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Hnb At Norwich


David Coram
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Evening all

 

Got to play Norwich for a week in a couple of week's time - choir tour. I'm told the organ can be a bit of a pig unless treated carefully, but unfortunately I don't have much time to get to know it - going straight in with Elgar Spirit on the first night.

 

Anyone know this instrument well enough to pass on any tips about it - balance, when/if to use the "loud" great section, etc?

 

All offers appreciated

 

D

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I spent a week there with a choir thirty-odd years ago. Not much help, I know, but pending further replies I found the secondary Great was all that was needed for accompanying the choir (plus of course the Swell, Choir, Solo). The primary Great is voiced for the nave. It is, after all, one of the longest naves in Europe. I recall it being a surprisingly easy organ to handle - and very fine with it.

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Evening all

 

Got to play Norwich for a week in a couple of week's time - choir tour.  I'm told the organ can be a bit of a pig unless treated carefully, but unfortunately I don't have much time to get to know it - going straight in with Elgar Spirit on the first night. 

 

Anyone know this instrument well enough to pass on any tips about it - balance, when/if to use the "loud" great section, etc?

 

All offers appreciated

 

D

 

Personally I only know this organ from recordings but Paul Derrett has recorded on it so it might be worth sending him a personal message off site.

 

BAC

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Guest Andrew Butler

I have read that the "Choir Positive" and "choir Swell" can be used as a 2-manual by transferring one to another clav, but from hearing it many times the Secondary Great seems to be used for choir work - although when the Quire is full of congregation I have heard part of the Primary Great in hymns.

 

Seems like bad planning to put Spirit on the 1st night!

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Evening all

 

Got to play Norwich for a week in a couple of week's time - choir tour.  I'm told the organ can be a bit of a pig unless treated carefully, but unfortunately I don't have much time to get to know it - going straight in with Elgar Spirit on the first night. 

 

Anyone know this instrument well enough to pass on any tips about it - balance, when/if to use the "loud" great section, etc?

 

All offers appreciated

 

D

 

Hi

 

I have played it once, but only as a "visitor", not for a service or anything. I would talk to one of the regular organists and find out what they know works - is David Dunnet still there? If so, you'll find him very helpful.

 

One thing to watch is the transfers - make sure you know where you've parked that floating/transferable divisions!

 

Hope it goes well.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I spent a week there with a choir thirty-odd years ago. Not much help, I know, but pending further replies I found the secondary Great was all that was needed for accompanying the choir (plus of course the Swell, Choir, Solo). The primary Great is voiced for the nave. It is, after all, one of the longest naves in Europe. I recall it being a surprisingly easy organ to handle - and very fine with it.

 

We found the same - probably round the same time as VH - I played before the service and for me the organ 'worked' well without much time on it to prepare - Langlais etc. The organist for the actual service kept off the triforium Great and mostly used whose ever settings the pistons were on then. The Tuba is vast and I seem to remember there being some very fine strings and orchestral reeds on the Solo.

 

AJJ

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We found the same - probably round the same time as VH - I played before the service and for me the organ 'worked' well without much time on it to prepare - Langlais etc. The organist for the actual service kept off the triforium Great and mostly used whose ever settings the pistons were on then. The Tuba is vast and I seem to remember there being some very fine strings and orchestral reeds on the Solo.

 

AJJ

 

There used to be a record/playback system that enabled an organist to go down into the Cathedral to hear what the organ sounded like to the listener. It can be a salutary experience but all takes up rehearsal time.

 

FF

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There used to be a record/playback system that enabled an organist to go down into the Cathedral to hear what the organ sounded like to the listener. It can be a salutary experience but all takes up rehearsal time.

 

FF

 

The organists mainly use the divided Choir sections for evensongs and build on that. They dont go much beyond Great piston 4, because apart from the choir the organ speaks west. The result is that to get any audible increase in volume from the choir stalls, you need to add great clumps of stops. Even if you are getting noisy when accompanying, it is still worth keeping an 8,4,2 coupled from the positive because the choir cant hear the westbound volume and can still tend to go out of tune. Oh, and for some reason the Pedal reeds are on the South triforium and the 32ft bottom octave is right behind you on the North, so dont jump! :(

 

The record/playback device still works well.

 

P

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One word of warning - it is easily possible to 'lose' sections of this organ whilst playing (or at least temporarily to forget to which clavier one has transferred a particular division). A colleague did this during a Psalm and decided that the only sensible thing was to press General Cancel, let the choir sing unaccompanied for a couple of verses and start again from scratch.

 

This could be particularly true of The Spirit of the Lord - getting to the exciting part with the ff LH octaves in the tenor region (just before the awkward page-turn, if you have the same edition which we use) only to discover, a nanosecond too late, exactly where you had transferred the 8p and 1p effect which you used to provide bell effects during the Psalm....

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One word of warning - it is easily possible to 'lose' sections of this organ whilst playing (or at least temporarily to forget to which clavier one has transferred a particular division). A colleague did this during a Psalm and decided that the only sensible thing was to press General Cancel, let the choir sing unaccompanied for a couple of verses and star again from scratch.

 

This could be particularly true of The Spirit of the Lord - getting to the exciting part with the ff LH octaves in the tenor region (just before the awkward page-turn, if you have the same edition which we use) and discovering a nanosecond too late exactly where you had transferred the 8p and 1p effect which you used to provide bell effects during the Psalm....

 

I know someone who had this happen at St Pauls where some ff Dome was still conected to where he thought was only pp strings for a psalm!!

 

AJJ

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It would have been interesting to know whether those downstairs in the stalls heard what he probably said a second or so afterwards....

 

My prevoius boss did that at Lichfield - moved up to the Solo (to give a quiet but incisive chord for the final Amen), was expecting a Viole d'Orchestre and instead got the Tuba Mirabilis.

 

His expletive* was heard by the Dean and he had a sticky five minutes in the vestry after Mass....

 

* Far too rude to be printed here.

 

;)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I'm back now, and I think Norwich is a much maligned instrument, rather like Guildford, which can be very fine if you are thoughtful with it. The transfers might be complicated but I have never known such a flexible and immediately approachable console despite the Field of Daisies nickname. I must say some of HNB's voicing in that era was quite superlative - Gloucester, Bath Abbey, and some of the ravishing stuff going on in the Choir, Positive and Solo at Norwich is no exception. There is the most amazing 1' on the choir that far from being the usual sixties squeak really is like a set of bells going off somewhere. I do hope the cathedral authorities soon spend some proper money on it. The policy currently seems to be to allow it to quietly fall to bits. With a bit of voicing attention to the loud stuff (primary Gt and quite a lot of the pedal) it could be really exceptional. Norwich also has the most exceptionally helpful vergers and stewards anywhere (they actually LIKE lots of noise).

 

Without the excellent playback system (very advanced for 1986) it would have been a very different story - a walk round the building while it's playing back at you is essential even when you've got to know it quite well. An inspired gift, that :)

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