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Canterbury Cathedral Organ And 32' Flues


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I cannot agree over the 1970s alterations to the Ely Cathedral organ. If one reads pre- World War II issues of The Organ one can easily guage the high esteem this instrument had amongst prominent organ writers and historians. After raving about it for decades Cecil Clutton along with Arthur Wills took steps to obliterate its unique symphonic character. What was so continental about it after the rebuild? When I heard it in 1987 at the IAO Congress it just sounded loud and brash- that's not romantic french!! Supressing such unique Arthur Harrison colours such as the Horn Quint will not be judged kindly with time. Wills had an undulant rank created by retuning a existing 8'- what's 'continental' about that.

 

Pierre- there are numerous recordings of authentic historic and historical English instruments of many periods. Jennifer Bate has a series of such recordings out at the moment, John Kitchen has recorded Victorian repertoire of late and if you want an Edwardian thrill try Hyperions recording by the wonderful Christopher Herrick on our own stupendous 1906 Norman & Beard concert organ of Wellington Town Hall. Christopher has recorded a great deal of English music of all periods.

 

It will be an very interesting exercise to see what the reported Goll organ destined for the RCO gives to English organ styles.

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Yes Michael,

 

I know there are numerous recordings to be find -I have about a hundred and something of them- but you need to go to UK to find them, and to know what you want.

I shall launch a new thread about Ely and this 1908 organ.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Roffensis
The ten-second reverberation was the old organ.  I also make it six seconds for the current organ.

Are we saying that Gloucesters reverb is less with the current organ than with the old? I cannot vouch, but doubt that very much, possibly Romantic memories of the old Organ, but that was a very indifferent job and the way the old case and pipes were hacked about was ruthless. The current job is truly amazing, and the case actually has a function again rather than being tacked about a pretty fat run of the mill organ. From recordings the acoustic seems the same??, and St Pauls is 12 so they reckon. Liverpool Metropolitan is 10, the Anglican 10, Canterbury from the screen with no chairs in nave is also 10, St Georges Hall Liverpool with mosaic floor uncovered is 9. There's food for thought!!!!

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I cannot agree over the 1970s alterations to the Ely Cathedral organ. If one reads pre- World War II issues of The Organ one can easily guage the high esteem this instrument had amongst prominent organ writers and historians. After raving about it for decades Cecil Clutton along with Arthur Wills took steps to obliterate its unique symphonic character. What was so continental about it after the rebuild? When I heard it in 1987 at the IAO Congress it just sounded loud and brash- that's not romantic french!!  Supressing such unique Arthur Harrison colours such as the Horn Quint will not be judged kindly with time. Wills had an undulant rank created by retuning a existing 8'- what's 'continental' about that.

 

Pierre- there are numerous recordings of authentic historic and historical English instruments of many periods. Jennifer Bate has a series of such recordings out at the moment, John Kitchen has recorded Victorian repertoire of late and if you want an Edwardian thrill try Hyperions recording by the wonderful Christopher Herrick on our own stupendous 1906 Norman & Beard concert organ of Wellington Town Hall. Christopher has recorded a great deal of English music of all periods.

 

It will be an very interesting exercise to see what the reported Goll organ destined for the RCO gives to English organ styles.

At least Ely has returned more to its 1908 state, not fully but enough to make a good overall improvement. I had no quarm with the '75 rebuild, but found the great reeds way too brash to blend with anything, and their replacement was very wise, together with toniing down the pedal reeds, and its sounds far happier. As it was you almost dreaded the sound of the great reeds coming on, they just obliterated so much of beauty. The swell is of course glorious!!

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I dont think we need any more continental organs in England, there is such variety in the organs of Hill, Willis and Harrison to name but three builders, and our English choral repertoire, which remains unique, should ever be the reason for retention of the typical English sound. In cases where there is a particularly poor organ, it may be well to replace, but as most of our major organs have evolved, and with the backlash from the 1960s and 70s classical brigade, which has largely been compensated for, I think most places now have decent and versatile instruments. We cannot really learn a lot from Cavaille Coll that is simply not native to us. This isn't France. And why should they throw out their heritage for a English job? You dont throw out your own heritage for anothers, do you?

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Hmm, well that depends on what you class as English. We have already dsetroyed so many old English organs, by the likes of green etc, on pulpitum screens and all else, to be replaced by ever growing hoovers with multiple stop lists, and the English truly lost their own unique style. The fat overblown horrors of the 1920s, and the general ill treatment of historic material left a lot to be desired. The best organ design will ever be a conservative stop list of careful thought out spec, with every stop counting for something, and adding something. But that is a myth mostly, and what we have become is gimmicky and really we exhibit quite bad taste. If you asked me if i would preserve either Adlington Hall or Rotherhithe as opposed to a major cathedral organ, I would vouch for the historic!! English?? we really dont honestly know what that is, at least the french preserved so much and built upon it, rather than destroy most and build ugly fat loud railway station foghorns.

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Interesting... Actually much of that 'unique symphonic character' was preserved in the 1975 re-build (and probably not merely for financial reasons). I was thinking more of the GO and Pedal chorus reeds, which I was happy to call 'continental', as opposed to 'loud and brash'; but, each to his own.... Personally I preferred them to the usual heavy and opaque Arthur Harrison Trombe - which also tended to obliterate much of the rest, albeit in a slightly different way.

 

The Horn Quint - surely you can find a more worthy rank, in order to lament its passing? I suspect that it was used about as much, during its life, as the mechanical action console is at Christchurch Priory, Dorset. (Basically only for tuning, in case you are wondering.)

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The Horn Quint - surely you can find a more worthy rank, in order to lament its passing? I suspect that it was used about as much, during its life...

 

Arthur Harrison must of incorporated it for some reason. For that intention alone it could be deemed worthy of preservation.

 

The 1970s was generally a dreadful time for organ preservation as the Organ Reform Movements 'rebuild' phase was at its height in many English speaking countries.

 

If we recall the postings made on organ preservation in this site last year can it not be too much to wish that one prime example of an Arthur Harrison Cathedral organ dating from the first decade of the twentieth century could have been perfectly preserved.

 

And was not the Canterbury Cathedral Organ also a victim of this 'progressive' thinking.

 

It would a very worthwhile academic exercise to critically assess the organ consultancy of Cecil Clutton and align that with his written philosophies.

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:o

Hmm, well that depends on what you class as English. We have already dsetroyed so many old English organs, by the likes of green etc, on pulpitum screens and all else, to be replaced by ever growing hoovers with multiple stop lists, and the English truly lost their own unique style. If you asked me if i would preserve either Adlington Hall or Rotherhithe as opposed to a major cathedral organ, I would vouch for the historic!! English?? we really dont honestly know what that is

 

Yes- these points are worth considering further. An argument for organs such as the Metzler at University Church, Oxford having a VERY legitimate place in contemporary organ building and a necessary one. I know a former DOM who is now working here (David Burchell) and he is a strong advocate for it.

 

To my mind Bill Drake is a supreme artist who has helped contemporary English organ building recreate some lost sounds and a great deal of integrity. This is what is required to create a 'new' indigenous organ culture. I'd like to add Petrol to the fire by stating that the Frobenious craze in England has not helped the indigenous culture. The organ at Kingston Parish Church could have been constructed by several British firms at the time and eventuated in a better instrument (and probably less expensive too); this is simply an over large Anglican accompanimental organ in disguise and with a plethora of electronic aids that belie its musical integrity.

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  • 3 months later...
Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I seem to remember that the 32' pipes on the Grove Organ at Tewkesbury were from Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London.

 

 

The connection between Tewkesbury Abbey organ(s) and Christ Church, Lancaster Gate is (I believe) the Tuba stop, which was needed to complete The Milton when John Budgen restored The Grove in the 1980s and had to re-instate four stops that had been 'borrowed' since 1948. I provided two flutes 8' and 4' for the Solo of The Milton (from a Bishop organ in Broomwood Methodist Church, Clapham) for the same reason. They are still there - now to be found on the Great of Kenneth Jones' imaginative rebuild. The ex-Lancaster Gate Tuba sounds extremely impressive and would have been enormously costly to create out of thin air. Continuing the tale of recycling: a number of pipes from Christ Church Oxford's redundant 32' Violone that were surplus to requirements at Tewkesbury went to St.Giles' Church, Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffs where the then organist hoped to install them with the help of an HN&B man. Moral: never throw good pipes away, someone will want them!

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So, back to my original question: what did happen th the 32p flues at Canterbury? Were they sawn up like those at Gloucester? Or are they festering in the triforium? Perhaps they were converted into panelling and adorned the walls of Allan Wicks' study? :blink: Come to that, what happened to the Willis pipework of the former Choir and Solo organs?

 

I still think it was better before the 1978 rebuild!

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Are we saying that Gloucesters reverb is less with the current organ than with the old? I cannot vouch, but doubt that very much, possibly Romantic memories of the old Organ, but that was a very indifferent job and the way the old case and pipes were hacked about was ruthless. The current job is truly amazing, and the case actually has a function again rather than being tacked about a pretty fat run of the mill organ. From recordings the acoustic seems the same??, and St Pauls is 12 so they reckon. Liverpool Metropolitan is 10, the Anglican 10, Canterbury from the screen with no chairs in nave is also 10, St Georges Hall Liverpool with mosaic floor uncovered is 9. There's food for thought!!!!

 

 

See my post of 22nd January! I agree with your comments concerning the old Gloucester organ!

 

I was surprised to learn about the ten-second reverberation at Canterbury, though. It is true that I have not heard the organ in the building when the nave has been cleared of chairs, but that seems an awfully long time for a building of that shape and size!

 

(Oh, I thought that this post would appear on the previous page, below the post from which I was quoting.... :blink::( )

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Guest Echo Gamba
See my post of 22nd January! I agree with your comments concerning the old Gloucester organ!

 

I was surprised to learn about the ten-second reverberation at Canterbury, though. It is true that I have not heard the organ in the building when the nave has been cleared of chairs, but that seems an awfully long time for a building of that shape and size!

 

(Oh, I thought that this post would appear on the previous page, below the post from which I was quoting.... :rolleyes::( )

 

I haven't played Canterbury for over 10 years, but I have vivid and happy memories of "locking myself in" with David Flood's keys for the odd evening to prepare for Deanery Evensongs.

 

I never timed it, but there certainly is quite a reverb. I recall that it sort of "comes back at you" after the sound hits the west wall.

 

I found this topic in the course of trawling through the early pages of the forum. Could I suggest that there are a number of topics there that may be worthy of resurrection - and I am sure that some topics have been duplicated later as the originals have been forgotten. For example, there is one down there about Birmingham Town Hall...............

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There are plans for work to be carried out at Canterbury. It's all part of the massive fund raising project that is currently underway.

 

If I recall correctly, the plan calls for the main organ to be restored to 4 manuals and voiced in the Willis style. A new organ is to be constructed for use in the Nave. The new Nave organ will be larger than the current Nave division. I recall reading something to the effect that it was to be voiced "in the french style". I know its dangerous to make assumptions, but I take this to mean more along Cavaille-Coll linesrather than Cliquot.

 

No time scales were mentioned

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I seem to remember that the 32' pipes on the Grove Organ at Tewkesbury were from Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London.

 

 

According to my leaflet "Music at Christ Chruch Cathedral, Oxford" (1988) (published by the Cathedral) it is stated that "Henry Willis II (in 1911) moved the choir organ back to the east side, housed the Solo pipes in another swell box and installed 32ft. open pedal pipes against the west wall (now removed and to be found in Tewkesbury Abbey)

 

The organ is of course now a 1978-9 Rieger of which none of the original pipework was re-used (according to the leaflet)

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[quote name='madorganist' date='Jan 24 2009, 11:33 AM' post='43660

If I recall correctly, the plan calls for the main organ to be restored to 4 manuals and voiced in the Willis style.

 

I too read this in one of the journals, but despite searching, can't find it at present.

However, I do remember that it was suggested that the rebuild of the main Willis organ was to include 'case work', but no more detail than that.

 

I have a booklet which shows a drawing of a design for casework in the choir by John Oldrid Scott of 1885, he was the second son of Sir George Gilbert Scott and was responsible for much restoration work in Cathedrals and Greater Churches, including a number of organ cases. This was the year before the Father Willis organ was completed.

The design looks very much like the old cases at Worcester but elongated vertically, occupying 1 bay of the arcade, set above the stone screen which separates the choir from the choir aisle. At the bottom of the case is a small gallery which would have contained the console. The design doesn't look like it would contain much of the original 1886 organ.

 

I wonder if they intend to realise this design?

 

DT

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[quote name='madorganist' date='Jan 24 2009, 11:33 AM' post='43660

If I recall correctly, the plan calls for the main organ to be restored to 4 manuals and voiced in the Willis style.

 

I too read this in one of the journals, but despite searching, can't find it at present.

However, I do remember that it was suggested that the rebuild of the main Willis organ was to include 'case work', but no more detail than that.

 

DT

 

Choir & Organ - sometime back - an interview with David Flood.

 

A

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[quote name='madorganist' date='Jan 24 2009, 11:33 AM' post='43660

If I recall correctly, the plan calls for the main organ to be restored to 4 manuals and voiced in the Willis style.

 

 

I too read this in one of the journals, but despite searching, can't find it at present.

However, I do remember that it was suggested that the rebuild of the main Willis organ was to include 'case work', but no more detail than that.

 

I have a booklet which shows a drawing of a design for casework in the choir by John Oldrid Scott of 1885, he was the second son of Sir George Gilbert Scott and was responsible for much restoration work in Cathedrals and Greater Churches, including a number of organ cases. This was the year before the Father Willis organ was completed.

The design looks very much like the old cases at Worcester but elongated vertically, occupying 1 bay of the arcade, set above the stone screen which separates the choir from the choir aisle. At the bottom of the case is a small gallery which would have contained the console. The design doesn't look like it would contain much of the original 1886 organ.

 

I wonder if they intend to realise this design?

 

DT

 

Canterbury is quite a loud job, subject to how it is used of course, and can be pretty shattering in the Choir. I think if it were removed from its present home in the triforium, it would be pretty overbearing. Even so, I often day dream what could be done with it, and obviously the retention of the original pipework is very important, as it is very good quality, faultless even, and so much remains of it that it would form a perfect basis for a "new" instrument. As to the Scott case, that's an interesting one. One wonders! IMHO It would be perfectly possibly to have a new case lower, the Great up in theTriforium still, Swell to one side, and a new solo to the other, incorporating the magnificent 8 and 4 Tubas, Cremona, Dulciana and some carefully chosen and voiced additions, ie strings, flutes at 8 and 4 and so on. As to a Choir organ, that I wouldput in a nice case, nearer the Choir, and utilise the best of the current Mander pipework which actually is also very good, but suffers from being unenclosed. If it were enclosed, there is much to commend at least some of it. The pedal could surely also stay up in the triforium.

 

In the past the problem at Canterbury has been of one organ trying to do two jobs. Before the 1978 work, the organ was virtually inaudible in the nave, which now is not the case, but it still does not get enough past the Choir arch, girder, Bell Harry Tower vault, and screen. The acoustic of the nave amplifies everything, and there is a lot of bounce in there too, so a carefully voiced organ was I guess a clever way around this. Although of only six stops, it proves what could be achieved there.

 

With the current plans to refurbish the Choir organ, surely one of Willis's best, and build another organ in the nave for that purpose, we do, I guess, reach a stage where to have a loud organ in the choir would be wrong. The existing organ in the choir has proved its worth and met perfectly it's demands in the choir over a very long time, and it suits the building well. I do think it would lose some character if moved out of its current position, which it was voiced for all said and done.

 

I feel very excited by the plans for Canterbury, and know that a great deal of common sense prevails there. I often wonder what the Architects may say about an organ in the nave however, as it is, without doubt, our finest, a gem of Architecture. There is nothing quite like it!! Of course you could say that about the whole cathedral. There is nothing else like it.

 

Anyway, that's my humble dream and opinion! For what it's worth!!

 

R

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Guest Echo Gamba
Canterbury is quite a loud job, subject to how it is used of course, and can be pretty shattering in the Choir. I think if it were removed from its present home in the triforium, it would be pretty overbearing. Even so, I often day dream what could be done with it, and obviously the retention of the original pipework is very important, as it is very good quality, faultless even, and so much remains of it that it would form a perfect basis for a "new" instrument. As to the Scott case, that's an interesting one. One wonders! IMHO It would be perfectly possibly to have a new case lower, the Great up in theTriforium still, Swell to one side, and a new solo to the other, incorporating the magnificent 8 and 4 Tubas, Cremona, Dulciana and some carefully chosen and voiced additions, ie strings, flutes at 8 and 4 and so on. As to a Choir organ, that I wouldput in a nice case, nearer the Choir, and utilise the best of the current Mander pipework which actually is also very good, but suffers from being unenclosed. If it were enclosed, there is much to commend at least some of it. The pedal could surely also stay up in the triforium.

 

In the past the problem at Canterbury has been of one organ trying to do two jobs. Before the 1978 work, the organ was virtually inaudible in the nave, which now is not the case, but it still does not get enough past the Choir arch, girder, Bell Harry Tower vault, and screen. The acoustic of the nave amplifies everything, and there is a lot of bounce in there too, so a carefully voiced organ was I guess a clever way around this. Although of only six stops, it proves what could be achieved there.

 

With the current plans to refurbish the Choir organ, surely one of Willis's best, and build another organ in the nave for that purpose, we do, I guess, reach a stage where to have a loud organ in the choir would be wrong. The existing organ in the choir has proved its worth and met perfectly it's demands in the choir over a very long time, and it suits the building well. I do think it would lose some character if moved out of its current position, which it was voiced for all said and done.

 

I feel very excited by the plans for Canterbury, and know that a great deal of common sense prevails there. I often wonder what the Architects may say about an organ in the nave however, as it is, without doubt, our finest, a gem of Architecture. There is nothing quite like it!! Of course you could say that about the whole cathedral. There is nothing else like it.

 

Anyway, that's my humble dream and opinion! For what it's worth!!

 

R

 

Yes, it IS "loud" but compared to some cathedral instruments, you can actually get away with using a lot of organ to accompany a choir. I have used (admittedly with a big choir) up to Great to mixture plus full swell. Try doing that at Ely, Coventry or Bath Abbey to name but three!

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Yes, it IS "loud" but compared to some cathedral instruments, you can actually get away with using a lot of organ to accompany a choir. I have used (admittedly with a big choir) up to Great to mixture plus full swell. Try doing that at Ely, Coventry or Bath Abbey to name but three!

 

I have managed this at Bath Abbey, with the Minster choir (during parts of Stanford, in A). In fairness, I should also mention that we had both the boys' and the girls' choirs, together with twelve to fourteen gentlemen. In addition to a few loud boys, some of the girls also managed successfully to match the noise I was making upstairs.

 

In defence of any perceived lack of taste or restraint on my part, my boss at the time would have been the first to tell me if the sound was organ-heavy downstairs.

 

And, no, of course I did not use the Tuba....

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I have managed this at Bath Abbey, with the Minster choir (during parts of Stanford, in A). In fairness, I should also mention that we had both the boys' and the girls' choirs, together with twelve to fourteen gentlemen. In addition to a few loud boys, some of the girls also managed successfully to match the noise I was making upstairs.

 

In defence of any perceived lack of taste or restraint on my part, my boss at the time would have been the first to tell me if the sound was organ-heavy downstairs.

 

And, no, of course I did not use the Tuba....

That's pretty remarkable. I was playing there only last Saturday for a big choir (Jackson in G & Rutter Winchester Te Deum) and didn't go much above Gt2. Its a very loud machine and I, not for the first time, found it unsubtle. It reminds me a lot of another instrument which you very much like (but I don't).

 

Did you find it a comfortable instrument to play, perhaps you've played it before. I've had a few goes now and remain of the opinion that it was far more comfortable, and better suited for choral accompaniment, pre Klais. Having played it a few times now I've sort of got used to the odd positioning of the pedal board, but hadn't quite realised until this last time quite how deeply set the thumb pistons are and how awkward this is. The toe pistons are IMHO for the occasional visitor too strangely positioned to come into consideration.

 

Not really my cup of tea. But an impressive instrument none the less and one that it feels is a priviledge to experience. Not quite sure how you'd play the Elgar Sonata on it, perhaps some people would see that as a virtue.

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Guest Echo Gamba
That's pretty remarkable. I was playing there only last Saturday for a big choir (Jackson in G & Rutter Winchester Te Deum) and didn't go much above Gt2. Its a very loud machine and I, not for the first time, found it unsubtle. It reminds me a lot of another instrument which you very much like (but I don't).

 

Did you find it a comfortable instrument to play, perhaps you've played it before. I've had a few goes now and remain of the opinion that it was far more comfortable, and better suited for choral accompaniment, pre Klais. Having played it a few times now I've sort of got used to the odd positioning of the pedal board, but hadn't quite realised until this last time quite how deeply set the thumb pistons are and how awkward this is. The toe pistons are IMHO for the occasional visitor too strangely positioned to come into consideration.

 

Not really my cup of tea. But an impressive instrument none the less and one that it feels is a priviledge to experience. Not quite sure how you'd play the Elgar Sonata on it, perhaps some people would see that as a virtue.

 

Phew! Thanks! I thought my memory must be going! :rolleyes:

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And, no, of course I did not use the Tuba

 

...not even at "..to be a light..."????

 

No - not even there. At that point, I was using the Swell and Choir organs, so I played the appropriate tenor part (see post above) on a combination of G.O. stops, which included the 8ft. reed.

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