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Coventry Cathedral


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Coventry Cathedral have announced the start of fundraising to restore the organ which is now approaching its 60th birthday.

More details at: https://www.coventrycathedral.org.uk/wpsite/blog/2021/11/30/launch-of-the-organ-restoration-appeal-with-david-briggs/

The page also links to the recent concert by David Briggs that was broadcast on Radio 3

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I wish Coventry every success with what will be a fraught filled venture.     Liverpool have recently " completed" their restoration but, they are out with the begging bowl for further work to be done

Once again the old adage " an organ is the most expensive form of noise "  comes to the forefront here.    In all honesty how can it really be justified in expending such huge sums on an item which, let`s be perfectly honest, remains largely unused in a locked building ; all the more due to the current situation which shows little sign of abating.

Before the instruments of torture are laid out before me let me reiterate as I have stated here on prior posts I am actually a lover of all matters mechanical, musical or otherwise ..............but.............??

Move forward to the next sixty years and will our successors be likely to shell out for these restorations?         Somehow I think not.

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No ‘instruments of torture’, but I hope a reasoned assessment!

Coventry Cathedral organ is a masterpiece, nothing less.  I was slightly saddened to see no reference to Cuthbert Harrison or David Lepine in the appeal announcement, but I guess those names are largely unknown to a younger generation.  Surely Coventry ranks as Cuthbert Harrison’s magnum opus alongside the RFH, although he hinted quite strongly that Coventry was achieved without some of the constraints of the RFH.  And, of course, there is no question that the organ “remains largely unused in a locked building”.  I don’t think that comment could even be justified about most parish churches up and down the land.  
 

Actually, 60 years is a very impressive innings before a major restoration such as this, equalled only, I think, by the one planned at Norwich.  Of course cathedral finances can be precarious, but it seems rather sad that these major instruments have to rely on public appeals for their necessary care and survival.   

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3 hours ago, Adnosad said:

Move forward to the next sixty years and will our successors be likely to shell out for these restorations?         Somehow I think not.

You may be right of course, but I suspect they were saying that sixty years ago as well.

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One million seems, in fact is, a huge sum. However, how much would it cost to build a similar instrument from scratch ?

As we all know, the advantage of an organ is that it can, within reason, be almost eternally renewed. How long do most of us keep our cars, washing machines, etc. ?

In some ways, therefore, £1M is a reasonable amount for what will be done. This work is highly-skilled and labour-intensive in the extreme. 

When complete, this organ will (should) provide excellent service for another half-century, and more. This equates to £20,000 p.a. The highest paid player at Coventry City F.C. is paid this every fortnight ! He is 22.

Let us hope that this football club will play its part, not just on the field, but in this iconic building, by contributing to the rebuild.

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There have been several recent restorations involving this kind of money - and more!  King’s College Cambridge, York Minster, Canterbury Cathedral and St Mary Redcliffe all come readily to mind.  As to longevity, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Father Willis organ in Winchester Cathedral back in 2004 and about 50% of the pipework now there, albeit some of it revoiced, is by Willis having remained there to this day.

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To the extent of being labelled a bore, the Forster & Andrews/John Compton organ in Hull Minster, now unplayable, lasted in excess of 80 years since the Compton rebuild of 1938. Hull has similarities with Coventry, both holding the title of UK City of Culture. Yet both are cities not noted for affluence. I argue in the case of Hull that it has become a neglected, forgotten city. Like Coventry, Hull’s cathedral-proportioned Minster also desperately needs circa £1 million to restore its fine four-manual organ of 104 speaking stops and almost 5,000 pipes. To all those controlling the purse strings of grant-making bodies, DON’T FORGET HULL MINSTER!!!!

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Reading Minster (where I first sang as a chorister, and first learnt the organ) also has a significant (BIOS grade II*) 1862 Father Willis organ last rebuilt by Willis III in the 1930s which is struggling to remain usable.  They have an appeal open for £600,000, but (not currently living in Reading) I see little sign of progress.

Paul

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20 hours ago, John Furse said:

One million seems, in fact is, a huge sum. However, how much would it cost to build a similar instrument from scratch ?

As we all know, the advantage of an organ is that it can, within reason, be almost eternally renewed. How long do most of us keep our cars, washing machines, etc. ?

In some ways, therefore, £1M is a reasonable amount for what will be done. This work is highly-skilled and labour-intensive in the extreme. 

When complete, this organ will (should) provide excellent service for another half-century, and more. This equates to £20,000 p.a. The highest paid player at Coventry City F.C. is paid this every fortnight ! He is 22.

Let us hope that this football club will play its part, not just on the field, but in this iconic building, by contributing to the rebuild.

Expressed another way; if one pro ratas  the cost it does not seem to be quite such a good investment of capital. Especially when one includes essential maintenance etc into the equation.

I know this is a somewhat crazy way of looking at the matter of costing and running one of these noble monsters. One might suggest that in order to get one`s money`s worth the instrument would have to be played for several hours each day, thereby increasing costs due to wear and tear!

An intractable situation really, especially since the buildings in which they are located are closed for the majority of the time.  When, for example, was the last time you can recall going into one of these establishments and hearing the instrument being played, other than for a scheduled recital or service, or the odd matching or despatching?

Despite my appearing to be a total bore with regards to this matter I reiterate my remaining support for these pieces of machinery.  The economic viability still remains the dominant factor.

Finally, with regards to Coventry, well, despite whatever these soccer players ( and other bladder kickers ) may be paid, I do not think that they come within this remit somehow. What percentage of the population is actually interested in organs and all that goes with them?  Answer in all honesty  - precious few, so why should they be asked to contribute?

                               TAXI  !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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3 hours ago, Adnosad said:

Expressed another way; if one pro ratas  the cost it does not seem to be quite such a good investment of capital. Especially when one includes essential maintenance etc into the equation.

I know this is a somewhat crazy way of looking at the matter of costing and running one of these noble monsters. One might suggest that in order to get one`s money`s worth the instrument would have to be played for several hours each day, thereby increasing costs due to wear and tear!

An intractable situation really, especially since the buildings in which they are located are closed for the majority of the time.  When, for example, was the last time you can recall going into one of these establishments and hearing the instrument being played, other than for a scheduled recital or service, or the odd matching or despatching?

Despite my appearing to be a total bore with regards to this matter I reiterate my remaining support for these pieces of machinery.  The economic viability still remains the dominant factor.

Finally, with regards to Coventry, well, despite whatever these soccer players ( and other bladder kickers ) may be paid, I do not think that they come within this remit somehow. What percentage of the population is actually interested in organs and all that goes with them?  Answer in all honesty  - precious few, so why should they be asked to contribute?

                               TAXI  !!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you're going to deconstruct the cost/benefit of organs in this way, why not extend it to the church as a whole...?

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Bleedin' hell! That recital by David Briggs was fantastic. Wish I'd known about it so I could have attended, especially as I live within 30 minute's drive of the Cathedral.

The Widor and Bach were both hellfire with the organ being used to its fullest. God, I love the sound of that instrument. Such a unique blend of continental spikiness and mellow English Romantic foundations. Brings me to tears whenever I attend recitals there.

I have to say, the organ sounded in fine fettle on the broadcast. I couldn't hear anything more than some minor tuning issues. But of course, that doesn't mean the work isn't required. Hope they bring back the sizzle to the solo reeds when they restore it. 

A thought on securing the future of these instruments - they should let ordinary morons like me have a play. I asked several years ago after a concert if I could have a dabble in return for a donation to the Cathedral and the response was somewhat frosty, as it often is with churches in my experience. I don't know why they are so insular and protective over their assets. Let people experience the sheer power and joy of these magnificent instruments. So what if they play the theme music from Super Mario Bros. 1 on full Tutti? If you lock the things away then don't expect younger generations to put their hands in their pockets in years to come.

As I've said many times, the organ is the original heavy metal. Let people pay to play and see for themselves.

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On 18/12/2021 at 22:25, hackjo said:

 

 

 

 

A thought on securing the future of these instruments - they should let ordinary morons like me have a play. I asked several years ago after a concert if I could have a dabble in return for a donation to the Cathedral and the response was somewhat frosty, as it often is with churches in my experience. I don't know why they are so insular and protective over their assets. Let people experience the sheer power and joy of these magnificent instruments. So what if they play the theme music from Super Mario Bros. 1 on full Tutti? If you lock the things away then don't expect younger generations to put their hands in their pockets in years to come.

As I've said many times, the organ is the original heavy metal. Let people pay to play and see for themselves.

A friend (who shall remain nameless) made good intentioned inquiries about using the organ to make a recording, with a famous and distinguished organist. He made demo recordings with the current DOM, BUT, been a fledgling recording outfit, he had to turn it down, as they were asking for £3K for the hire... he then went on to make a recording of the same material and organist at a RC cathedral in Portugal, where they were only to happy to accommodate him, more or less free. He obviously made a hefty donation to the church

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5 hours ago, Peter Allison said:

A friend (who shall remain nameless) made good intentioned inquiries about using the organ to make a recording, with a famous and distinguished organist. He made demo recordings with the current DOM, BUT, been a fledgling recording outfit, he had to turn it down, as they were asking for £3K for the hire... he then went on to make a recording of the same material and organist at a RC cathedral in Portugal, where they were only to happy to accommodate him, more or less free. He obviously made a hefty donation to the church

And a pretty damm fine recording it is too1

In this flyblown little island, despite conquering most of the globe, we still have managed to retain an essentially island mentality and this can surface as evidence when " private little members clubs "  experience the real world knocking on their doors.

One of our finest features, being a dog in a manger to use the eternal metaphor.

Seasons Greetings to One and All -     It will soon be over :)

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1 hour ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Leaving aside the question of island mentality, I do wonder why people like to describe Great Britain as “little” island. As islands go, it’s on the large side: there are only eight larger islands in earth.

Whilst I appreciate your geographical knowledge I do wish to reiterate that the whole substance of my comment, pertains to that " of our island mentality " with specific regards to our attitudes,  which in the main, remain  Anglo-Saxon.

Seasons Wishes Yo One and All :)

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