Kent County Organists’ Association
February 2013 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
A Day in Bromley
A short profile - David Hughes
An amusing little Diapason
Haberdashers' Walcker Organ
I.A.O Congress 2012
KCOA Organ Festival 2012
Martyn Noble's Festival Recital
Notes from the Netherlands
Organ Recital, All Saints, Ulcombe
IT HAS BECOME the accepted convention, in voluntary group publications, to open with a paean of praise to the hard work and dedication of its members which, if examined more closely, is often no more than a fictional embroidery purveyed to maintain morale: our Kent County Organists’ Association has no need for such subterfuge, the enthusiasm of our committee and the evidence of our meetings speaks for itself. Held on 6th October 2012, at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone, our seventh Organ Festival is just one example of success and was undoubtedly the highlight of last autumn, with nine enthusiastic young candidates ensuring all sections were fully represented. Much of this achievement must be credited to our new Festival Committee Chairman, Rob Miller, who has worked tenaciously bringing in prospective candidates and making new contacts for future Festivals. Of course, a successful Festival is a combined effort and we express our gratitude to President, Richard Knight, Deputy President, Brian Moore, and our Patron and adjudicator, Margaret Phillips, not forgetting All Saints’ Church, who have graciously accommodated us each year. A full report, with pictures, features in this Journal, including the dazzling concluding recital by Martyn Noble, last year’s finalist.
Deputy President, Andrew Cesana, organised our day in Bromley which revealed much of interest, as well as an outstanding short recital by James Orford, Organ Scholar at St Mark’s Church, South Bromley. Our front cover picture features the William Hill organ at St Mary’s Church, Bromley, its case design and decoration providing some intriguing detective work for Gary Tollerfield. We have two articles by Nigel Durrant, ‘our foreign correspondent’, reporting on last year’s IAO Congress and the unfortunate demise of a number of organs in The Netherlands; it seems the fate of many continental churches woefully reflects our own. Nevertheless, we particularly thank Nigel for his pieces as his health has been far from good recently, and our thoughts are with him, trusting his impending operation will be fully successful. German organs rarely feature in our Journal and our Deputy President, Colin Jilks, an experienced old codger of the organ building world, found dismantling and rebuilding a 1965 2-manual and pedal E F Walcker German tracker organ a new experience. It had become redundant at The Emmaus Centre, West Wickham, Kent, owing to redevelopment of the chapel and was subsequently purchased by The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Elstree, Hertfordshire, and installed at their Seldon Concert Hall last August.
As well as our usual reports and articles we have a new contributor to the Journal, a member who writes incognito under the pen-name ‘Janus’ (the Roman god of doorways, with one face looking back and one looking forward). He shares his observations on our Journal reports and the organs we visit, with descriptions apparently rarely found in other organ magazines.
We regret to report the death of Gordon Chapman on the 26 December in Laon, France, where he had been living since 2004; he was our President 1984-5 and a full tribute will be published in our August Journal. Nevertheless, we still have much to look forward to this year with our visits including a coach outing to Peterborough scheduled for May. As well as a diversity of fine organs, we will have the opportunity to enjoy architecture, heritage and much like-minded conversation I good company.
FOR NEARLY forty years, until 1986 our Association's Presidential term of office had been one year. However, at the suggestion of Dr Robert Ashfield, it was decided to adopt a two year term, allowing more time for a President to complete projects they may have initiated. Dr Ashfield, President at the time, therefore continued for a second year, serving his inaugural two year term from 1985-1987.
Although this proved successful, the Association’s annual President’s Dinner had now become biannual, leaving an empty alternate September to be filled. The President’s Buffet Supper, a less formal gathering, was the answer, which our President, Richard Knight, on starting his second year, arranged for us last September 2012. It was held at Allington, near Maidstone in the spacious and convenient St Nicholas Church Hall. There are no formal speeches or toasts, leaving the forty four members and guests to enjoy a three course buffet meal. Most tastes were catered for, with soup, then a choice of salmon or cold meats, accompanied by pasta or potato salads. Sweets included meringue with strawberry topping and cheese cake varieties, with coffee and chocolates completing the meal. Quality was only sur- passed by quantity, with plenteous second helpings for those with the capacity to enjoy them.
Nine month old Eleanor Photo Colin Jilks
Entertainment was a feature of the evening with a participating table contest, each table contributing their combined knowledge to answer questions as diverse as ancient history, twentieth century politics and a host of general knowledge questions. Following our meal, to complete the competition, a series of organ slides were shown by Chris Clemence, teasing us with naming their locations and builders. Our customary raffle was also drawn, with prizes donated by the committee, raising worthy funds for the Association.
We must particularly thank Richard Knight who, assisted by his wife Ann, had arranged the evening for us. The age range of members and guests seems to broaden every year, the youngest guest this year being only nine months old. Young Eleanor, daughter of Ian Payne and his wife Andrea, from Sittingbourne, was fascinated by our activities, ensuring an entertaining and enjoyable evening for us all.
KCOA Organ Festival 2012
All Saints' Church, Maidstone
OUR SEVENTH Annual Organ Festival was held on 6th October 2012 at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone, Kent, an imposing collegiate church founded in 1395 by William Courtenay, Archbishop of Canterbury. This fine English medieval building is pure Perpendicular in style having a remark- able unity and grandeur with, reputedly, the widest nave in England. The organ is a generous 3-manual and pedal instrument of 65 stops, which has evolved from an 1880 T C Lewis. The console is on a moveable platform with a digital transmission system and extensive playing aids; it had been wheeled to the centre of the nave in front of the chancel steps in readiness for the occasion, allowing an uninterrupted view of our Festival organists.
Previous Festivals have been adjudicated by Dr David Flood, Canterbury Cathedral’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, who also sets the syllabus; unfortunately, on this occasion, having arranged the syllabus, he was unable to adjudicate owing to a late clash of dates. However, we were pleased to welcome our Festival Patron, Margaret Phillips, Professor of Organ, Royal College of Music, London, to adjudicate this year. In addition, Martyn Noble, last years’ finalist, returned to give the closing ‘Festival’ recital.
The Festival is arranged in five categories: ELEMENTARY; INTERMEDIATE; ADVANCED; and two Open Classes, JUNIOR AND SENIOR. With nine enthusiastic candidates, each section was fully represented and the afternoon opened with our President, Richard Knight, welcoming Margaret Phillips, our candidates and members.
The ELEMENTARY section was contested by three candidates: Tim Protheroe, Matthew Nicholls and Philip Marshall.
TIM PROTHEROE, aged 14, is from Maidstone and has lessons with Peter Richards, All Saints’ Maidstone's Organist and Master of the Choristers. He sings in the choir as well as playing the violin and banjo. He started with Puer natus in Bethlehem Bux WV 217 by Buxtehude giving a confident, if careful, performance, followed by Rawsthorne’s Flourish for an Occasion with a daring solo tuba set against a Great organ chorus.
MATTHEW NICHOLLS, also aged 14 years, attends Ashford School where he is taking a Music Scholarship, studying with Janet Hughes. Matthew chose to open with Guilmant’s Duo Pastoral which was musically phrased, demonstrating good use of registration, then Rawsthorne’s Flourish for an Occasion in which he brought out the grandeur of the music if with a little hesitancy caused by nerves.
PHILIP MARSHALL, aged 15 years, started tuition with Peter Collins but is now taught by Alistair Curtis and has recently passed his grade 3 with merit. Philip opened with Philip Moore’s Prelude from Three Pieces for Withycombe, lending musicality to its long phrases; then Guilmant’s Duo Pastoral with a beguiling opening, but slightly marred by nerves and wrong notes. However, all three ELEMENTARY section competitors had performed bravely in front of a large audience and an esteemed adjudicator and must be congratulated; they required further patience, however, as the results were to be declared at the end of the competition.
The nine candidates with
Festival adjudicator and Patron Margaret Phillips
Photo: Colin Jilk
The INTERMEDIATE section had two competitors: Eleanor Carter and Lucy Morrell. ELEANOR CARTER is 14 years old and was returning to our Festival for a second year. She attends Tormead School, Guildford as a Music Scholar, where she also plays the cello and piano, and has lessons with Katherine Dienes-Williams at Guildford Cathedral. Eleanor started with Parry’s Rockingham: No. 2 from Seven Chorale Preludes Set 1 with flowing sustained phrasing, a confident technique, and her ‘toes only’ slightly detached pedaling. She continued with Bach’s Giant Fugue in D minor BWV 580 using a telling Great chorus, the music unfolding in a beautifully unhurried progression, although some pedal phrases were just slightly rushed; in all, an excellent performance.
LUCY MORRELL, aged 15 years, is a pupil at Tonbridge Grammar School. She is studying for her Grade 8 in both piano and violin. She started the organ only two years ago, but has recently gained her Grade 5 with distinction. Lucy also chose Bach’s Giant Fugue in D minor BWV 580 with a firm start using a well-chosen registration, but with some nervous errors creeping in; her pedaling (in stocking feet) was well controlled. Her second piece was Fanfare by Mathias with a confident start bringing out the grandeur of the music using the Great and chorus reeds with a final flourish on the Tuba.
The ADVANCED section attracted four competitors: Luke Navin, Anthony Daly, Daniel Marx and Laurence Long.
LUKE NAVIN aged 17 years is organ scholar at Worth School, Sussex where he is studying for his A levels. He has been playing the organ since the age of ten and enjoys accompanying the school choir at Mass and playing at local churches in and around Tunbridge Wells. First to play, he started with Bach’s Fugue in A minor BWV 543 using a colourful Great chorus at a compelling tempo with rhythm, phrasing and confident pedalling. There were some errors and he wisely resisted any further speeding up; perhaps a more considered initial pace would have allowed the music to breathe a little more. His second piece was Hymne d’ac- tion de grâce, Te Deum by Langlais giving a confident and exciting performance with dramatic use of organ registration,if with a few pedal slips.
DANIEL MARX, who is 18 years old, has been studying the organ for six years and having finished his studies at Westminster School is now reading physics at Imperial College, London. Daniel has been studying with Daniel Moult and Simon Williams and plays at St Jude’s, Hampstead Garden Suburb. His Bach was Fugue in C major BWV 545 with an excitingly musical opening at a controlled tempo with good registration, the phrasing just occasionally interrupted on tricky corners, but enjoyably played. His Langlais Te Deum was very opulent and musical especially in linking the manual sections with good use of the organ and an exciting finish.
Lucy Morrell Margaret Phillips and Anthony
Laurence Long, Margaret Phillips and
ANTHONY DALY aged 16 years has been studying at Junior Trinity, the Saturday school of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance for six years. He often performs at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Greenwich, as well as at his school, Eltham College. Anthony’s chosen Bach fugue was also Fugue in C major BWV 545. A telling Great chorus at a controlled speed with good phrasing allowed the music space to reveal the inner parts. His Langlais Te Deum was well controlled if lacking grandeur.
LAURENCE LONG is aged 17 years and has been studying with Roger Sayer at Rochester Cathedral since 2007, achieving Grade 8 with distinction during the spring of 2012. He is Organ Scholar and Music Scholar at King’s School, Rochester; he also plays the violin and piano. Laurence’s chosen Bach was Fugue in G major BWV 541 with colourful registration, a compelling unrushed tempo and well defined pedalling using a clear, if prominent, 8ft pedal reed. His Langlais was well assured in its opening phrases building anticipation and excitement bringing the piece to life.
THE JUNIOR OPEN SECTION had three competitors: Lucy Morrell, Tim Protheroe and Matthew Nicholls. This section requires the candidate to select and present a piece of music at grade 3 - 5 played using only the softer stops of the organ. They must also play two verses of a congregational hymn of choice.
LUCY MORRELL selected Lamento by Guilmant played with beautifully flowing phrasing and a telling Swell Oboe. Her hymn was All people that on earth do dwell set at a good congregational speed; her second verse played with the melody in the tenor register.
MATT H EW NICHOLLS selected Ich ruf’ zu dir, Her Jesu Christ (Little Organ Book) by Bach and his hymn was Forty days and forty nights. His Bach Chorale Prelude used a singing Swell reed balanced against a Great flute, wit h delightful phrasing and clean pedalling. His hymn used good congregational registration, if a touched rushed.
T I M PROTHEROE played Vesper Voluntaries No. 3 by Elgar and his hymn was Drop, drop slow tears. His Elgar used some well-chosen flutes and strings although the gently flowing rhythms were slightly rushed in places. His hymn was at a good speed using a sympathetic registration.
Daniel Marx, Margaret Phillips, Tim Protheroe
and Eleanor Carter
Photo: Colin Jilks
The SENIOR OPEN SECT I O N requires the candidate to select and play a piece at grade 6 standard, again using only the softer stops of the organ. The hymn is chosen on the day to be played at sight, and then continued in an improvisation as if an imaginary collection is still being taken.
LAURENCE LONG was the only candidate in this section. He played a piece by Darke, No. v111 from A Little Organ Book in Memory of Hubert Parry, which was captivatingly played, the music evolving and opening like the petals of a flower. The hymn chosen for him was Be Thou my Vision to the tune Slane, which he suitably played for a congregation, followed by his improvisation using the chord structure and harmonic progression of the tune, which evolved with an impressive grandeur, swelling to an inspiring and uplifting finish.
Martyn Noble at the All Saints' console
Photo: Colin Jilks
While tea was being prepared the results were announced and prizes presented, together with helpful and detailed appraisal by Margaret Phillips. T he winners were: ELEMENTARY SECTION, Tim Protheroe: INTERMEDIATE SECTION, Eleanor Carter: ADVANCED SECTION, Daniel Marx. JUNIOR OPEN, Matthew Nicholls: SENIOR OPEN, Laurence Long.
Awards were also presented to the most promising INTERMEDIATE and ADVANCED candidates. These were Lucy Morrell, INTERMEDIATE, and Anthony Daly, ADVANCED.
The standard of playing by all these young musicians had been very high and in presenting t he prizes Margaret Phillips was fulsome in her praise, expressing her wish that they continue their studies and return again next year. The prizes included further lessons for the ELEMENTARY winner, an Evensong Prelude or Postlude at Canterbury Cathedral for the INTERMEDIATE , and cash prizes in the OPEN sections; the ADVANCED section Festival winner, Daniel Marx, received £20 0 plus a recital in Canterbury Cathedral.
ALLOWING time to relax and meet the candidates a sumptuous tea was served by All Saints’ helpers before Martyn Noble’s Festival Recital. Martyn was the finalist of our 2011 Festival and has been playing the organ since the age of fourteen. He has been Organ Scholar at Liverpool Cathedral and is now Organ Scholar at Southwark Cathedral, London. He is in his second year at the Royal College of Music.
President Richard Knight with Martyn Noble
Photo: Colin Jilks
His recital was wide ranging, opening with Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in G major B W V 550, followed by two chorale preludes: Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’ B W V 662 and Nan danket alle Gott B W V 657. Then Mendelssohn’s Sonata No. 1 in F minor, its singing melodies in complete contrast to the following Finale from ‘Fiesta!’ by Iain Farrington, which allowed Martyn to give a sparkling display of atonal virtuosity. He
concluded his recital with two French pieces: Clair de Lune from ‘Pièces de Fantasie’ by Vierne and Tu Es Petra by Mulet. Martyn’s playing has significantly matured during the past year, demonstrated in his assured mastery of this diverse programme. We enjoyed his excitingly fluid and musical Bach, richly singing Mendelssohn, Vierne’s hauntingly evocative melodies and a concluding manifestation of dazzling brilliance in Mulet’s Tu Es Petra. His recital performance, with its sparkling effervescence and wit, conveyed with joie de vivre and charm, will ensure a successful and much deserved playing career ahead.
BROMLEY may be blessed with a plethora of fine churches, but none, alas, feature in Simon Jenkins’ England’s Thousand Best Churches; even John Betjeman has disparagingly described Bromley as a rather “lonely, high-class suburb”. Nevertheless, on 10 November we visited four ecclesiastical establishments of some merit, together with their equally interesting organs.
These were: St John the Evangelist with a Henry Jones & Sons organ; Trinity Presbyterian UR Church, a Harrison & Harrison; St Mary’s, Plaistow Green, a W illiam Hill & Sons; and St Mark’s Church, South Bromley, a J W Hunter of Clapham.
Our day began at St John t he Evangelist where we were welcomed by Richard Pay, the Deputy Organist. The organ, originally built by Henry Jones & Sons in 1882, was rebuilt in 1963 by A Noterman with electric action, a new detached console, and the Great open diapason 11 and trumpet repositioned above the Swell. The specification is now: Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 22/3 2 111 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 111 16 8 8 Tremulant; Choir Organ, 8 8 8 4 2 8 8 Tremulant; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 8 8 4 16 16 8, with usual couplers. Deputy President, Andrew Cesana, who had arranged the day for us, played Elgar’s Nimrod and an improvisation on O God our help in ages past. Lionel Marchant, Deputy Organist and Choirmaster at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone, spoke about his time at the church as a choirboy and t hen as Organist and Choirmaster 1959-1972, when he was involved with the 1963 rebuild. Demonstrating the organ he played Karg-Elert’s Nun Danket A lle Gott. The organ has a solid Victorian tonality with clean diapasons, warm flutes and atmospheric strings, although the choir strings are strangely voiced with its Vox Angelica barely audible. Nevertheless, t his is still tonally a recognisable Henry Jones organ, now enhanced with some effective 20th century additions.
Bromley, St. John the Evangelist, Henry Jones & Sons 1882
Photo: Colin Jilks
Just a few hundred yards from St John’s is Trinity Presbyterian UR Church with its fine red brick exterior and steeple. The interior is warm and inviting with an impressive East End rose window and a 1915 Harrison & Harrison organ housed in an enclosing wooden case on the North side of the chancel; although there are relatively few front pipes, the organ’s tonal egress seems little restricted. W e were met by Bryn Thomas who is t he Interim Moderator of the church: owing to unforeseen circumstances the organist, Stuart Kelly, was unable to be with us. However, Mr Thomas gave an interesting description of the organ and a short demonstration, admirably revealing the different sections of the instrument.
Bromley Trinity Presbyterian 1915 Harrison
Photo: Colin Jilks
Apart from the Great mixture, it appears to be a tonally untouched Harrison & Harrison displaying a generously rich Harrison sound with warm full diapasons, vibrant reeds and telling strings. The Great diapason chorus is beautifully balanced right through to its 2ft Super Octave, until the mixture, which has been changed in recent years (for more brightness) making it stand apart from the chorus; even the addition of the Great Tromba fails to quite cover the stridency of this alien tonality.
T he organ’s specification is: Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 22/3 2 111 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 111 16 8 8 Tremulant; Choir Organ (enclosed), 8 8 8 4 8 8 Tremulant; Pedal Organ 32 16 16 8 8 4 16 16, with usual couplers. Interestingly, our Deputy President, Colin Jilks, was responsible for the tuning and maintenance of this organ during the late 1960s whilst working for Rushworth & Dreaper and remembers the notable Barrington Pearce who was organist from 1954 to 200 0. Members queued to play this enjoyable organ before we broke for lunch in Bromley and our two after- noon organs.
St Mary’s Church, Plaistow Green, is just to the North of Bromley and is a fine Victorian church with an attractively decorated chancel, its rich colour and design echoed in the William Hill organ case pipe decoration which features on our cover. We were welcomed by the organist Anne Clements who spoke of the organ’s history and development. Excessive heating in the past had caused particular problems, although with a more sensible heating regime the instrument has returned to good working order. The organ was built in 1881 as a two manual and pedal instrument, but enlarged by Hill to three manuals in 1892. Pevsner records that in 1890 the chancel and organ case were painted in a 15c Flemish Style; it’s quite possible the conical fronts were added in front of the original diapason case fronts at this time, which had remained unpainted plain metal until then. Rushworth & Dreaper rebuilt the organ in 1952 adding a new detached console, and a further restoration was carried out by F H Browne in 1993. Its specification is; Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 111 8 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 2 11 16 8 8; Choir Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 8 8; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 16 8 8 8 4 16 16 8 with usual couplers. Anne Clements played a few short demonstration extracts from a Chorale Prelude and a B minor Prelude by Bach and Karg-Elert’s Nun Danket Alle Gott. Her choice of music displayed the versatility of the Hill organ with its singing diapasons, warm flutes and gentle mutations. This was apparently the first time Anne had played before an Organ Association and was perhaps a little nervous. Nevertheless, her playing was flowing, accurate and enjoyable and we were left hoping for more.
Bromley St. Mary's Church William Hill &
Photo: Colin Jilks
Again many members wanted to play and although most improvised, Alistair Curtis played Ciacona in E minor Bux W V 160 by Buxtehude, William Hill’s flutes and mutations delivering some creditable baroque sounds as Alistair brought the piece to life with its flowing, lilting cadences.
Our last church was St Mark’s, Westmoreland Road, Bromley South. H ere we were welcomed by James Orford, Organ Scholar at St Mark’s, deputising for t he Organist, John Eagles, who was away. James gave a lucid and enlightening description of the organ before playing a short recital to demonstrate the abilities of the instrument.
The organ is by J W Hunter of Clapham built in 1909. I t was badly damaged during an air raid in 1941 and was consequently dismantled and carefully stored until a full restoration by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1954, with a new detached console set on the South side of the chancel opposite the organ. Further work was carried out by Harrison & Harrison in 1971, and Martin Cross added a new electric action and piston system in 1997. Its specification is: Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 11/3 111 16 8 8 Tremulant; Choir Organ (enclosed) 8 8 8 4 2 11/3 8 8 Tremulant; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 16 8 8 4 16 16 with usual couplers.
St. Mark's Westmorland Road, Bromley, J. W.
Photo: Colin Jilks
James played four pieces for us: Fugue on the Magnificat BWV 733 by Bach; Chorale Prelude on “St Gertrude” (Onward, Christian Soldiers), one of James’ own compositions; Adagio in E by Bridge; and Tombeau de Titelouze “placare Christus Servus” by Dupré. James’ Bach was immaculately played at a beautifully cont rolled pace with engaging musical expression, allowing the Edwardian Hunter voicing to deliver an enjoyable, if muscular, Bach. James’ own Choral Prelude used a singing Great mutation melody set against a flowing semiquaver Swell organ accompaniment, again exquisitely played. H is Adagio in E by Bridge used the full resources of the organ, from its opening, with captivatingly sensuous strings, building to a rich exciting full organ climax before leading to a subtle beguiling conclusion; a piece particularly suited to the tonalities of this organ. However, these full rich English timbres were perhaps not quite best suited to the concluding Dupré, although James’ performance was exciting and bold enough to make even a Frenchman’s knees tremble.
Remarkably, James is only 16 years old, a sixth form pupil at Dulwich College, studying the organ with Christian Wilson, Organist of St Paul's Church Knightsbridge. His playing has a control and maturity quite beyond his years and his performance was the highlight of our visit to Bromley. In thanking James for his playing our President, Richard Knight, invited him to consider entering our 2013 Organ Festival where his playing would undoubtedly leave him well placed.
Following the recital a generous tea awaited us in the adjoining church room and the fine Hunter organ was made available for members to explore, many endeavouring to discover its enigmatic secrets and the magic young James’ performance had revealed.
by Nigel C. B. Durrant
HAVING T O ACCEPT t hat I should unexpectedly be in hospital for a couple of weeks I reconciled myself to doing little else than lazily think beautiful thoughts and recall happy memories, betwixt times looking forward to a fast-approaching visit to Northern Germany to play ‘antient’ music on antique organs; and generally looking forward to other such, as yet unplanned, titbits for the future. But my couple of weeks turned into ten months on my back and in a wheelchair, the iniquitous daily round of interruptions, throughout fast and furious, and in fluent Babyspeak: “Did we remember our exercises this morning?”; “Have we done our number two’s today?”; “Now, mijnheer Durrant, we’re not going to be reading all night with the light on, are we?” – and, unbelievably, things got worse when I had to re-learn to walk in a convalescent facility founded by Attila the Hun. But life went on and while I was being daily taunted by my own private miseries the more objective reality in the world outside seemed to be even more appalling.
Take now the (Catholic) church in The Netherlands. Fading faith has for some years fuelled controversy around t he feasibility of keeping certain churches open, or of leaving them still standing; angry correspondence by regular churchgoers, who consider themselves the dupe, has spiced the columns of local and national newspapers for some months. In the diocese where I have spent the greater part of my life things came to a head when, in 2011, an Episcopal announcement that the number of parishes in the diocese was to be brought back from 230 to 50 caused the inevitable storm of protest. Half of the 19 churches in my own town are almost certainly to be closed before 2015, the faithful to be divided between two ‘new’ parishes that have (already) replaced the eleven that already existed. (As organist to a religious order I am in a privileged position where this is concerned as the Augustinian church does not fall under the diocese.)
Whenever a church closes, the statues, crucifixes, chalices, paintings and vestments that were part and parcel of regular Sunday ritual suddenly lose their liturgical function. Yet t he Roman Catholic Church is a world church and some of our Dutch ecclesiastical works of art have already found their way to other countries (where Catholicism is in the ascendant). Whereas statues, liturgical hangings and vestments can be given new life in almost any part of the world, resiting an organ in a changed climatic environment is both costly and beset with unique difficulties. Even when this can be achieved successfully the question of tuning and maintenance may prove to be a final stumbling-block. Finding a new home for a redundant organ involves factors that are not obvious to the generality of churchgoers. A trombonist, say, can take his instrument to play Gabrieli in St. Mark’s, Venice, Shostakovich in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw or Christmas carols outside Selfridges and the actual sounds that emerge from his instrument will be the same. And if his orchestra should be disbanded (for that is a feature of the current cultural régime in The Netherlands) he can relatively simply pick up his toeter and play somewhere else. But an organ is generally an integral part of the building in which it is played. I t is true that a ‘good’ organ in rare instances may replace an indifferent instrument – of which there are many! – in one of the remaining church buildings but a ‘Catholic’ organ is seldom at home in a reformed context and an organ that has been designed and voiced for, and lived in, a specific location for 50 or 150 years (and sometimes even longer) will be fortunate indeed if it can be rehoused in a similar acoustic and denominational environment.
A composer does well to write his music for our chosen instrument ‘as it is’ at the time of the music’s publication even though an organ-builder (if his work is not turgidly rooted in conservatism), when designing a new instrument, will try to anticipate the requirements of contemporary and future generations of composers and players. But as musical conventions differ from one generation of composers to the next, so does the craft of the organ-builder advance inexorably. So while we can forget thumb-pistons and the like when playing Buxtehude, Bach or Böhm (which are more at home in protestant circles than in the Mass), it has often not been possible since the 19th century for an organist to fulfil his contemporary composers’ intentions faithfully without the intermediary of certain recent technological developments. (This is especially true of French music, whether conceived liturgically or not.) This needs to be taken into consideration when an existing instrument begins a new life somewhere else.
I n a previous Notes from The Netherlands I underlined the professionalism with which historic organs in this country are treated during restoration, This is, alas, far from the case when a parish church becomes redundant and its effects are dissipated. I would be the last to maintain that every organ in every church is of supreme historic or artistic importance. I t may be impossible to find a new home for every organ from t he redundant churches, but impartial advice is but rarely sought and even t he opinion of competent, informed organists is apt to be ignored, or asked. I have frequently been horrified at the way a church councillor has ‘known someone who’ll see to t he organ’ which has promptly been mercilessly demolished – pure vandalism under the cloak of financial expediency.
“N O, M IJN H EER DURRAN T, I’m afraid we can’t let you go to Amsterdam for your colleague’s funeral”. At least the language was normal but I was disappointed not to be allowed to go to t he Westerkerk to bid farewell to Gustav Leonhardt, who died unexpectedly at his home at the beginning of 2012, before he was cremated in a private ceremony. So, one Tuesday afternoon in January 2012 I escaped from my prison and sat with two friends to listen to his spiritually uplifting recorded interpretation of Bach’s Actus tragicus. Despite the ‘Lion’s’ dour expression there a genuine sense of humour was never far away – I particularly remem- ber his pithy English-language one-liner during an informal discussion: ‘Unlike Bach I don’t have to teach hooligans.’ Few people have left such a mark on the organ world as Gustav Leonhardt, whether in or outside of T he N etherlands and he will be sorely missed.
by Gary Tollerfield
WILLIAM HILL and HENRY WILLIS were the two big names in organ building in the mid 19th century, but differed in their views about the organ case. Henry Willis, it appears, had no real interest in the design of organ cases for his organs. Indeed his fine organ in Truro Cathedral has no case at all. William Hill, on the other hand, saw the organ case as a necessary and important part of his organs, designing fine cases at Birmingham Town Hall, Eton College, Chichester Cathedral and Beverley Minster.
The organ here at St Mary’s is described as originally built by William Hill during the period 1881/1892. Clearly the case is stylistically of that period and contemporary with the organ, and probably designed by the Hill workshop.
W hen sending me the photograph, Colin Jilks pointed out that the front centre flat display pipes are tapered, perhaps from a Gemshorn rank. H e could not recall seeing tapered pipes used in an organ case before, and I have to concur that neither can I in an organ case of this period. Perhaps our readers will tell us of others. The use of tapered pipes is not uncommon in modern case design, along with upside down pipes, pipes made of different metals and the inclusion of reeds.
Looking at the joinery enclosing the front display pipes, one might be tempted to think that they were added at a later date, but Colin has pointed out by close inspection of the enlarged photograph that the mouths and lower part of the diapasons behind have not been stencilled, the decoration stopping just below the level at which it can be seen. I t would appear therefore, that the front pipes are contemporary with the rest of the case. However, enter Brian Moore, who points out that Pevsner records that “in 1890 the chancel and organ case were painted in the 15c Flemish style”. T he church notes record that the organ was enlarged from a two to a three manual in 1892.
Now a different explanation presents itself. In 1881 on the installation of the organ, the chancel was undecorated and the front Diapason pipes similarly plain metal. The 1890’s organ work probably saw the front rank installed, which would justify my comment about the joinery in the previous paragraph, and the complete decoration of the chancel and organ (with the front pipes in position) would explain the lack of decoration on the Diapasons where not visible. This all makes quite a good detective story.
I t will be noted that the tapered pipes in the centre flat are probably speaking, being properly sized and scaled, however the ranks of pipes squeezed into the side flats look far less convincing and must surely be dummies and the two pipes at the extreme ends of the case look most odd, being set back and seemingly bearing no relation t o t he pipes adjacent except in t heir decoration.
This has proved to be a very interesting case, far better than the straightforward pipe rack of the time, and all the more so in using tapered front display pipes.
William Hill & Sons 1881, St. Mary's Church,
Photo: Colin Jilks
by Nigel C. B. Durrant
JUST AS the London Games were gathering momentum – Her Majesty had already parachuted expertly into the arena – I confronted my own Olympic challenge: crossing, heavily laden, from Liverpool Street to Paddington by Underground on my way t o t he sprawling (though lift-less) Cheltenham Park Hotel. I arrived the day before the 2012 I.A.O. Congress began. Several other delegates entered the hotel’s restaurant while I was enjoying my excellent Saturday evening dinner so I could look forward to intelligent company later in the evening while I quaffed the last of the bar’s supply of ginger-beer. Real ale is rare in that part of Gloucestershire.
As I perused the informative congress booklet it became immediately obvious how little Bach – or any other composer from before 180 0 or so – was on offer. But take the organs to be visited into the equation and this is not surprising. Our first visit was to TewkesburyAbbey where Carleton Etherington opened programme on the 1887 Michell & Thynne ‘Grove’ organ, one of only four organs built by that partnership. And suddenly, despite ginger-beer and the vagaries of London Transport, I was mentally jolted into England. Mendelssohn’s overture to St. Paul made perfect sense as organ music; this instrument, with its overtly orchestral colours has often been considered better suited to the concert-hall than to the church. The recitalist resisted the temptation to blast us with all stops out. H e continued on the ‘Milton’ organ with its chequered history, being ‘rebuilt and reconstructed’ most recently in 1997 by Kenneth Jones. On its four manuals he interpreted Bruhns and Karg-Eler t; again giving a fine impression of the instrument’s capabilities without blasting us out of our seats. W hat went through delegate John Belcher’s mind as he remembered the organ in its five- manual incarnation when he was organist here? Monday morning saw us in Worcester Cathedral where, having passed Hope-Jones’ Gothic Revival organ-case (looking rather like an ornate, overgrown heating fixture) in the south transept, we seated ourselves under the 2008 Quire Organ (which actually incorporates one 1894 Hope- Jones rank). Andrew Lucas returned to the cathedral to play for us: interestingly, he demonstrated a number of solo voices not always contemporary with the music in a pavane by Thomas Tomkins, in a programme including Whitlock, Vierne and Zoltán Gárdonyi. Introducing two unashamedly joyous movements by Iain Farrington he said that the final crescendo should remind us of our own riotous Saturday-night student parties with the neighbours banging on the wall...: well: I for one don’t remember any Saturday nights culminating in these Tickellian decibels – verily, his student years must have been spicier than mine. After the cathedral we sought and managed to find, hidden among the shops, the almost redundant St. Swithun’s Church. H ere we had the rare opportunity of hearing the work of the brothers William and Robert Gray in an illustrated (but, despite the three-decker pulpit from which Andrew McCrea spoke, not always intelligible) lecture. The organ was extended by local builder John Nicholson in 1844 and has been sympathetically restored. The Great to Pedal on this organ doubles as a Pedal to Great which somewhat limits the possibilities of playing, say, Mendelssohn, for which it would otherwise be excellent.
More Nicholson pipework that afternoon, though not as his firm left it. In Great Malvern Priory Roger Judd presented a gratifying compilation of five compositions by t he generation of English organists born between 1848 and 1889 including Harold Darke and Heathcote Statham. The Priory organ was originally built in 1850 but subsequently substantially enlarged by the builder and so it remained from 1880 until 1927 when Rushworth and Dreaper re-used most of the original pipework in what is essentially a new organ. The Nicholson firm retained this new instrument’s character in their 20 03/20 04 rebuild.
Tuesday morning was reserved for Badminton. But we accidentally took the Old Sodbury road where, there being no shuttle available, our drivers (having already brilliantly negotiated the cramped gateway of Westonbirt House) had to reverse in the narrow twisty lane to drop their charges as near as possible to Great Badminton church. In an inspired piece of planning I.A.O. President Alan Thurlow, where it would have been so easy to confine our visits to cathedral style organs, had taken in two smaller instruments. In Westonbirt (standing room only for most of us!) by Vowles and, in Great Badminton church, a fairly typical J. W . Walker parish-church set-up anno 19 08. Margaret Phillips played several novelties (including the witty Suite Carmélite by Jean Françaix) for our delectation and delight. (If we could not see much of the organ, or each other, from our seats in the boxed pews in the church, nobody’s eyes could miss the pulpit!) Next stop was Cirencester for lunch and a recital by Anthony Hammond on the perky 2009/2010 Harrison & Harrison (originally ‘Father’ Henry Willis, 1895 organ which certainly fulfills its mandate to fill the nave of Cirencester Parish Church with sound! Anthony Hammond pleaded passionately for the music of James Lyon (1872–1949) that, he concluded, should not be left gathering dust in an old drawer (where it seems he discovered the composer’s Elgarian first sonata, introduced to us after Franck’s B minor choral).
For this year’s masterclass (strangely, some delegates are not happy with this event) we did not stray far from our hotel. W e surveyed t he world of Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 film if for three hours in Cheltenham College, first for the A.G.M. (which included the annual commemoration of Members who had passed away in the past year) and then in the College Chapel. Two (not seemingly nervous) students nominated by Oundle for Organists, Eleanor Kornas and Charles Maxtone Smith, awaited us to be guided by Daniel Moult through two contrasting and tricky prepared works by Parry and Jean Langlais. The tutor praised their intelligent handling of registration, the swell- pedal and rubato and pointed out that the difference between o.k. phrasing, good phrasing and spectacular phrasing is measured in nanoseconds. By listening to recordings and changing their approach to technique to keep slow practice interesting they can save themselves a fortune on organ-lessons. (‘Does that make sense?’ he frequently asked.) In the afternoon we attended Paul Manley’s Brereton Memorial recital on the 2006 Kenneth Tickell organ in the distinctive Princess Hall of Cheltenham Ladies’ College – ‘this isn’t a pink, frilly school’
As every year, the last day of Congress was upon us all too soon. The four hours or so in our coaches offered an opportunity to chat, discuss what we had already heard in the past four days and even to compare our arrangements for getting to next year’s congress! In the morning, in Bristol, Claire Alsop regaled us with a sturdy recital including Bridge’s Adagio in E, sounding magnificent on the mixed-pedigree, fully restored, St. Mary, Redcliffe organ. To finish she prepared us for our final visit with an almost imperceptible whiff of Celtic culture in Stanford’s Sonata Britannica. The final event was a recital across the border in Llandaff Cathedral (after a satisfying lunch of sandwiches and chips). William Mathias’ unorthodox Variations on a Hymn Tune opened Huw Tregelles Williams’ recital which included Master Tallis’ Testament , a colouful Clair de lune (Vierne) and Parry’s roast-beef-and Yorkshire-pudding English Fantasy and Fugue in G. Completed in time for Easter 2010 this opus – another Nicholson & Co. contract – is the largest British-built cathedral organ to be commissioned in the U.K. for more than 45 years (the Solo has yet to be added) and is conceived with an overtly English character. So back to England and back to our hotel for the final dinner with as guest speaker, Dr. Roy Massey. H is characteristically spontaneous ‘remembrance of things past’ brought the 2012 I.A.O. Congress to its convivial end.
THE WRITTEN and spoken word provides an amazingly effective medium for transferring information from one person to another. However where it fails badly is in conveying impressions received via the senses of taste and hearing. How many of us have smiled inwardly at the tortuous at tempts of writers on wine to describe the actual taste? N o less a problem exists in at tempting to describe the sound of an organ. Does a description in words suggest the same sound to two different people? T he ‘Organists Review’, although going into great detail on most matters usually makes little at tempt to describe actual sounds. The KCOA Journal ventures into this tricky area and bravely voyages into fields where others do not care to tread. A short inspection of accounts of recent meetings has revealed an arresting array of adjectives used, some of which are listed below and readers are encouraged to imagine the sounds so described.
DIAPASONS: have been described as warm, full, singing, benign, rich, effortless, and lyrical.
FLUTES: may be singing, chiffy, colourful, clear and bell-like, persuasive, full, warm, tubby, or chirpy.
REEDS: can be distinctive, crisp, gentle, arresting, richly singing, bright, or full throated.
ST R I N GS: have been described as singing, gentle, beguiling, alluring, shimmering, silken, lush, positive, gently swelling, whispering, keen and throbbing, and smooth.
Surely our review writer deserves at least a mention for his attempts in this area. And has he revealed the type of organ he really likes? One visited in the last five years was described as breathtakingly beautiful, spine tingling, with whispering delicacy and stunning tonal beauty. Can you work out which one it was?
8th September 2012
by David Shuker
THIS W AS the first in a series of concerts t o mark t he fiftieth anniversary of the Roger Yates organ in Ulcombe Parish Church. The audience contained a number of people who were present at the opening recital in 1962. An impressive oak case in the north- west corner of the nave is obvious to the visitor on entering the church but no pipes at all can be seen as the whole is enclosed in a box with horizontal shutters in the front of the organ. The pipework reputedly incorporates some G P England pipes from an earlier organ in the church. The specification (Man 1, 8 8 4 4 I I; Man I I, 8 8 4 2 I I; Pedal 16 8 4) looks impressive, but lacks a reed and is based on four ranks with electric action. N otwithstanding, the audience was treated to a broad sweep of organ music from Buxtehude (1676-1707) to Richard Purvis (1913-1994 performed with great verve by Michael Alexander, who also provided an entertaining and informative commentary on the music as well as on the wider background and history of organs. The missing reed colour was provided by trumpeter Pauline Fisher in several lighter pieces. T he organ is voiced more as a chamber organ (and the tuning is one developed by Yates which does have some ‘key colour’ appropriate for the earlier music) with the advantage of independence based on two manuals and pedals for the later repertoire.
Ulcombe, Roger Yates organ
Photo: Michael Alexander
As Roger Yates (1905 – 1975) may not be that well known, I have gleaned the following information from William Drake’s website: www.williamdrake.co.uk/roger_yates.htm where a partial list of t he organs built and restored by Yates can be fou n d. After an apprenticeship with Henry Willis in London fro m 1922 t o 1928, Roger Yates purchased t he organ building business of C. F. Lloyd in Nottingham in 1928. H e worked there until 1937 when he moved to Bodmin, Cornwall taking several of his employees with him. During the War, he was an artificer in the Royal Navy. In 1946, he moved to t he Old Rectory, Michaelstowe, Cornwall where he worked on his own until 1972. During his work for St Andrew’s Priory Church, Stogursey, Roger Yates suffered a stroke and was unable to continue work.
by Colin Jilks
THE HABERDASH ERS’ ASKE’S BOYS’ SCHOOL, Elstree, is unquestionably amongst the most successful of our independent schools. I t was founded in 1690 by Royal Charter, granted to the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers to establish a ‘hospital’ for twenty boys with the legacy of Robert Aske, a wealthy merchant, following his death in 1689.
From its original home at H oxton, near the City of London, it has evolved over the years with the addition of a girls’ school. The school relocated in 1898, the girls moving to Acton and the boys to Hampstead. In 1961 the school moved to its present location at Elstree, set in one hundred acres of greenbelt parkland with Aldenham H ouse at its centre.
Haberdashers’ T W Taylor Music School, named after a former headmaster, was opened in 1975 and contains, at its centre, the Seldon Concert Hall, with soundproofed class- and practice rooms grouped around it. The building architects were H G Huckle & Partners overseen by J K Hubert and A Blyth, and t he acoustic consultants were Kenneth Shearer and Associates. The concert hall is hexagonal in shape with a domed roof, taking inspiration from the Royal Albert Hall in using suspended acoustic ‘mushrooms’, fibreglass saucers which provide a bright musical acoustic.
The music centre and hall have been furnished with the finest instruments, including a Steinway grand piano: but no organ. However, with a 1965 2-manual and pedal E F Walcker tracker organ becoming available, owing to the redevelopment of its Emmaus R C Chapel at West Wickham, Ken t, a fine mechanical action German instrument has now been found a new home. The Seldon Concert Hall’s contemporary architecture and the organ’s structural and tonal design are an eminent fit, pro- viding an ideal concert and teaching instrument for the music school.
The organ is classically voiced, on gentle 25/8 inch wind pressure, with high tin content metal pipes devoid of any flue nicking, and the smaller trebles cone tuned. The two manuals and pedal are contained within an acoustic case, the HAUPTWERK and NEBENW ERK (manual 1 and manual 11) on a double soundboard and a three stop pedal chest at floor level behind the manual pipes. The soundboard drawstop slides utilize a double slide design with individual sprung slide seals between ensuring stable speech and tuning.
The organ’s specification is HAUPTWERK: Flöte 8, Prinzipal 4, Sesquialtera 11, Mixtur 11-111; NEBENWERK: Gedackt 8, Rohrflöte 4, Prinzipal 2, Quinte 11/3; PEDAL: Subass 16, Choral bass 4, Trompete 8. There are three couplers, manual 1 to manual 11 and two manual to pedal couplers, operated by hook-down foot pedals. The drawstops are arranged in reverse order with the 8ft pitches at the top of the jambs and the 2ft stops at the bottom. The manuals are of 61 notes and the pedal 32 notes, with a standard radiating concave pedalboard.
The instrument’s tonal colours blossom in the hall’s acoustic, sounding less strident than t hey appeared in t he larger West Wickham chapel. T he HAUPTWERK’S foundation 8ft Flöte is set at the front in the organ with its lower octaves comprising the front pipes. I t has something of an early English diapason about it, but with its generous scale and low mouth ‘cut-up’ it purrs with the contentment of a large ginger cat curled before a warming winter fire. T he NEBENWERK’S 8ft Gedackt, with its felted metal canister stoppers, has distinctive gedackt harmonics, producing an unforced breathy beauty. Its Rohrflöte 4ft companion is a more gently voiced chimney flute with canister stoppers and open pipes for its top octave. Both 8ft and 4ft flutes are in spot ted metal adding tonal warmth and colour, the pipes responding sensitively to speed of key touch, delightfully embellishing the start transients.
1965 E F Walcker organ, Seldon Concert Hall,
Photo: Colin Jilks
Initially the organ’s specification appears sparse, the foundation HAUPTWERK having only two unison stops at 8ft and 4ft pitch, but with the choice of the HAUPTWERK’s two mixtures and the NEBENWERK’s 2ft prinzipal and Quinte 11/3, variety is infinite. Coupling the manuals and using the organ’s two 8ft ranks together, with the 8ft Flöte’s innate warmth reinforced by the 8ft Gedackt’s extended harmonics, produces an engagingly rich musicality.
Hauptwerk & Pedal drawstops
Photo: Colin Jilks
The 4ft and 2ft Prinzipals, together with the mutations, provide character and brightness, enhancing harmonic structure and individuality. Sesquialtera 11 and Quinte 11/3 are more gently voiced, the 12-17 Sesquialtera running from tenor B flat up. T he HAUPTWERK’s Mixtur 11-111 ranks is a bright quint mixture creating a full chorus when added to the Flöte 8ft and Prinzipal 4ft, and the weighted manual keys and tactile tracker action facilitates musical control A wooden PEDAL Subass 16ft adds foundation warmth and the 4ft Choral bass and 8ft Trompete, with its bottom octave copper pipes, remain perfectly voiced for the baroque repertoire.
The organ’s pipe note markings, not surprisingly, are in the German style which uses ‘B’ for B flat and ‘H’ for B natural, a method which was also common with English organ builders through to the end of the 19th century, although the B natural was always marked with the music ‘natural’ sign, not an ‘H’.
Unquestionably, this E F Walcker organ is an exceptional instrument of its genre. Many English organ builders have endeavoured to produce similarly voiced classical organs, but with far from convincing results; the Haberdashers’ Director of Music, Christopher Muhley, and his Music School pupils, are fortunate in being able to experience and enjoy the real thing.
The dismantling, transporting and rebuilding of this organ was undertaken by Colin K Jilks & Associates during August 2012.
Hauptwerk & Nebenwerk pipes with three Pedal
stops at floor level
Photo: Colin Jilks
A short profile
BOR N O N 30th May 1939, into the gentility of prewar Tunbridge W ells’ society, David Hughes was granted little time to savour its ‘Pantiled’ comforts before it was snatched away by the looming presence of war. His immediate family life was equally affected with his parents spending the duration of the war apart, as his father was posted to India with the RAF and it was a full five years before David and his mother were to see him again.
Tunbridge W ells may not have been a direct target for German bombers, but with crippled aircraft indiscriminately dumping their bombs before turning for home, David and his