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alan taylor

Alexandra Palace Organ

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This is far from good news. But what about all the money that might be available if we fail in our bid to attract the 2012? Olympic Games. Oh, and I assume you do not mean APOA but APOBA - Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America?

 

Just a thought.

 

I think that the APOA is actually the Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal but I would be willing to be corrected. Is there anywhere in the UK that could accommodate the Alexandra Palace organ? Perhaps it could be transferred to somewhere like the Sage in Gateshead, where I am told they one day hope to have an organ installed?

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Guest Roffensis
The Trustees of the Alexandra Palace have made the decision to get rid of the organ.

 

The Palace is to be handed over to a consortium. The Palace runs at an annual loss of 2 million pounds a year.

 

The consortium has no use for the organ. The organ is to be offered to the APOA in the first instance.

 

The Lib Dem Haringey councillors are fighting to have the decision reversed.

 

Alan Taylor

 

Depressing to contemplate indeed. Of course I am hardly surprised that the Trustees want rid of the organ, given the amount of contoversy it has caused. As I have said, the only way to finally stop the rot is to put the lot out to tender, from scratch, with a reputable Consultant. This has never been done, and that is simply the problem. There may be people who revel in the demise of this organ, but I am not one of them. To actually get rid of the organ would mean actually altering the use of the palace. This had legal implications after the fire, and it was not known if the organ would go back. Because of the designated use of the place, it had to go back, to avoid being in breach of original stipulations laid down when first opened in 1873. Nothing will change that. But ultimately, this is a very stern warning to all involved. Trustees will surely only take so much hassle, and the fact it has for so long been such a headache, through very bad management makes for one very sorry tale. The tale started with the war, and heaven help us has sure been kept going, one long series of disasters, constantly being added to. It never stops!! The current regime, adding bits here and there and shuffling things about is a well meant attempt to finish it. OK. I applaud that much as a desire to see it all working.. What I consider wrong is the way the job goes up and down, this bit needing redoing, it's crazy, the whole lot needs doing in one go. It would have succeeded long ago with going out to tender/consultant, and this is the only way forward. Forget any other option, its been tried and it is failing. You do not carry on down a road that is going nowhere. You change direction. You do not add to a building frame not designed to take more than a few stops, only to have to take the lot down again in the future, back and forth, up and down....sheer madness, and bad management of the first order. . You do not take the solo down, only to have to put it back up in the future where it should be. This is all totally wrong and inept. Now, It seems the writing is on the wall, so we either take heed and do things properly for once, or lose the lot!! Stick it in Kings Cross Station perhaps? Seriously, Who is going to contribute to something so badly managed and uncertain. Where is the plan, who is the consultant? I look forward to a good reputable consultant being appointed and finally listened to, and respected, or we'll just stick to the EMI recordings and die wondering shall we?

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May I be allowed to answer the comments of Roffensis.

I totally agree that the Willis Organ should be fully restored and I have worked to this aim officially and unofficially for over 20 years.

I am NOT one of the people who gave up through sheer frustration, but I was prepared to fight my corner from within the Appeal.

Unfortunately, the existing members of The Appeal would not accept my insistence(shared by 5 other members) that there must be a tendering process and that as Roffensis puts it "No single builder has any right to it, and it is time to try the other way, tender and consultant".

I was dismissed from the committee.

We feel that we did it the right way by employing a consultant, (whose views, opinions and recommendations were completely ignored) and by obtaining a distinguished person in the music world who could have introduced us to major donors, but he withdrew when our plans were sabotaged.

There is no other way that I can put it.

The existing Appeal and the ex members have differing views on how the restoration should proceed, and had we been allowed to do it our way, the restoration may well have commenced, making it far more difficult to remove the organ from the Palace.

I, for one wish that my comments above were not true, but whilst the AP Trustees refuse to even talk to us officially there appears to be no chance of the restoration, and the organ remaining in Alexandra Palace.

If any one can offer me advise or hope I would be interested to hear from them.

Colin Richell.

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Guest Roffensis

Dear Mr Richell,

Thankyou for your comments. There is really nothing anyone can say. The standard HAS to be that the organ is put out to tender. A consultant HAS to be appointed. The consultant HAS to be listened to. The organ will doubtless all need to come down, and the current frame dictates that, as it was never intended as the permanent one. Further additions and moving bits around are not cost effective. Its not the way to do things. But...enough sounds to let us all hear all to clearly what could be....this has to be the catalyst. It could be our top organ in the UK. What amazes me is all the ongoing hoo haa about it all, the answer is there. Either do it the right way, the way that all rebuilds are subject to, or forget it. Thats it. There are no options, and other ways have been tried and have failed, as its still being argued about, and there seems a certain irregularity about things. How long it takes the authorities to realise this is another matter. I find the story of major donors withdrawing nothing short of tragic, a total travesty. But the reasons were apparently the lack of tendering? Anyone would withdraw like this for such a reason on plain principle. I would. Organ builders have to prove their worth, and things have to be done PROPERLY, for the best of the organ. There needs to be a defintite and formulated plan of restoration, as per a consultant. As much as I am grateful for what is there to be there. Now it is time to do things as is the norm. What more can one say? one thing is for sure, people should not leave a appeal because they are not being listened to. Thats negative. No good comes from withdrawal. But, why the fights?

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Roffensis asks "why the fight"

 

Simply because the present committee of the APOA will not agree to a tendering process. They will only deal with David Wyld of Henry Willis and Sons.

 

I agree with Roffensis that people should not leave an organisation just because they disagree with policies, but when you know you are right, and that your opponents are just not going to listen or change, what on earth is the alternative?

 

There is no-one in the organ world that believes you could raise 1 million pounds without a consultants report and a proper tendering process.

 

There is, of course, always the danger that the report will not say what you want to hear. But for potential donors the truth, warts and all must be told.

 

When good people are hounded out of an organisation, this can be counter productive.

 

This has happened constantly over the years, but the truth is not going to go away.

 

The actions of the Appeal have badly mis fired. The Palace no longer wants the organ and we are all the losers.

 

The Appeal surely must be liable to repay all the donors who have so generously contributed, and what happens to the remnants of the organ, which unbelievably is being offered to the very people who have created the situation in which we find ourselves.

 

Colin Richell.

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Guest Roffensis

Dear Mr Richell,

If what you say is true, personally I would have never let myself leave the appeal. I obviously do not know the full circumstances, but on the face of it, this could turn into one very nasty legal battle with well meaning donors, myself included. It is clear that the reason that some work is having to be redone is down to the extreme temperature variations in the hall, and the greenhouse effect within it. It is perhaps the highest point around, and the sun must really cook that poor instrument to death. An organ builder collegue of mine pointed out numerous bleed holes in the faceboards of the organ, which clearly indicate runnings, and surely the soundboards will have been glue flooded at restoration which indicates severe warping afterwards in situ. Maybe the grid has come away from the table, but this kind of problem is very serious in any organ. This is one instance of the poor environment the organ is in. The political environment appears far worse, and without wishing to actually name people, there appears a lack of vision overall. I would have to ask point blank exactly what any organ builders qualification was in organ building. In the case of major work of course a builder is required who can prove his worth, and who is recognised by the IBO etc. That's the bottom line. Simply using a name and carrying on as if the same firm is not the way I would do things. A couple of British builders have done just this. But, again, I mention no names. Consultants will naturally vouch for those who have proved very able to do any work in the past. If an organ builder can prove he can do a job, thats fine. Include him in the tendering, but in fairness work has to be tendered. This happens even at parish church level, its not unique, its not unfair, and it's nothing personal. Personal preferance has no place in a democratic decision. It seems from the very ouset that Willis was chosen to be the builder, but perhaps this was not really fair. It could perhaps have been looked at carefully, and other builders approached, with a consultant at the top, to the wellbeing of the INSTRUMENT. There are other builders that are more than able to do the work. It is only fair to approach others also, and there are no reasons not to do so. Its competitive, and its decent, its good for P.R. I have to say that I do not believe that the organ will ever be outed, there are legal reasons relating to the use of the palace that can never be changed. There was never any question of it being put back at the palace after the fire, it HAD to go back, and people wanted it back. The hall would look ridiculous without it. I think the issue of the organ being removed is sheer rubbish. That simply will not, cannot happen. surely it would take an act of parliament to change the use of the hall? Or do we rewrite history? A little educated homework will make this perfectly clear. But the current position needs to be addressed, and the sooner the better. It could become a white elephant, and time not given to recitals and so on. Things can just run down through busy bookings at the hall, and certainly if I was a trustee I would be very tired indeed of all the hassle it is generating. When big donors are not being given a chance when the only issue is tendering, it really is pathetically small minded and very narrow thinking stopping it. I am growing very weary of the whole sorry tale, and things seem to be finally getting realised. I do not favour any builder, but I do favour fairness and competancy. Those who can do it, should be allowed the chance. Nothing personal, just the way forweard. QED.

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Rofensis,

 

I do appreciate you taking the time to offer your views on the Willis organ, and I understand much of what you say.

 

You have constantly stated that I should have not left the Appeal, but as I keep repeating, I was dismissed by the existing members of the Appeal, so what is the point of fighting?

 

When Henry Willis 1V partially restored the organ, he wanted to make sure that his Company would complete the restoration one day, and we were “told” that he had a signed contract with which he could enforce this. David Wyld however, agreed that he would not hold the AP Trustees to this contact, provided his Company was allowed to tender, which was obviously agreed by all. This agreement was later broken. You can read the minutes of the meetings, which covered the above, on the unofficial web site.

 

I am afraid that there was an Act of parliament recently passed which allows the Palace to hand over control to a developer, and it is they who will not allow the organ to remain. (Apparently)

 

The Appeal constitution allows for the organ to be moved elsewhere.

 

I believe that there will be an outcry from local people, organ lovers and perhaps even the AP advisory and Consultative Committees, and the local newspapers.

 

If only the existing Appeal members had allowed the restoration process to proceed in a proper and ethical manner, who is to know that Willis may have not won the contract ?

 

Colin Richell.

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Guest Roffensis

Dear Colin,

I was never against Willis restoring the organ, and it was Willis 4 who did such a magnificent restoration of, for example St Georges Hall here in Liverpool, and which was in a deplorable condition, as was St Pauls. .I honestly believe that he is surely one of, if not our finest Reed Voicer. His work clearly demonstrates this. But the problem lies in his retirement, and the current firm starting over. I have no strong opinion on this, but there needs to be a governing body in play regarding work. I would hope and expect Willis as the firm now is to be given the chance to tender. Who ultimately won the contract should not be a foregone conclusion in a decent set up. All the hassle has basically got a lot of backs up, and unnecessarily so. That is tragic. As to you leaving the appeal, I sympathise if what is on the unofficial site is true. But I cannot say, or criticise you or anyone else. I would not do that, but if what you say is so, I personally would have made a lot of noise, in various quarters. I hope there is a lot of protest if the organ is under threat. I will be one who will fight very hard to save it, in any way I can. How very sad then that all sides cannot agree to the common good.

*shrugs*

Regards,

Richard Astridge

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Guest Roffensis

Last evening a friend of mine called round, and we spent a few hours in my loft playing various cds ( I have a excellent hi-fi, resplendent with two sub woofers and all set up in perfect and accurate balance) and needless to say the new RAH cd went on. We were bowled over by the organ, which given the limits of any recording, came over quite magnificently. My mind (being clued up) was elsewhere (with a smile on my face) , and I had downloaded the tracks off the official AP organ site (even in their compressed form....), but did not tell my friend which organ it was. He was very impressed by the sound this mystery organ made, not knowing which it was. I then put on a track of the Boellmann Toccata, and it again impressed. I then told him that the Boellmann was recorded when the organ had barely 20 stops, and the others only 50. I said that there were no Great reeds, no large Diapason choruses, no mixtures to speak of, no large wood stops, no 32s beyond the stopped 32 and the 32 Bombarde, only "swell" 8 and 4 reeds at the start of the Boellmann(actually the Choir reeds used at that point while the swell proper awaited restoration, both Choir and Swell 8 and 4 reeds now restored and in their correct places), so it went on. Do that to the RAH and see how that sounds.....I then put on a recent Thalben Ball recording of AP done in 1931 which he did not know, being only recentrly discovered. Then it clicked!!! I then told him it WAS Alexandra Palace, and his expression said it all. The RAH? a good job yes, but when one considers how AP will sound, when completed, given how it sounds NOW.......the RAH organ, fine as it is, was never a match for AP when that was built and this is common knowledge, and it will be no match for it again. I seriously believe AP to be potentially our very finest. My friend was dumbfounded. Forget uneducated comments that the RAH is the greatest thing to come out of Britain, it isn't. This begs the question, do organ builders fear genuinely what could be? is there even some jealousy involved? like being a difficult act to follow, like it affecting their work, like it meaning standards of voicing expectations may rise just that little too much? like Upchester Town hall wants one just like it, and Drinkness and Blodgett cannot build it? Like it is easy to kick an organ so you get the contact elsewhere? another recent cd review even criticises Truro(!), saying a Willis had a few different sounds 17 or 18, , but basically the same duplicated up or down! Really? I think when a organ builder can build an organ with the ring and clarity of AP I will listen, in the meantime the current debate over such things as the RFH organ seem ridiculously misplaced and how long is it before people finally admit and realise Willis excelled with AP? and it can be ours again. Madness? is the world mad? We must be!!! Look at what we value!!! Look at what organs we worry over!!!! the RFH? the RAH? no, go to AP and hear it, and judge it on its sounds, and hang your head in shame that we do this very unique organ such gross injustice.

You don't lavish millions on inferior metal alloy and leave the perfect Gold forgotten.

Mea Culpa.

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Hmm, I am afraid that I am inclined to agree with the reviewer re- Truro. (Yes, I did read the review.)

 

I have played the Truro organ on several occasions, both in service and recital work. It is an exciting organ, but there is definitely a lack of variety in the flutes and the strings. The Choir Organ is very quiet (being almost at the back of the chamber). The Solo Organ is greatly hampered by the fact that it is not enclosed. Personally (and I am not the only organist who thinks so) I think that the quiet solo reeds at Exeter are far superior in tone to those at Truro - and not merely because they are enclosed).

 

The Truro organ is (arguably) too loud for the building. I have been present at several services, sitting in various parts of the nave (not just near the front) and the full GO and Pedal are almost overwhelming. Certainly there is little which is musical in the power and timbre of the Pedal Ophicleide - it is just an enormous, fat sound, which can only balance the full GO. Since the GO reeds are not available separately on the Pedal (or Choir), this is distinctly unhelpful. I do not understand why this was not considered in 1997. After all, it would hardly have comromised the voicing; just made more flexible that which was already there. Furthermore, I am not sure that moving the Tuba forwards was a good idea, it now sounds significantly louder. I do not think that Willis ever intended this rank to be a big noise. Now that it is high up behind the front pipes, it speaks straight into the building. Consequently, when organists who are unable to resist adding it to full organ are playing, the noise downstairs is rather unpleasant - partly because there is considerable 'body' or 'fatness' to the sound. I noticed, with interest, that the most recent time I played there, the Tuba was set not coupled to anything on the Full Organ piston.

 

Insofar as the variety of the timbres is concerned, even the best Leiblich Gedeckts get a little cloying eventually - a beautiful Stopped Diapason would be a welcome addition. :blink:

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With regard to the AP organ, if its future in the main hall is in question, then surely it is better to have the instrument somewhere, rather than just scrapped, or sold abroad.

 

How about ditching the Marcussen in the Bridgewater Hall and replacing it with the AP organ? Whilst I have not played the BH organ, one or two colleagues have and they are of the opinion that:

 

1) it is not loud enough and does not hold its own against a symphony orchestra, for example; and:

 

2) The sound is a tad repetitive and boring. At least Willis organs are exciting.

 

Incidentally, I would not hold the charge of repetitive timbres and lack of variety against larger Willis instruments; for example, Salisbury or Hereford. Salisbury in particular is one of the most beautiful and noble instruments in any British cathedral.

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Guest Roffensis
With regard to the AP organ, if its future in the main hall is in question, then surely it is better to have the instrument somewhere, rather than just scrapped, or sold abroad.

 

How about ditching the Marcussen in the Bridgewater Hall and replacing it with the AP organ? Whilst I have not played the BH organ, one or two colleagues have and they are of the opinion that:

 

1) it is not loud enough and does not hold its own against a symphony orchestra, for example; and:

 

2) The sound is a tad repetitive and boring. At least Willis organs are exciting.

 

Incidentally, I would not hold the charge of repetitive timbres and lack of variety against larger Willis instruments; for example, Salisbury or Hereford. Salisbury in particular is one of the most beautiful and noble instruments in any British cathedral.

 

Truro is a small job trying to do too much really, but not as bad as some of similar size I know. I was playing a large Willis in Claughton recently, and was also organist at a willis for 4 years. In both cases i noted that the fluework does not balance. Trying to balance choir against swell was not possible, I I always notice the lack of baody in Diapasons, St georges hall in Liverpool being another prime example. You can use a fistful of 8 foots and get equal from a single Hill stop, a builder ever in the shadow of Willis. But I still rerspect them as a sound, even if they can be acidic. AP does not fall into this category, it seems rather untypical of him. Brdgewater hall? nice voicing in places, but yes, grossly underpowered and there are other builders who could have done much better. Salisbury is a gem, but far from original as they always say, no pipe leaving the place etc etc, well III deffo had one good shot at it when he rebuilt it, nuff said. I find canterburys Great and swell and the pedal plkus the Tubas far finer, more body and more vigour. Salisbury always seems thin. I love Herefrod and Lincoln, and really with St pauls that rounds off our rollcall of "Father Willis" jobs. Even St georges hall was hacked about ruthlessly. I find Hills far more musical, excellent flutes, ringing choruses and not blasted to heaven with high wind pressures, meanwhile some dont like Chester or Lichfiled, let alone peterborough....ah well.

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I think that the danger of coming to any instrument, particularly in a large building, is jumping to conclusions and not taking the time to find out how the organ works. Truro is one of the easiest instruments to play in the country - very little need for general pistons, as most things can be done on divisionals or by hand. In the four years that I spent playing the Truro Willis liturgically on a regular basis, I didn't once find an accompaniment or piece of organ music that didn't sound convicing - I have a large repertoire. Psalm accompaniments were always a joy, and registered most of the time by hand. Members of the congregation and choir often commented on the wide variety of colour found.

 

In answer to several criticisms made of the organ:

 

Choir organ - this isn't quite as quiet in the building as it seems to be at the console. Yes, the choir is at the back of the chamber, but the sound projects well into the nave. The Hohl Flote is of similar power to the Great Claribel for example.

 

Solo organ The inexperienced visitor to Truro will miss the solo being enclosed. The competent organist will soon realise that the flutes and reeds are voiced so well that they become expressive without aid of a mechanical device. An organist with initiative will realise that changing from the Solo Clarinet to the Choir Corno di Bassetto creates an effective diminuendo. The tonal qualities are different enough to merit having both reeds, but similar enough for effects such as this.

 

Variety of flute stops Personally, I've always found each flute on the organ to have a different character of its own. No two flutes sound exactly the same, and each is beautiful in its own right, working effectively with the building. I've never enjoyed improvising with different combinations of flutes and strings anywhere as much as Truro. There are two string stops on the swell, and two on the choir. An inventive and imaginative organist can provide many more tone colours than apparently appear on paper.

 

Tutti piston The tuba has never appeared on this - personally, I've never used a tutti piston in my life as far as I can remember.....

 

Loudness of the instrument The organ quite simply isn't too loud for the building. As with any instrument, the impact is less towards the back of the Nave, but I can assure all readers of this list that the full resources of the instrument are needed for capacity congregations. For a normal Sunday service, Great reeds are not overwhelming for the final verse of a big hymn. Personally, I'm rather fed up with constantly having to play on the tutti to lead small congregations singing at my Cathedral.

 

Pedal ophicleide Probably the loudest ophicleide around..... so enjoy it! Clever use of the instrument doesn't neccesitate a pedal reed sound until the Great reeds are drawn. Besides, shouldn't the pedal reed(s) balance the tutti?

 

Great reeds on choir This would have meant building new chests. Willis's chests speak far more reliably than the new Tuba chest. Perhaps a second Tuba would have been the answer, but this would have compromised the unaltered specification. At least the original action is in place for the Tuba to be moved back, should anyone wish to do so. Nothing has been lost. Lincoln does have a "Great reeds on Choir" transfer - I never remember using it.

 

This year's recital diary has taken me to many Cathedrals in the UK this year - I have to say that the highlight will still be Truro for me.

 

Hmm, I am afraid that I am inclined to agree with the reviewer re- Truro. (Yes, I did read the review.)

 

I have played the Truro organ on several occasions, both in service and recital work. It is an exciting organ, but there is definitely a lack of variety in the flutes and the strings. The Choir Organ is very quiet (being almost at the back of the chamber). The Solo Organ is greatly hampered by the fact that it is not enclosed. Personally (and I am not the only organist who thinks so)  I think that the quiet solo reeds at Exeter are far superior in tone to those at Truro - and not merely because they are enclosed).

 

The Truro organ is (arguably) too loud for the building. I have been present at several services, sitting in various parts of the nave (not just near the front) and the full GO and Pedal are almost overwhelming. Certainly there is little which is musical in the power and timbre of the Pedal Ophicleide - it is just an enormous, fat sound, which can only balance the full GO. Since the GO reeds are not available separately on the Pedal (or Choir), this is distinctly unhelpful. I do not understand why this was not considered in 1997. After all, it would hardly have comromised the voicing; just made more flexible that which was already there. Furthermore, I am not sure that moving the Tuba forwards was a good idea, it now sounds significantly louder. I do not think that Willis ever intended this rank to be a big noise. Now that it is high up behind the front pipes, it speaks straight into the building. Consequently, when organists who are unable to resist adding it to full organ are playing, the noise downstairs is rather unpleasant - partly because there is considerable 'body' or 'fatness' to the sound. I noticed, with interest, that the most recent time I played there, the Tuba was set  not coupled to anything on the Full Organ piston.

 

Insofar as the variety of the timbres is concerned, even the best Leiblich Gedeckts get a little cloying eventually - a beautiful Stopped Diapason would be a welcome addition. :blink:

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I would agree with Roffensis. I have not played Lincoln, but I am told by a previous assistant that it is somewhat finer (and louder) than Salisbury. Canterbury, I am less sure about, since it is now basically a large two-manual with a Tuba. Apparently the Choir Organ is little use for accompaniment. Why on earth did Allan Wicks not hang on to the Solo Organ, at least, or add a Positive Organ and also retain the Choir Organ? I know it was HW III, but at least it had some variety in the foundation work and was probably infinitely more use as an accompanimental instrument.

 

I also agree about Hill organs - they are arguably more versatile and more musical taken as a whole. I find Willis tierce mixtures irritating and I prefer diapason choruses to culminate in a quint mixture, as opposed to a Fifteenth, however brightly voiced.

 

However, the last time I had played it, I was less happy with Chester. This, too, is far from original (I know Hill rebuilt the original Whitely organ). The Solo has lost some of its romantic voices, as has the GO and Choir. It also existed for about twenty years or so without a GO open flue double. The Gedeckt did its best, but there was a distinct lack of gravitas.

 

Having perused the 1910 stoplist, I think I would have preferred it if Roger Fisher had just let R&D fit a new transmission and possibly one or two of the sharp mixtures, but left the rest substantially as it was. Whilst it always sounds good on his excellent recordings (the Reger 'Hallelujah! Gott zu loben' is brilliant) it does not sound like a vintage Hill any more. At least, not to my ears.

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Truro is a small job, working far more efficiently and effectively than instruments twice the size.

 

Personally, I'm rather fed up with the Hill that I play...... no power at all in the building..... bland, similar sounding flutes all over the whole job and quite frankly no excitement or character, other than a rather wheezy-sounding Trombone with a bad case of vibrato.

 

My point is that generalisations are dangerous.

 

Purchases of Priory's "Music for a Cathedral's Year" or Regent Records' "German Romantic Organ Music from Truro Cathedral" will demonstrate quite nicely good balances between the Swell and Choir. I am sure that other recordings do as well, but these examples come particularly to mind.

 

Perhaps Roffensis could clarify his/her opening statement - I really would like to know why the Truro organ is apparently overworked.

 

Truro is a small job trying to do too much really, but not as bad as some of similar size I know. I was playing a large Willis in Claughton recently, and was also organist at a willis for 4 years. In both cases i noted that the fluework does not balance. Trying to balance choir against swell was not possible, I I always notice the lack of baody in Diapasons, St georges hall in Liverpool being another prime example. You can use a fistful of 8 foots and get equal from a single Hill stop, a builder ever in the shadow of Willis. But I still rerspect them as a sound, even if they can be acidic. AP does not fall into this category, it seems rather untypical of him. Brdgewater hall? nice voicing in places, but yes, grossly underpowered and there are other builders who could have done much better. Salisbury is a gem, but far from original as they always say, no pipe leaving the place etc etc, well III deffo had one good shot at it when he rebuilt it, nuff said. I find canterburys Great and swell and the pedal plkus the Tubas far finer, more body and more vigour. Salisbury always seems thin. I love Herefrod and Lincoln, and really with St pauls that rounds off our rollcall of "Father Willis" jobs. Even St georges hall was hacked about ruthlessly. I find Hills far more musical, excellent flutes, ringing choruses and not blasted to heaven with high wind pressures, meanwhile some dont like Chester or Lichfiled, let alone peterborough....ah well.

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To reply to John Hosking:

 

Yes, I am aware of the fact that the Solo flutes (and the orchestral reeds, I think) have marked crescendi as one ascends the compass.

 

However, insofar as the comment re- the Solo versus the Choir Clarinet/ CdiB are concerned, it is as well to remember that some organists who are also competent (!) do not have the luxury of four years' acquaintance with it. I think I had one and a half hours' practice for my recital and about fifteen minutes' practice for the service playing. Apart from that, there was only the odd evening or two in several years. Naturally, I forgot/did not have time to discover many of its secrets.

 

In any case, the trick with the CdiB then ties up the Choir Organ. I would still wish to have the Solo enclosed.

 

I, too, am reasonably adept at hand-registration. My point regarding the Tuba and the Full Organ piston, was to illustrate the apparent thoughts of the incumbent organists, that Full Organ was quite adequate without the Tuba. Certainly, I found no shortage of pistons for my recital.

 

I am not convinced re- the Ophicleide. As the only Pedal Reed at any pitch, I can see no merit in being able to claim that it is the loudest Ophicleide in Christendom (well, the country!). The inescapable corollary being, surely, that it is also the least versatile.

 

So St. Asaph's new organ is not very loud, then? :blink:

 

Incidentally, it is not strictly accurate to term it a 'Hill' organ - surely it is Wood & Co's interpretation of a Hill organ? (I must admit I would have added 16p and 4p reeds to the GO, before I included a 32p reed on the Pedal.)

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Re John Hosking on Truro - in many ways so Lincoln also on a larger scale - having sung 'under it' fairly regularly for a number of years (some time ago now) and had a number of organ lessons on it from the then Assistant Organist, Roger Bryan I can vouch for its versatility and surprising lack of problems to play on despite its rather far flung geographical layout . With a bit of thought and experimentation most things seemed to be possible.

AJJ

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Lincoln is, however, considerably larger than Truro. It has an enclosed Solo Organ (with another set of strings). All the mixtures are quint and unison ranks. The Choir Organ mixture commences at CC as 22, 26, 29. There are Pedal reeds at 32, 16 and 8p. There is also a Stopped Diapason 8p on the GO! The Choir Organ is almost double the size of the Truro organ and it includes two mutations. (I know that the Choir mixture, the mutations and one or two other ranks were added by H&H in 1960.)

 

In addition, nowhere did I say that the Truro organ was difficult to play, or that it was unsuitable for mainstream repertoire!

 

However, I still maintain that it lacks variety and subtlety. I also still think that it is too loud! I remember the memorial service for the late lamented David Penhaligon, MP - I think it was early January 1987. The cathedral was packed - mostly with Methodists! They practically sang their ears off (notably in the hymn 'Will your Anchor Hold?') the organ clearly 'won' with some to spare. Again, I was present at the centenary of the consecration of the cathedral, later in 1987. Again the building was full, this time largely with Anglicans, presumably! However we all sang like Methodists - and the organ still beat us.

 

Yes, it is a nice organ to play, but I personally think that it is a little over-rated. Why, incidentally, would it be necessary to construct new chests in order to make the GO reeds available separately on the Pedal and Choir organs? I do remember (I think) that the Double Trumpet is on one flue chest at about 100mm pressure and that there is another flue chest on about 175mm pressure which carries the GO foundations 16p, 8p, 8p and 8p. However, even if the 8 and 4p reeds are also on this chest, a dual action could be provided, which would be substantially cheaper. It would also remove the (slight) risk of the timbre of the reeds being affected by being placed on a new chest. Such an expedient was carried out at a Dorset church some years ago, in order to make a Swell 16p reed available on the Pedal Organ. The arrangement still works perfectly.

 

In any case, even the Truro organ has been slightly altered tonally, albeit with respect to only one rank. The GO Tromba 8p was slightly reduced in power and smoothed out sometime in the 1960s or '70s. Apparently, previous to this, it had a tendency to harshness. It is also interesting to note (from the same source) that the incumbent organists at the time also wished for a second quiet 8p flue on the GO. It must be remembered that the Claribel speaks on 750mm pressure - whilst it may not sound like a tibia, this is a very high pressure for the sole 8p GO flute!

 

Incidentally, sorry to whoever started this thread - I remember that it was supposed to be about the AP organ....

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I would agree with Roffensis. I have not played Lincoln, but I am told by a previous assistant that it is somewhat finer (and louder) than Salisbury. Canterbury, I am less sure about, since it is now basically a large two-manual with a Tuba. Apparently the Choir Organ is little use for accompaniment. Why on earth did Allan Wicks not hang on to the Solo Organ, at least, or add a Positive Organ and also retain the Choir Organ? I know it was HW III, but at least it had some variety in the foundation work and was probably infinitely more use as an accompanimental instrument.

 

I also agree about Hill organs - they are arguably more versatile and more musical taken as a whole. I find Willis tierce mixtures irritating and I prefer diapason choruses to culminate in a quint mixture, as opposed to a Fifteenth, however brightly voiced.

 

However, the last time I had played it, I was less happy with Chester. This, too, is far from original (I know Hill rebuilt the original Whitely organ). The Solo has lost some of its romantic voices, as has the GO and Choir. It also existed for about twenty years or so without a GO open flue double. The Gedeckt did its best, but there was a distinct lack of gravitas.

 

Having perused the 1910 stoplist, I think I would have preverred it if Roger Fisher had just let R&D fit a new transmission and possibly one or two of the sharp mixtures, but left the rest substantially as it was. Whilst it always sounds good on his excellent recordings (the Reger 'Hallelujah! Gott zu loben' is brilliant) it does not sound like a vintage Hill any more. At least, not to my ears.

 

I think Allan Wicks had a major headache on his hands with the disposition of the instrument at Canterbury, but the loss of the solo was a sad one, and it is sorely missed and needed. The old choir was not terribly good, but the worst problem doubtless concerned the action. Really it was a case of radical rethink, and a look at most Willis jobs will reveal barnacles and bits stuck on, and conveyances in all directions possible. Access is often a problem, and at least what is there is now audible. The current job is an excellent vehicle given what it is, basically a glorified 2 decker. The demise of the choir and solo was much a 70s rehash. But enough survives to make it gain a balanced nd worthwhile organ to accopmany the choir, which it is not that good at. Listen to old recordings and it really is a case of "these you have loved" as so many solo voices went that should have been retained, with the console. The organ still has it great vigour and eclat, and it stands apart from any other for this, I know of none other with so much sheer clang to the tone. There is also in the diapasons some wonderful "pleading" tone that is unique. I'm not sure Lincoln is actually louder than salisbury, but Lincoln certainly has the finer in my book, a very regal tone. It actually also stands alone. Salisbury is very verticle, like Truro. When you actually look at how few willis jobs are left untouched only the latter can apply, salisbury being altered substantially for all its "original" claims. For me one of the most exciting and balanced organs has to be Chester, a proper cathedral organ, honest, solid, and doing exactly what it should how it should.

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Lincoln is, however, considerably larger than Truro. It has an enclosed Solo Organ (with another set of strings). All the mixtures are quint and unison ranks. The Choir Organ mixture commences at CC as 22, 26, 29. There are Pedal reeds at 32, 16 and 8p. There is also a Stopped Diapason 8p on the GO! The Choir Organ is almost double the size of the Truro organ and it includes two mutations. (I know that the Choir mixture, the mutations and one or two other ranks were added by H&H in 1960.)

 

In addition, nowhere did I say that the Truro organ was difficult to play, or that it was unsuitable for mainstream repertoire!

 

However, I still maintain that it lacks variety and subtlety. I also still think that it is too loud! I remember the memorial service for the late lamented David Penhaligon, MP - I think it was early January 1987. The cathedral was packed - mostly with Methodists! They practically sang their ears off (notably in the hymn 'Will your Anchor Hold?') the organ clearly 'won' with some to spare. Again, I was present at the centenary of the consecration of the cathedral, later in 1987. Again the building was full, this time largely with Anglicans, presumably! However we all sang like Methodists - and the organ still beat us.

 

Yes, it is a nice organ to play, but I personally think that it is a little over-rated. Why, incidentally, would it be necessary to construct new chests in order to make the GO reeds available separately on the Pedal and Choir organs? I do remember (I think) that the Double Trumpet is on one flue chest at about 100mm pressure and that there is another flue chest on about 175mm pressure which carries the GO foundations 16p, 8p, 8p and 8p. However, even if the 8 and 4p reeds are also on this chest, a dual action could be provided, which would be substantially cheaper. It would also remove the (slight) risk of the timbre of the reeds being affected by being placed on a new chest. Such an expedient was carried out at a Dorset church some years ago, in order to make a Swell 16p reed available on the Pedal Organ. The arrangement still works perfectly.

 

In any case, even the Truro organ has been slightly altered tonally, albeit with respect to only one rank. The GO Tromba 8p was slightly reduced in power and smoothed out sometime in the 1960s or '70s. Apparently, previous to this, it had a tendency to harshness. It is also interesting to note (from the same source) that the incumbent organists at the time also wished for a second quiet 8p flue on the GO. It must be remembered that the Claribel speaks on 1750mm pressure - whilst it may not sound like a tibia, this is a very high pressure for the sole 8p GO flute!

 

Incidentally, sorry to whoever started this thread - I remember that it was supposed to be about the AP organ....

 

Yes it was about Ally Pally, but isn't that a case of wait and see? everyone has been talking about that since the war, to little avail, and precious few putting their hands in their pockets so we can hear the whole thing playing rather than chew the fat. And yes, I did give a substantial figure to the appeal in 1989, over four years, so we could all enjoy it. Better than yacking on about it!!!!!!!

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Yes it was about Ally Pally, but isn't that a case of wait and see? everyone has been talking about that since the war, to little avail, and precious few putting their hands in their pockets so we can hear the whole thing playing rather than chew the fat. And yes, I did give a substantial figure to the appeal in 1989, over four years, so we could all enjoy it. Better than yacking on about it!!!!!!!

 

 

I feel that Fred Clarke and others would disagree, with their 20 years plus of hard work, and raising sufficient funding to produce less than half an organ.

When Fred and Felix retired and with other loyal members passing away, the enthusiasm waned to some extent.

It was only when I, Alan Taylor, john winn,Malcolm Smith joined that things started to happen, with the assistance of the Chairman Arthur Phillips.

further donations to the exisiting Organ appeal, will just mean that piecemeal work will be carried out, which will eventually have to be dismantled. This is an insult to loyal donors, and the persons responsible should be name and shamed.

If you want to see the organ completed then connect with the right people.

Colin Richell

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I feel that Fred Clarke and others would disagree, with their 20 years plus of hard work, and raising sufficient funding to produce less than half an organ.

When Fred and Felix retired and with other loyal members passing away, the enthusiasm waned to some extent.

It was only when I, Alan Taylor, john winn,Malcolm Smith joined that things started to happen, with the assistance of the Chairman Arthur Phillips.

further donations to the exisiting Organ appeal, will just mean that piecemeal work will be carried out, which will eventually have to be dismantled. This is an insult to loyal donors, and the persons responsible should be name and shamed.

If you want to see the organ completed then connect with the right people.

Colin Richell

 

 

really? and does that include general bitching and mud slinging and unofficial websites by any chance? As I know it, Bert Neale was the one behind a very great deal of fund raising for the organ, writing by hand 100s of letters per week in those days, with Fred Clarke also about. Of those, Bert was frankly the one who did most of the paperwork, long before anyone else much was even thought of......Bert was basically fully burnt out when he died, and he would be horrified by the current moaners and so on , and clearly those in the know need to put their handbags away and get back to the table and talk things out. Don't talk to me about right people, I would not quit the appeal if I had been on it. I would have been another Bert Neale and made a lot of noise and certainly not ran away and spend the rest of my time crying about it all. Things like this you stick with. Here endeth the lesson.

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really? and does that include general bitching and mud slinging and unofficial websites by any chance? As I know it, Bert Neale was the one behind a very great deal of fund raising for the organ, writing by hand 100s of letters per week in those days, with Fred Clarke also about. Of those, Bert was frankly the one who did most of the paperwork, long before anyone else much was even thought of......Bert  was basically fully burnt out when he died, and he would be horrified by the current moaners and so on , and clearly those in the know need to put their handbags away and get back to the table and talk things out. Don't talk to me about right  people, I would not quit the appeal if I had been on it. I would have been another Bert Neale and made a lot of noise and certainly not ran away and spend the rest of my time crying about it all. Things like this you stick with. Here endeth the lesson.

 

 

 

Thanks for the lesson.

I cannot believe that you could have read the messages from myself and Alan Taylor. or read the unofficial web site with sufficent care, to have made the above remarks.

The proposed restoration is a serious business, and I for one am not prepared to respond to someone who does not have the courage to publish their real name.

and makes offensive remarks about someone who is still working hard to realise our dream.

I suspect I know who you are, and if you wish to continue to support the organ appeal, why not write them a cheque for 1 million pounds, and I can then seek pastures new.?

This action would entitle you to a place on the Committee, and then you could tell us all where we had all gone wrong.

Colin Richell.

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I love Willis organs - my idea of most fit for purpose organs to accompany anglican liturgy without rival. See my comments re. Hereford and St Michael's Tenbury elsewhere. I'd love to be able to hear a fully restored AP organ, and have also yet to experiece Truro in the flesh. But it concerns be that this messahge board above all others (event that about Worcester Cathedral which I must confess is dearer to my heart) has become just a chance to have a bitch at other people. Frankly this is boring to the rest of us and does not further the cause ofthe AP organ.

 

GIVE IT A REST !

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