Kent County Organists’ Association
Janua
ry 2000 Journal

 

The articles on this page are in the order published in the paper edition of the Journal

To go to a specific article click on the alphabetical list of contents below

 

Contents

 

A History of Organ Builders

A New Secretary

An Organist's Diary

Birthday Wishes

Concerts - St. Margaret's Church, Rainham

Front Cover

Future Meetings

Gordon Chapman - a short profile

Joys of an Organist & Choirmaster

Kevin Grafton

Letter to the Editor

Millennium Organ Event

Musical Definitions

New Members

Obituary

Organ Recitals - Holy Trinity, Folkestone

Organ Recitals - St. Nicholas, Strood

Review of recent meetings

RSCM Area Events

St. Mary's Church, Sittingbourne

Sesquialtera

Subscriptions

The Midmer-Losh Organ

Top Award for Barbara Childs

 

 

Review of recent Meetings

OUR AUTUMN season, last year, started with our President's Dinner on 25th September at The Chaucer Hotel, Canterbury. This was our second visit to this hotel and on this occasion we were allocated The Regency Suite. This fine setting, and a most musically entertaining after dinner speech by our guest, The Very Revd. Richard Fenwick, ensured the fifty members present had a most convivial evening. We were also pleased to make a presentation to Gary Tollerfield, in recognition of his many years as our stalwart Secretary.

AN EARLY START ON 9th October 1999, saw fifty-one of us aboard a brand new 'Warners' coach heading for the Channel Tunnel. There was a hint of apprehension as this would be a new experience for some of us. Our drivers manoeuvred the coach most skilfully — with it seemed, only inches to spare — into a shuttle carriage which, with its high sides and small square windows, was reminiscent of a Victorian Noah's Ark. As the train set off-movement was imperceptible, no noise, just slight changes of air pressure and occasional gentle rocking.

As we progressed on our journey through England, France and Belgium, Andrew Cesana, who had so ably organised our visit, adroitly switched from English to French and then to Flemish as national frontiers were crossed. He unfolded the delights in score for us, briefly introducing us to the organs we should see, as well as some of the other attractions of Brugge.

On our arrival, a pleasant walk through the narrow medieval streets, the colour of their cobbles intensified by the gentle rain, brought us to an excellent restaurant where we could sample the delicious Flemish cuisine. Soon it was time to move on to the magnificent gothic cathedral of St. Salvator, leaving unvisited a statue by Michelangelo in a nearby church, the only example of his work outside Italy. Once in the cathedral, most of the members made their way up to the spacious organ gallery on the west wall where a truly splendid instrument was most ably explained and demonstrated for us by Fr. Michel Roggeman in the absence of the cathedral organist, who was away giving a recital in Sardinia.

The Organ - St. Salvator, Brugge

Fr. Michel contrasted the sound of the older registers with that of the more modern pipework by playing several movements by J. G. Walther, first on the old stops which had be so carefully restored by Klais in 1935 and then repeating the same pieces using the 19th and 20th century additions. It was then the turn of our members to play. First at the console being David Lammler who gave us, and the many tourists in the nave below, a thrilling performance of the 'Ride of the Valkyries' the menacing tones of the music bouncing off the walls of the Cathedral almost as if a large symphony orchestra were up in the gallery—a most resourceful instrument.

All too soon it was time to leave St. Salvator's, which houses so many treasures to make our way to our second church, St Walburga's. This is a neo-classical building with white columns surmounted by 'serious faced cherubs' and a black and white marble floor; the church was modelled on the Gsu church in Rome.

Again we encountered a splendid instrument standing in a large west wall gallery. This organ combines delightful 18th century Baroque registers showing a strong French influence (Cacheux-Fremat 1739) with 20th century work (Nagel-Nys 1992). At the last major rebuild and restoration, some of the beautifully Grafted 19th century pipework, which did not fit in with the tonal scheme, was removed but carefully preserved in a room adjacent to the organ gallery.

 

The Organ - St Walburga's, Brugge

The organist entertainingly told us something of the history of the organ and demonstrated some of its stops. It seems that the original builder Cacheux had the misfortune to be bitten on the tongue by a venomous spider and died before his design, fortunately already committed to paper, could be completed. After this Andrew and other members were able to explore the delight of this fine organ, playing appropriate music for us on the Hoofdwerk (Great), Positief and, of course, Pedaal. Two intriguing features of this visually stunning organ; first a Rossignol (nightingale) stop, consisting of two pipes immersed in a shiny bucket of water suspended at the top of the Hoofdwerk case — an enchanting sound which no doubt has its liturgical uses! Secondly, the provision of a means for raising the wind by manpower, using two giant pedals. We were restrained from attempting to do this by the stern warning — STRENG VERBOD DE PEDALEN TE BETREDEN.

Our visit to this lovely church, with its fine instrument, was cut short by the imminent arrival of the bride for a 5 p.m. wedding, for which the chairs had been decorated with bunches of flowering ivy. We were sorry to leave — despite glimpsing the bride and her attendants ^being photographed (in the rain) — but this did allow us time to enjoy some of the other delights of Brugge; not least, the famous hand-made chocolates, the elegant shops displaying the traditional bobbin lace work and the horse-drawn carriages with their basket hampers on the back.

Altogether, a wonderful day. We are most grateful to Andrew Cesana for arranging it and to all involved in the organisation. The writers will not redeem their unspent Belgian Francs as they are determined to return to Brugge to see more of this beautiful and historic place.

AS WE APPROACHED the church of St. Augustine, Northbourne, on the fine winter afternoon of 6th November, it seemed that the bells were ringing in special greeting for us! However, in her welcome, the organist, Dr. Jean Johnstone, explained that a visiting band of ringers had arrived unexpectedly.

The very charming organ here was installed by F. H. Browne in 1893, at a cost of 295.00 plus 2.12s 6d for the elegant lyre-ended bench. It first stood in the Lady Chapel (south transept) of this fine cruciform Norman church, but was moved to the back of the north transept in 1895. Recently, at Dr. Johnstone's suggestion it has been moved to the front of the transept to a better speaking position and has been restored by F. H. Browne without alteration. The action is pneumatic with a swell organ of 888428 and Great organ of 8884. The Pedal has a 16ft Bourdon. The console has sloping stop jambs and is a very typical village instrument of its period; no doubt it will give sterling service for another century!

Dr. Johnstone gave a brief demonstration, and then the organist of the nearby Eastry Parish Church, Maureen Norman, played "Herzlich Lieb hab ich dich, O herr" by Kirchhoff and Ciacona in D minor by Pachelbel, soon overcoming her confessed nervousness. These pieces illustrated the pleasing quality of the oboe and the great flute, and the warm unforced tone of the great open diapason.

We then moved on to the spacious church of St. Mary, Walmer, built in 1887-9 by the architect Sir Arthur Blomfield. The organist Ruth Loveridge welcomed us and explained that F. H. Browne may have built the organ originally, but this was not certain. However, it was rebuilt by them in 1968, and is situated in an open gallery on the south side of the choir and is uncased with a modern pipe display; the stopkey console is in the north transept.

Ruth Loveridge played Mendelssohn's Prelude in D minor, but the main demonstration was given by Tom Bell, Organ Scholar, St. Edmunds's School Canterbury. His programme was admirably chosen to show the full potential of this fine organ, which speaks well into a sympathetic acoustic. The Howells Psalm Prelude Set 1 No. 1 was beautifully paced and phrased, the Buxtehude Praeludium, Fuga and Ciacona sparkling and full of drive, and the toccata "Placare christe servulis" from Le tombeau de Titelouse Op.38 by Dupre displayed Toms fine technique - it was most exciting. We were very fortunate in being able to hear him, and extend our best wishes for his future success, which we will watch with great interest.

A lovely tea was served in Elizabeth House, opened by H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1991, and the meeting concluded with a musical quiz by Malcolm Hall. We are most grateful to Malcolm for arranging such a very enjoyable afternoon.

THESE KCOA MEETINGS, the last of the 20th century, were quite fascinating in their different ways. It is the intention of our Association to provide a wide variety of meetings as we start our new century. Excitingly, we start the New Year with a coach outing to London, including Southwark Cathedral, Greenwich Royal Navel College and St. Mary's Church Rotherhithe. Our coach excursion on 6th May is to Southwell Minster to view the new Nicholson organ. There is a separate booking form enclosed with this Journal, please complete and return to our Secretary Jackie Howard.

 

Sesquialtera by Colin Jilks

SHOULD I CONFESS? To confess would imply I have sinned, or there is something amiss. Well alright, I confess, I am a string player and have played the violin since my school days. I still play in a string quartet from time to time, although it's the organ and choir-mastering which mostly occupies my time these days. I hesitate to mention violins in an 'organ journal' but they have, perhaps, a relevance which may not be immediately apparent.

Organs, if played as solo instruments present few problems, but introduce other instruments and there can be difficulties. The main problem is usually tuning — not the problem of 'temperament' as strings are extremely flexible — but 'pitch', which can metaphorically set cats among pigeons. If an organ's pitch is relatively low by today's standards, string players will complain bitterly as lowered 'slack' strings are difficult to play and still produce a full tone. On the other hand, a sharp organ pitch can be the enemy of the woodwind.

Even if an organ is tuned to 'British standard pitch' — A440, or in organ terms C523.3 — changes in temperature can cause difficulties, we all know how sharp reed stops appear to be in a cold church. These pitch standards, however, have been adopted only relatively recently. In Tudor times pitches were some three semitones lower than today. The pitch of Handel's 'English' tuning fork, which still exists, gives the pitch as A = 422.5 and represents the pitch at which eighteenth-century composers expected to hear their works performed. In 1901 the standard pitch in England was about C = 517.84, whereas today our organ pitch is, of course, British standard C = 523.3 (A = 440). Over the centuries pitch has been raised and then lowered, even individual cities have proclaimed their own pitches.

Orchestral musicians use 'A' as the pitch standard, although organ builders use 'C' for their pitch note — Middle C 4ft Principal. Since 1850 pitch has varied between C = 540, then down to C = 517 and back up to C = 522. An organ can have a long life, two hundred, or even three hundred years. If no major changes, or rebuilding has taken place, the original pitch would be unchanged. The present pitch of an organ therefore very much depends on when the organ was built.

With normal congregational accompaniment there is little to concern us as congregations will growl merrily at low pitch and supply the organist with a transposed hymn book if the organ pitch is very high. As soon as other instruments are introduced, as they often are these days, the troubles begin. There was a cathedral, some years ago, which had a low pitched organ and was to host the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a broadcast The 'stringed' instrument players were decidedly unhappy and the clarinets were pulled right out in a desperate attempt to get down to the organ pitch; the orchestral players could not understand why the organ had not been 'properly tuned' for the occasion.

Of course, to raise or lower the pitch of an organ by any great degree is a major and costly undertaking. It requires the lengthening of every pipe if the pitch is to be lowered, or shortened if it is to be raised. This is major work, often if lengthening is required it is easier to move every pipe up one hole in the organ and a new bottom 'C' pipe made for each stop. It is usually necessary to re-voice the reed stops as their tone will be seriously affected by the pitch change.

Temperature plays its part, as pitch rises with higher temperature and sinks when it is cold. Strangely piano strings get longer and sound flatter with higher temperatures. This can have a devastating effect, should a piano be tuned to the organ in a cold church. When the heating comes, on the organ, as we know, will go sharp and the piano will go flat!

As temperature is so critical, organ pitches are denoted today as C = 523 3 at 60f. This is set when the organ is new or during a rebuild. Unequal temperaments can cause problems — especially with singers — facial expressions will tell it all if the scale temperament is too outlandish.

Changing an organ's pitch is not to be undertaken lightly. As well as the very high cost of replanting pipes, there is the question of the effect this has on the organ s tonal sound. If a pipe is lengthened, or shortened, its scaling is altered. A pipe that is shortened becomes corresponding 'fatter' thickening the tone a lengthened pipe becomes smaller in scale producing a thinner tone. If a Malt semitone change is needed conservationists would, these days I'm sure not countenance such changes. Regrettably, so many historic organs have undergone changes that are now forgotten.

The practical day to day work of an organ tuner is not readily affected by such problems, as the middle 'C' Principal pitch pipe of an organ is invariably cut and cone tuned to the organ's original pitch. This gives a stable tuning reference from which all the organ's pipes are tuned. I do, of course, carry some tuning forks with me, but they are very rarely used, except following major overhauls, especially as church temperatures vary so widely between summer and winter. Should you have a British Standard C 523.3 tuning fork to hand it might be interesting to try the pitch of the organ you normally play, the results might be interesting. Wait until there is a temperature of about 60f and try the middle 'C' Great Principal 4ft, holding the tuning fork to the ear, the speed of beat will then be obvious. But be warned, if the church heating is on or has been recently used, enclosed departments may give false readings

 

‘Musical Definitions’
For the new Millennium

Obligato... being forced to practise
Con moto... I have a car
Allegro...... a little motor car
Maestro..... a bigger motor car
Chords....... things organists play with one finger
Discords.... things organists play with two fingers
Subdominant... I can't play until I've asked the wife"

 

Rochester Cathedral

MILLENNIUM ORGAN EVENT

Carlo Curley

Saturday 12th February 2000 7.30pm

Also featuring

Roger Sayer, San Farrell

And the three Cathedral Choirs

Tickets 10.00 - Nave centre

7.00 - restricted view.

20.00 (limited number) to include a
Buffet Reception and chance to
meet the artists.

Available from The Cathedral Shop,
70a High Street, Rochester.
Tel: 01634 811445

or postal bookings from: 7 Shows Way,
Rochester. ME1 3DY

A New Secretary

AS MEMBERS will know, we were pleased to welcome Jackie Howard as our new Secretary last year and, during the intervening months, has been competently taking up the reins of office.

OUR GRATEFUL thanks, of course, go to Gary Tollerfield who has served our Association with such enthusiasm and diligence for some twelve years, since the death of our founding Secretary Mr. Warriner. As a token of our appreciation, Gary was presented, by Colin Jilks on behalf of our committee, with a fascinating book of photographic work at last September's President's Dinner. We are pleased to say, Gary is continuing on the committee guiding us with his knowledge, expertise and unbounded enthusiasm.

St. Mary's Church
Sittingbourne

Organist and Director of music
Required - Easter 2000
Weekly Parish Communion,
Monthly Sung Evensong.
Small choir, 2-manual pipe organ

Please contact 01795 472535

Subscriptions

Members are reminded, if they have
not already paid, that the annual 12.00
subscription should be sent to the
Treasurer.

Joys of an Organist & Choirmaster

or 'Ramblings' from Vicky Shepherd

LAST NIGHT I was at a Splendid ‘Do', plus -Singing Carols Round The Christmas Tree , in a big mansion out in the wilds of our Benefice. Several people with whom I chatted said, "Oh you're Vicky who writes about the Organ and Choir in The Good News and for The Faversham Society and I do enjoy your articles" (The Good News is our Benefice monthly). Fame?!! I was telling Colin Jilks about this and said one day I would write something for Our Journal – so here goes .

When I retired in 1995 the choir at Ospringe grew from three adults to three adults and twelve youngsters, so I had to learn new skills rapidly! Teenagers are different from four-year-olds. I practised on the organ regularly and soon realised that I needed help. Gordon Chapman told me that he had occasional lessons from David Flood and how good he was. Our Deanery Synod Representative had told me that David had been to Synod and offered to help Deanery Organists. I summoned up courage and asked David for some occasional lessons. This has proved to be tremendous challenge and given meaning to my practise and playing I have recovered from realising I have correct forty years of bad habits and that the ‘older lady’ takes much longer to learn than she did when she first learnt at twenty-one. So you youngsters "Get a good teacher".

My big -bad habit' was playing hymns as I did on the piano, re-enforcing the bass on the pedals and not hitting the right ones. So poor Gilbert (my husband) has to put up with me practising hymns several ways on the piano as our Church is cold when the heating is not on! And that is another 'joy' practising in a cold church - you have to be keen and hardy! The hymns are coming and if is a great to me when I get it right. I love our hymns, old and new. (That's another article!)

The Choir have Progressed. Several youngsters will take a Solo lead. My "Charlotte Church" and my "Aled Jones" bring lumps in the throat; two will sing a second part. Joanne, who is a KCOA student member and comes with me to meetings plays the clarinet as well as the piano and organ, so we can do varied concerts which our Retirement Homes and Church Concerts folk enjoy. Joanne has played two hymns for congregational singing and voluntaries before, during and after services. I am hoping the youngsters can do duets and trios s00n. It has been good to see Joanne's experience grow and that is thanks to her and Dennis Mathew, Jerry Spillett, Shirley Learner, Andrew Baxter and Graham Galer, and me, who have let her sit beside them during Services and to her teacher, Ian Sutcliffe.

I am working on the Boellmann Toccata. I have shied away from fast pieces but this is proving a great challenge and hours of practise. One of our local clergyman calls it "the one rising from the graveyard!" When it is ‘orff’ you will have to come to the ‘Inaugural Concert!’

Organ Recitals
2000

Holy Trinity Church
Folkestone

Organ recitals are given every
Wednesday Evening at 7.30 p.m.
Commencing 15th July
until October

St. Margaret’s Church
Rainham, Kent
Series 2000 Concerts

Sundays at 4 p.m.

2nd July Barry Kemp
9th July Cantimus
16th July Steven Sivyer
23rd July Choral Evensong
30th July Roger Sayer

Admission 3.00

THE OPENING recital will include works by
Guilmant, Schumann and Bach.

Roger Sayer will include music by Widor,
Vieme, Bach and Rebuke.

Choral Evensong's anthem will be Bainton's
"I saw a new heaven"

Top award
for
Barbara Childs!

WE CONVEY our heartiest congratulations to our member Mrs. Barbara Childs, Organist and Choir Director of St. Katharine's Church Knockholt, who has become only the second person in the country to attain the Royal School of Church Music Foundation Certificate in Church Music Studies.

Barbara Childs

The certificate includes a study of all aspects of music in worship and liturgy. Barbara was required to attend three weeks of residential courses at Carlisle Cathedral and Lancing College under the auspices of the RSCM; also study at St. John's College, Nottingham. Three years of diligent study was fitted in between her teaching and the all too time consuming, but necessary, domestic duties. Barbara was presented with her certificate at the RSCM's Celebration Day Service at Glasgow Cathedral on 18th September 1999.

Birthday wishes

WE EXTEND our sincere good wishes to our member Dennis Mathew who celebrates his 80th birthday on 24th January 2000.

KEVIN GRAFTON has had the misfortune to spend Christmas in hospital, following an emergency operation. We send our most sincere good wishes hoping he will soon be fully recovered.

'An Organist’s Diary by Andrew Cesana

I thoroughly enjoyed the new CD of the Dom Bedos Organ at the Abbatiale Sainte Croix in Bordeaux, which I was waiting for when I last wrote an article for the KCOA Journal, it was certainly worth the wait! I can certainly add to the recommendation of the Editor of the Organists' Review by saying chat this instrument sums up the total ethos of the Art of Organ Building by the great builder himself. I regret to advise that I am not able to give you a review of the Cavaille Coll Centenary Celebrations in Rouen due to the cancellation of the event, as the result of the lack of support.

Thank you to all of you who came and supported the day trip to Bruges. I still have some specifications left over for chose who would like details of the instruments. Perhaps Ghent or Brussels another time?

Just before the day trip in October, I celebrated my tenth Anniversary as organist of St. Nicholas Church, Strood and I gave my tenth anniversary recital on 2nd October which included music by London and Paris based composers I also gave a recital at Minster Abbey, Isle of Sheppey, on 23rd October, which sadly was overshadowed by the death, a few days earlier, of Michael Findon, a former Association member and organist there. In his memory, I improvised on the hymn tunes which were, I understand sung at his funeral a few days later. -

The B.I.O.S. One day Conference and A.G.M. in London, was held at St. John's Church Upper Norwood on Saturday, 6th November. It included two lectures on the Victorian organ, and an afternoon recital by Dr. William McVicker Organist of St. Barnabas Church, Dulwich. The organ of St. John's is a 3-manual T.C. Lewis of 1882, recently restored by Harrison's of Durham, and sounds resplendent in its restored condition. A CD of the instrument will be made by David Briggs on the Priory Great European Organ Series (no.57) next year. A fortnight later, I heard Adrian Adams' recital on the instrument there He has been Organist there since 1972. This time, I had the chance to ask him the question "Could the Kent County Organists' Association visit there?" the answer to that was "Yes". I am sure chat it will be very much looked forward to.

The Organ - St. John's, Upper Norwood

Well, this is my last Organist's Diary for the old Millennium. The first meeting for the new Millennium will include a visit to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, perhaps an appropriate start, although I have to say that the Dome will need to be visited another time. I wonder whether they will have Organ Recitals in it? Well, there's a thought for Peter Mandleson and the millennium Committee! With all good wishes to you all for 2000!

RSCM Canterbury Area Events

OUR CHAIRMAN, David Leeke is moving to Shrewsbury but keeping a flat in Canterbury. He leaves his Music Director's post at Maidstone Grammar School in August but will keep his ties with them as well as undertaking freelance work. He will continue to serve as our Chairman and we look forward to David conducting our Festival, on the theme of "From Age to Age, from Darkness to Light" at Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday, 4th November.

Saturday, 12th February 2 p.m. Rehearsal, 5.30 p.m. Service to Celebrate the Millennium, Service at St. Mary of Charity, Faversham.

Saturday 4th March, Chorister Awards Training Day, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. St. Stephen's Church, Canterbury led by David Leeke, Stephen Barker and Canon John Wright.

The Examinations take place on Saturday, 20th May, 9 a.m.' to 5 p.m. at The Archbishop's School, Canterbury and at another date in Brussels.

Saturday, 29th April Singing Day with Mark Deller, 2 p.m. at Wye Parish Church.

A.G.M. Wednesday, 10th May, St. Paul's Church Hall, Canterbury, Guest Speaker, Director General R.S.C.M. Professor John Harper.

Friday, 12th May, 7.30 pm Annual Dinner, organised by Vicky Shepherd The Kentish Hops Upper Room, The Sun Inn, Faversham. Special Guests, Bishop Stephen of Dover and his wife. "The Bishop Busks It!"

Friday, 26th May 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Organists' Masterclass with John Bertalot, St. Clement's Church, Sandwich.

Saturday, 27th May, 10 am. to Noon A Morning for Young Organists with John Bertalot, at Ashford Parish Church — if the roof is repaired?

This course, we have been discussing for KCOA for ages and it is aimed at youngsters who have recently taken up the organ or those youngsters who are interested — and of course us

adults who encourage youngsters would be welcome too.

For more information please contact Vicky Shepherd, KCOA Member and RSCM Canterbury Area Treasurer. 30, Stonebridge Way, Faversham. ME13 7RZ

St Nicholas Strood
Organ Recitals
2000

Saturday 27th May 7.30 p.m.
Christoph Lorenz
D
sseldorf Cathedral

Letter to the Editor

SIR. — Your contributor Brian Wigglesworth, in his letter in the July Kent County Organists' Association Journal, ; raises some very interesting aspects concerning our instrument, per se. Mozart, wanting to play the pianoforte-maker Herr Stein's organ, admitting that it was his passion, soliciting great surprise from his friend, saying: "What? A man like you, so fine a clavier-player, wants to play on an instrument which has no douceur, no expression, no piano, no forte, always the same?", receiving the retort: "In my eyes and ears the organ is the king of instruments". His letter of 17th-18th October 1777 (often mis-quoted) from Augsburg to Leopold Mozart,

Abraham Jordan's organ for St Saviour's, Southwark, Mr Wigglesworth mentions, was important, not only for its size, with three manuals and 27-stops, but having a Great Double Diapason which, other than Loosemore's at Exeter of 1665 (that with fewer pipes), was the only double flue in the land. Though W. L. Sumner puts Southwark's as of 1703, it's corrected elsewhere to 1705. And as for its noted counterpart just in the City, the writer feels it wiser never to refer to St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, but the Monument! To alight from the tube there, is better than to be conveyed to London Bridge Station, so to traipse all the way back over the Bridge, unnecessarily!

In the past, England has been accused of being: Das Land ohne Musik! and yes, to a certain extent it was. If we remember that whilst Germany, in 1361 at Halberstadt Cathedral, could boast of an organ with three manual claviers each of twenty two notes and a 12-note one for its Pedal, to include 32ft pitch, and a Hintersacz Mixture of 32-56 ranks, what had England then?

Our natural insularity prompted the first actual pipes for a pedal organ, only an octave of them, materialising in the early 1820s. Mannheim's Court Orchestra, by 1756, had a full complement of strings, woodwind, brass and timpani (Adam Carse). England had to wait until 1858 for its first, founded by a German, Karl Halle, in Manchester. London did not have its first Symphony Orchestra until 1895, for the advent of the Proms! We were, instead, the Land of Singing! The Three Choirs Festival was held probably in 1715, and that to alleviate the poverty of clergy's widows and orphans in the three Sees involved.

Circumstance obtained in the last century to prompt, irrespective of first S. S. Wesley, and then W T Best, including in their respective programmes, an occasional Pedal Fugue by J S Bach (Bach-Werke Verzeichnis BWV was of 1850!) Such that at the 1851 Exhibition, Sir George Smart, Organist of the Chapel Royal, on being asked to play one of the organs there (fourteen were exhibited) replied: "My dear Sir, I have never in my life played on a gridiron" — he'd espied German pedals!

And a new stop was heard for the first time. A Lieblich Gedackt! Initiated by Albert, the Prince Consort, the Exhibition was his brainchild. It was J F Schuize of Paulinzelle, Saxony's instrument (which won a Gold Medal) with, on its Hauptwerk, a Gedackt 8ft and on the Oberwerk, Lieblich Gedackts at 8ft and 16ft — but, never in their life had they heard such wonderful 8ft Principals and 4ft Octaves.

Sir George — uncle of the famous Henry Smart — doubtless spoke for many other elderly organists who would, to the end of their days, not couch the pedals, so were unable to attempt those Pedal Fugues! Thus, that attitude prevailing, it prevented so many playing Bach's organ works, thus jeopardising in those days, any attempt to raise the standard of playing and a general artistic approach to beautiful music.

The advent of the Civic, Town and City Halls, which prompted Hill's enormous organ in Birmingham Town Hall — by 1835 with the first Tuba 8ft, (Yclept Ophicleide), speaking on circa 11 inch to 12 inch wind — took some time to affect our Cathedrals. As late as 1884, Dr Longhurst of Canterbury Cathedral was bemoaning the fact that his instrument had but an octave of pedals and a T.C. Swell!

The founding of the College of Organists in 1864 was a landmark, the only other London musical establishment then being the Royal Academy of Music of 1822.

Harry Coles
Loughton Essex

Obituaries

IT IS WITH regret we report the death of Michael Finden in October last year who, as a past member, was very well known and respected in Kent. At the time of his death he was the organist and Director of Music, Minster Abbey, Sheppey, Kent.

New Members

Sylvia Gawn - Dover
Maureen Norman - Walmer

Future Meetings!
2000

Southwark and Rotherhithe
Coach trip
22nd January

Rusthall and Speldhurst
12th February

Rochester Cathedral
11th March .

Hythe St Leonard
8th April

Southwell Minster
Coach trip
May 6th

Hoath, Chislet
June 17th

A History of Organ Builders by Malcolm Hall

N.P. Mander Ltd

Part 2

FOLLOWING THE WAR, Noel Mander's first workshop was in the area behind King's Cross Station in a former Butcher's Shop in Ossuleton Street. He had four rooms, the shop, the room behind and two rooms in the basement, one of which served as a metal shop. Space was very limited and during Noel's 'scouting around' London he found out that the old school building belonging to St. Peter's, Bethnal Green, would not re-open as a school. After discussion with the Vicar it was agreed that Noel could rent half of the main building (the rest being occupied by Civil Defence). In time the whole building became available to buy — a valuable asset in the heart of London.

From his earliest days, Noel preferred to take on experienced craftsmen rather than unskilled labour, which meant that he had to 'poach' from other firms: a practice chat did nothing to enhance his reputation. Some of his early staff came from Rest Cartwright, Spurden & Rutt, Willis and HN&B, to name but a few. Antagonism bordering on slander occurred several times, particularly from Henry Willis with his position in the Federation of Master Organ Builders. Rumours spread among members of Mander's staff that the Company was in dire financial straits and everyone would be out on the streets within a week or two. Problems also occurred at St. Pancras Parish Church soon after the contract had been awarded to Mander. Henry Willis was known to have gone to the church officers telling them that the Company would go bankrupt halfway through the contract. Henry Willis made several attempts to persuade Noel Mander to join the Federation. On one occasion Willis telephoned Noel on a Sunday afternoon on the pretext of wanting his opinion of a bureau organ and that his wife wanted to meet Mrs. Mander. On arrival at Willis' home in Streatham Hill, it was soon apparent that the real reason for the telephone call was to persuade Noel Mander to join the Federation. At the time there were several companies making, what Henry Willis considered to be unreasonable, demands for wage increases and Willis wanted to gather as much support as he could from major firms. Noel Mander, as one might have expected, told Willis chat he was not joining the Federation now or at any other time! The following Wednesday, Noel Mander was told chat Henry Willis had informed the whole federation, at its meeting, that on the previous Sunday afternoon he had received a telephone call from Mander who was desperate because there was talk of wages rising and was asking whether he could visit him and join the Federation. Willis is also reported to have said that if Mander wanted to join he would have to go through 'the normal channels'.

Some time after the Federation incident Noel went by train to look at a job in Stockport and for some reason after his appointment missed the return train. To kill time he had a look around Manchester Cathedral where Harrison's men were engaged on the organ. During a conversation they asked Noel if he was an organ builder. "Yes, I am", replied Noel. "Who do you work for?" "Manders" replied Noel. "God, he's a bastard, isn't he?" came the reply. Noel did not let on who he was, but several years afterwards, Harrison's men were working closer to home at the Temple Church where an accident resulted in two metal pipes being badly damaged. Harrison's men were terrified of sending them back to Durham so they took them to the Bethnal Green workshops for repair instead. Wally Thacker, one of Mander's staff, told Noel what was required. Noel told his men to carry out repairs while they waited. Some time later, Wally came back because Harrison's men wanted to know what the charge would be. "Tell them", replied Noel, "the old bastard won't charge them anything this time!"

During the 1950s and 60s N. P. Mander produced a wide variety of instruments with much of the early work being on direct electric or electro-pneumatic action. One of Kent's smallest churches, the old St. Alphege at Seasalter (being just the chancel of the original building) contains a small pseudo-classical organ built by Mander in 1957. The instrument has two extended ranks, a tenor C diapason, at 8ft and 4ft pitches, and a flute unit at Tenor C 16ft, and 8ft, 4ft, and 2ft with a 22/3 from tenor G; the keys are in reverse colour and the keyboard slides out as in the style of an 18th century chamber organ. The journey from this little organ in a Kent church to the rebuilding of the organ in St. Paul's Cathedral was a long and varied one, encompassing historic and new instruments alike. St. Michael's Croydon (visited by our association a few years ago) is an example of a rebuild where major changes were made to the choir organ: the addition of a tuba, an enclosed choir section, and the original choir organ partly altered as a positive division, all alternations which — had the firm received the order today —would not have found favour with the Diocesan Organ Adviser.

Noel Mander's tonal schemes remained broadly conservative and some of his earliest rebuilds often contained several actions, as in the case of St. Vedast, Foster Lane — an instrument built in 1962 from bits of a Harris/Byfield organ of 1731. Although much of the 18th century pipework had gone, the original soundboard (a common one with double pallets for great and choir) and the handsome three-towered case with serpentine flats survived. Mander added several unit chests to augment the specification with action trackers made of wood, but the squares, backfalls and levers made of polished Perspex, which Mander had subjected to the most stringent tests to ensure that they would not be distorted by changes in temperature or humidity. Tracker-operated electrical relays controlled the unit chests while the stop action was Electro-pneumatic with a full complement of accessories and adjustable pistons.

In 1970 Mander received the order to rebuild the 'Willis-on-wheels' in St. Paul's Cathedral, which was, as its name suggests, a moveable instrument built by Henry Willis in 1881. That Noel received the order at all was a pure fluke. The Dean and Chapter considered it appropriate to seek a second tender (apart from Willis's) so the architect, John Dykes Bower, was instructed to approach a well-known builder. In due course a letter was sent to the "Harrison's" who appeared in the London telephone Directory as having to do with organs. The letter found its way on to Noel Mander's desk because he had acquired the firm of Thomas Harrison (no Durham connection) which made organ parts. After the successful rebuild of the little Willis it became clear that by 1972 Mander was the obvious choice to take on the rebuilding of the main instrument Many schemes were considered, and in the end dismissed, including locating more of the organ in the Dome galleries and re-instating the screen across the mouth of the Chancel with the organ on top of it. The instrument was eventually completed in 1977 and although Noel was still in charge of the firm during the re-building of the organ at Canterbury Cathedral, St. Paul's is considered by many to be the culmination of his career. It was at Noel's insistence — not that of the organist Christopher Dearnley or the consultant Cecil Glutton — that a west end section be installed to help lead the singing among those most remote from the main instrument and to provide a stunning blaze of colour on the three ranks of Royal Chamade Trumpets.

In 1978, Her Majesty the Queen, made Noel Mander a Member of the Order of the British Empire, the first organ builder to be honoured in this way. He retired five years later in May 1983, shortly after work had begun on the Birmingham Town Hall organ. He had deliberately played no part in the planning of that job, but there were other schemes (Winchester College, Chichester Cathedral, Magdalen College) which had been under discussion for some time. Although they did not come to fruition until after his retirement, Noel made a significant contribution to their evolution; the work being executed under lan Bell and Noel's son, John Pike Mander. The firm of N. P. Mander exists today as a vibrant example of British organ building at its best and — in today's climate with the fashion for importing foreign instruments in many of our large churches and college chapels — we can be justly proud of seeing British name plates on Mander instruments exported to many parts of the world.

Material used in this article kindly supplied and used with permission by
John Pike Mander

Atlantic City Convention Hall

The Midmer-Losh Organ by Ron Downs

"An analysis of the Seven-Manual Console"

WHEN STILL A SCHOOLBOY, over 60 years ago, I wrote to Atlantic City asking for details of this organ — then the largest in the world. I received a booklet describing its construction, but unfortunately there were no pictures or stop details of the seven-manual Console. A friend recently sent me a copy of the stop list of over 1200 stops, together with a photograph of the Console. It would take the whole of this magazine to print the whole list, so I hope the following analysis will be of interest to our readers.

With the complexity of this console I wonder if when playing it, one can find time to worry about such things as phrasing and interpretation of what you are playing. It is an interesting thought that if rebuilt, with a modern solid-state piston action, one could replace all the present pistons with a single sequencer piston. How many hours one would spend before a recital setting it all up, is rather a daunting thought.

The Organ Console

I often wonder if it might have been better to set up a second set of stops and pistons without keyboards, so that the instrument could be played by two people, one playing the notes and the other looking after the registration. Organist number one should also have the swell pedals.

I wonder if they had the playing of Finlandia in mind when it was designed. How would you register those opening chords? The Brass Chorus, the Gallery Bombarde Division, the Fanfare Division, or the Solo Reeds? I reckon you could spend an hour trying different combinations for the first few bars alone. I would think one would need to play it daily for a year, to begin to obtain an idea of its capabilities.

If you study the following synopsis, you will understand what I mean.

The Midmer-Losh Organ

THERE ARE SEVEN MANUALS. Choir, Great, Swell, Solo, Fanfare, Echo and A Bombarde. The Great, Choir and the Pedal are provided with a second touch. The Choir and Great manuals have seven octaves, the Swell six octaves and the rest five octaves. All these divisions have their own pipes, except the Bombarde, which is a Coupler manual for some of the other Divisions. The further Divisions are: a Brass Chorus, three String Divisions and four Gallery Divisions.

The Great Organs

The main one has forty-three stops and is a conventional Diapason based set of Choruses, except for its sheer multiplicity. It starts with a 32 ft Sub Principal three 16 ft Double Diapasons, then ten 8 ft. Open Diapasons, an 8 ft Principal on various wind pressures from 4 inches to 30 inches. There are two flutes and upper-work consisting of a Quint, six 4 ft octaves, a Tierce and a Twelfth, six Fifteenths, a 2ft Super Principal and eight Mixtures, including a 10 rank Grand Cornet There are only three Reeds at 16ft, 8ft and 4ft, but there are masses of reeds elsewhere just waiting to be coupled up.

The Great-Solo Organ

This, I assume, is played from the Great Manual and consists of forty-eight flue stops and twenty-four reeds. Of these, only fifteen of the flues and twelve of the reeds are straight, the rest are extended. The foundation stops are Diapasons (2) flutes, including a Tibia, and Strings. Then there is an enormous amount of upper- work starting with a Quint, a Fifth and a Septieme and ten 4 ft. Stops. Finally there are nineteen Mutation Stops ranging from a Tenth to a Thirty-Sixth. The Reeds are eight voices of the 'Orchestral Solo' type extended to 16ft and 4 ft.

The Grand Great

This division of fifteen stops is extended from the Pedal Organ and is playable over all seven octaves. The stops include Principal, Tibia, Viol, Trombone, Opheclide on 100 inches pressure, and a Clarinet. The ranks are all at either 16ft 8ft or 4 ft pitch. Great 2nd Touch This has four stops of its own, and the ability to couple up six other departments. Great Percussion These are: Chimes, Harp, Xylophone, Drums, Triangles Tambourines, Wood Block, Tom Toms, Chimes and Muffled Drums to Second Touch.

The Swell Organs

The main one has forty stops, twenty-seven flue and thirteen reeds. The Flues are mainly traditional except that nearly every stop is duplicated by a similar one of different scaling. A 'Flute Celeste' is an unusual stop. All the flues are at either 16ft, 8ft, 4ft, or 2ft pitch, except for the three Mixtures. The reeds, at either 16ft 8ft, or 4ft are straight ranks, except for two 4ft extensions. Three unusual stops are a Field Trumpet, a Muted Trumpet and a Flugel Horn.

Swell Percusions These seven stops control a Harp Marimba and a Glockenspiel, at various pitches, with a single stroke or repeat facility.

The Choir Organs

The main one (enclosed section) has thirty-nine stops, thirty flues and nine reeds This is quite traditional, except for the multiplicity of stops. For instance there are four Celeste stops. The upper work is more normal with only a 19th and 33rd above two-foot pitch and two mixtures. The reeds are a mixture of 'Tromba' type and solo voices (Bassett Horn etc.) Only nine of the stops are extended.

The Choir-Swell

This I assume is played from the Choir. It consists of sixty stops, fifty 'flues' and ten 'reeds'. It is similar in construction to the Great Solo in that it has a small foundation set of stops (flutes or strings) with forty-four mutation stops from a third to a thirty-sixth. There are no mixtures. I presume you make your own, but I cannot see how you could arrange any breaks. The reeds are either an 'Oboe Clarinet' or Vox Humana at various pitches.

The Grand Choir

This is a small brother to the Grand great. It also is extended from the Pedal organ. Like its big brother it plays over all seven octaves and has seven flue stops and seven reeds. The flues at 16ft or 8 ft comprise a Diaphone, a Tibia and a Violincello. The reeds at 16ft, 8ft, or 4ft, vary from a Bombard to an Oboe.

The Choir Unenclosed Section This little department of seven stops would probably make a fine Great for most of our Churches. It is a traditional specification of 16ft, 8ft, 4ft and 2ft stops with two mixtures.

The Choir 2nd Touch It has eight stops at 16ft, 8ft, or 4ft pitch and they are all string coned flues.

The Solo Organ

This has thirty-four stops, twenty-one flues and thirteen reeds. The flues are a traditional mixture of Diapason, Flute and String tones, but presumably on a very large scaling, witnessed by some of the names — Stencor Diapason, Tibia Rex and Cello Pomposa. The reeds include such stops as a Tuba Magna and a Tuba Imperial on 100 inches pressure. Imagine two Tubas all drawn ac 16ft, 8ft, and 4ft.

The Fanfare Organ

This mind boggling department has thirty-eight stops, sixteen flues and twenty-eight reeds. The flues consist of large scale Diapasons, flutes and strings, with two extended ranks and three mixtures, including a large scale seven rank mixture on 35inches wind pressure. The reeds include a Tuba, a Tromba an Opheclide, a Pousane and a Bombarde. The mutation includes a Tromba Tierce and Quince, as well as Tromba and Trombone Fifths.

The Echo Organ This has forty-five stops, thirty flues and fifteen reeds. This is mainly flute based with three Flute Celeste stops, plus a mixture of Strings and Diapasons etc. The mutation is mainly extended and ranges from a Tenth to a Twenty-second. Amongst the reeds are two Vox Humanas, one of which starts at 16ft and goes on to 8ft and 4ft. An interesting stop is a Tuba d'Amour, which has wooden barrels throughout.

The Pedal Organs

Right Main Chamber Organ A mere eighty-three stops comprising, fifty-two flues and thirty-one reeds. It starts with a Diaphone Profonda at 64ft and a 64 ft Contra Dulzan in the Reed section. It includes every type of Tone colour. There are thirty-seven mutation stops from a Gross Tierce 12 to a 29ft There are five Double Quints, three Quintes, three 19ths etc. and nearly all are by extension. It even has a reed Mixture.

Left Main Chamber Pedal Organ This has a further sixty-one stops, thirty-nine flues and twenty-two reeds. Only ten of the stops are straight, the rest extended. It appears to be a scaled down version of the right hand section,

Right Hand Gallery Pedal Organ This has twenty stops, fourteen flues and six reeds. Only two stops are straight, the rest are extended from other Gallery Departments. The flues are a mixture of String and Flute Tone and run from 32ft to 4ft. including Flute Quince. The reeds include a Tuba and a Trumpet.

Left Hand Gallery Pedal Organ This unusual arrangement has four 16 ft. and 8 ft. flues together with twelve reeds. The flues are a Diapason, Dulciana (As big as a No. l Diapason on an average organ) a flute and a Melodia. The reeds are Trombas and Trombones at various pitches, including a Quince, Tierce, Twelfth and Seventeenth.

Pedal Percussion There are twenty-two stops controlling Chimes, a Piano, Drums and Cymbals etc. Pedal 2nd Touch twenty-two stops are available, thirteen of which are reeds, including the 64ft one. There are a further eleven stops to percussion.

The three String Organs

No. l This small Division has twelve stops, of which eight are 2-rank Celestes. There are also two 16ft. stops one 4ft stop and one 2-rank 4ft. Celestes.

No.2 This Division has twenty-nine stops and appears to be an enlarged version of the No 1 String Organ. It has four mutation stops which are flutes, plus a String Mixture and a Tromba

No.3 This small Division has eight 8ft Celeste stops plus a Cor Anglais.

String Percussion These three stops enables the Grand Piano to be played at 16ft 8ft and 4ft pitches, with the No.3 String organ.

The four Gallery Organs

No. l This is really the Bombarde Division. It has a powerful Diapason Chorus of five stops plus seven Tuba or Trumpet stops.

No.2 This is a flute Chorus of nine stops ranging from 16ft to 2ft. plus a 3-rank mixture.

No.3 This Division has seven stops and is a Diapason Chorus ranging from 16ft to 2ft plus a 4-rank Mixture.

No.3 Percussion This has three stops allowing the Piano to be played at 16ft ft or 4ft pitch with the No.3 Gallery organ.

No.4 This has ten stops, all 'Solo Type' reeds such as Saxophone, Trumpet etc.

Couplers These are of two types, 'Inter Manual' Couplers and 'Floating Division' Couplers. It is interesting to note, that in spite of all the enormous number of mutation stops, Octave and Sub Octave Couplers abound. The Couplers are as follows. Choir Inter Manual Choir 16 and 4. Great 8, Swell 8 and 4, Solo 8 and 4, Fanfare 8 and Echo 8.

Choir Floating Couplers All String, Gallery and Brass Chorus Divisions.

Great Inter Manual Choir 16, 8, and 4, Swell Ditto, Solo 8 and 4 Fanfare 8 and 4 Echo 16 8 and 4

Great Floating Couplers All String Gallery and Brass Chorus Divisions

Swell Inter Manual Swell 16 and 4, Choir 16 8 and 4, Solo 16 8 and 4, Fanfare 8 and 4, Echo 16 8 and 4.

Swell Floating Couplers All String, Gallery and Brass Chorus Divisions, plus String 16 and 4, String melody 16 and 4, String Separation and String Pizzicato.

Fanfare Inter Manual Choir 16 8 and 4, Great 8, Swell 16 8 and 4, Solo 8 Echo 8.

Fanfare Floating Couples All Gallery Divisions.

Echo Inter Manual Echo 16 and 4, Choir 8, Great 8, Solo 8. Fanfare 8.

Echo Floating Divisions All String and Gallery Divisions.

Melody Stops or Couplers The Top note only speaks with the Melody Stop drawn.

Pistons There are about two hundred Pistons including thirty-six generals.

Swell Boxes There are fifteen of them, controlled by six pedals and any 'Box' can be coupled to any Pedal.

Blowers There are two 40 horse power blowers and one 50 horse power blower for the 100 inch pressure stops.

The Second Portable Console This has five Manuals and 652 stops. All the ranks can be played from this Console, but the Extension is much less.

The Relays These are of the large 'Electro Magnet' type and are situated in a room inside one of the wind chests and can be regulated while the organ is playing.

The Present Position I understand that it is now in a bad state of 'disrepair' and large sections of it are no longer playable. It is therefore no longer considered to be the largest organ in the world. The cost of repairing it must be astronomical and I have not heard of any plans to restore it.

For up o date information click here

Gordon Chapman a short profile

FOR THOSE WHOSE penchant is politics, 1924 was an historic year. January of that year brought Ramsey Macdonald to the House of Commons as Prime Minister, heading the very first Labour Government to hold office, although this was, of course, a coalition with Liberal support. Sadly, the coalition ended in total disarray within a few months, and by October that year, Stanley Baldwin was returned as Prime Minister with an overwhelming majority. The Liberal representation in the Commons was reduced to just forty seats, a situation which remains, not unchanged it seems, to this day.

It was then, on the 5th January 1925 with a Conservative Government at Westminster, that Gordon Chapman was born. He was born at the small town of Ossett, ten miles from Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. This, was a town, whose industry was based on wool, although much of this was the processing of 'shoddy', the reclamation of wool from previously used materials. Ossett was a town of back to back houses which opened onto cold damp cobbled streets. Fortunately, Gordon's father was the Head Master of the Grammar School and Gordon was brought up, with two older brothers, living at the Headmasters House. Unfortunately, Gordon suffered from poor health in his early childhood and spent much time sleeping in a wooden hut in the garden to obtain as much fresh air as possible. Gordon did not, in fact, start full-time schooling until he was twelve years old, being taught by his parents at home till then.

 

Gordon Chapman

His mother was a singer and musician, which provided a balance with his very academic father. Gordon cannot remember a time when he was not fascinated by the organ. In the Methodist Chapel they attended, there was a three-manual Wood & Wordsworth in the gallery behind the pulpit, which Gordon can remember in the smallest detail, even now. Eventually Gordon had organ lessons at the Parish Church of Ossett where, surprisingly, the organist still continued to teach from Stainer's Primer in which the great God 'Legato* still reigned. He now confesses he was not the best of pupils, preferring to wallow in sea of noise, to the pursuit of accuracy.

Opportunities for hearing professional concerts at the time were few and generally entailed visiting nearby Leeds — having saved up a shilling for the bus fare — and where Bairstow conducted the wonderful Choral Society. Leeds Parish Church had recently acquired the brilliant and aristocratic Melville Cook and Gordon was completely bowled over by the sound of the organ. They used to sing the St. Matthew Passion with orchestra every Holy Week, a revelation to a young teenager.

Gordon's first church appointment was at the age of fourteen at the local Baptist Church. At seventeen he gained an organ scholarship at Queens College, Cambridge where he occupied Stanford's old rooms and studied engineering rather half-heartedly. He had been examined by Hubert Middleton, organist of Trinity College, a white-haired and formidable figure who sat on a chair at the side of the organ bench, with his head under the keyboard, firing off some very searching questions. Gordon later discovered that he was most encouraging to young musicians and has regretted ever since he did not take more opportunity to avail himself of such an august presence.

However, he got to know Herbert Howells quite well by turning-over for him in the organ loft at St. John's. In those days John's did not have the same eminence as King's, but they sang full Choral Matins and Evensong every Sunday. Dr. Howells always improvised his voluntaries — Gordon says he doesn't recall ever seeing any organ music in the organ loft — and tended to be slightly deprecatory about his organ playing, but that was in comparison with Cunningham and Thalben-Ball. However, Howells did confess, like R. V. Williams, to taking his FRCO by examination. Gordon admits it was a wonderful experience and privilege to have spent so much time with him.

King's Cambridge was at this time being looked after by Harold Darke. Boris Ord — who was rather a fearsome figure in those days — would appear in the organ loft at King's from time to time in RAF uniform. Gordon remembers standing huddled in a corner of the organ loft, as quiet as a church mouse, when he played the Franck A minor Choral after Evensong. His most vivid memory is of the way he scampered lightningly down the Swell and Great pistons with alternate thumbs to produce a breathtaking diminuendo after the big central climax.

Time, and the war years, brought an end to these heady experiences. Gordon's Joint Recruiting Board, chaired by C. P. Snow, considered his childhood illness rendered him unfit for military service on the risible grounds that he would be unable to salute properly, so they dispatched him to assist the Nation's Coal industry, which did make some use of his degree in engineering. Finding himself in Sheffield he was able to benefit from the marvellous example of Dr. Trustin Baker at the Cathedral. He had succeeded Dr. Howells as Sir Herbert Brewer's articled assistant at Gloucester and was a peerless player and a wonderful encouragement.

At last, Gordon escaped from the stranglehold of the 'Ministry of Fuel and Power' and was able to start a civil engineering career in earnest by becoming, what used to be termed, an Assistant under Agreement. This eventually led to Charted status, although at the expense of being very economically employed by the firm making the agreement. This was in 1947 and, as he was now employed by a major contractor working in London, he was able to continue his organ studies with Dr. A. J. Pritchard, a professor at the Royal Academy of Music and ex-articled assistant to Brewer at Gloucester. Gordon took his ARCO, which he received from W. H. Harris, organist of St. George's, Windsor.

Shortly after this he took up an appointment at a Presbyterian church in North London, which proved highly significant, as among the young ladies in the choir was one who was destined to spend more time in draughty organ lofts than she could possibly imagine. Pat and Gordon married in 1953 and have three children, two girls and a boy.

Civil engineering was in those days a somewhat peripatetic profession, not good for anyone crying to bring up a family. There were construction projects in Leeds, Gloucester, Anglesey, Norwich, London and Derby. In Derby Gordon had lessons with George Heath-Grace at the Cathedral, a most vital and stimulating man and a genius with choirboys. Together with his wife Marjorie they were a continuing stimulus for many years when Pat and Gordon were their guests in Devon where they retired.

The nomadic life of a seven-day week large construction works began to pall when the family started arriving and Pat and Gordon moved off to, what was hoped would be, a quieter and more modest life in Scotland. This was as an engineer to the Forestry Commission, building roads. They lived at Perth and Gordon was appointed to St. John's Episcopal Church, here he had a roguish Irish rector, a titled congregation and a large three-manual Binns. The Scots valuing their organists more highly than in England, 1959 was a most happy time. He played for the Choral Society and even gave one of the opening recitals on the rebuilt City Hall Willis.

A move to Glasgow found him at the Landsdowne Church on Kelvin Bridge with some professional singers and a large Norman & Beard in the west gallery, complete with 32ft and tubas. Gordon also helped out at St. Mary's Cathedral next door, where the Harrison organ had the most thunderous 32ft Bombarde imaginable. 1963 saw an end to this sojourn in Scotland, Pat had secretly completed a job application on Gordon's behalf and had obtained an interview — in Kent, she was always a southern girl.

Here they have stayed. Gordon played at St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury for a while, but it was too much to combine with the construction industry while his profession and family filled the picture. In 1982 the unfortunate and almost simultaneous deaths of the two directors of F.H. Browne & Sons, the Canterbury organ builders, gave rise to Gordon's association with the firm, which continued for almost ten years. During this time, together with the existing team, he was able to re-establish the company at Ash and rejuvenate its activities. Throughout this period he also operated a small civil engineering concern in the relatively little known field of soil stabilisation for road construction.

1986 brought a vacancy at Minster-in-Thanet and, as the organ was scheduled for a possible rebuild and was a splendid instrument in a magnificent church, there was an opportunity to stretch his legs on the pedalboard once again. These days Gordon is only the assistant, but this has been an association of much pleasure and reward. 1992 brought retirement from Brown's and the engineering company closed in 1994.

Gordon is well known to our Association members, joining us in 1963 when he arrived in Kent from Scotland. He has been our President and has served on our committee many times. He is a man whose proud Yorkshire roots — warmed by Queen's College, Scotland and, of course, Kent — speak with a gracious unhurried charm and 'twinkling eyed' enthusiasm, with which has beguiled us over so many years. Our Association is, undoubtedly greatly indebted to him.

Front Cover by Gary Tollerfield

IT WILL be no surprise that the cover for this issue shows the magnificent organ case in St Salvator's Kathedrale in Brugge which we visited in October 1999.

This proved to be a difficult organ to photograph due to the very dark wood of the case, and also on account of the high contrast in light levels between the darker lower arcade and triforium levels of the building and the light streaming in through the clerestory windows. Sadly the print on the cover of the July 1999 Journal was printed rather dark, and the "life" in the original print was lost. I hope on this occasion, that the front cover print will retain the appearance of the case as I visualised it, with high contrast between the pipework and casework.

In 1719 a two-manual organ was built for the Kathedrale. In 1935, following earlier alterations, a reconstruction and enlargement of the organ was undertaken by Klais, but retaining the original casework. From the photograph, it can be seen that the upper part of the case is the original "Great" and below it the original "Chair" case (behind the player). If you block out the 16ft Pedal Towers installed by Klais in the 1935 rebuild and mentally lower the "Great", you have before you the original organ case of 1719, decorated with angels, cherubs and carving. What an exciting spectacle it is.

The Klais Pedal Towers change the scale and proportions of the original case and create a solidity which is impressive, though the blind panelling below the original "Great" impost level tends to separate the components of the case rather than bind them as a whole.

As with all classical cases, the pipe mouths run contrary motion to the pipe shades and the pipe scales generally look right, apart from those in the upper central tower. I suspect all of the front pipes speak, except perhaps for chose referred to in the upper central tower and chose forming the upper four flats.

If big enough, the West wall (with no West window,) is a wonderful place to put an organ. Here, as so often the case in Holland, the effect is spectacular.

 

 

Front cover photograph Gary Tollerfield


"THE KENT COUNTY ORGANISTS' ASSOCIATION welcomes new members with an
interest in the organ and its music. Also those who enjoy visiting churches
with an appreciation of architecture and heritage. Membership of the Association
is not based on the ability to play; we welcome equally those who enjoy
listening, as well as those who enjoy playing".