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DaveHarries

Cheltenham Ladies College

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Hi all,

 

According to the college website, an appeal for funds to replace the 1960 Rushworth & Dreaper organ in the Princess Hall at Cheltenham Ladies College raised £304,732.39 from 302 donors and a new organ by Kenneth Tickell (3 manuals, 33 stops, 2342 pipes and mechanical action) has now been installed.

 

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The opening recital is Saturday 10th March by Dame Gillian Wier (according to an announcement in "The Times" on 15th January).

 

A variety of information on - and some good pictures of - what looks like a very nice instrument can be found on the college website at http://www.clcguild.org/neworgan.html

 

Dave

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Its good for Cheltenham to have a major new pipe organ. The hall itself is one of the most dreadful rooms for making music that I've ever had the misfortune to perform in, so it will be interesting to see how the organ copes. It can't fail to outperform its predecessor which was buried beneath the stage.

 

How common is it for an organ builder of this stature not to make their own pipes?

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How common is it for an organ builder of this stature not to make their own pipes?

 

All perfectly normal. You'd be surprised how many major firms buy in pipework. Trade pipemakers are very skilled people, quick to produce the goods because they're tooled up for it and have the manpower to meet orders with reasonable speed. They are anxious to fulfil the customer's requirements down to the last detail and have a keen eye for quality. If the quality of their work was poor, orders would dry up.

 

I recently met the pipemaker who had made the tin front for CLC. (We were standing beside it at the time, during an IBO visit) and he spoke with visible pride as he related the difficulties of soldering in the mouths, keeping it neat and free of blemishes throughout the production process.

 

Do some maths...

...say it takes one pipemaker a week to make a Principal 4ft and Fifteenth 2ft. Look at the number of metal ranks in CLC, for example. That's a lot of work to get through and if the soundboards are already made in the shop, the guys would be standing by their benches forever, waiting for ranks of pipes to 'rack in'.

 

It's all about cost and expediency.

 

Here endeth the lesson.

 

H

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It's all about cost and expediency.

 

Indeed - and in this era of small craft workshops, also a lot to do with getting consistent quality from a limited working space. Some of the finest organ builders at home and abroad buy in their pipes, and always have.

 

Talking of cost and expediency, I recently heard tell of a builder who racks his pipes in at the workshop and then shrinkwraps the lot, transporting and installing the soundboards with all pipes in place. Talk about time being of the essence!!!

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Interesting, it sort of links back to the theme about what makes a particular organ builder's unique sound - its interesting to think that they might not even be making their own pipes.

 

Whilst I'm reluctant to broadcast my ignorance I'm going to have to come clean. What on earth is CLC ?

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Cheltenham Ladies College.

God, now you've really made me look silly. Obvious now you mention it. Maybe though (clutching at straws) the tendancy to rush into initials is not always the clearest way to communicate?

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Maybe though (clutching at straws) the tendancy to rush into initials is not always the clearest way to communicate?

 

Sorry, I'll try not use silly acronyms. (I always wanted to start a protest group AAA - Action Against Acronyms).

 

...oh, just noticed you're from Cheltenham...

 

H

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Sorry, I'll try not use silly acronyms. (I always wanted to start a protest group AAA - Action Against Acronyms).

 

...oh, just noticed you're from Cheltenham...

 

H

 

i 2 m ap 2 c u r.

 

i 8 acronyms!

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Its certainly a very fine looking instrument. I have a couple of queries about the spec. and would be interested in other people's views:-

  • The 7-stop great is very compact. Personally I'd prefer a 4' flute before the manual double, but I dare say I will be in a minority on this one!
  • The Gemshorn 2' on the choir seems to sit incongrously in the middle of what would otherwise be a cornet séparée, I'd have preferred a flute (but then we're back into the discussion about how to bridge the gap between the principal and the mixture)

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[*]The 7-stop great is very compact. Personally I'd prefer a 4' flute before the manual double, but I dare say I will be in a minority on this one!
Make that a minority of two!
The Gemshorn 2' on the choir seems to sit incongrously in the middle of what would otherwise be a cornet séparée, I'd have preferred a flute (but then we're back into the discussion about how to bridge the gap between the principal and the mixture)
Depends how it's voiced, surely? If it's like all the Gemshorns I know (bright Principal tone) then I would agree, but it may be more flute toned, or a hybrid stop. I do not think I have ever come across such a Gemshorn, but a member of our organists' association has always considered them to be flute toned and was almost disbelieving when I told him that I had never come across one that was not Principal-toned.

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Its certainly a very fine looking instrument. I have a couple of queries about the spec. and would be interested in other people's views:-
  • The 7-stop great is very compact. Personally I'd prefer a 4' flute before the manual double, but I dare say I will be in a minority on this one!
  • The Gemshorn 2' on the choir seems to sit incongrously in the middle of what would otherwise be a cornet séparée, I'd have preferred a flute (but then we're back into the discussion about how to bridge the gap between the principal and the mixture)

 

Well, I would be happy with a G.O. double - there are already two 4p flutes, one of them harmonic. However, I would gladly exchange the Swell Sesquialtera for an Open Diapason. Apart from that the scheme appears to be quite sensible. I wonder what it sounds like....

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Guest Cynic
I wonder what it sounds like....[/font]

 

 

Well, I've played it and I like it.

 

I did come away very sorry for Ken Tickell that the hall doesn't give more help, in fact, it could hardly give less and I heard it with only half a dozen people in the hall. When there's any kind of audience even this little acoustic will disappear.

 

It's a superbly made instrument, and the specification makes sense when you try it out. Covering various points that have been mentioned, I believe that the Choir Gemshorn is a good compromise between Flute and Principal, it certainly made a good Cornet with the other stops. I had seen a specification somewhere for this organ that omitted the Swell Mixture and was very glad to find that there was one after all. The full Swell is exciting, but rather along 'neo-baroque' lines - a Phelps rather than a FHW sound, but then KT is voicing on a fairly low pressure. All the flutes are gorgeous, particularly the more 'romantic' ones.

 

I found the Great stoplist very strange on paper, so many things might be thought missing - but no doubt this is mostly down to the space available. If one of his constraints was to work with a steeply raked floor, I can understand that the depth of a chest becomes pretty important. There is no question that the 16' flue is essential to the scheme and that, of course, takes up the room that ten years ago would have gone over to another Flute, a Twelfth or a Sharp Mixture (or all three!). Put it this way, each division has a good pleno of its own and the three add up very substantially. I loved the Pedal division, the 16' metal particularly!

 

It would have been wonderful to hear this quality of work and standard of finish in a better building. The old Norman and Beard, hashed about by H&H (twice!) at Cheltenham [boys'] College is not a fine musical instrument at all, but it wins hands down because of the superb acoustic. To a certain extent I felt the same about KT's job at Eton [Lower Chapel]- a tremendous organ until you take your hands off the keys. Both of these organ, though, reassure me that Worcester has chosen well. Now there, either of these would sound really splendid.

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Its certainly a very fine looking instrument. I have a couple of queries about the spec. and would be interested in other people's views:-
  • The 7-stop great is very compact. Personally I'd prefer a 4' flute before the manual double, but I dare say I will be in a minority on this one!
  • The Gemshorn 2' on the choir seems to sit incongrously in the middle of what would otherwise be a cornet séparée, I'd have preferred a flute (but then we're back into the discussion about how to bridge the gap between the principal and the mixture)

Do I get it right from the pictures on Kenneth Tickell's home page that Choir and Great share one soundboard? It might be helpful, then, to consider the two divisions as one. With the double, the Open Diapason, open and stopped flute, Principal and Spitzflute, the Cornet décomposé, Fifteenth, Mixture and Trumpet, this results in a fairly complete Great. The second Principal, small Mixture and Cromorne are the minimum requirement for an independent Choir. This might explain why the Great has no 4-foot flute of its own. If the room is as dead as was hinted at before, the double might be desperately needed to give a feeling of fullness and warmth to the ensemble.

 

About the Gemshorn: It was a favourite 2-foot rank in continental post-war organbuilding, and is to be found in Rückpositivs all around. If well made, it closes the gap between a 4-foot principal and a 1-foot based Scharf in the bass, where is was made as a mild and bright Principal, and completed the flute chorus in the treble, where it grew in scale, while the mouths were kept increasingly narrow, relatively. In other words, when costs and space were limited, it was your standard multi-purpose 2-foot rank.

 

German post-war organbuilders did frequently build unison Gemshorns, usually for the Great. Karl Schuke of Berlin and Klais of Bonn were among them. Both their 8-foot Gemshorns usually start in the bass with a Gamba-like edge to them, and grow wider towards the treble. Klais, in his Greats, often combined the Gemshorn with a Rohrflöte of large scale. When used together, these stops give a very satisfying, full-bodied tone, rather like a Flûte harmonique with edgy bass and singing treble.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Do I get it right from the pictures on Kenneth Tickell's home page that Choir and Great share one soundboard? It might be helpful, then, to consider the two divisions as one. With the double, the Open Diapason, open and stopped flute, Principal and Spitzflute, the Cornet décomposé, Fifteenth, Mixture and Trumpet, this results in a fairly complete Great. The second Principal, small Mixture and Cromorne are the minimum requirement for an independent Choir. This might explain why the Great has no 4-foot flute of its own. If the room is as dead as was hinted at before, the double might be desperately needed to give a feeling of fullness and warmth to the ensemble.

 

About the Gemshorn: It was a favourite 2-foot rank in continental post-war organbuilding, and is to be found in Rückpositivs all around. If well made, it closes the gap between a 4-foot principal and a 1-foot based Scharf in the bass, where is was made as a mild and bright Principal, and completed the flute chorus in the treble, where it grew in scale, while the mouths were kept increasingly narrow, relatively. In other words, when costs and space were limited, it was your standard multi-purpose 2-foot rank.

 

German post-war organbuilders did frequently build unison Gemshorns, usually for the Great. Karl Schuke of Berlin and Klais of Bonn were among them. Both their 8-foot Gemshorns usually start in the bass with a Gamba-like edge to them, and grow wider towards the treble. Klais, in his Greats, often combined the Gemshorn with a Rohrflöte of large scale. When used together, these stops give a very satisfying, full-bodied tone, rather like a Flûte harmonique with edgy bass and singing treble.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

Some good points, Friedrich. I agree regarding the use of the G.O. and Choir as one department. Yes, they are on a common soundboard (not 'common soundboards', as stated on the website). I also agree regarding the G.O. double - I think that it will be vital in filling-out the sound and imparting some gravitas to the ensemble.

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Some good points, Friedrich. I agree regarding the use of the G.O. and Choir as one department. Yes, they are on a common soundboard (not 'common soundboards', as stated on the website). I also agree regarding the G.O. double - I think that it will be vital in filling-out the sound and imparting some gravitas to the ensemble.

And then, there is the fact that the manuals run up to a'''. This allows for ample space for taking the double and flute an octave higher in order to provide soft 8+4-foot accompaniment. Of course, a C-to-C compass would be best in this concern. On the other hand, space seems to have been a consideration here, and there would be six more channels adding to the width of the chest, which equals about twice the travel of the sliders. No, it is very well thought-out as it is, as far as can be said just from reading.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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