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9 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

Yes, there is plenty to see on the H&H website under Gallery. Looks a cracking job as has been the case at Canterbury.

Yes.  Under 'MIsc/onsite install' / Sept 2020, there are dozens of photographs of the interior showing just about everything there is!

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6 hours ago, S_L said:

Perhaps you would like to tell us more!!!

It goes without saying the location of the pipework is not ideal, placed as it is either side of the chancel high up in the triforia. This of course was the same before, but despite the drawbacks of the instrument in its previous specification, a degree of balance could be achieved if a careful choice of registration was used to support the choir. 

Of what I have heard so far the effect of the new instrument is certainly quite powerful. It illustrates the characteristic bold voicing of the principal chorus which again will need careful handling. I'm not sure why Harrisons have gone down this path of strong voicing, another good example is my local cathedral at Bury St Edmunds where you will be literally blasted to pieces even with a modest set up of Great to fifteenth. I'm sure it sounds fine down the nave but in the chancel it is overpowering. I fear the same effect may take place at Canterbury.

On the other hand, the recent work by Harrisons at King's College Cambridge is vastly different. Overall balance is nigh on perfect. I was able to listen to the instrument very carefully at close quarters during 2019 and the restoration I believe is a triumph, within the remit of the restoration. 

At the end of the day placing organs high up in Chancel galleries just isn't ideal and I suspect whatever approach is taken it isn't going to produce the best results. 

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2 minutes ago, contraviolone said:

Of what I have heard so far the effect of the new instrument is certainly quite powerful. It illustrates the characteristic bold voicing of the principal chorus which again will need careful handling. I'm not sure why Harrisons have gone down this path of strong voicing, another good example is my local cathedral at Bury St Edmunds where you will be literally blasted to pieces even with a modest set up of Great to fifteenth. I'm sure it sounds fine down the nave but in the chancel it is overpowering. I fear the same effect may take place at Canterbury.

I believe that a similar decision has been taken regarding the York organ.
This has been described as now returning to the 1930s Harrison and Harrison voicing of the instrument for Bairstow which, I understand, was rather more powerful than the post-1960 voicing.  Clearly, prior to the work presently being done on the organ, it has been rather lacking in power down the nave and that problem is, I believe, being addressed.
That's all to the good, and I am looking forward to hearing the improvements.
However, I wonder how this will affect how the organ sounds in the choir.  Will it be too powerful?
I think I might have mentioned this matter somewhere earlier in this thread when I suggested a judicious use of stops might make the organ perfectly suitable for use in the choir.  I am aware that on the Great, for example, there will now be a diapason chorus on 7" wind in addition to the chorus on 4 1/4" wind as was the case previously.  I am assuming that the higher pressure diapasons are intended to provide the greater power necessary in the nave and the lower pressure stops would be used alone in the choir.

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21 minutes ago, John Robinson said:

I believe that a similar decision has been taken regarding the York organ.
This has been described as now returning to the 1930s Harrison and Harrison voicing of the instrument for Bairstow which, I understand, was rather more powerful than the post-1960 voicing.  Clearly, prior to the work presently being done on the organ, it has been rather lacking in power down the nave and that problem is, I believe, being addressed.
That's all to the good, and I am looking forward to hearing the improvements.
However, I wonder how this will affect how the organ sounds in the choir.  Will it be too powerful?
I think I might have mentioned this matter somewhere earlier in this thread when I suggested a judicious use of stops might make the organ perfectly suitable for use in the choir.  I am aware that on the Great, for example, there will now be a diapason chorus on 7" wind in addition to the chorus on 4 1/4" wind as was the case previously.  I am assuming that the higher pressure diapasons are intended to provide the greater power necessary in the nave and the lower pressure stops would be used alone in the choir.

Indeed. The ongoing conundrum of balancing the needs of a strong choral tradition in the quire and the wider needs within large cathedral spaces.

Perhaps the French have the best idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=913NA4Axyiw

 

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12 hours ago, contraviolone said:

Indeed. The ongoing conundrum of balancing the needs of a strong choral tradition in the quire and the wider needs within large cathedral spaces.

Perhaps the French have the best idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=913NA4Axyiw

 

Yes - I'm not quite sure what the video was designed to tell me - apart from the French tend to have, in their cathedrals, two organs, le grande orgue at the west End and the orgue de choeur in the choir. Despite this seemingly preponderance of organs, the French don't have strong choral tradition. I'll be willing to bet that, prior to the Widor you post from the cathedral in Nancy the noises that preceded it at Holy Mass were a little grim. I've been in a very well-known Paris church on a Sunday morning attempting to sing Credo III, accompanied, antiphonally, by the two organs (and two organists of vastly different standards!!!) and it has been impossible to sing, the Grande Orgue swamping the congregation together with the over resonant acoustic and with little co-ordination between the two players! 

But I hear what you say!

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12 hours ago, contraviolone said:

Indeed. The ongoing conundrum of balancing the needs of a strong choral tradition in the quire and the wider needs within large cathedral spaces.

I think I have read from a horse's mouth at Canterbury that the recent rebuild/renewal/augmentation of the chancel organ was meant to be just that and that it wasn't felt that the needs posed by worship in the nave could be fully met by one instrument. As I understand it, the wish is for there to be a new and substantial organ in the nave to complement the chancel organ. 

I haven't heard the 'new' organ in the flesh, but what I hear over the airwaves albeit in a very limited way, and having read the details, has left me with a very good impression. However, the organ is only having to accompany the choir for now, and it will be interesting to hear whether the new stops and spread of pipework, together with the exisiting small nave division, make any sort of new impact for congregational singing and a much fuller cathedral. 

Whilst on the subject of cathedral organs, has anyone heard more of plans for Norwich or Bristol? Anywhere else... Gloucester? Derby? Newcastle? Winchester? St Asaph? Chester?

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Part of the problem is that we use cathedrals for a purpose they weren’t designed for. They weren’t built in order to accommodate large congregations (and certainly not large congregations who are expected to sing with organ accompaniment). They were built large, not to be filled with lots of worshipping bodies, but for the same reason they were built beautifully - for the glorification of God. To the extent that their size served a practical purpose it was that of allowing the clergy to conduct the large-scale processions that were such an important part of worship before the Reformation whilst being sheltered from the the elements.

If your brief was to design a building in which a large number of untrained people could sing hymns together with organ accompaniment you’d come up with something rather different. But these are the only large buildings we’ve got and we inherit from the Victorians the idea getting large (singing) congregations together in them; at the same time we want to continue choral worship in quire, and we want a single organ to cope with both. The circle can’t be squared, so it’s not surprise he results aren’t satisfactory.

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Perhaps a pedantic point to make, Canterbury, Winchester and Durham, to name just three, were all monastic cathedrals before Henry VIII’s reforms.  There would have been no congregational participation on either side of the pulpitum and organ accompaniment would have been very limited.  

Winchester is a good case in point of what is expected of the organ in a vast building.  When the Father Willis was first put in for Samuel Sebastian Wesley in 1854 (and I’m sure he - not the Dean and Chapter - did the promoting at which he was highly adept, getting donations from, among many others, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, no less) the organ had to accompany quire services only and the 49 stops were voiced appropriately.  At that time the quire was far more enclosed than now with a solid stone pulpitum to the west and the massive stone reredos to the east. Wesley was thwarted in his wish to have the organ centrally on the pulpitum.  What a pity.  It would have been the ideal position in that building, but the pulpitum itself was lost not long after, removed by Sir Gilbert Scott, in the Victorian ‘fad’ for the unbroken vista.

Then, as you say, the 20th century introduced nave services, and Wesley’s organ in a buried position on the north side of the quire was fully 100 feet from the front row of the nave seating.  On top of that, the nave with its complex stone-vaulting has an entirely different acoustic and clarity is lost there - although Roy Massey once said to me that the organ sounded far finer in the nave!  Hele’s were brought in to address the problem (something of a snub to Willis, which I suspect has never been forgiven!) and they made enormously powerful, but ungraceful, additions which I think are what ‘our’ Vox Humana has described as elephantine.  These lasted 80 years before being largely discarded, and H&H substituted a new and highly effective dual-purpose nave organ with an imaginative specification (including a 5-rank mounted cornet and trumpet with French shallots) which acts both as a ‘booster’ of the main organ and provides significant solo and combination effects.

In answer to Martin, I understand that Winchester is on H&H’s long list of jobs to be done - they will continue to be incredibly busy!  To the best of my knowledge this will be a conservative cleaning and repairing restoration with the addition of one stop: replacing the vox humana inexplicably removed in H&H’s 1938 rebuild.

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2 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

In answer to Martin, I understand that Winchester is on H&H’s long list of jobs to be done - they will continue to be incredibly busy!  To the best of my knowledge this will be a conservative cleaning and repairing restoration with the addition of one stop: replacing the vox humana inexplicably removed in H&H’s 1938 rebuild.

Thanks Rowland - I remember you commenting long these lines before, now. On Paul Hale's website, he says he's been advising on the possible positioning of a nave organ. (And that list of other organs [not Norwich, Bristol or Chester] is also taken from his list of 'current projects'.) I think Norwich is on H&H's list as well. Chester's website says they're fundraising, but they have been for a while. Not sure where things have reached with Bristol. 

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Thank you, Martin.  Intriguing!  I could not open a link on Paul Hale’s website, and on further attempts can’t even open that!  This thread started in York Minster, moved to Canterbury and I make no apology for repeating myself about Winchester which, on the whole, has not been treated very kindly by some people on earlier threads.  I’m not clear whether Paul Hale is referring to relocating the existing nave organ or further enlargement of the instrument by the addition of a new division.  If the latter, we would be talking of entering the realms of more than 90 speaking stops.

Having known the Cathedral intimately for upwards of six decades, I can only think of one place where a nave organ could be located without serious damage to the architecture.  (Colin Harvey made a similar point on an earlier thread.)

At the extreme west end of the nave above the entrance door on the north side there is a substantial gallery which was successively the Bishop’s Consistory Court and later the Treasury.  There is ample space there for a substantial west end organ, but with two potential problems.  Like the main organ, it would be partly buried on the north side, although I believe it could speak with two fronts into both the nave and the north aisle.  A west end organ at Winchester will present exactly the same problem as at St Paul’s - the significant time lag which (for different reasons) congregation members already complain about.

It will be fascinating to see what Paul Hale comes up with!  My ‘solution’ would leave the organ entirely on the north side with the problems I have mentioned.  Long ago there was an idea, I believe emanating from Arthur Harrison, that the organ should be divided on either side of the quire à la Salisbury and St Paul’s but, of course, nothing came of that.

Apologies to York for this digression on a thread ostensibly about their organ which I very greatly admire, and first heard played by Francis Jackson almost 70 years ago, an unforgettable memory!

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49 minutes ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

At the extreme west end of the nave above the entrance door on the north side there is a substantial gallery which was successively the Bishop’s Consistory Court and later the Treasury.  There is ample space there for a substantial west end organ, but with two potential problems.  Like the main organ, it would be partly buried on the north side, although I believe it could speak with two fronts into both the nave and the north aisle.  A west end organ at Winchester will present exactly the same problem as at St Paul’s - the significant time lag which (for different reasons) congregation members already complain about.

Very interesting, Rowland - I'm afraid I'm not as familiar with Winchester as I ought to be, living only 25 miles distant, but I have played there twice - once during a 'lock in' with James Lancelot, and on a subsequent occasion when I played for a visiting choir with whom I was touring the area for a week in about 1977, so before the addition of the nave organ. I have been to a couple of Royal Choral Society concerts there more recently, but a 'proper' visit is long overdue.

I hadn't realised the time lag with the West Organ caused issues for the congregation at St Paul's. Is this a regular complaint? I always felt that the augmenting of the Dome Organ and the provision of a small diapason chorus at the West end had been a good thing in terms of keeping things together. 

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Martin, The time-lag problem at St Paul’s is for the organist (or some of them) between the Chancel organ and the West End organ.  John Scott said he had great difficulty adjusting to it, whereas he said his assistant (Andrew Lucas?) mastered it easily.   At Winchester the relevant time lag is due to the organ being so distant from everyone, and I recall congregation synchronisation problems in the time of Alwyn Surplice, which is now long ago.  

My ‘suggestion’, with qualifications, would give Winchester the equivalent support at the west end comparable to St Paul’s - but no possibility of an equivalent Dome division!  

The organ was totally transformed in the 1986 rebuild with a new building frame, the departments re-arranged on different levels and almost total elimination of extension and borrowing.  I think considerable credit must go to Mark Venning.  

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1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

Very interesting, Rowland - I'm afraid I'm not as familiar with Winchester as I ought to be, living only 25 miles distant, but I have played there twice - once during a 'lock in' with James Lancelot, and on a subsequent occasion when I played for a visiting choir with whom I was touring the area for a week in about 1977, so before the addition of the nave organ. I have been to a couple of Royal Choral Society concerts there more recently, but a 'proper' visit is long overdue.

I hadn't realised the time lag with the West Organ caused issues for the congregation at St Paul's. Is this a regular complaint? I always felt that the augmenting of the Dome Organ and the provision of a small diapason chorus at the West end had been a good thing in terms of keeping things together. 

The West End diapason chorus does not work all that well. It comes across as being rather disembodied and vague. You know there is something going on when being used but the overall effect is indistinct. If memory serves it is placed south side of the nave gallery, this in itself doesn't really help either. The solution of course is a large West End organ on a gallery speaking directly down the nave, but that isn't going to happen. The Royal Trumpets are rarely used.

The effect in the Dome is of course much better, if a little one sided. All the Dome section is squeezed into the NE Dome gallery. There should really be some pipework in the SE Dome gallery (where the old diapason chorus was located) to balance things off. Perhaps the old Willis Dome tubas and reeds from 1900, now gathering dust with our hosts, could be placed there?

Question is (and in other places in this regard), when does it all end?

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17 hours ago, S_L said:

Yes - I'm not quite sure what the video was designed to tell me - apart from the French tend to have, in their cathedrals, two organs, le grande orgue at the west End and the orgue de choeur in the choir. Despite this seemingly preponderance of organs, the French don't have strong choral tradition.

Yes, relating this to York Minster (sorry to drag the discussion back to that subject!) I believe I may have suggested somewhere further back in this thread that the best solution for the 'nave problem' at York would be the addition of a separate nave organ rather than, or perhaps in addition to, increasing the power of the main organ.  Of course, unlike the French system, the two organs should be playable from the same console.

Obviously, this would be a reversal of the French system in that the 'grande orgue' would be the one on the pulpitum and would also support the choir, whilst the 'orgue de nef' would be the smaller one having the sole function of supporting the congregation in the nave.

This has been done in a number of cathedrals in this country of course and, as has been mentioned above, there have sometimes been problems with making such a system workable.  I feel that a nave organ at the far west end of the nave at York would present timing problems and that a far better solution would be to site it in the second (or perhaps first) bay west from the under-tower: in a suitable place for supporting a nave full of people yet not too far from the main organ and the (nave) console.

Of course, there are no such plans (and presumably money) to add a nave organ so such a discussion is academic, though I live in hope!

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10 hours ago, contraviolone said:

The Royal Trumpets are rarely used.

I am reliably told that the first time 'herself' heard the Royal Trumpets she was somewhat taken aback by the noise they made and the 'old Duke' was a little more forthright about them!!! I'm also told that a request came, from 'Buck house' that they be not used when the two, aforesaid mentioned persons are directly underneath them!!!

Only gossip of course but it's a good story with, I understand, an element of truth!

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3 hours ago, S_L said:

I am reliably told that the first time 'herself' heard the Royal Trumpets she was somewhat taken aback by the noise they made and the 'old Duke' was a little more forthright about them!!! I'm also told that a request came, from 'Buck house' that they be not used when the two, aforesaid mentioned persons are directly underneath them!!!

Only gossip of course but it's a good story with, I understand, an element of truth!

 

Didn't Andrew Lucas give a first-hand account somewhere on this Forum?

Ian

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This is what Andrew Lucas said last time it came up:

I'd just like to clarify this a little because otherwise the tales get exaggerated with the re-telling.

The problem with the Queen and the St Paul's organ's Royal Trumpets is more to do with fanfares in general than the organ stops per se. Rather than have trumpets blasting her ears every time she walks through a doorway the Queen prefers any fanfare to happen before she walks through the doors.

The Royal Trumpets are extremely loud, especially when you are standing underneath them. On many occasions I've seen people jump or wince when they go off unexpectedly. So it was always impressed on me that any fanfare for the Queen had to happen as she gets out of the car and comes up the steps and not to start when she is coming through the doors.

The Gigout incident is slightly different. In 1985, I think, John Scott played it as a recessional after a large service and no-one bothered to tell him (or the rest of the music staff) that there was going to be a line up of people who had received medals or awards from the Queen who were going to be presented to the Queen inside the west doors at the end of the service. So you can imagine the devastating effect when the trumpets suddenly fired from above in the last few pages of the piece, conversations and presentations were cut short and unsurprisingly the Queen wasn't happy about it at all.

The Royal Trumpets aren't banned from being used in her presence, merely that care is required in the timing of their use.

I hope this clears this story up.

Andrew

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Thank you Martin for Andrew Lucas' account of the use of the royal Trumpets.

I never said that they Royal Trumpets were banned! I said that Her Majesty was 'a little taken aback' and that a request was made that they weren't used when she was underneath them - which is, in effect, what Andrew wrote.

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