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alan taylor

Alexandra Palace Organ

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I really do admire your optimism Richard. But, I am afraid that history is against you.

 

Many, many bequests from the past have been altered. Some, like those that left coal or a loaf of bread for the poor, have been changed totally. Let alone all of those who left money to have Masses said for them after their death.

 

All that is needed is the permission of the Charity Commission or a parliamentary bill. This has already happened in the case of the Ally Pally.

 

Alan

 

http://www.alexandrapalaceorgan.com

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Two obvious recent examples of fund-raising CDs were that released by Peterborough Cathedral following the recent fire and the 2CD set released on the RLPO Live label of the organ in St George's Hall, Liverpool played by Christopher Dearnley (early 1980s provenance) and Ian Tracey (some 10 years later). Both CDs raised awareness of the situation by reminding what could be lost, whilst at the same time being a useful fund-raising tool.

 

If the Ally Pally combatants could lay down their arms long enough to work together to produce something similiar, wonders would never cease!

 

Jeremy Jones

London

 

 

Yes Jeremy I agree. I live in Liverpool and have given very many recitals at St Georges Hall. It was last publicly played by Ian Tracey in may, and he certainly had a lot of struggles with it, as we all have over the years. The issues there have been overheating in the hall over many years, which still continues. I could write a book on what has gone on there reagrding just that, but the city council co now seem to realsie what they have, and there are moves at getting the organ restored. It is a miracle to me that it sounds as well as it does, but believe me so much drying out has occured that it will be a major job to get it back how it should be, and the 1980 work by Willis was not even a rebuilt so much as a "dollop and brush out". The last big rebuild was in 1957, following war damage that had silenced it in 1941 I gather. The old Dearnley recordings are good, and when Ian did his it was at a time that it was actually pretty good, as the heat was not gross in those days. You could walk in the hall and feel the cool on a hot summer day, unlike now when you feel dry heat hit your face. parts of the casework have fallen off as a example of external damage. Another old recording was made in 1971 by Caleb Jarvis and came out on RCA, and Michael Smythe did it under Vista. Recent attempts to reissue some of these tapes have come to nothing it seems, but they do still exist, and that recording in particular (I have four mint copies if anyone is interested.....) just really is probably the finest of any. Ally Pally has to realise that CDs do create awareness, in exactly the way my awareness was casued by the old record of Ally Pally when a kid in the early 70s.

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I have many copies of the CD "Historic organs volum 1" which includes 7 tracks of the original Ally pally organ. I had been selling these cd.s at concerts and donating profits to the organ appeal, but I am no longer able to do this as I am not welcome at concerts.

I well remember several years ago, sitting in a very cold Great Hall whilst Ian Tracey played with the intention of producing a CD. Unfortunately no-one considered that the quality was good enough and the idea was shelved,

So we did try, but I do recall that there was also the problem of raising the money.

Thank you to those who freely offer their suggestions, but believe me we have tried everything.

Colin Richell.

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Guest Roffensis
I have many copies of the CD "Historic organs volum 1" which includes 7 tracks of the original Ally pally organ. I had been selling these cd.s at concerts and donating profits to the organ appeal, but I am no longer able to do this as I am not welcome at concerts.

I well remember several years ago, sitting in a very cold Great Hall whilst Ian Tracey played with the intention of producing a CD. Unfortunately no-one considered that the quality was good enough and the idea was shelved,

So we did try, but I do recall that there was also the problem of raising the money.

Thank you to those who freely offer their suggestions, but believe me we have tried everything.

Colin Richell.

 

The organ sounds magnificent at present, and two friends who heard it recently both commented so, one describing it as "amazing" even at this stage. As to the cd, I did not know Ian was trying to produce one, he has never told me, but if he indeed was hoping to, as organist of the greatest of them all, then surely gives some indication of his appreciation of it, and of his own positive attitudes toward it. There remain others who are still perfectly happy to discredit it however, which is sad, to say the least.

Although fundraising may in the past have failed to raise sufficient to do a cd, if you don't succeed try try again. It's good to be very positive about such things. It remains for those who are in knowledgable positions of authority to make decisions and comments about the organ that are helpful.

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I had hoped that my information about the aborted cd performed by Ian Tracey would have convinced detractors of the Willis organ scheme that we all worked tirelessly to attract supporters and funding, but alas, just another excuse to deride people who loyally served the organ appeal, but decided to move on to ventures new.

I and my colleagues continue to fight for the Willis organ, but away from the appeal, and Rofeensis is well aware of the reasons.

Ian's playing for the prposed CD was excellent, and it was tragic that the recording quality and condition of the organ was unsatisfacory for commercial purposes.

I hope that future postings will not be so counter productive, because believe me there are more detractors of the Willis Organ Appeal than supporters, and unhelpful comments will produce even more disinterest..

Please do not be so bitter, there is a little good in all of us,

Colin Richell.

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I had hoped that my information about the aborted cd performed by Ian Tracey would have convinced detractors of the Willis organ scheme that we all worked tirelessly to attract supporters and funding, but alas, just another excuse to deride people who loyally served the organ appeal, but decided to move on to ventures new.

I and my colleagues continue to fight for the Willis organ, but away from the appeal, and Rofeensis is well aware of the reasons.

Ian's playing for the prposed CD was excellent, and it was tragic that the recording quality and condition of the organ was unsatisfacory for commercial purposes.

I hope that future postings will not be so counter productive, because believe me there are more detractors of the Willis Organ Appeal than supporters, and unhelpful comments will produce even more disinterest..

Please do not be so bitter, there is a little good in all of us,

Colin Richell.

 

I am not in the least bitter, although certain other posters seem to be ;) , nor do I ever say anything other than positive about the organ, which I was doing even in the 1970s, and continue to do. I have also supported the appeal in the past with a large sum. I quite agree however, there are people out there who do make very negative contributions to the appeal, and of course everyone should support the official appeal, and all the good work it is doing for the organ. I for one would be delighted to see the organ on cd and spread its cause in that way,

and am sure the organ would sound glorious if recorded properly by a professional. All Ian Tracey would have needed was a good sound engineer to do this,and get the organ tuned etc.

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I can only think of the firm's reputation under HW4 and think, obviously, of the Mander works at RAH, which are likely to be more authentically Willis than the Willis firm could produce.

 

A comment like this is just crass and uninformed, especially when one considers that Mander restored the RAH organ (adding one additional stop) tonally as it had been left by Harrisons in the 1920s, which was radically different from the organ originally built by Father Willis. And in any case, HW IV retired some time ago. Regardless of whatever the reputation of Henry Willis & Sons was under HW IV, it should have no bearing on its reputation today.

 

To question the professional reputation of another company in writing in a public forum like this is libellous if people take your remark seriously which, hopefully, they will not. And as it is on a forum that is hosted by a competitor of Henry Willis & Sons, it exposes the host to a potentially unacceptable liablity.

 

It pays to engage brain before fingers on a computer keyboard.

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It pays to engage brain before fingers on a computer keyboard.

 

Yes, it does. I apologise for any offence caused by me phrasing my sentiments in a careless way - this is what comes of trying to do several things at once.

 

The question posed seemed to me to be - why is there a perceived lack of public support for the project? Why is there talk of people being "bitter" and acknowledgement of the existence of "detractors of the Willis organ scheme"? Any restoration or reconstruction of this nature ought to be regarded as A Good Thing and especially so where the original builders have been exclusively involved on the project for over a hundred years, indeed frequently at considerable financial loss to themselves.

 

One possible answer, which I do not necessarily support, would be to consider the perception of the Willis firm during the 70's and 80's; whether or not it may have been felt to have lost some of its former greatness, and whether or not this perception may have, in some quarters, stuck to this day, despite the reality of the situation as it happily now stands. It logically follows from this that those who hold this belief, however misguided they may be, may consider that other firms may possibly have been better equipped to handle the project. The high-profile restoration of RAH was an example of such a large project, not an example of a genre. I do not necessarily agree with that sentiment, you understand, it just seemed to me to be an answer to the question which my original, badly-worded post, asked - why on earth would people not support the project? This is a genuine question, and I am interested to know the answer to it.

 

The history of the hall is very dramatic and very sad, full of disaster and destruction, and lacking in proper financial support, instead relying on the generosity and enthusiasm of a few individuals, not least members of the Willis family tree who went way, way outside the remit of a commercial company to keep the project alive. I find it very sad indeed that after over a hundred years of individual dedication and financial struggle the situation is still not fully resolved. It's even sadder that at this joyful time, when the instrument is speaking again and substantial completion is now actually in sight, there are others who aren't delighted about this. I too want to know why...

 

It has to be said that the firm acknowledges on its own website that things weren't always as they should have been in fairly recent years, and is rightly proud of the steps taken by the new management team to reinvigorate the firm and its reputation, moving into what I assume to be the former Rushworth premises, recruiting staff and so on. I am sure everyone, including their competitors, wish them well and hope they will be just as innovative and pioneering in the future as they have been historically.

 

Please understand that I was not trying to slag anyone off or even express a personal opinion, just question whether or not this issue of perception of reputation may be a key issue in the minds of those who tragically show no support for the scheme. Sadly, a lack of input at this end failed to make this clear and consequently there is a need to apologise. Please don't shoot me.

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I must confess I have given up trying to follow the whole sorry AP Organ saga. At the end of the day, it seems to me someone needs to ask the fundamental question, however harsh it may seem - why bother?

 

The subsidiary questions/issues that come to mind are:-

 

1 The organ is sited in a building whose future is uncertain, which is awkward to get to and which resembles nothing more than a draughty tramshed;

 

2 The original situation of the organ can never be regained, the staging and apse having been lost;

 

3 The capital already has one large Willis organ, beautifully and expensively restored, yet which cannot command a commercially viable audience for more than 1 or 2 recitals a year;

 

4 Will the AP Organ Appeal ever achieve its goal of a complete resoration - for example, do we realistically expect the funds to become available for the reinstatement of the tin 32-foot front?

 

5 Even if it can be fully restored, what is its future? What & where is its audience? What & where is the artistic justification? How could it ever be more than an expensive white elephant?

 

I'm sorry to say this all seems a lost cause to me. Perhaps somebody can persuade me (and those who share such views) otherwise.

 

JS

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Guest Roffensis

Some interesting and actually constructive comments here.

If I may add some, as to Manders being able to produce a more authentic restoration of the organ than Willis, well why? is that really so? the work that has been done to date sounds remarkably like the organ in the 30s, as several gentlemen told me, who knew it intimately. I have also to say for example, that as "radical" as the Mander work at Canterbury was, it was most certainly not authentic, and robbed the organ of a lot of it's colour, and it certainly does not sound as it did when the Willis firm had charge of it. The Willis III work matched well the older work, but this did not stop whole chunks of that being outed, and I have also to say, however, that I believe the current Mander firm would be more conservative.

The thing about the AP organ is that it was always regarded a far superior instrument to the RAH, and not becxause of the acoustic, which is still superior to RAH. The latter does not have at all the "ring" and singing quality of the AP pipework. There are other cathedral organs in London other than just St Pauls, but others should be allowed to exist alongside. To argue we do not need another huge concert organ is pretty negative from a historical and musical point of view.

The political situation at AP has always been variable as with all councils, but the organ has never been questioned as worthy of a complete restoration, nor has its position in the wider scheme of things. The problem seems to revolve around the question of who is to do the work. Personally I am not biased, and feel as ever that the work be put out to competitive tender, as that is the best way, and the established way to follow. I think three firms should be allowed to tender, and one most certainly should be Willis. If it was not for that firm then there would be no organ at all, and we must not stoop to condemn on the current "lash up", which is based on a temporary building frame never intended to support what even now it does, safe as it currently now is. The fact is that even at this half completed stage, it sounds magnificent. And it sounds like a Willis. THE Willis. There is a great deal of misinformation flying about, and I advise everyone to read very carefully the whole official site for the organ appeal, which is run by a group who simply value the organ, and want it back as it was. For that, much thanks.

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I suggest that everyone carefully reads and digests the unofficial web site (alexandrapalaceorgan.com),also. No one would be foolish enough to publish information on the web site it it were not true, and one should be very careful before suggesting that only the official Appeal care about, and wish to see the Wilis organ fully restored.

Colin Richell.

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This thread is sailing too close to the wind. Alexandra Palace flame war Mk II will not be permitted: the topic will be locked, if it becomes any more inflamatory. May I suggest that David Coram updates himself on the "history" of the current debate about the Alexandra Palace organ, by e-mailing a couple of the other participants on this Discussion Board, before posting again here.

 

May I remind everyone once more that this Board is not to be used for making unsubstantiated criticisms of the work of other organ builders.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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This thread is sailing too close to the wind.  Alexandra Palace flame war Mk II will not be permitted: the topic will be locked, if it becomes any more inflamatory.  May I suggest that David Coram updates himself on the "history" of the current debate about the Alexandra Palace organ, by e-mailing a couple of the other participants on this Discussion Board, before posting again here.

 

May I remind everyone once more that this Board is not to be used for making unsubstantiated criticisms of the work of other organ builders.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

 

I have removed original post, or at least edited it empty. I accept that I had absolutely no idea at all about the political nature of the project. I had assumed from only having read the "official" site briefly that it was a generally happy project with a couple of people sneering, not out-and-out guerilla warfare. I further accept, and have apologised personally to David Wyld, for the nature of the original post which was supposed to appear as a rhetorical question, not as a statement of fact, and happily he has accepted my apology and explanation. I'm staying WELL out of this one. I don't like fighting and even less like getting in the way...

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I further accept, and have apologised personally to David Wyld, for the nature of the original post which was supposed to appear as a rhetorical question, not as a statement of fact, and happily he has accepted my apology and explanation.  I'm staying WELL out of this one.  I don't like fighting and even less like getting in the way...

 

Many thanks for your prompt and appropriate action (and thank you, too, to David Wyld for your understanding). Welcome to the Mander Organs discussion board.

 

On edit: I have removed three posts, including one of mine, to close this.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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Guest Roffensis
I suggest that everyone carefully reads and digests the unofficial web site (alexandrapalaceorgan.com),also. No one would be foolish enough to publish information on the web site it it were not true, and one should be very careful before suggesting that only the official Appeal care about, and wish to see the Wilis organ fully restored.

Colin Richell.

 

The Official website is excellent. I doubt any organ has been so thoroughly covered in its history and restoration as this, and I again urge every serious person to read it, and listen to the wonderful sound recordings on it, and wealth of accurate information.

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John Sayer asks some thoughtful questions, many of which have not escaped consideration by various people involved with this project over the years.

 

Whilst it may be true to state, in the strictest sense, that the future of the building is uncertain, this has been very much the case over its entire history and actually the current (i.e. 2005) climate for the building is much more positive than in the past. This is regularly demonstrated to me in direct fashion as I find it increasingly difficult to gain informal access due to constant commercial hirings of the Great Hall. Those who would 'write off' the Alexandra Palace so lightly have been consistently proved wrong over the last 130 years.

 

Many other significant instruments inhabit buildings whose future has been in question at various times - St. George's Hall, Liverpool being a prime example. Even where the future of the building is assured, there can still be uncertainty over the instrument's future. For example, I believe that even in the case of the Royal Albert Hall, the possibility of replacing the organ with an electronic to create more seating space was (thankfully briefly) considered.

 

It is also true to state that the original situation of the Ally Pally organ can never be regained with any degree of practicality. The hemispherical recess, tiered orchestra and original roof are all gone. However, the rebuilt hall, whilst not quite as resonant as the old, is very friendly to organ tone; the acoustic effect is remarkable and quite unlike many other venues due to sheer size alone. I think many people who have supported the project would agree that an absolute pursuit of environmental fidelity to the point of unrealism should not be a sticking point. After all, the hall is a commercial entity, even if the organ isn't.

 

The notion that the capital (or even the country) has too many large Willis organs is for me the least tenable of those stated. Few large Willis concert organs survive, many have been greatly altered, few are acknowledged to have been so successful at combining with a vast hall to produce such a magnificent sound. Would we be so swift to complain at there being too many paintings by a particular artist? If Mr. Sayer is referring to the Royal Albert Hall organ, I would suggest that this instrument speaks with a grand and distinctive voice which is as much a product of the Harrison firm as it is of Henry Willis I - now that it /does/ speak so well again and does the Mander firm great credit.

 

The 32ft front wasn't tin.

 

Mr Sayer then questions the commercial reality of the organ, supposing that it may be an expensive white elephant. How many organs, and even other works of art are grounded in sound commercial reality? On a wider perspective, what about, say, the Millenium Dome? To (badly) paraphrase the reply to those who questioned the sheer size of the proposed organ for Liverpool Cathedral - if necessity had been the only consideration, most great works would never even have been contemplated. Are organs pointless because they do not generate measurable profit? As for recital attendances, we have had very large audiences for some concerts, most notably when a large new section of the instrument was installed. Concert attendances are better now than in the last few years, and actually quite respectable in terms of London averages. If the current problems were rectified, more organ restored, and the ugly innards currently on prominent display were properly clothed then more people would come. In any case, I believe that it is dangerous to judge the worthiness of something without reference to the current zeitgeist, which is not generally favourable to organs. Times and fashions will change and our children may read history with gobsmacked amazement at how we let the real possibility of finishing this job slip through our fingers.

 

As for whether the APOA will ever achieve a complete restoration, I do not have a crystal ball but certainly a complete restoration would never happen if everyone decided that it wasn't worth bothering with. I would remind those who tend to this point of view that it was regularly and loudly claimed that even the initial phase of the restoration would never occur, and now almost half of the instrument is playing (notwithstanding several well known issues which do not require further expansion here). The reconstruction will happen if we make it happen.

 

Stephen Walmsley

APOA

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As the person who actually began this topic, I would like to add my agreement to what John Mander has posted. This is not the forum to debate the issues around the project. There are two web sites. Just read what they say and make your own minds up. The web masters of both sites will be happy to discuss any questions you might like to raise.

 

The web site www.alexandrapalaceorgan.com has just been updated with some rather interesting news. Read it check it out and make of it what you will.

 

Alan Taylor

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Guest Roffensis
As the person who actually began this topic, I would like to add my agreement to what John Mander has posted. This is not the forum to debate the issues around the project. There are two web sites. Just read what they say and make your own minds up. The web masters of both sites will be happy to discuss any questions you might like to raise.

 

The web site www.alexandrapalaceorgan.com has just been updated with some rather interesting news. Read it check it out and make of it what you will.

 

Alan Taylor

 

 

I couldn't see any "news" anywhere? (do please clarify) just a lot of letters one would assume to be private, and the possession of the proper appeal? I wonder if the Mander site is the right place to mention this maybe quite controversial site?

Best Wishes.

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I couldn't see any "news" anywhere? (do please clarify) just a lot of  letters one would assume to be  private, and the possession of the proper appeal? I wonder if the Mander site is the right place to mention this maybe quite controversial site?

Best Wishes.

 

The news is on the 1st page. However, it seems to be loading rather slowly. This might be due to the heavy traffic on the web site. Do try again later or tomorrow.

 

Alan

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The news is on the 1st page. However, it seems to be loading rather slowly. This might be due to the heavy traffic on the web site. Do try again later or tomorrow.

 

Alan

 

 

Or a slow server?

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I would imagine membership of that particular club is the very last concern on David Wyld's mind at the moment. Getting a full order book and motivating staff would probably be seen as more important. I can think of 4 very prominent organbuilders not on the list either, one of whom has a royal appointment. Isn't it ironic to be applauding a determination to avoid inflammatory comment, then posting this!!!!!

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John Sayer asks some thoughtful questions, many of which have not escaped consideration by various people involved with this project over the years.

 

It is also true to state that the original situation of the Ally Pally organ can never be regained with any degree of practicality. The hemispherical recess, tiered orchestra and original roof are all gone.

 

.

 

I]Like David Coram I have absolutely no wish to get into an argument with anybody but if one takes the above statement from Mr Walmsley to mean what it says, the only possible conclusion is that restoration of the Alexandra Palace Organ (the one that Dupre was so enthusiastic about etc) is now impossible, especially if one holds to the view that the single most important stop on the organ is the building in which it stands. What is entirely possible is to construct an organ in the Alexandra Palace as it now is using almost entirely (but it would appear not exclusively) components from the previous instrument. This will produce a different instrument, albeit one with a very strong family resemblance to its progenitor. I would not for one moment deny that this is an entirely worthy project deserving of support. But it is difficult to draw any other conclusion than that the support which has been forthcoming to date has not been adequate to allow the project to progress to a conclusion. Nor can I recollect reading anything on this site which suggests "one last push" is all that is required for the completion of the project, even though it would seem to have been on the go for a very long time - one could make a case for saying that the history stretches all the way back to 1944 when the organ was rendered unplayable again by war damage. That being so, John Sayer's question becomes very pertinent. The time may not be yet, but if things go on as they are with no sign of substantial extra funds becoming available would it not be sensible to at least consider a fall back position, a Plan B, whereby the surviving pipework is used to create a "Willis" concert organ in another acoustically appropriate venue. Obviously this is no one's preferred course of action but is not half a loaf better than no bread ?

 

Brian Childs

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Guest Roffensis
John Sayer asks some thoughtful questions, many of which have not escaped consideration by various people involved with this project over the years.

 

It is also true to state that the original situation of the Ally Pally organ can never be regained with any degree of practicality. The hemispherical recess, tiered orchestra and original roof are all gone.

 

.

 

I]Like David Coram I have absolutely no wish to get into an argument with anybody but if one takes the above statement from Mr Walmsley to mean what it says, the only possible conclusion is that restoration of the Alexandra Palace Organ (the one that Dupre was so enthusiastic about etc) is now impossible, especially if one holds to the view that the single most important stop on the organ is the building in which it stands. What is entirely possible is to construct an organ in the Alexandra Palace as it now is using almost entirely (but it would appear  not exclusively) components from the previous instrument. This will produce a different instrument, albeit one with a very strong family resemblance to its progenitor. I would not for one moment deny that this is an entirely worthy project deserving of support. But it is difficult to draw any other conclusion than that the support which has been forthcoming to date has not been adequate to allow the project to progress to a conclusion. Nor can I recollect reading anything on this site which suggests "one last push" is all that is required for the completion of the project, even though it would seem to have been on the go for a very long time - one could make a case for saying that the history stretches all the way back to 1944 when the organ was rendered unplayable again by war damage. That being so, John Sayer's question becomes very pertinent. The time may not be yet, but if things go on as they are with no sign of substantial extra funds becoming available would it not be sensible to at least consider a fall back position, a Plan B,  whereby the surviving pipework is used to create a "Willis" concert organ in another acoustically appropriate venue. Obviously this is no one's preferred course of action but is not half a loaf better than no bread ?

 

Brian Childs

 

The acoustic of the building is very different from what it was, although I only heard it in tandem with the Allen that Carlo Curley used there. A slightly longer and "thinner" reverberation (quite like Liverpol Metropolitan Cathedral) , certainly with more bouncing and distortion than now, and so from that aspect, it is probably actually an improvement as it is now. The finest stop on any organ is the acoustic as is often heard, but the present acoustic is more than adequate, and actually very sympathetic to the organ, and yes I have played the organ. There are not real grounds to deny its restoration on those grounds, as it is simply different, but not in a sound spoiling way, rather, better. It is far from "dry", which would be a major problem.

It's also worth remembering the cathedral organs that have been badly affected by acoustic absorbtion, and Chester is the classic example. Here is an organ voiced doubtless to the building, which now is full of plush seating in the nave which has robbed the organ of much clarity, and the swirling one heard in the nave has gone as a result. One could hear it "hit" the nave and it rolled around, but not now. Short of removing all the chairs that isn't going to change. Even then the floor in the nave is new and perfectly flat, unlike the old one which was very uneven, and had a "polish" from years of feet. It all makes a difference. Chester is not at all the sound it was acoustically. One assumes such arguments will not ensue when that instrument is restored.

Recent cleaning to St Paul's Cathedral was also interesting, as the Dome was sealed off to varying degrees, and the acoustic affected dramtically. Two recent recordings, of the Choir, and of the organ solo, reveal this. The reverberation was much less, but the clarity is alarming, the organ actually sounded better, both in the building live, and also recording wise. So, too much reverberation can also be the WORST stop on an organ! It was wonderful to hear St Pauls organ in such detail.

The old acoustic at Alexandra Palace was an effect, and the wooden apse behind the organ did throw the sound forward, but the aisles were badly effected so I was told, and I think what is there as it stands building wise is a very good compromise, enough reverberation but without the strange bounce and and linear projection it had. There has been enough said of the RAH bounces to make Alexandra Palace a very attractive venue for an organ and all other forms of music. Perhaps the late Bert Neales words, who heard it through the 30s, Dupre et al, should be made known.

"It sounds just as it did, I recognised it instantly"....that before shedding several tears! That to me is enough to restore it, and the sooner the better.

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There is no doubt that "restoring" the AP organ would be the most desirable course of action and I would be delighted if that were to happen. The question I was addressing was not whether this should happen but the rather different one, was this foreseeably likely to happen anytime soon. It is perfectly consistent and not in the least illogical to answer yes to the first question and no to the second, with the consequence that consideration of a plan B becomes at least an issue .

 

 

.The acoustic of the building is very different from what it was, although I only heard it in tandem with the Allen that Carlo Curley used there. A slightly longer and "thinner" reverberation (quite like Liverpol Metropolitan Cathedral) , certainly with more bouncing and distortion than now, and so from that aspect, it is probably actually an improvement as it is now. The finest stop on any organ is the acoustic as is often heard, but the present acoustic is more than adequate, and actually very sympathetic to the organ, and yes I have played the organ. There are not real grounds to deny its restoration on those grounds, as it is simply different, but not in a sound spoiling way, rather, better. It is far from "dry", which would be a major problem]

 

[/i] This actually confirms the view I expressed that the "restored" organ would be different. Different is not necessarily worse: it can be different and better, and that may well be the situation in the Alexandra Palace. That the new acoustic would be an even more favourable one for organ tone would reinforce the case for installing an organ in the hall but it would be difficult to use this fact  simultaneously to deny that what would be heard after restoration would not be the same as what was heard when the organ was last fully operational.]

 

It's also worth remembering the cathedral organs that have been badly affected by acoustic absorbtion, and Chester is the classic example. Here is an organ voiced doubtless to the building, which now is full of plush seating in the nave which has robbed the organ of much clarity, and the swirling one heard in the nave has gone as a result. One could hear it "hit" the nave and it rolled around,  but not now. Short of removing all the chairs that isn't going to change. Even then the floor in the nave is new and perfectly flat, unlike the old one which was very uneven, and had a "polish" from years of feet. It all makes a difference. Chester is not at all the sound it was acoustically. One assumes such arguments will not ensue when that instrument is restored.]Recent cleaning to St Paul's Cathedral was also interesting, as the Dome was sealed off to varying degrees, and the acoustic affected dramtically. Two recent recordings, of the Choir, and of the organ solo, reveal this. The reverberation was much less, but the clarity is alarming, the organ actually sounded better, both in the building live, and also recording wise. So, too much reverberation can also be the WORST stop on an organ! It was wonderful to hear St Pauls organ in such detail. [/color]

I think you would have trouble finding anyone on this site who disagrees about the influence of acoustic and the fact that it is capable both of flattering a mediocre instrument and spoiling the impact of a good one. When I said the building was the most "important" stop I meant "most significant in terms of determining the impact of what the listener hears" and not "the best". After all several have claimed that the RFH organ would sound significantly different relocated to a more flattering acoustic.

 

[COLOR=blue]The old acoustic at Alexandra Palace was an effect, and the wooden apse behind the organ did throw the sound forward, but the aisles were badly effected so I was  told, and I think what is there as it stands building wise is a very good compromise, enough reverberation but without the strange bounce and and linear projection it had. There has been enough said of the RAH bounces to make Alexandra Palace a very attractive venue for an organ and all other forms of music. Perhaps the late Bert Neales words, who heard it through the 30s, Dupre et al, should be made known.

"It sounds just as it did, I recognised it instantly"....that before shedding several tears! That to me is enough to restore it, and the sooner the better.[I] Mr Neale  did not, of course, hear the whole organ but only those bits so far restored so his statement taken at it highest can only support the claim that the parts he was able to hear "sound just as they did" . The rest may as well, of course, but unfortunately he will not be in a position to confirm or deny that, at least in the here and now. But that's niggling. I am perfectly happy to accept the broad spirit of his words and to agree that it would be absolutely wonderful if the organ were put back in as close a position as possible to its state in the 1930's. However, one of the bitter shocks of growing up is the gradual recognition that what you want  and what you are likely to get are not necessarily the same. When I was 17 I wanted to play the organ like Simon Preston and rise to be Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. I achieved neither, and I am hardly the only person on this site (if everyone is honest) with a tale of unfulfilled ambition to tell. I have achieved other things and am not unhappy with my lot : I am simply using my own experience to point out that one does not always get what one wants, even if one wants it a great deal. I do not for a second doubt the sincerity and good intentions of those working to restore the organ, nor do I wish to dent their enthusiasm. But just as there did come a time when I had to accept that my personal ambitions were going to remain unfulfilled so there may come a time when those currently working for APOA or otherwise supporting the restoration have to face up to the fact that it is not going to happen. I do not say that time has now arrived. I do not say it is inevitable it will arrive. But I do say that the possibility that it will cannot simply be ignored or wished away. As I inferred in my previous post on this subject, if that time does come it is better to be prepared with a fall back position than to have no second line of defence at all.

 

 

Brian Childs :unsure:  :blink:  B)  ;)

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