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nfortin

St. Michael's, Tenbury

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I've had the pleasure of playing for 2 choral evensongs within a period of just over a year on the 4-manual Willis in St. Michael's, Tenbury. In my opinion this is a fabulous instrument. It's surprisingly bright-toned, has plenty of power, and a wealth of beautiful softer sounds as you would expect.

 

Does anyone know:-

- what condition the organ is in, its OK to play at present

- who maintains it

- what are its chances of being kept in good order

 

This is also an interesting instrument for those following the discussion re. sympathetic historical restorations elsewhere on these discussion boards. It has what I guess it the original Willis console and there's a fascinating mechanism for setting the piston combinations which I've not seen elsewhere.

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Go to:

 

http://www.smcsociety.co.uk/music.html

 

Click on the file that's mentioned "for Media player"(one of the "reunions")You get a picture of the console about the middle of the page.Click on "organ voluntary"....And wait a bit (long to download).

 

Was this organ Ouseley's?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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I'm familiar with the smcsociety web site - but it has very little information about the organ. The college chapel is used as the parish church, but there's little chance of the parish having enough money to keep the organ going.

 

I know from my own recent experience that its still quite playable at the moment, but I'd be interested if anyone has a more detailed assessment of its condition and what its future prospects are.

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Apologies, Nfortin,

 

This may not help you, I agree. At least it will enable others to realize how beautiful and interesting this organ is. I also used this file to show the members of the french forum an example of a Willis organ. Indeed, it seems quite original or not-that-modified.

 

Maybe you need not to worry too much. It can be that this instrument is still intact *because* of lack of funds. I often noted that wherever there is money, chances are high you find playable disfigured organs ; where there is no money, you have not very playable intact organs.

 

Between two evils, which one do we prefer?

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Neil,

 

Have played the Tenbury organ at least once a year for the last five+ years. It's in a good playable condition at the moment (played last weekend!), and I understand that the present condition is down to the organist (Michael Hart) and the support of the PCC.

 

I don't know who maintains it, but I think that the chances of it staying playable in the future are good, as the church recognise its importance in the scheme of things. The building itself is being renovated at present, with attendant drain on parish finances, EH and other grant support notwithstanding.

 

Having said that, it would be wonderful to see a top-to-bottom restoration to seal the myriad wind-leaks, renovate the action and clean everything, one day. Agree that tonally it should not be touched. A wonderful instrument!

 

Duncan.

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Neil,

 

Have played the Tenbury organ at least once a year for the last five+ years. It's in a good playable condition at the moment (played last weekend!), and I understand that the present condition is down to the organist (Michael Hart) and the support of the PCC.

 

I don't know who maintains it, but I think that the chances of it staying playable in the future are good, as the church recognise its importance in the scheme of things. The building itself is being renovated at present, with attendant drain on parish finances, EH and other grant support notwithstanding.

 

Having said that, it would be wonderful to see a top-to-bottom restoration to seal the myriad wind-leaks, renovate the action and clean everything, one day. Agree that tonally it should not be touched. A wonderful instrument!

 

Duncan.

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I visited after Easter 2009 and was delighted to find that everything was in full working order and it all sounded great. Trevor Tipple is currently looking after it.

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As this place is extreemly difficult to find on the NPOR those wishing to see the latest spec complete with tonal changes may wish to click here

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N14871

In the book "Ousley and his Angels" by David Bland published in 2000, Roger Judd provided Appendix 4 , the specification of the organ, and detailed many of the changes which have happened over the years including console modernisation with new stop knobs and fully adjustable pneumatic combination system in 1916 and the change of pitch in 1953.

PJW

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The piston setters were a common Willis idea. St Peter Wolverhampton had them from memory to the left of the player in a case. They were easy to use once mastered. Im sure David Wylde can give more examples.

I would urge people to go and hear Paul Carr play, Im sure he will show this instrument off to its best.

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It's good to know that this organ is in safe hands. My last contact was 8 years ago singing as a bass soloist at the time with Midlands Chorale, and Michael Hart played for us (very well too). As I recall the solo tuba is enclosed, am I right? I played it briefly then and what an organ it is. Despite later changes it's unmistakeably Willis, and we can only hope that the present care of it remains. It may have been altered too much to get lottery funding, so as is too often the case good ongoing maintenance may the best that can be hoped for.

 

R.

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The Willis organ sounds impeccable on a Naxos CD (8.570410), recorded on 12th October, 2006, with music by S S Wesley, played by James McVinnie. The playing is a bit 'formal' but gives a good impression of the organ.

[Gerco Schaap]

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Huskisson Stubington contributed an article titled "St Michael's College Tenbury and its Organ" to The Rotunda of March 1931. The earlier Harrison (Rochdale) instrument is mentioned and is also mentioned in Elvin's Harrison Story.

 

HS mentions that the Willis originally had a horizontal reed as Ousley was 'captivated by the Spanish custom of placing reeds as front pipes en chamade' but this feature was altered later in his life, and that the last major work including a new action was carried out by Henry Willis III in 1916.

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