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Leeds Town Hall organ rebuild


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I hope that Darius doesn't mind me pre-empting him, but I have just found a post on Facebook detailing the rebuild of the Leeds Town Hall organ by Nicholson's.  Their information is here:

http://www.nicholsonorgans.co.uk/pf/lth/?fbclid=IwAR2zphr9EyIg0V6j0TI38GYaw1Hc8zQzVh9y2gttfbCycfOAr4Kel83H3qY

http://www.nicholsonorgans.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2021-06-07-LTH-website-spec.pdf

I must say that I'm impressed with the scale and scope of this rebuild.  It is much more expansive than I had imagined and all who are involved should, in my opinion, be congratulated for their forward thinking.

Darius, if I have posted out of turn, please say so and I shall delete this.
John

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2 hours ago, John Robinson said:

I hope that Darius doesn't mind me pre-empting him, but I have just found a post on Facebook detailing the rebuild of the Leeds Town Hall organ by Nicholson's.  Their information is here:

http://www.nicholsonorgans.co.uk/pf/lth/?fbclid=IwAR2zphr9EyIg0V6j0TI38GYaw1Hc8zQzVh9y2gttfbCycfOAr4Kel83H3qY

http://www.nicholsonorgans.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2021-06-07-LTH-website-spec.pdf

I must say that I'm impressed with the scale and scope of this rebuild.  It is much more expansive than I had imagined and all who are involved should, in my opinion, be congratulated for their forward thinking.

Darius, if I have posted out of turn, please say so and I shall delete this.
John

Well, it looks like a fabulous scheme.

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Not at all!  We're relieved to finally have the contract signed.  If you'd like to join us in real life or virtually on July 17 you can here all the history, rationale behind the project, and ask any questions - I'll be there with Andrew Caskie and James Atherton.  Delighted that you approve (though I guess not everyone will!)

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Wot no Positive!? How will we ever have authentic Bach performances! 🙂

Keeping everybody happy is impossible and always will be.

What matters is integrity within the scheme, and the courage of its own convictions. That's what'll stand the test of time. 

 

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A fascinating specification and from this listener's point of view, the finished instrument will be something to look forward to.

Seeing as we're very much in "nuts & bolts" territory here, a question:  Stop 23 (Pedal Clarion 4') is apparently to be crafted from the former Schalmei 4'.  That's quite a change given the wildly different forms of pipe.  Is it a "melt and recast" or, as implied, is something very clever going to happen in the metal shop?

If there's any chance of situating a timelapse camera somewhere, that would be a wonderful record of this reconstruction.

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I'm sure that Nicholson's will be able to answer that question - but I can say that it already sounds much more like a trumpet than anything else, so it's probably not too much of a stretch. 

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6 hours ago, swalmsley said:

Wot no Positive!? How will we ever have authentic Bach performances!

Most of the old Positive is still there, in the new (or, rather, resurrected) Choir, with some of the stops under a slightly new guise plus new ones in appropriate style, and addition of the Cremona which is becoming a standard in restorations of Choir divisions.

Some fascinating technology and surely the first organ to incorporate iPad page turners and stepper advancers in such profusion - 10 or is it 12, including the pedal?  Pedal-divide now standard, of course, and I note a new percussion, chimes, on the also-resurrected Echo-Choir division.

It looks an absolutely magnificent specification - congratulations to Nicholson’s and all at Leeds. 

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I have been informed that the new Grand Organ is to be sited above the Great and in front of the Swell.
Similarly, the new Solo is to be placed behind the Great.
The one new division I was previously unaware of is the Echo Choir.  Can I assume that this will be behind the Choir (previously known as the Positive)?  That seems a logical position anyway.

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I am interested to see that the Pedal Bourdon has both a 32' extension AND a derived Quint 10.2/3  I am sure there is a reason for this, but it is evading me!  Could someone clarify?

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Hi Andrew - The 32' Bourdon extension  is just to provide the quietest 32' tone when used eg with the strings (it will be quietened a little as it's too strong at the moment).  Its use at 10 2/3 pitch is more to reinforce the 32' Diapason - a little too quiet at the moment - which being the case pipes and relatively small scale, can't be strengthened much from its present level.  We already have a 10 2/3 as a separate rank but it's very quiet and we'll gain space in the case by deriving this rank from the Bourdon instead.  

Incidentally for those who wish to attend the presentation on the 17th in person, the Town Hall box office is now up and running and you can get (free) tickets here

https://www.leedstownhall.co.uk/whatson-event/meet-the-new-town-hall-organ/#

The link for watching the event live on YouTube will also appear there.

 

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On the louder side of the Pedal -

When I read the spec - especially the introduction of what will apparently be a powerful new diapason chorus and reeds, prominently placed, to say nothing of the availability of some loud new solo reeds to be "coupled down" for a mega-tutti - my first thought was whether the Pedal would be able to balance it. It seems I've not the only mind this thought has crossed, since a new Open Wood no.1 on higher pressure will be added, and the existing "big" pedal reeds replaced with new, on the second highest wp in the organ. Given, as DB notes, the rather moderate output of the existing metal rank, it seems that much of the bass weight in the full chorus will come from these three new stops.

So I wonder, still, whether it will be enough. The "Royal Peculiar" effect, where the balance is OK until the triforium Bombarde gets going, is not an attractive one to my ears at least. I suppose it's all in the voicing and egress into the acoustic. 

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21 hours ago, DariusB said:

Hi Andrew - The 32' Bourdon extension  is just to provide the quietest 32' tone when used eg with the strings (it will be quietened a little as it's too strong at the moment).  Its use at 10 2/3 pitch is more to reinforce the 32' Diapason - a little too quiet at the moment - which being the case pipes and relatively small scale, can't be strengthened much from its present level.  We already have a 10 2/3 as a separate rank but it's very quiet and we'll gain space in the case by deriving this rank from the Bourdon instead.  

Incidentally for those who wish to attend the presentation on the 17th in person, the Town Hall box office is now up and running and you can get (free) tickets here

https://www.leedstownhall.co.uk/whatson-event/meet-the-new-town-hall-organ/#

The link for watching the event live on YouTube will also appear there.

 

Thank you - makes perfect sense now. It was the Quint that was puzzling me rather than the soft 32'  Shows how important it is for those who know an instrument to be closely involved in rebuilds etc. 

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Fantastic to see a major contract go to Nicholson.

I was wondering how it was funded and found a few news articles. Very impressive that the council are so supportive even though they expect to be paid back from fundraising. I don’t think I’ve heard of this approach before. I’m sure it leaves the council with some risk.
https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/people/leeds-town-halls-historic-organ-to-get-ps18m-of-restoration-work-3254806?amp

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I feel very fortunate that while some civic organists and their supporters have to deal with local authorities who are indifferent or even hostile,  Leeds City Council has such a strong record in supporting music.  (I also hugely appreciate Simon Lindley's role in this).  They're one of the few councils still to have a dedicated music department and as well as the organ recitals they run free chamber concerts, brass band concerts etc all over the area as well as the International Concert Season.  They seem to have a history of councillors who see the importance of music.  On your point about getting their money back, they're establishing a stand-alone Trust specifically to raise money for the organ project, which being independent will be able to apply to charitable trusts etc as well as work with the Town Hall on fundraising - I think that's due to be announced in the next few weeks.  My hope is that supporters of the series and of organ music will show their appreciation of this support from the council by giving generously!

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1 hour ago, DariusB said:

I feel very fortunate that while some civic organists and their supporters have to deal with local authorities who are indifferent or even hostile,  Leeds City Council has such a strong record in supporting music.  (I also hugely appreciate Simon Lindley's role in this).  They're one of the few councils still to have a dedicated music department and as well as the organ recitals they run free chamber concerts, brass band concerts etc all over the area as well as the International Concert Season.

And this is because people like you and Simon Lindley have fought the good fight and inspired members of the Council to believe in you, the organ and music generally. It's great to see. 

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13 hours ago, DariusB said:

I feel very fortunate that while some civic organists and their supporters have to deal with local authorities who are indifferent or even hostile,  Leeds City Council has such a strong record in supporting music.  (I also hugely appreciate Simon Lindley's role in this).  They're one of the few councils still to have a dedicated music department and as well as the organ recitals they run free chamber concerts, brass band concerts etc all over the area as well as the International Concert Season.

Yes indeed.
As far as I'm concerned, Leeds is the centre of the known universe!

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9 hours ago, John Robinson said:

Yes indeed.
As far as I'm concerned, Leeds is the centre of the known universe!

Leeds!! I went to Balmforth's, of blessed memory, in Leeds, years and years ago, to buy a 'cello case for my David Techler 'cello. The 'cello was worth a fortune and I paid £35, a lot of money in those days, for a hard case. I don't think Balmforth's exists anymore and, now, every time I go to Leeds I get lost and there seems to be a new 'Ring Road' or motorway where I want to go! Or, perhaps, I'm just getting old!

As forumites know, I don't comment on specifications on pieces of paper. but the Leeds rebuild, I suppose, looks exciting to those who do. But I do look forward to the opening Recital which, I suspect, will be a good deal more interesting than the recital given last time the organ was opened in 1972(?)!

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16 hours ago, S_L said:

Leeds!! I went to Balmforth's, of blessed memory, in Leeds, years and years ago, to buy a 'cello case for my David Techler 'cello. The 'cello was worth a fortune and I paid £35, a lot of money in those days, for a hard case. I don't think Balmforth's exists anymore and, now, every time I go to Leeds I get lost and there seems to be a new 'Ring Road' or motorway where I want to go! Or, perhaps, I'm just getting old!

Quite apart from the Town Hall organ (and the Leeds Minster organ too) Leeds is the best shopping city outside of London!

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(This is a condensed version of a question posed privately to DariusB.)

I'm querying the use of the Grand Organ in performance and wonder where, in a specific piece or pieces, it would be employed. It obviously has a different function than, for instance, the West end Grand-Orgue at Buckfast.

I have great admiration for this project - continuing, as it does, the furtherance of the philosophy of our Victorian forebears in building and so 'equipping' these magnificent edifices. It is a shame that some councils have not been so far-seeing and have destroyed part of our heritage. 

I also ate one of the best curries ever in a Leeds restaurant that seems no longer to be in existence. I seem to recall it had '44' in its name/address and was in a converted chapel.

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I can’t answer your question, which is for DariusB anyway, but when I first saw the new specification there seemed to be several echoes (pun not intended, although appropriate) in tribute to the original Gray and Davison organ of 1859 (NPOR N02795) with ‘Front Great’ and ‘Back Great’ both with complete choruses, and the Echo division added six years later.  

One could equally ask how did William Spark use the ‘Back’ and ‘Front’ Greats.  Presumably for contrast - alternatively? - rather than together?

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On the purpose of the Grand division - here's the reply I gave to John:

This is not a ‘west Great’ of the kind Nicholson have done at Auckland or Llandaff. Its primary purpose - and how I expect it to be mostly used - is as part of the Great, to add much needed extra foundation tone as required or even more when necessary - in the same way that Hull City Hall for example has additional 8 4 and 2 principals on the Great at higher pressure.  (The Great on its own has only two diapasons which is not much for an organ of this size -  had we not gone down the 'Grand' route we would have added an extra, large Open to the Great).  However I can certainly imagine that in repertoire where the second chorus needs to be much nearer in power to the primary one than is the case in most English organs, Reger for instance or even some French repertoire, that the Grand and Great could be split and the Great become secondary.  I was impressed with how well this worked at Freemasons Hall with their new Grand division, which reinforces the existing Great very effectively but can also be used independently.  As you might have guessed from the stop names, the reeds will also be quite different on the two divisions, the existing Great reeds being kept bright and fiery, and the new ones being rounder and fuller.  

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I had a look at the YouTube recording of the meeting yesterday but the sound level was so low the speech was inaudible.  Is it a problem with my system?

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21 minutes ago, bam said:

I had a look at the YouTube recording of the meeting yesterday but the sound level was so low the speech was inaudible.  Is it a problem with my system?

My PC also did that. I mentioned it in the comments section. The music played fine, but like you said, the speech was off

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Sorry for the technical problems yesterday - we are going to re-record all the presentations and contributions from Nicholsons and post them as a separate video this week.

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