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alan taylor

Alexandra Palace Organ

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Very interesting about the provenance of the Contra Viola pipework. Actually a very encouraging amount of new pipework. There seem to be tensions still however, and clarity is always helpful. I would however, in a totally unbiased way, like to throw the gauntlet down and ask **IS the organ is going to put out to tender?**. If yes, then fine, good. If not, then WHY not? This is the crux of the matter, not nit picking about curators and so on. This lack of tendering is  the single question that has caused so much controversy and much bad feeling, and has to stop. It is high time that palace officials accept a common policy that will be fair and unbiased. The truth is that there are other firms who could restore the organ, and they should be given the chance to put forward their scheme. May the best man win. QED.  Donaters want to see fair play. It simply has to be that way. We either want the organ or we don't, and the organ is the priority, restored for the future. The whole issue currently remains stagnant and frankly very boring.

Breaking with my own injunction, I can't help saying;

Well said Richard. I coudn't agree more.

 

Alan Taylor

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Very interesting about the provenance of the Contra Viola pipework. Actually a very encouraging amount of new pipework. There seem to be tensions still however, and clarity is always helpful. I would however, in a totally unbiased way, like to throw the gauntlet down and ask **IS the organ is going to put out to tender?**. If yes, then fine, good. If not, then WHY not? This is the crux of the matter, not nit picking about curators and so on. This lack of tendering is  the single question that has caused so much controversy and much bad feeling, and has to stop. It is high time that palace officials accept a common policy that will be fair and unbiased. The truth is that there are other firms who could restore the organ, and they should be given the chance to put forward their scheme. May the best man win. QED.  Donaters want to see fair play. It simply has to be that way. We either want the organ or we don't, and the organ is the priority, restored for the future. The whole issue currently remains stagnant and frankly very boring.

 

 

The matter of tendering is quite simple: We are totally in favour of it and have written to the Organ Appeal to say so, notwithstanding the existence of an extant contract for the remainder of the instrument.

 

The question of whether there will or not be a tendering process however, lies completely within the responsibility of the Management Team of the Alexandra Palace & Park, not with the Appeal Committee, Henry Willis and Sons or with members of the General Public.

 

In discussions which we, as a Company, have had with the General Manager of the Palace and the former Contracts Manager, we have stated often that we would be happy to engage in a tendering process and at each time this has been discussed, the response has been the same - that the Palace would not be willing even to think about involving several firms of organbuilders in an expensive tendering process without being sure of having all of the funding required actually to place the contract.

 

However unpopular that stance might be with 'others' who would like to have their own way immediately, it is a perfectly reasonable and responsible stance: witness the tendering process for the Miami-Dade concert hall several years ago in which, I think I remember, up to 10 firms were approached. We ourselves produced a scheme which cost us several thousand pounds. Mander Organs was chosen as the prefered contractor and nothing appears to have happened since - we have long since been informed that there is no funding. That sort of behaviour is totally irresponsible.

 

Since we all seem to be in tendering mode, might I respectfully ask if there is to be any tendering process for the proposed/speculated work at either St. Paul's Cathedral or Birmingham Town Hall? If not, why not, under the criteria proposed by others for the AP?

 

The continuing puerile and possibly libellous attacks made on us and on the Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal are purely spiteful and without any possible advantage to the outcome that the perpetrators state as their objectives - indeed, they are totally counterproductive in that direction.

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Guest Roffensis
The matter of tendering is quite simple: We are totally in favour of it and have written to the Organ Appeal to say so, notwithstanding the existence of an extant contract for the remainder of the instrument.

 

The question of whether there will or not be a tendering process however, lies completely within the responsibility of the Management Team of the Alexandra Palace & Park, not with the Appeal Committee, Henry Willis and Sons or with members of the General Public.

 

In discussions which we, as a Company, have had with the General Manager of the Palace and the former Contracts Manager, we have stated often that we would be happy to engage in a tendering process and at each time this has been discussed, the response has been the same - that the Palace would not be willing even to think about involving several firms of organbuilders in an expensive tendering process without being sure of having all of the funding required actually to place the contract.

 

However unpopular that stance might be with 'others' who would like to have their own way immediately, it is a perfectly reasonable and responsible stance: witness the  tendering process for the Miami-Dade concert hall several years ago in which, I think I remember, up to 10 firms were approached. We ourselves produced a scheme which cost us several thousand pounds. Mander Organs was chosen as the prefered contractor and nothing appears to have happened since - we have long since been informed that there is no funding. That sort of behaviour is totally irresponsible.

 

Since we all seem to be in tendering mode, might I respectfully ask if there is to be any tendering process for the proposed/speculated work at either St. Paul's Cathedral or Birmingham Town Hall? If not, why not, under the criteria proposed by others for the AP?

 

The continuing puerile and possibly libellous attacks made on us and on the Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal are purely spiteful and without any possible advantage to the outcome that the perpetrators state as their objectives - indeed, they are totally counterproductive in that direction.

 

Well said. There we have it, all crystal clear, all above board, honest and fair. Thankyou for ironing out the nitty gritty, I hope this FINALLY satifies ALL.....

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The most recent discussions between the Appeal and the Palace Management regarding our wish to tender the contract took place some six months ago. Note, however, that in keeping with our constitution we can only express a wish and can not mandate The Palace to take any particular course of action in this matter.

 

Amongst those present were an external advisor to The Palace from the firm managing the proposed leasing process for the complex. After a wide-ranging discussion of all the possible options, it was the view of The Palace representatives that whilst a tendering process had considerable merit, the potential consequences of attempting to tender a new contract to spend a large sum which is yet to be raised (and which they could not underwrite) were not something they felt they could countenance. A piecemeal alternative - that of breaking the project into stages to be tendered seperately - was deemed to be impractical on artistic grounds. There was (and remains) wide support for this process - in principle - from all members of the Appeal Committee.

 

On the long-tired topic of the curatorship, I have been the 'other' curator since 1999, and in recent years have taken a more active role than David Wyld due to our relative geographical distances from The Palace. Other members of the Appeal also carry out this function from time to time.

 

Now that this information is public, it may be apposite to query why it was not so earlier. A glance at the pitiful standard of the some of the contributions to this debate, which seek to 'spin' any emerging 'facts' into 'truths' supporting spiteful objectives, will give a clue.

 

Stephen Walmsley

APOA

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The only major concern I have personally is with the building frame. It is not unusual for organs to be restored in phases today, and is often the only way to do it. Financial and other grounds frequently dictate. So be it. But the big hurdle is the building frame, and Henry Willis IV himself long ago highlighted that exact problem. As the organ would have been too disparate with the full frame in place at the reopening, and because there was a need, even pressure, to have at least some of the instrument heard after so many years following the fire, and to keep interest up providing a catalyst, the temporary frame still remains as is well known, but which is not adequate, and was not intended to be. If there is some way that this can be addressed, and altered as required to support the WHOLE organ I personally see no issue with phased work. But the next phase needs to be surely addressing the frame, and putting things in their rightful permanent place? Of course the solo is being moved due to climate, but had to come down anyway due to water ingress from the roof (now corrected) and when the casework is added one assumes this will not be a issue as doubtless it will have a micro climate and more humidifiers also. I gather the current stance to be keeping the organ playable. Incidently, I asked an old friend several times about the 1929 organ and it's general tone, and what made it so special, and readers may find it interesting. I likened it to Westminster Cathedral, from what I could hear from recordings, and he agreed to a degree, but was not really convinced. Comparison with the RAH was another natural choice, and here is where he really opened up. To the cathedral he said it was "brighter", but to the RAH he said "it was grander, it was more majestic, it had a majesty", and he recognised those qualities in it with the current organ, us both commenting on the "ring" of the choruses, and it's grandness. Now, we all have to hope, and realise just how very special this instrument is, and how very much more magnificent it will be upon completion. The way the great reeds for example are fatter than the swell, so that the swell would shine through from "behind" if you like, these are all subtle tonal features that make it what it was, and hopefully will be again. To detractors of it I say, don't give up on it, and don't turn againist it, it has the potential to again be probably the finest organ in the world.

 

From 1944 until 1990 that was not the case. It was silent. I consider myself privileged to hear it at all.

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I am very grateful that so many contributors are commenting on the Willis Organ saga, and it is healthy that some do not agree with my opinions, so we must all be shocked that a minor member of The Appeal states, and I quote "a glance at the pitiful standards of some of the contributions to this debate".

An apology is due to Roffensis, Newbie, and others who care enough to take time to write.

I agree that at the end of the day it is up to the owners of the Organ(fitted and unfitted) to place the contract for the restoration, and as the Palace is required to implement tendering for any of its own works, it could hardly agree to a different process for the organ restoration.

Potential donors have walked away because they will not be forced to provide funding when there is only one nominated organ builder who for some reason the Appeal has total allegiance to. Perhaps this should be investigated.

Any organ advisor would also recommend tendering, so obviously everyone is wrong except for the Appeal.

Whilst I was a loyal member of the Appeal, there was only ever one organ builder mentioned, an employee also sat on the Committee, was organ curator and forcibly expressed his opinions about the restoration. This was unhealthy, and another reason why potential donors would not touch the scheme with a barge pole.

This is fact and I wish it were not so.

The restoration quotation is not realisitic, and is misleading to all of us. We could end up with a scenario where the money is raised, the Appeal's preferred organ builder is awarded the contract, he then finds that he will lose money on the contract. and will spend the next 10 years moaning about it.

It appears that my contention that the "choir organ" was fully paid for is a figment of my imagination. The excellent unofficial web site will provide evidence of this, and the "official web site" states in black and white that the choir organ was completed. Would any organ builder complete work without the money up front ?

To sum up, a tendering process must be activated, and up to date quotations obtained from I.B.O. recommended organ building companies.

Once again, I am grateful for any contributions, even if The Appeal are not.

Colin Richell.

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"...the pitiful standards of some of the contributions to this debate".

 

Quite.

 

As to an earlier post, it needs to mentioned that in the 60s and 70s, several organ builders had said that The Alexandra Palace Organ, regarding restoration, was not worth it, and/or could not be done. Ditto St Pauls Cathedral. Imagine that!! Think what we could have lost! This attitude was echoed at St Georges Hall in Liverpool following war damage, which was actually very severe. All are Willis organs, and in all cases the organs have been returned to us by the Willis firm, where others were simply not interested....THEN. The fates of both civic organs have hung in the balance at various times in the past, and St Georges Hall itself was threatened even as a building!

One has to comment that it has been the Willis firm continually who have considered Alexandra Palace worth being done, just as they did Liverpool. It is a bold builder indeed who comes forward for the rich pickings. There are many examples of organs being ruined by non Willis staff who did not have much sympathy with the style. St Georges Hall would certainly not have been so conservatively rebuilt by others as it was by Willis in 1957. Alexandra Palace does have a natural place with Willis, for loyalty alone, let alone any historical and tonal considirations. It took Willis IV to buy the thing to save it going for scrap or to be sold off elsewhere. No one cared about it then. As I have said, may the best man win. Finally, I know of no "minor" appeal member commenting on this site. Such remarks are unhelpful.

 

Richard Astridge

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Richard

Sometimes I find it difficult to understand where you stand with the Appeal and Willise's. One minute you are castigating Willis for not allowing tendering, and the next minute you are telling us how wonderful they are to stick with Ally Pally.!

Richard, you very well know that no other organ builders have ever been approached to tune or maintain the organ, because the Appeal would not allow any other Company to become involved, and also the pipes just happen to be in the Willis factory-very convenient.

I agree that we should be grateful to Henry for removing the organ to Petersfield, and he would have removed the larger pipes if the GLC had allowed him to.

We should also be eternally grateful to Fred Clarke and Bert Neale for the partial restoration in 1990.

If you can assure me that the recent work has been undertaken free under guarantee, then I shall personally thank Henry Willis.with all my heart.

A minor Appeal member is someone who is not an officer, or Friends secretary, or concert organiser, just an ordinary member who attends meetings and perhaps concerts. Hope that is clear now.

I see that Henry Willis has now joined us on the web site. I hope that he is well.

Henry mentions a meeting where apparently the committee agreed the reasons for removing choir organ pipes.Firstly, whilst I may have been in attendance, this does not mean that I approved of the action, but if my protests were not minuted, then no-one would know any different.

But, in any case didn't the Appeal member say that the Palace was responsible for the organ and that they paid for tuning and maintenance.? In fact the Palace were not aware that the pipes had been taken, but the Appeal had no right to discuss or agree the action. Hope that is clear now. because Henry appears to be confused.

I suggest to any accredited organ builder to become detached from the Appeal totally so that they are not accused of being favoured in any way.

I would never agree that your contributions are of "pitiful standard", a rather snobbish comment I believe.

Best wishes

Colin Richell

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Richard

Sometimes I find it difficult to understand where you stand with the Appeal and Willise's. One minute you are castigating Willis for not allowing tendering, and the next minute you are telling us how wonderful they are to stick with Ally Pally.!

Richard, you very well know that no other organ builders have ever been approached to tune or maintain the organ, because the Appeal would not allow any other Company to become involved, and also the pipes just happen to be in the Willis factory-very convenient.

I agree that we should be grateful to Henry for removing the organ to Petersfield, and he would have removed the larger pipes if the GLC had allowed him to.

We should also be eternally grateful to Fred Clarke and Bert Neale for the partial restoration in 1990.

If you can assure me that the recent work has been undertaken free under guarantee, then I shall personally thank Henry Willis.with all my heart.

A minor Appeal member is someone who is not an officer, or Friends secretary, or concert organiser, just an ordinary member who attends meetings and perhaps concerts. Hope that is clear now.

I see that Henry Willis has now joined us on the web site. I hope that he is well.

Henry mentions a meeting where apparently the committee agreed the reasons for removing choir organ pipes.Firstly, whilst I may have been in attendance, this does not mean that I approved of the action, but if my protests were not minuted, then no-one would know any different.

But, in any case didn't the Appeal member say that the Palace was responsible for the organ and that they paid for tuning and maintenance.? In fact the Palace were not aware that the pipes had been taken, but the Appeal had no right to discuss or agree the action.  Hope that is clear now. because Henry appears to be confused.

I suggest to any accredited organ builder to become detached from the Appeal totally so that they are not accused of being favoured in any way.

I would never agree that your contributions are of "pitiful standard", a rather snobbish comment I believe.

Best wishes

Colin Richell

 

I have never "castigated" Willis on anything. It is not my place to, I am not an appeal member, and I know my place. I was concious there may be interpreted a "jobs for the boys" regime, but have thankfully been informed otherwise, and I accept that. I am not biased, but like to see all round fairness. And,yes I honestly think Willis are wonderful to stick with Ally Pally. Just as with other organs I referred to. Just as much as other builders have not been bothered with it or other organs as mentioned earlier, in the past. If the tuning etc is being done well, then there is no reason to change that. It sounds fine to me, particularly given the conditions of temperature. Tuning is not rebuilding, and who knows who ultimately may finish it, but one of the tendering firms should quite properly be Willis. As to organ builders detaching themselves from the appeal, as it is the only organ appeal going, where does that leave any hope of tendering in the future?

I see also that Henry Willis is on here, and I send him my regards. Having met him several times, and witnessed his voicing skills, I have always considered him one of our finest reed and tonal voicers. Others have come up since him and are as good of course, but his expertise was unquestionable. If you come to St Georges Hall you will hear that first hand for yourself. If you go to Huddersfield Town Hall, you wont. Alexandra Palace is another case of his voicing, and I had seen the condition of unrestored pipework long before work even began on it, and it was pitiful. So I am not quite so ready to discount a firm who have given us a lot in the past. I am sorry if you consider this difficult to understand, but I am a man of principles. Fairness and open attitudes to all should prevail.

All best,

 

Richard

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As far as I know "Henry Willis" is the corporate login name of the company of which David Wyld is a director. So, you may all retrieve your noses!

 

I personally thought his last post summed it all up very nicely, and couldn't think of any way that anyone would manage to come back with another punch.

 

I shall look forward to the 2034 opening of the new Frobenius organ (or will it be Rieger?) - I fear no UK organbuilder may be found who would want to commit commercial suicide by going near the job under these circumstances...

 

In the meantime it would occupy fewer pages if correspondents could either not quote quite so much or (even better) refrain from posting blank messages/entire quotes with no new text - rather painful for those with dialup.

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Colin Richell said:

"If you can assure me that the recent work has been undertaken free under guarantee, then I shall personally thank Henry Willis.with all my heart.".

 

**There is no question of the guarantee being invoked as there is no defect in either workmanship OR materials.

 

Colin Richell said:

" Henry mentions a meeting where apparently the committee agreed the reasons for removing choir organ pipes.Firstly, whilst I may have been in attendance, this does not mean that I approved of the action, but if my protests were not minuted, then no-one would know any different.".

 

**Mr. Richell's position on this appears to have changed - until now he has denied knowing anything about this whereas now he says he WAS at the meeting. At that meeting a resolution was made and passed NEM. CON. as the minutes attest.

 

He further says:

 

In fact the Palace were not aware that the pipes had been taken, but the Appeal had no right to discuss or agree the action. Hope that is clear now. because Henry appears to be confused.

 

Whereas Mr. Richell is NOT confused, he speaks with a forked tongue as, also at that meeting was Mr. David Moores (Contracts Manager) of the AP, who was a member of that Committee and he (and therefore the Management per se) was quite aware of what was to be removed.

 

It is plainly obvious that the slant now placed by Messrs Taylor and Richell on this discussion is one intended directly to attack Henry Willis and Sons: we are taking this matter up directly with the Moderator as much of the content is defamatory and directly libellous: we have also now reported this situation directly to the Chair of The Board of Trustees of the Alexandra Palace.

 

The content of Mr. Richell's postings is almost exclusively "inaccurate" and intended to try to keep some level of correspondence going. I shall not be posting anything further on this subject - a great deal of which should remain private has altready, by necessity, been declared in order to expose Mr. Richell's mendacity.

 

If any subscribers to this Board would like to make any direct enquiries as to the ACTUAL state-of-play or to visit the factory to see the remaining unrestored pipework etc. we shall be delighted to deal with such matters by private correspondence.

 

David Wyld

Managing Director

HENRY WILLIS & SONS LTD.

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As to inaccurate statements, a posting recorded that the last concert attracted 74 patrons.

My counting of people totalled 30 persons, but some of the Friends who did a head count tell me that there were in fact 25 persons in the audience.

[line deleted by moderator]

Why should we donate hard earned money to sponsor loss making concerts ?

In all our years in the Appeal, myself and colleagues were often threatened with legal action, so we are used to it. This would at least bring everything out in the open, and I have a barrister friend who would assist.I also have insurance.

As to the meeting re the "missing pipes ", I stated that I MAY have been at the meeting, but I need the date to confirm this. of course minutes of meetings were always 100% accurate weren't they ?I did speak to the former contracts manager at another meeting about the "missing pipes" but he did seem unaware of this.

He is now a member of the Appeal Committee,

If an organ consultant recommended that Willis should undertake the restoration, who is going to object ? but give other companies the opportunity to quote.

I am afraid that Mr Wyld has spent the last few years [word deleted by moderator] that everyone is against him, and that they are all trying to destroy his company, and that he will take everyone to Court etc, it all becomes very boring.

So he is going to report me to the Chair of the Trustees, John Mander, and probabaly the egg marketing board, office of fair trading, the Church Times. Ian Tracey and the I.BO. I am in constant touch with the Chairman of the AP Trustees and most of the Trustees. I hope they regard me as an honourable person.

I apologise in advance to all the Appeal members for the pitiful standard of this message.

We can make no plans until the developers intentions are known

Colin Richell.

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This topic appears again to be generating more heat than light, and nothing substantively new is being said. As an experiment, therefore, the topic will be locked.

 

If anyone is considering restarting it - with a new topic - please think first: are you saying anything that has not already been said; and if you have something new to say, are you prepared to say it courteously?

 

Mr Wyld, I have e-mailed you with my telephone number.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

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