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Liverpool Cathedral - new organ!


Martin Cooke
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Dr Keith Harrington, MD of Church Organ World, has announced that the largest ever Makin organ is to be installed in Liverpool Cathedral. 115 speaking stops over four manuals. It is to be positioned at West end of the building and replaces a much older Makin instrument. Everything will be moveable though so that it can be used elsewhere in the building if required. It will be called the Clark-Makin organ and has been provided through the generosity of the late Mr Peter Clark whose instrument this once was, though it is being modified and rebuilt before it's move to the cathedral. Dr Harrington reminds us that his will be the second Makin currently in the cathedral with the Rattenbury-Makin four manual instrument installed in the Song School. "For those who are counting, the Cathedral now has twenty-five manuals and eight organ consoles."  He hopes that the instrument will be unveiled after the Anniversary Recital on 16th October.

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Did I read this correctly?

The largest and most powerful pipe organ in the country and it needs a toaster in order to fulfil its function?  🤣

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2 hours ago, Christopher Brown said:

What's it for? If it's really moveable I can't imagine the sound system will cut much ice.

Or is a 4 manual digital Liverpool's idea of a continuo organ?

The impression I gained from the announcement was the the speakers would be mounted on moveable platforms separate to the console. It's difficult to imagine that Makin will fall down on the sound system.

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I agree, what is it for? I am at a slight loss for words, a great expense for a non essential item (thats the church for you) They should be ashamed really, when just up the road in Warrington at the Parr Hall, they are helpless, or am I missing something, and regardless how its paid for🤬

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25 minutes ago, Peter Allison said:

I agree, what is it for? I am at a slight loss for words, a great expense for a non essential item (thats the church for you) They should be ashamed really, when just up the road in Warrington at the Parr Hall, they are helpless, or am I missing something, and regardless how its paid for🤬

The original information says that the organ is for services etc. in the Western end of the Cathedral, remote from the main organ.  (Willis' plans originally included a department or two in this area).  Also, it seems the instrument has been donated, so presumably minimal cost.

Every Blessing

Tony

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Of course, Ian Tracey has had a long relationship with Makin and could well be on some form of retainer with them. What better place than the cavernous environment of Liverpool Cathedral to hear an organ, pipeless or not. I wonder if the cathedral is deriving any income from the presence of so many toasters?

 

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Honestly!  All this surmise when the answers are in Martin’s original post.  It was donated by the late Peter Clark (does that require some clarification, Martin?) and it replaces an existing “much older” Makin. As Tony Newnham says, the concept seems to be a substitute for the west-end section of the ‘grand’ organ which was never completed.

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35 minutes ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Honestly!  All this surmise when the answers are in Martin’s original post.  It was donated by the late Peter Clark (does that require some clarification, Martin?) and it replaces an existing “much older” Makin. As Tony Newnham says, the concept seems to be a substitute for the west-end section of the ‘grand’ organ which was never completed.

Indeed, to my mind, it's a very generous donation and in addition to Tony's point about the original plans for the pipe organ, this is REPLACING an existing digital instrument. And isn't it getting just a little bit boring to hear reference to 'toasters' at every turn? Digital organs have kept a lot of organists going over the last 18 months and those that are properly and professionally installed (as I am sure most are these days) provide a lot of pleasure for organists, choirs and congregations that can't always afford maintenance or like-for-like replacement of their very expensive pipe organs. 

There is now a piece about this on the Church Organ World website that clarifies any points. 

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19 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

Indeed, to my mind, it's a very generous donation and in addition to Tony's point about the original plans for the pipe organ, this is REPLACING an existing digital instrument. And isn't it getting just a little bit boring to hear reference to 'toasters' at every turn? Digital organs have kept a lot of organists going over the last 18 months and those that are properly and professionally installed (as I am sure most are these days) provide a lot of pleasure for organists, choirs and congregations that can't always afford maintenance or like-for-like replacement of their very expensive pipe organs. 

There is now a piece about this on the Church Organ World website that clarifies any points. 

Absolutely.  Well said. 

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I agree that constantly referring to digital organs as toasters is harsh (partly because I prefer to think of them as microwave ovens). I don't think this is anywhere as bad as what happened at the St. Peter's Basilica, however it does feel a little odd that the Liverpool Cathedral would need such an opulent digital organ.

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Very good!   hope it is up and running for the 95th and that IT may perform an offering on it.

Yes, I get very epsdis ffo too with comments referring to digital instruments as being merely " electronic " or just " toasters ".  It would appear that there still persists a significant number of people who still need nudging into the 21st century.  Do these individuals still have gas/ oil lights in their caves for the sake of being " truly authentic? "

As I have stated before on this subject, I have been exposed to censure from my very early days on this site for being so impertinent as to even mention the " D " word; I think that this attitude seems to being gradually put where it belongs - a hole in the ground.

Liverpool Anglican comes in for some stick with regard to " excess " but it is after all a rather large edifice which requires different instruments to suit different requirements. The Monster In The Loft provides for the greater part of these but there are many occasions where the practicality of a more compact versatile instrument serves the needs more adequately.

Finally, I do wish certain individuals would FULLY READ posts before girding their loins and launching  an unwanted attack on individuals solely for the sake of promoting their own corner and prejudices.

Taxi!!!!!

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Adnosad said:

Yes, I get very epsdis ffo too with comments referring to digital instruments as being merely " electronic " or just " toasters ".  It would appear that there still persists a significant number of people who still need nudging into the 21st century.  Do these individuals still have gas/ oil lights in their caves for the sake of being " truly authentic? "

 

 

Let me know when Nicola Benedetti plays a recital of Brahms and Stravinsky on an electric violin or Yuja Wang plays Debussy and Rachmaninov on a digital piano. This really isn’t a question of being “truly authentic”—we aren’t demanding Liverpool Cathedral has a mean-tone mechanical instrument at its West End nor are we expecting Benedetti and Wang to play Bach or Scarlatti on harpsichord or gut-strung violin (although Nicola has done just that!), just on instruments whose constituent parts excite the air and interact with each other and the audience in a natural, musical way.

if you’re getting epsdis ffo maybe the problem is in you.

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I understand that Gustav Leonhardt went to considerable lengths towards the goal of Historically Informed Performance, including living in an (almost) historically informed manner. He was not alone, of course.

As for gut strings, they're quite common for baroque performers. My wife has a violin and a couple of lutes with gut strings. Temperamental things, take ages to tune, go out of tune as soon as the humidity changes or you breath on them - you spend half your time tuning, and the other half playing out of tune - and they break easily and regularly. Many have strands of copper wire or nylon through them as supports. 

https://www.gramophone.co.uk/other/article/harpsichordist-and-conductor-gustav-leonhardt-has-died

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3 hours ago, innate said:

Let me know when Nicola Benedetti plays a recital of Brahms and Stravinsky on an electric violin or Yuja Wang plays Debussy and Rachmaninov on a digital piano. This really isn’t a question of being “truly authentic”—we aren’t demanding Liverpool Cathedral has a mean-tone mechanical instrument at its West End nor are we expecting Benedetti and Wang to play Bach or Scarlatti on harpsichord or gut-strung violin (although Nicola has done just that!), just on instruments whose constituent parts excite the air and interact with each other and the audience in a natural, musical way.

Yes, but most of the time, in a cathedral or church setting, we are not dealing with an audience but with a congregation who are there for a different purpose. People who want to hear Benedetti and Wang pay good money to hear them in a concert setting. And are we really saying that we wouldn't go to hear, say, David Briggs playing on a digital instrument - something he seems perfectly content to do whilst the pipe organ in his present US church/cathedral is being redone following the fire? And don't organists have to make the very best of the instrument, whether pipe or digital? Surely that's part of the skill and craft of being an organist - somehow managing when a pipe organ's action is impossibly heavy, or the reeds are horribly out of tune, or a note isn't working on one of the stops... or the digital organ doesn't sound exactly like a pipe organ. And, I probably wouldn't go to hear B or W play a digital violin or piano, respectively, but I am not as interested in violin or piano music as I am in organ music. In the days when Chichester managed with their Allen, I am sure people like John Birch and Ian Fox saw it as part of their skill set to make the very best of the instrument - and they did just that, day in, day out, superbly. And the congregation didn't quibble and sit about thinking that the air wasn't moving in a natural way. In lots of ways, I think they thought the Allen was a pretty good improvement on their rather inadequate pipe organ, to be honest!

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4 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

I don't think this is anywhere as bad as what happened at the St. Peter's Basilica, however it does feel a little odd that the Liverpool Cathedral would need such an opulent digital organ.

The situation at St Peter’s is quite extraordinary, but as has been pointed out previously, congregational singing is almost non-existent there and it simply isn’t realistic to compare it even with its main English counterpart, Westminster Cathedral.  I recall that after one televised mass, Pope Francis processed out to the Fugue in G minor (from BWV 542) performed by a group of brass players!

As to the ‘opulence’ of the new digital organ, the point needs to be made, yet again, that it is a gift, so that, rather than need, dictated what it is.  We now know that the donor, Peter Clark, was a citizen of Liverpool (and not the member of this discussion board of that name).

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49 minutes ago, Martin Cooke said:

In the days when Chichester managed with their Allen, I am sure people like John Birch and Ian Fox saw it as part of their skill set to make the very best of the instrument  …

We are rather straying from Liverpool, but I am also guilty in the following.  Before the Mander rebuild, I believe the Chichester organ had only 34 stops, surely the smallest of any English cathedral, and the cathedral is quite a substantial building.  But the rebuilding (and enlargement) was very long overdue.  Wasn’t it last worked on by Hele around 1905, and virtually unplayable towards the end?  However, John Birch did make an impressive 45 recording on it in the 1960s Ryemuse series, which introduced short but well-played programmes recorded all around the country on organs and by organists, some no longer with us.  Of the recorded organs which have been lost, Bath Abbey and Worcester Cathedral come to mind.  

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Just tuned in after a couple of  decent sized brandies and must confess to being somewhat confused with some of the replies to this thread!     Thought I was referring to  organs , especially those of the  " D " variety.   Whatever effect people desire to obtain from their fiddles is their affair; nothing wrong with that.

                                 Hey -ho ,never mind, will try again tomorrow; best thing methinks :)

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11 hours ago, innate said:

Let me know when Nicola Benedetti plays a recital of Brahms and Stravinsky on an electric violin or Yuja Wang plays Debussy and Rachmaninov on a digital piano. This really isn’t a question of being “truly authentic”—we aren’t demanding Liverpool Cathedral has a mean-tone mechanical instrument at its West End nor are we expecting Benedetti and Wang to play Bach or Scarlatti on harpsichord or gut-strung violin (although Nicola has done just that!), just on instruments whose constituent parts excite the air and interact with each other and the audience in a natural, musical way.

if you’re getting epsdis ffo maybe the problem is in you.

I agree.  We are all entitled to our opinions and those electronic gadgets which I may not name are not, in my opinion, not in any way equal to the real McCoy.

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8 hours ago, John Robinson said:

I agree.  We are all entitled to our opinions and those electronic gadgets which I may not name are not, in my opinion, not in any way equal to the real McCoy.

I agree too!     

As regards the battle between pipes and silicone you are quite correct that there is no comparison; they are two completely different species yet they manage to ultimately produce the same effect i.e. obey the rules of physics /acoustics and tickle our auditory senses!       After that it is all a matter of our individual interpretation plus the quality of our own hearing.    

Now where did I put my hearing aid?

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Yes, and to some extent, I agree, too. Nobody in their right mind is ever going to think that a four manual digital organ is going to be the equal of King's, or Truro, or Salisbury, etc. But I am jolly sure that many a well made, properly installed small digital organ is every bit superior to many a crumbling pipe organ. And yes, the pipe organ may go on for ever in the corner of the church, but many don't equal the some of their parts with poor tone, heavy action, short compass pedal boards, swells that go to tenor C only, pipework that goes out of tune the moment the tuner leaves, and the expensive of maintenance.

I disagree that there is 'no comparison.' Of course there is comparison to be made and the the vast majority of people who make that comparison often cannot tell the difference. We're back to the Huw Edwards statement about our great 'heritage' of pipe organs. We do indeed have a great heritage, but not all pipe organs are worthy of membership, and we don't help the cause of pipe organ preservation and rescue if we imagine and cling to the idea that they are. The sheep need separating from the goats in our thinking.

How do we that? How could responsible bodies such as the CofE or a diocese or a PCC go about deciding if their pipe organ should be kept and cherished or whether it should become a kitchen, a loo or a cupboard... especially if it is located awkwardly in shat has become a remote corner, and, if, Sunday by Sunday, there is nobody to play it or there is only a service every third week?

I am happy to try to start answering this... but later!

[And let's also remember that, yes, we have all these instruments, but the established church seems to be eating itself alive and in 30 to 50 years time will be gone. What will happen to all these pipe organs then?] 

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26 minutes ago, Martin Cooke said:

How could responsible bodies such as the CofE or a diocese or a PCC go about deciding if their pipe organ should be kept and cherished or whether it should become a kitchen, a loo or a cupboard... especially if it is located awkwardly in shat has become a remote corner, and, if, Sunday by Sunday, there is nobody to play it or there is only a service every third week?

First of all, how do you get them to listen to reason?

A couple of days ago I was talking to the organist of a remote village church (congregation c.20) which has a II/P organ of 11 stops by Anon. It's a rather lovely thing, thanks to the golden touch of the late Bill Drake, although I'm quite sure this wouldn't stop some organists replacing it with a digital instrument, owing to its lack of a 'proper' Full Swell, Tuba, Open Wood, 32' reed, etc., etc.  It sits at the back of the church, in the north-west corner, its rear against the side wall. Immediately to the left of the organ, a doorway is about to be drilled through the west wall, to provide access to a toilet to be built onto the outside of the church. A kitchen is also envisaged. Inevitably this wall is several feet thick, so a lot of dust will ensue.  Are there plans to cover or dismantle the organ to protect it? No. Also, there is complete disregard for the organist's complaints about the disruption around him that will be caused by stampede of the desperate during his voluntaries. He is trying to insist that the organ is not only dismantled, but turned through 90 degrees to put some space between him and the melée. I wish him luck, but I'm wondering where the church will find the extra money.

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On 16/08/2021 at 19:01, Adnosad said:

Just tuned in after a couple of  decent sized brandies and must confess to being somewhat confused with some of the replies to this thread!     Thought I was referring to  organs , especially those of the  " D " variety.   Whatever effect people desire to obtain from their fiddles is their affair; nothing wrong with that.

                                 Hey -ho ,never mind, will try again tomorrow; best thing methinks :)

My late friend and former City Organist at Hull, Peter Goodman, always said he would rather play a good digital organ than a poor pipe organ. And that was before the arrival of Hauptwerk and the Walker Technology digital organ that David Briggs and Ray Nagem have been playing at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York whilst the Aeolian Skinner pipe organ there is being restored.

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Well, I am absolutely sure, Vox, that this is an entirely typical situation. So much comes down to money and the fact that cash is King, as they say, and you can't do anything without it! My initial response on reading this was that the DAC should have stipulated all sorts of conditions regarding the safety and welfare of the organ before all work began. If they are actually building something on to the church to accommodate the loos etc then a few hundred pounds to cover, uncover and retune the organ ought to be possible. But if the whole 'thing' about the organ and its condition and siting within a church that's about to be knocked about were taken into account, it would ,as you suggest, possibly endanger the project which would become financially unviable... and I presume that the DAC comes across this all the time. One is bound to wonder if the organ could go elsewhere if some pews were removed, but I know that this isn't as easy as it sounds... but it still comes back to money. It's great that they have an organist, of course, but if only they listened to his concerns about the instrument and his working conditions during coffee time! Sometimes, of course, money can be found, even unexpectedly. Only this last year in one village that I know, one parishioner, upon her death, has left a handsome sum to the church to allow their dreams (not involving the organ!) to go ahead, and another old lady has left her cottage to another local organisation which will undoubtedly be of great benefit. I think that experience alone might suggest that it's always worth a church having a plan worked out for its development. 

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