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Jeremy Jones

Canterbury Cathedral Organ

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Oops - formatting madness - though you can probably work it out - 'may try again later - sorry!

 

AJJ

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I too always enjoyed playing the instrument in its former state, however I would also agree that reconstructed organ is a very fine and exciting instrument. The old organ was, in my opinion, much better suited to choral accompaniment and english music generally, whereas the new organ not surprisingly is better as a germanic recital instrument.

 

 

... which, as you are no doubt aware, is not its raison d'être! I realise that Peter King wanted a good mechanical action and a thoroughly convincing recital organ, but I found that I had to work harder to get suitable sounds (and a smooth performance) in pieces such as Stanford's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, in A. Mind you, it did make an unholy row in Stainer's I saw the Lord....

 

There was also the interesting point at the beginning of the rehearsal when my former boss (who did not know the instrument) called up "Let's have a chord on full organ so that the choir can hear what it sounds like." (For those who know the stop-list and my dislike of a certain register, no, my 'full organ' never includes a Tuba.)

 

Fortunately, we had a number of parents with us, one of whom had some basic medical training and was therefore able to tend to those choristers of a nervous disposition.

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On one of the RSCM Cathedral Singers visits which I accompanied a couple of years ago, my daughter, who sings with the group, visited me in the loft when I was practising during the lunch break.

 

"Listen to this" I said, coupling full great and full swell and playing a chord or two. "Daddy, stop it", or words to that effect, she said whilst putting her hands over her ears. It is, pardon my language, bloody loud. This is part of the problem. You just can't find quiet swell combinations for the psalms or whatever. Use of the mixture on the swell (during choral accompaniment) is more or less out of the question.

 

It is, as I said in my previous posting, a very fine instrument, and if you can get comfortable with the peculiar console to pedal board dimensions, tremendous fun to play. But its certainly not subtle.

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It is, pardon my language, bloody loud. This is part of the problem. You just can't find quiet swell combinations for the psalms or whatever. Use of the mixture on the swell (during choral accompaniment) is more or less out of the question.

 

It is, as I said in my previous posting, a very fine instrument, and if you can get comfortable with the peculiar console to pedal board dimensions, tremendous fun to play. But its certainly not subtle.

 

Well, I certainly agree with the sentiments of your post!

 

Having said that, I rarely use the Swell Mixture on my own instrument during choral accompaniment. It comes into its own when I play Baroque music.

 

I was interested to note your comments regarding the spatial relationship of the pedal-board to the console. As you probably know, Klais re-used much of the console above the key bench. I wonder if they raised the pedal-board, in order to accommodate the tracker action to the Positive Organ?

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I was interested to note your comments regarding the spatial relationship of the pedal-board to the console. As you probably know, Klais re-used much of the console above the key bench. I wonder if they raised the pedal-board, in order to accommodate the tracker action to the Positive Organ?

 

I was quite familiar with the old console - spending days on end holding notes for tuning - and looking at the new console on the JS-W '21st Century Bach' DVD the first thing that struck me was that all the proportions look very different. I rather got the impression (and it IS just a visual impression as I haven't visited the Klais) that the pedalboard wasn't as far recessed under the manuals as we are used to. Also the stop jambs are now set at a wider angle from the keyboards than they used to be, although they seem to have retained the mock-Gothic woodwork. However, it is nice to see it without those cube pistons!

 

Did anyone here ever use the plug-in Positive keyboard down in the Quire? It used to be stored on top of a cupboard in the vestry, but could be mounted on a little wooden stand and plugged into the transmission system via a co-ax cable. It had a set of push buttons above the keyboard to operate the stops and could control just the positive division.

 

Another interesting thing I remember about the instrument in its HN&B incarnation (related to a recent thread here) is that the Choir box was next to the Great soundboards and had its shutters on the top. Related to the same thread is the memory of having to put almost one's entire body-weight behind the swell pedals to overcome the initial inertia in the very long traces - particularly up to the Solo box - and of course once you'd started them moving the next problem was trying to stop them....!

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Interesting:

 

CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

 

There appears to be much speculation and misunderstanding as to my association with Canterbury Cathedral.

 

In 2004, I was asked by David Flood to help develop some initial thoughts on the future of the organ(s) at Canterbury, in the wider context of an imminent feasibility study concerning the £50m appeal, now launched. Discussions were informal, unpaid, and my advice was on purely musical aspects of the project, and confidential.

 

Since 2004, I have had no contact with Canterbury and was unaware that the appeal had been launched, as I was abroad at the time. Neither, can I enlighten you as to how £4m will be spent.

 

It is a complex and long term project that will undoubtedly involve a team of specialist advisors, and to my knowledge, there have been no appointments made of either Consultant or advisors.

 

David Titterington

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Interesting:

 

CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

 

There appears to be much speculation and misunderstanding as to my association with Canterbury Cathedral.

 

In 2004, I was asked by David Flood to help develop some initial thoughts on the future of the organ(s) at Canterbury, in the wider context of an imminent feasibility study concerning the £50m appeal, now launched.  Discussions were informal, unpaid, and my advice was on purely musical aspects of the project, and confidential.

 

Since 2004, I have had no contact with Canterbury and was unaware that the appeal had been launched, as I was abroad at the time.  Neither, can I enlighten you as to how £4m will be spent.

 

It is a complex and long term project that will undoubtedly involve a team of specialist advisors, and to my knowledge, there have been no appointments made of either Consultant or advisors.

 

David Titterington

 

 

Dear David,

Thanks very much for re-posting this here. Where did it comes from, incidentally?

It is most interesting, thoroughly believeable and somehow curiously unsurprising, considering how often such situations/arrangements are subsequently messed about by rumour/media/publicists.

 

Those who truly live by their advising aside (some of whom have, shall we say, a not unblemished record), I think accepting the position of official adviser on such a project must be at best a mixed blessing and at worst a serious headache. If you can be sure of anything, it is that opinion afterwards may often say you've got it all wrong!

 

There are currently some interesting comments being posted on the discussion board Orgue-1 on just this topic. Prominent in all this is the famous Ian Bell.

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I rather got the impression (and it IS just a visual impression as I haven't visited the Klais) that the pedalboard wasn't as far recessed under the manuals as we are used to. Also the stop jambs are now set at a wider angle from the keyboards than they used to be, although they seem to have retained the mock-Gothic woodwork. However, it is nice to see it without those cube pistons!

Yes, the pedal board is much less deeply recessed under the manuals than normal, this is what makes it so uncomfortable until you get used to it. Somebody told me that this was indeed to make room for trackers - but I've no idea if this is true.

 

The console has retained the old gothic-arch woodwork, and also still uses very large stop knobs. We've discussed the HNB square pistons before, I'm not sure it matters what shape they are so long as they are comfortable to use and do the job. (I just can't abide double-touch pistons - invention of a lunatic as far as I'm concerned.) Gloucester still has square pistons and I've always found them very comfortable.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Yes, the pedal board is much less deeply recessed under the manuals than normal, this is what makes it so uncomfortable until you get used to it. Somebody told me that this was indeed to make room for trackers - but I've no idea if this is true.

 

The console has retained the old gothic-arch woodwork, and also still uses very large stop knobs. We've discussed the HNB square pistons before, I'm not sure it matters what shape they are so long as they are comfortable to use and do the job. (I just can't abide double-touch pistons - invention of a lunatic as far as I'm concerned.) Gloucester still has square pistons and I've always found them very comfortable.

 

Is this concerning Canterbury? I am trying very hard to follow all this! Have we left Kent? ;)

N

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
There are currently some interesting comments being posted on the discussion board Orgue-1 on just this topic. Prominent in all this is the famous Ian Bell.

 

Where is this other discussion board, Paul? I would dearly like to read it.

Thanks.

 

Nigel

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Guest Roffensis
Is this concerning Canterbury? I am trying very hard to follow all this! Have we left Kent?    ;)

N

 

 

Yes we left Kent, it happens on these boards!!! can we return please?

 

R

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Yes we left Kent, it happens on these boards!!! can we return please?

 

R

 

 

What we were doing was Klais-bashing - IMHO a worthwhile and closely-related subject when the main topic was that of the possibility of having a Father Willis classic (albeit modified) potentially about to be trashed/pulled about by firms with no knowledge of our traditions!

 

The example of Klais at Bath Abbey is thus, surely, most a propos. Further to other folks' comments about the Bath console, may I say how profoundly uncomfortable I found this instrument to play?! Pedalboard placement aside, for me the biggest problem was how far back the music desk had been recessed. I am no stranger to five manual consoles, and for no very obvious reason the (four-manual) Klais at Bath sports the furthest-away music desk I have ever encountered.

 

Dear Nigel Allcoat,

I am no expert on Orgue-1, I merely receive summaries of the correspondence. Maytbe this is all that (free) subscribers receive. If you're interested, you would be best to start here:

http://cdmnet.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/orgue-l

 

Have fun!

P.

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Guest Roffensis
What we were doing was Klais-bashing - IMHO a worthwhile and closely-related subject when  the main topic was that of the possibility of having a Father Willis classic (albeit modified) potentially about to be trashed/pulled about by firms with no knowledge of our traditions! 

 

The example of Klais at Bath Abbey is thus, surely, most a propos.  Further to other folks' comments about the Bath console, may I say how profoundly uncomfortable I found this instrument to play?!  Pedalboard placement aside, for me the biggest problem was how far back the music desk had been recessed.  I am no stranger to five manual consoles, and for no very obvious reason the (four-manual) Klais at Bath sports the furthest-away music desk I have ever encountered.

 

Dear Nigel Allcoat,

I am no expert on Orgue-1, I merely receive summaries of the correspondence. Maytbe this is all that (free) subscribers receive. If you're interested, you would be best to start here: 

http://cdmnet.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/orgue-l

 

Have fun!

P.

 

 

I seriously doubt anyone is ever going to sanction trashing or spoiling the Willis. I can think of no one who has ever thought the last rebuild of Canterbury a total success, it got the sound out more yes, but it was a bit too radical. The reputation and musical integrity of the existing Willis work (of which there is very much left) is such that it would be a crazy notion to compromise it. And, this organ is loved, the locals at Canterbury love it, and it is a sound that "fits" the building. It's far too important an organ. As I have said before, it's the vigour, the boldness, tightness of it that sets it part from others. It is the first organ I ever heard, as a small boy, back in the late 60s, and it is that sound that was my personal wake up call to become an Organist myself ;):D . Sitting in the nave listening to that golden sound was heaven on earth, and still is ;) . Years later, there I was playing it myself, a strange feeling! I am sure that common sense will prevail, David Flood is a very sensible musician, and has his feet firmly on the ground. I am sure he will want to get it right, and I don't see him doing anything radical with the choir organ. I am sure he values it, and respects it. I do see the point about Bath however, and one would not want to see the Willis "Klaised" or "any builder elsed" but used as the basis for some balanced and integrated additions. I honestly believe that will happen.

 

R

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A lot depends on how the nave organ is to be used. If it’s never going to be played with the quire organ then what it sounds like (in relation to the Willis) is of little relevance and manly comes down to personal preference.

 

As has already been mentioned, no matter what course of action is taken, someone will think it’s wrong.

 

;)

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We've discussed the HNB square pistons before, I'm not sure it matters what shape they are so long as they are comfortable to use and do the job. (I just can't abide double-touch pistons - invention of a lunatic as far as I'm concerned.) Gloucester still has square pistons and I've always found them very comfortable.

 

I wasn't criticising the square pistons in themselves - indeed they do look perfectly at home at Gloucester - just the fact that they looked so out of place on the old Bath console with its carved woodwork and gothic stop-head engraving.

 

I agree the shape of piston doesn't make much difference, although I think the square ones might have been more universally accepted if the face was slightly concave like that of a standard circular piston.

 

From the builder's point of view though - was it not far more time consuming to cut square openings in the key slips than to drill a row of holes, or is my memory at fault and were they on round bodies?

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I wasn't criticising the square pistons in themselves - indeed they do look perfectly at home at Gloucester - just the fact that they looked so out of place on the old Bath console with its carved woodwork and gothic stop-head engraving.

 

I agree the shape of piston doesn't make much difference, although I think the square ones might have been more universally accepted if the face was slightly concave like that of a standard circular piston.

 

From the builder's point of view though - was it not far more time consuming to cut square openings in the key slips than to drill a row of holes, or is my memory at fault and were they on round bodies?

 

It's just as quick to drill a square hole as a round one - there are tools for this.

 

My favourite thing about square pistons is they don't rotate out of alignment, never to return.

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I wasn't criticising the square pistons in themselves - indeed they do look perfectly at home at Gloucester - just the fact that they looked so out of place on the old Bath console with its carved woodwork and gothic stop-head engraving.

 

 

I agree with you about the square pistons, although I think that your memory is playing tricks regarding the stop-head engraving. I posses an old LP of Dudley Holroyd playing the organ prior to 1972. The cover photograph is a fairly close view of JDH seated at the old Hill console. The stops are engraved in standard machine capitals. No gothic there!

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My favourite thing about square pistons is they don't rotate out of alignment, never to return.

 

However, if you catch the edge of one under your thumbnail it really hurts - rather more so than a round piston-head would.

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I agree with you about the square pistons, although I think that your memory is playing tricks regarding the stop-head engraving. I posses an old LP of Dudley Holroyd playing the organ prior to 1972. The cover photograph is a fairly close view of JDH seated at the old Hill console. The stops are engraved in standard machine capitals. No gothic there!

 

 

Mmm, interesting. Post-1972 they certainly were engraved in a font that looked like it had been done with a calligraphy pen i.e. 'Old English' thick/thin style which sat nicely with the panelling of the stop jambs. The booklet about the organ which I acquired at the time I first visited it (1982) mentions that the stop heads added in the 1972 re-build were engraved in the same style to match the existing, however this may be wrong if the engraving on the Dudley Holroyd LP photograph is standard. All rather academic now anyway, but I always thought it a most attractive console.

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Mmm, interesting. Post-1972 they certainly were engraved in a font that looked like it had been done with a calligraphy pen i.e. 'Old English' thick/thin style which sat nicely with the panelling of the stop jambs.

 

Nope - definitely not - sorry - definitely a plain block face. I had lessons on it every week for 4 years and played it on countless other occasions, plus a friend of mine worked on it in 1972. I don't think either Hill or HNB ever used an "old english" style?

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Nope - definitely not - sorry - definitely a plain block face.  I had lessons on it every week for 4 years and played it on countless other occasions, plus a friend of mine worked on it in 1972.  I don't think either Hill or HNB ever used an "old english" style?

 

Ah, apologies. Clearly it's the onset of middle-age that I need to blame ;) I must have been thinking of another console. Just to satisfy my curiosity I'll dig out the Bath booklet tomorrow and see what it says.

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Ah, apologies. Clearly it's the onset of middle-age that I need to blame  ;)  I must have been thinking of another console. Just to satisfy my curiosity I'll dig out the Bath booklet tomorrow and see what it says.

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Mmm, interesting. Post-1972 they certainly were engraved in a font that looked like it had been done with a calligraphy pen i.e. 'Old English' thick/thin style which sat nicely with the panelling of the stop jambs. The booklet about the organ which I acquired at the time I first visited it (1982) mentions that the stop heads added in the 1972 re-build were engraved in the same style to match the existing, however this may be wrong if the engraving on the Dudley Holroyd LP photograph is standard. All rather academic now anyway, but I always thought it a most attractive console.

 

In this booklet there are monochrome photographs of each stop-jamb. The engraving is carried-out in very clear and neat block capitals - and not the nasty condensed type-face which was favoured by a number of builders (presumably because they could then specify slightly smaller stop-heads).

 

I remember that the first console I noticed with stop-heads engraved in anything other than block sans-serif, was that at St. Paul's Cathedral, following the Mander rebuild of 1972 - 77. Here both upper- and lower-case characters were employed, in an elegant serif face. It was, if my memory serves me correctly, nothing as predictable as Times or even Baskerville.

 

I was also interested to notice that when the Gloucester Cathedral organ emerged, chrysalis-like, from its recent rebuild, not only had Nicholsons matched the existing HN&B stop-heads, but they had also succeeded in duplicating the style of the engraving, which was a sans-serif face, possibly Helvetica, Century Gothic or Arial Rounded, I think - I cannot now recall.

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