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Hello. I attended the King's School, Canterbury, during what was thought to be the 'last rebuild' of the Willis Organ in 1968. I am interested to know what prompted a second rebuild not 10 years later. The resulting instrument is spectacular, I have several recordings of it in my collection. The voicing is quite exquisite, all the way down to the strings and up to the heavy winds.

 

I am interested to know why you decided to reduce it to a three manual from four, and what stops wer removed (if any), and how you ended up with the current specification.

 

The addition of the Nave organ was brilliant. I remember when we performed in the Nave of the Cathedral having to use the Hammond, which was scarcely a replacement, and you could not even hear the Great Organ in the Quire.

 

Cheers.

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Guest Roffensis

I doubt you will ever get a straight answer to such a difficult question, as it was largely fashion, and largely a desire to make the organ speak better into the nave. The argument was to bring the organ forward, but resulted in the choir being lopped off, together with most of the solo. The Great, Swell and pedal remained, plus the 8 and 4 Tubas, a Clarinet, and a Dulciana. In other words, the loud stuff and principal choruses remained, but the versatily was severely compromised. I knew the old organ also, and do not consider the rebuiild to have been a success. No organ would ever reach adequately the nave, unless voiced at screamiing pitch. It was ideal for its choir use and for recitals in the quire, and all that was needed was a nave division.

More recently I have heard rumours concerning even the existing organ :( , that a new nave organ has been talked about, and rehashing the Willis/Mander, retaining some of the existing. Split cases in the nave will in any case weaken the building, as proven by the strainer arch in the nave, so one doubts that will never happen. I guess the architects would oppose that...and rightly so, the nave is our finest, and should not be compromised by any organ. As to the existing organ, it has the basis for a magnificent Willis based rebuilt, incorporating all 36 odd ranks that remain of the old job, never mind just a few ranks. How this will all pan out is anyones guess, one hears a lot of idle rumours, and how much is true is open to question. I also have many old recordings of the old organ, and if still very recognisable now, it needs a sympathetic return to what was, including the very fine old console.

 

One hopes......

R :(

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Personally, I think that it was a serious error to remove the Solo Organ, with its orchestral voices and harmonic flutes. Only the tuba ranks were kept - but transferred to the Choir Organ.

 

In addition, whilst the tutti may sound spectacular, there is a dearth of quieter accompanimental ranks and a lack of quiet enclosed reeds. The instrument also lost its 32p flue. If it was damaged or the pipes split, could they not have been repaired? I know that this rank was not added by Willis - I cannot recall who did provide it and since I am currently sitting in the church office (my computer HDD has died), I am unable to refer to any books or magazines in order to extract this information.

 

I, too, would be interested to know why Dr. Allan Wicks decided to have the organ rebuilt so soon after the 1968 work.

 

The Choir Organ was also remodelled, with several 8p stops being removed and their places taken by new upperwork. The existing flute-mutations were also replaced with new, presumably wider-scaled ranks.

 

I also have recordings of the instrument both before and after the 1978 rebuild. I have to say that I prefer the previous incarnation. There was a far greater variety of foundation stops, reeds and strings. There are now only two mild strings on the Swell Organ.

 

The only positive thing to come out of the 1978 work was the Nave Organ - which could have been added to the main organ without the need for removing half of it.

 

I doubt that space was at a premium - there was (and is) ample room in the Choir Triforium and I should have thought that a little re-arranging and re-planning would have overcome any issues of difficult access or inadequate egress of sound.

 

If anyone has any further information, please post!

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So late? M. Cochereau, I am full of admiration for your dedication to this site!  :D

 

Mais non, M'sieur - mon computer est mort (Merde!). Je n'avez pas une autre acces pour le site de Mander....

 

(With apologies to Pierre, but it is late, here and I was in school by about 08h to-day....)

 

Actually VH, I have to be honest and admit that I am not merely here to gain access to this site. I shall no doubt have to explain to the Parish Secretary why I have incurred an Internet bill after-hours, why her 'Favourites' now include Big and Bouncy.com and why the 'History' folder contains several hits on Hot Belgian Fishwives.net (sorry again, Pierre).

 

Perhaps I should perform a 'regedit' before putting this machine to bed....

 

:blink:

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I shall no doubt have to explain to the Parish Secretary why I have incurred an internet bill after-hours, why her 'Favourites' now include Big and Bouncy.com
Mais bien sûr, M'sieur. Vous êtes un admirateur de Carlo Curley...

 

(No comments about my French, please!)

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Guest delvin146
Personally, I think that it was a serious error to remove the Solo Organ, with its orchestral voices and harmonic flutes. Only the tuba ranks were kept - but transferred to the Choir Organ.

 

In addition, whilst the tutti may sound spectacular, there is a dearth of quieter accompanimental ranks and a lack of quiet enclosed reeds. The instrument also lost its 32p flue. If it was damaged or the pipes split, could they not have been repaired? I know that this rank was not added by Willis - I cannot recall who did provide it and since I am currently sitting in the church office (my computer HDD has died), I am unable to refer to any books or magazines in order to extract this information.

 

I, too, would be interested to know why Dr. Allan Wicks decided to have the organ rebuilt so soon after the 1968 work.

 

The Choir Organ was also remodelled, with several 8p stops being removed and their places taken by new upperwork. The existing flute-mutations were also replaced with new, presumably wider-scaled ranks.

 

I also have recordings of the instrument both before and after the 1978 rebuild. I have to say that I prefer the previous incarnation. There was a far greater variety of foundation stops, reeds and strings. There are now only two mild strings on the Swell Organ.

 

The only positive thing to come out of the 1978 work was the Nave Organ - which could have been added to the main organ without the need for removing half of it.

 

I doubt that space was at a premium - there was (and is) ample room in the Choir Triforium and I should have thought that a little re-arranging and re-planning would have overcome any issues of difficult access or inadequate egress of sound.

 

If anyone has any further information, please post!

 

Having played that organ somewhat recently, I was very impressed with the modest amount of Willis still left on it. I've also heard a few various rumours, which I could not repeat here, although I do think it is important that this instrument remains true to its pedigree and not given the same fate as Worcester.

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Thanks for all the replies. The retention of the original heavy wind reeds accounts for the instrument still having lots of gusto, I am surprised that the entire solo organ was removed, as it contained one of Allan's favourite stops.

 

Is there a current specification floating around somewhere? I would be interested to do a side by side comparison.

 

Another slightly different topic: I have a copy of the Canterbury Version of EMI's 'Great Cathedral Organ series', recorded after the 1968 rebuild. It is getting a little old and I was wondering if anyone out there had a copy for sale or would know where to get a replacement.

 

The rebirth of this series on CD was entitled 'the best of the Great Cathedral...(etc)', and most of Canterbury was left out. Not surprising, as the second side was mostly Alan Ridout, but there is a good rendition of the Medelssohn #1 on the first side.

 

Comments?

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Guest Andrew Butler

Having accompanied a number of services at Canterbury in it's current incarnation, I have to say that I like it, and it works. Ok, there is a lot lacking from what you might call a "traditional cathedral spec", but surely, in the right hands the best can be made of any organ? Take solo reeds for example; on the face of it there's the Choir Cremona, Swell Hautbois, and the Tubas. By means of general pistons I have used the swell 16' up an octave as different voice, and combined with an 8' or even 4' flute there are more possibilities. The console is comfortable and well laid out - particularly important for visiting organists, of which cathedrals need plenty during choir holidays, and for whom practice time is limited. Compared to, say, Ely or Coventry (see elsewhere in forum) you can use a lot of Great accompanying a choir. David Flood once heard me practicing Stanford in C, and advised me that I could easily get away with going up to Great 6, which had the Large Open and the mixture.

 

And is there really that much space in the triforium? Allan took me up there once, and there didn't seem to be, allowing for tuning access.

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Guest Lee Blick
I remember when we performed in the Nave of the Cathedral having to use the Hammond,

 

I remember reading about this in the book, The Organ by Willaim Sumner(?) I am interested how such an arrangement happened and what it was like to using such an instrument. I couldn't imagine such an arrangement happening today.

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Guest Roffensis
Thanks for all the replies. The retention of the original heavy wind reeds accounts for the instrument still having lots of gusto, I am surprised that the entire solo organ was removed, as it contained one of Allan's favourite stops.

 

Is there a current specification floating around somewhere? I would be interested to do a side by side comparison.

 

Another slightly different topic: I have a copy of the Canterbury Version of EMI's 'Great Cathedral Organ series', recorded after the 1968 rebuild. It is getting a little old and I was wondering if anyone out there had a copy for sale or would know where to get a replacement.

 

The rebirth of this series on CD was entitled 'the best of the Great Cathedral...(etc)', and most of Canterbury was left out. Not surprising, as the second side was mostly Alan Ridout, but there is a good rendition of the Medelssohn #1 on the first side.

 

Comments?

 

I've got several copies of the HMV with one you can have of course, I also have one copy each of Wicks Polydor and Decca recordings of the organ......

You can send me a message no probs if i can help.

ATB

Richard

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Guest Roffensis

And is there really that much space in the triforium? Allan took me up there once, and there didn't seem to be, allowing for tuning access.

 

Oh Yes there is!!!, with now two bays of the triforium empty........what we need to remember is that the great,Swell, Solo Tubas, Cremona, ands a Dulciana were kept, together with the Pedal, bar the 32 flue which was not Willis by the way. The perfect basis for a excellent organ, with a nice enclosed choir and some nice solo stops....QED? One hopes.

 

Good recital there by D'Arcy Trinkwon on 1st July, I'm deffo going, cracking good organist and a cracking good organ too, matched by no doubt a crackling good programme.

 

Richard

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Guest delvin146

I think I'll pop along to. Might as well make the most of it whilst we can be sure it's still there. One can never tell how long a historic organ is going to last these days, or at least some parts of it!

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In a word, bloody awful. I actually bought one of my own about 15 years ago. They had two of them, one in the quire and one in the nave. The instrument was a Hammond C3, with the full AGO pedalboard, two manuals, a swell pedal, enclosed speakers, and a very interesting set of pedal stops, which included not one but to 32 footers, one diapason and one reed. You could actually get a relatively good foundation tone out of it.

 

The manuals had drawbars and presets, which were implemented as another 'octave' at the left end of the keyboard. One key enabled the drawbars, the other had some solo combinations, including a trumpet, oboe and some flute stops. Unfortunately, no thumb pistons.

 

The drawbars brought out individual tones of 16', 10 2/3, 8, 5 1/3, 4, 1 1/5, 1 1/3 and 1 foot pitch, you could get a reasonable chorus out of it, but could not couple the manuals or get a reed involved as well.

 

Not bad for 1965 technology, mine lasted about 3 years before the main amplifier died and I could not find any replacement parts.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest delvin146

Following on from discussion about the Canterbury organ.

 

I attended the recital this evening by D'arcy Trinkwon and I thought the playing was energetic and exciting. I thoroughy enjoyed the evening, and wasn't the slightest bit bored.

 

The organ at Canterbury is obviously magnificent and very grand and fiery. From the choir of course, or should that be quire?

 

The 1978 Mander rebuild obviously kept the dominant voices and gives a good account of itself still.

 

I was very surprised about how out of tune the organ was this evening, the top ends of the compass were quite horrible with many stops drawn and one C on the Great Posaune or something, was way off, as was what I think was a D sharp on the Cromona. I completely accept that it was a very warm day and we all know what this entails.

 

I played this organ not so long ago and the story was exactly the same, it was a cooler day earlier this year and the thing was still horribly out of tune.

 

I thought it was usually normal for the builders to be in tuning an important instrument prior to a rectial nearly right up to the time of the doors opening? I cannot think this happened this evening. I felt for the internationally acclaimed recitalist, and at certain points, (on the rather entertaining random video screen), you could see the look of pain upon his face.

 

We all know it's a long time since the organ has been overhauled, but one would hope it's not political to keep it as out of tune as possible.

 

I'm a little puzzled as to why the tuner seems to visit RAH pre-recital and have someone on hand in case faults develop there. Is not Canterbury at least equally deserving of such treatment? Certainly I at least, didn't see the presence of any organ builder there.

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Following on from discussion about the Canterbury organ.

 

I attended the recital this evening by D'arcy Trinkwon and I thought the playing was energetic and exciting. I thoroughy enjoyed the evening, and wasn't the slightest bit bored.

 

The organ at Canterbury is obviously magnificent and very grand and fiery. From the choir of course, or should that be quire?

 

The 1978 Mander rebuild obviously kept the dominant voices and gives a good account of itself still.

 

I was very surprised about how out of tune the organ was this evening, the top ends of the compass were quite horrible with many stops drawn and one C on the Great Posaune or something, was way off, as was what I think was a D sharp on the Cromona. I completely accept that it was a very warm day and we all know what this entails.

 

I played this organ not so long ago and the story was exactly the same, it was a cooler day earlier this year and the thing was still horribly out of tune.

 

I thought it was usually normal for the builders to be in tuning an important instrument prior to a rectial nearly right up to the time of the doors opening? I cannot think this happened this evening. I felt for the internationally acclaimed recitalist, and at certain points, (on the rather entertaining random video screen), you could see the look of pain upon his face.

 

We all know it's a long time since the organ has been overhauled, but one would hope it's not political to keep it as out of tune as possible.

 

I'm a little puzzled as to why the tuner seems to visit RAH pre-recital and have someone on hand in case faults develop there. Is not Canterbury at least equally deserving of such treatment? Certainly I at least, didn't see the presence of any organ builder there.

Money, in a word.

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Guest delvin146
Money, in a word.

 

I think personally if the organ were in my care, and I wished to keep hold of it, I would have been anxious to make it sound good and tune it free of charge anyway for an important occasion for an international recitalist. I afraid I didn't think it was a very good advert.

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I think personally if the organ were in my care, and I wished to keep hold of it, I would have been anxious to make it sound good and tune it free of charge anyway for an important occasion for an international recitalist. I afraid I didn't think it was a very good advert.

Well, up to a point - but maybe there wasn't time. Cathedrals are pretty busy places, and if there was that much wrong with it there's nothing much a quick check through will achieve. And if you start tuning one organ, however prestigious, for nothing....
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Guest delvin146
Well, up to a point - but maybe there wasn't time. Cathedrals are pretty busy places, and if there was that much wrong with it there's nothing much a quick check through will achieve.  And if you start tuning one organ, however prestigious, for nothing....

 

Of course, there might not have been time after evensong, only about 3 hours or so. It would just be nice to hear the thing in tune one day, so far I've never had the pleasure of hearing this live.

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Following on from discussion about the Canterbury organ.

 

I attended the recital this evening by D'arcy Trinkwon and I thought the playing was energetic and exciting. I thoroughy enjoyed the evening, and wasn't the slightest bit bored.

 

The organ at Canterbury is obviously magnificent and very grand and fiery. From the choir of course, or should that be quire?

 

The 1978 Mander rebuild obviously kept the dominant voices and gives a good account of itself still.

 

I was very surprised about how out of tune the organ was this evening, the top ends of the compass were quite horrible with many stops drawn and one C on the Great Posaune or something, was way off, as was what I think was a D sharp on the Cromona. I completely accept that it was a very warm day and we all know what this entails.

 

I played this organ not so long ago and the story was exactly the same, it was a cooler day earlier this year and the thing was still horribly out of tune.

 

I thought it was usually normal for the builders to be in tuning an important instrument prior to a rectial nearly right up to the time of the doors opening? I cannot think this happened this evening. I felt for the internationally acclaimed recitalist, and at certain points, (on the rather entertaining random video screen), you could see the look of pain upon his face.

 

We all know it's a long time since the organ has been overhauled, but one would hope it's not political to keep it as out of tune as possible.

 

I'm a little puzzled as to why the tuner seems to visit RAH pre-recital and have someone on hand in case faults develop there. Is not Canterbury at least equally deserving of such treatment? Certainly I at least, didn't see the presence of any organ builder there.

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I am pleased you enjoyed D'Arcy's recital. Unfortunately the organ tuning planned for the Tuesday before had to be postponed as the Cathedral hosted a large, important funeral that day. The tuning of the organ is suffering in the temperature we currently have, especially since the organ is close to the south side of the Cathedral and catches the sun very easily. It is maintained very well and very regularly: as you can see, tunings are intended before recitals but the Cathedral diary is a very full one and organ tuning is not very popular during th daytime for our thousands of visitors!

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Guest Roffensis
I am pleased you enjoyed D'Arcy's recital.  Unfortunately the organ tuning planned for the Tuesday before had to be postponed as the Cathedral hosted a large, important funeral that day.  The tuning of the organ is suffering in the temperature we currently have, especially since the organ is close to the south side of the Cathedral and catches the sun very easily.  It is maintained very well and very regularly: as you can see, tunings are intended before recitals but the Cathedral diary is a very full one and organ tuning is not very popular during th daytime for our thousands of visitors!

 

I quite agree, both my regular organs are suffering through the heat, and it borders on being pointless to even try to get them tuned, as the temperature is fluctuating so widely. The D'Arcy Trinkwon recital at Canterbury was wonderful, and the organ sounded magnificent as always. I travelled down from Liverpool especially to hear it, and it was worth it all. Happily I left with the new CD of the choir, and that too is top notch. :huh:

 

Richard A.

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