels lived in the North transept all the time I was there (65-70).

Yes, DB was at Cambridge but it was Oxford that gave him the honorary DMus. I have one of his DMus hoods - John Birch had the other. I only saw him wear the full dress robe once... it was either at the laying of the foundation stone or at the opening of the new Choir School. It is perhaps surprising that Cambridge didn't ever award DB a MusD. But then, they didn't give one to David Willcocks or Stephen Cleobury either. But there must be dozens of eminent musicians who pass through these and other universities and achieve notable success who don't get such awards and honours - odd, in a way that Oxford jumped in with their DMus as DB's association with Oxford was really rather brief in his New College DoM days - just four years. I am not sure, but I think they gave it him when he went to St Paul's. I suppose it only takes one person to notice these things and raise it with the university - like the current honours system. 

It was an interesting occasion academical dress-wise for another reason, in that Canon John Collins wore a Cambridge MA hood - the only time I knew him to do so. He always wore an Oxford MA hood in the cathedral - (and only ever attended if in residence.) He was a student at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge but became chaplain of Oriel College, Oxford, where he would have incorporated his degree and become MA Oxon. I don't think he would have been allowed to wear a hood from another university at Oxford. Incorporation still happens - I have seen Daniel Hyde in a pic or video wearing an Oxford MA hood whilst he was in charge at Magdalen, yet, of course, he was Organ Scholar at King's Cambridge - (and wore his MA Cantab hood on television last Christmas.) And I have often seen Robert Quinney, at New College, another ex-King's Organ Scholar, photographed wearing an Oxford hood.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Martin Cooke said:

Hi Robert - Ah yes, that would at least have made some sense I suppose, but hopeless really, as you say. The Willis on Wheels lived in the North transept all the time I was there (65-70).

Yes, DB was at Cambridge but it was Oxford that gave him the honorary DMus. I have one of his DMus hoods - John Birch had the other. In my time, I also only saw him wear the full dress robe once... it was either at the laying of the foundation stone or at the opening of the new Choir School. It is perhaps surprising that Cambridge didn't ever award DB a MusD. But then, they didn't give one to Stephen Cleobury either. But there must be dozens of eminent musicians who pass through these and other universities and achieve notable success who don't get such awards and honours - odd, in a way that Oxford jumped in with their DMus for DB as his association with Oxford was really rather brief - in his New College DoM days - just four years. I am not sure, but I think they gave it him when he went to St Paul's, so after Durham. I suppose it only takes one person to notice these things and raise it with the university - like the current honours system. 

The Choir School occasion was interesting on an academical dress front for another reason, in that Canon John Collins wore a Cambridge MA hood - the only time I knew him to do so. He always wore an Oxford MA hood in the cathedral - (and only ever attended if in residence.) He was a student at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge but became chaplain of Oriel College, Oxford, where he would have incorporated his degree and become MA Oxon. I don't think he would have been allowed to wear a hood from another university at Oxford. Incorporation still happens - I have seen Daniel Hyde in a pic or video wearing an Oxford MA hood whilst he was in charge at Magdalen, yet, of course, he was Organ Scholar at King's Cambridge - (and wore his MA Cantab hood on television last Christmas.) And I have often seen Robert Quinney, at New College, another ex-King's Organ Scholar, photographed wearing an Oxford hood.

Of course, it's a shame that the BMus at Oxford and the MusB at Cambridge both appear to be in abeyance - we've discussed this before. The Oxford BMus hood in the Dean Burgon shape is a lovely hood - as worn by Christopher Dearnley - lilac and fur. I know the Cambridge equivalent is also very beautiful but I find the dark cherry silk rather too dark, especially in a half-lit cathedral, and some of the effect can be lost. Oxbridge students staying on for a fourth year seem to mainly do an MPhil or Master of Studies degree these days, I believe. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Robert Bowles said:

There is no sound for film clip - film cameras had no microphones. 

I later realised this.  Frankly it’s astonishing that as recently (in our lives!) as 1959 the visual quality of the film Is so poor.  I had to ‘freeze’ the picture to locate the Willis on Wheels, which was exactly where I remembered it at the Sunday evening services from 1960 onwards, and screened off from the view of the congregation.  My recollection was of Harry Gabb and Richard Popplewell coming from the north choir aisle and disappearing behind the left hand end of the screen.  In the film the organ is positioned in the opposite direction to how I had assumed.  I remember its naked and rather unlovely totally unenclosed appearance, but, for its size, astonishingly effective sound in that huge space.  It was later given a rather heavy-looking case by Mander, and I wonder whether the effect was the same afterwards.

I don’t remember the canticles, or for how long I attended these services - some were in the winter months, and I remember buying hot roast chestnuts from a street-vendor afterwards!  The Grand Organ seemed to be out of action for a long time - this was the final work done by Willis.  I do remember the Rogationtide anthem by Maurice Greene “Thou visitest the earth, and blessest it” more than once, maybe even three times, during my visits.  I saw the Willis on Wheels, not in use, in the north transept at other times, but those would have been subsequently.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Frankly it’s astonishing that as recently (in our lives!) as 1959 the visual quality of the film Is so poor.  

The quality of streamed videos on the British Pathé site (as on similar sites) is deliberately degraded. The original quality is “only available to customers licensing content for use outside of the home” (site FAQ).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...