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Richard McVeigh

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Compare that with Cynic's attitude to those less skilled than himself, cf above, (and in many other threads).


Two points: Cynic is too fine a player to feel threatened by anyone else; and he is also a gentleman.

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Fr John Gilbert, a catholic priest in the Diocese of Plymouth. I was born and grew up in West Cornwall, where my father was a Methodist local preacher. From a young age I accompanied him on his travels around the local chapels, the majority of which had organs. By about the age of 3 I was well and truly 'hooked'.


Piano lessons from the age of 6 were followed a few years later by organ lessons. At the age of 13 I was playing at a local Anglo-catholic church, on a beautiful little two manual organ by Noble of Derby. I held office there until going to the Birmingham Conservatoire in 1976 as a first study organist. At Birmingham my organ teacher was the great George Miles, who had been a pupil of Karl Straube at Leipzig. I studied piano with Marjorie Hazlehurst, another very distinguished teacher.


Following a year's PGCE course at Reading University, I taught for six years at Wells Cathedral School before training as an Anglican clergyman at Mirfield in West Yorkshire. I was ordained in 1991 and served in the dioceses of Peterborough, Ripon, Sheffield and Exeter. In the latter two dioceses I had brief spells as Diocesan Organ Adviser. Previously, as assistant curate at St Bartholomew's, Armley in 1994-6, I was actively involved in the plans for the major work on the splendid Schulze, along with Graham Barber and others.


In December 2010 I was received into the Catholic Church and after spending a year at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, (where I spent many happy hours on the fine 1860s 'Father' Willis organ), I was ordained to the diaconate in June 2012 and to the sacred priesthood in December 2012.


I maintain a strong interest in music and the organ and manage to 'keep my hand in' reasonably well as a player. I appreciate a range of organ music and styles of organ building. Having been a pupil of George Miles, it will come as no surprise that I revel in playing Bach on an appropriate instrument, (not that there is anything of the kind in West Cornwall, sadly!), but I can equally well appreciate a fine Willis, Hill or other distinguished 'Romantic' instrument.


My philosophy is that it is not so much the style of an instrument that is important as its musical qualities (and of course, good mechanical design giving reliable, responsive action, etc). Ultimately a good instrument is one on which one can spend many hours without tiring of the sound, whether it be large or small, 'Romantic', 'Classical' or whatever. For example, one organ I particularly enjoyed playing in recent times was the Tickell at Douai Abbey, on which I was privileged to spend several hours last year during a visit. Very different from the old Willis at Wonersh, but both instruments in their ways were very rewarding to play.


At home I have a Viscount Canticus 1, which (for the record) is by far and away the best 'toaster' I have ever encountered. In terms of 'feel' and sound it is streets ahead of any other electronic instrument I have ever tried - and I have played and heard a good few 'toasters,' some costing £30,000 plus. Rarely, it is an instrument on which one can play for many hours without getting tired of the sound.


There are two main organs in the Catholic Parish of Falmouth and Helston: at Falmouth we have a Hele of about 1895 vintage, in near original condition. A Mixture was added to the Swell in the 1970s and is not entirely satisfactory. The organ has two manuals, mechanical action, pneumatic pedal. On paper the specification looks dull, but the sound belies that. (Ped16,16(from Sw); Great 8,8,8,4,4; Swell 16,8,8,8,8,4,2,II,8). There is a superb Cornopean on the Swell, which in combination with the fine 16' flue makes a stunning sound, aided in no small measure by one of the most effective Swell boxes I have encountered. The organ is scheduled for a clean and overhaul later this year by Henry Willis & Sons Ltd. The Mixture will be recast and regulated to improve its blend and a new Fifteenth will replace the rather poor Great 4' Flute, which does not appear to be original. Otherwise the organ will remain unaltered in every detail.


At Helston there is a two manual instrument provided by Lance Foy some years ago using (I assume) mostly second-hand pipework. It is in a West gallery and has a divided case, with the console downstairs. It makes a good sound overall, if rather big for the size of the building.

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Indeed - welcome to the forum. I too hope that you will enjoy your time here.


I wonder if you happen to know anything of the replacement pipe organ which is (or was) to be installed in Newquay Parish Church, please? I forgot to ask Lance, when he was up for an emergency visit a couple of weeks ago.

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