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

 

Contents

 

A Day in Bromley

A short profile - David Hughes

An amusing little Diapason

Buffet Supper

Comment

Front Cover

Haberdashers' Walcker Organ

I.A.O Congress 2012

KCOA Organ Festival 2012

Martyn Noble's Festival Recital

New Members

Notes from the Netherlands

Organ Recital, All Saints, Ulcombe


Comment

 

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 embroider purveyet maintain morale:   our    Kent    County OrganistsAssociation 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 years 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 Marys 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 years IAO Congress and the unfortunate demise of a number of organs in The  Netherlands;  it  seems  the  fate  of man continentachurchewoefully 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 bTh HaberdashersAske BoysSchoolElstree 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.


Buffet Supper

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  Presidents Dinner had  now become  biannual,  leaving  an empty alternate September to be filled. The Presidents 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 Octobe2012 at All Saints Church, Maidstone, Kent,  an  imposing  collegiate  church founded in 1395 by William Courtenay, Archbishop  of  Canterbury.  This  fine Englis medieva buildin i  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 6stops, 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 Guilmants 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 Bachs 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 Bachs 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 Bachs 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 Daly
Photo: Colin Jilks

Laurence Long, Margaret Phillips and Matthew Nicholls
Photo: Volin Jilks

 

ANTHONY  DALY  aged 16 years has been  studying  at  Junior  Trinity,  the Saturda schoo o Trinit 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  Kings School,  Rochester;  he  also  plays  the violin  and  piano.  Laurence’s  chosen Bach was Fugue in G  major BWV  541 with  colourful registration,  a  compellin unrushe temp an 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 ADVANCE section  Festival  winner, Daniel  Marx,  received  £20 0  plus  a recital in Canterbury Cathedral.


Martyn Noble's Festival Recital
 

ALLOWING time to relax and meet the candidates a sumptuous tea was served by All Saints helpers before Martyn Nobles 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 Bachs 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 Mendelssohns 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. Martyns 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, Viernes hauntingly evocative melodies and a concluding manifestation of dazzling brilliance in Mulets 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.

 

 

A Day in Bromley

 

BROMLEY  may  be  blessed  with  a plethora   of   fine churches, but none, alas, feature  in Simon Jenkins Englands 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 Marks 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 Elgars 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-Elerts 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 Johns 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 organs 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 & 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 organs 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 Marys 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 organs 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; its 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-Elerts 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 & Sons
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 Hills 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  Marks, Westmoreland Road, Bromley South. H ere we were welcomed by James Orford, Organ Scholar at St Marks, 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. Hunter
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 Frenchmans 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.

 

 

Notes from The Netherlands

 

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 twos today?”; “Now, mijnheer Durrant, were 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. Marks, 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 wholl 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,  Im afraid we cant let you go to Amsterdam for your colleagues 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 Bachs Actus tragicus. Despite the Lions 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 dont 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.

Front Cover

St Marys, Bromley
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 Marys 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 1890s 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, Bromley
Photo: Colin Jilks

 


The I.A.O Congress 2012

by Nigel C. B. Durrant

JUST  AS  the  London  Games  were gathering momentum Her Majesty had  already parachuted   expertly into the arena   –   confronted my own Olympic challenge: crossing, heavily laden, from  LiverpooStreet  to Paddington by Underground on my way t  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 hotels 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 bars 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. Mendelssohns  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 instruments capabilities without blasting us out of our seats.  W hat went through delegate John Belchers 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   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 dont 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. Swithuns 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 instruments 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, nobodys  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 composers Elgarian  first sonata, introduced to us after Francks 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 Andersons 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 Manleys Brereton Memorial recital on the 2006 Kenneth Tickell organ in the distinctive Princess Hall of Cheltenham Ladies’ College this isnt 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 Bridges 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 Stanfords 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 Parrys 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.

An amusing little Diapason

By Janus

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   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?

Organ Recital, All Saints, Ulcombe

Organ Recital
Michael Alexander

8th September 2012

by David Shuker

THIS  W AS  the  first  in  series  of concerts t 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 Drakes 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 Andrews Priory Church, Stogursey, Roger Yates suffered a stroke and was unable to continue work.

Haberdashers' Walcker Organ

by Colin Jilks

THE HABERDASH ERS  ASKES 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 Halls contemporary architecture and the organs 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 organs 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 instruments tonal colours blossom in the hall’s acoustic, sounding less strident  than   t hey   appeared   in   t he larger West Wickham chapel. T he HAUPTWERKS 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 NEBENWERKS 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, Elstree
Photo: Colin Jilks

 

Initially  the  organs specification appears sparse, the foundation HAUPTWERK having  only  two  unison stops at 8ft and 4ft pitch, but with the choice of the HAUPTWERKs two mixtures and the NEBENWERKs 2ft prinzipal and  Quinte 11/3, variety is infinite. Coupling   the   manuals  and   using   the organs two 8ft ranks together, with the 8ft Flötes innate warmth reinforced by the 8ft  Gedackts  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 HAUPTWERKs 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 organs 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

 

 

David Hughes

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