Kent County Organists’ Association
February 2014 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
Forty Three Golden Years
Gary Tollerfield - A Service of Thanksgiving
Notes from the Netherlands
Review of recent meetings
Folkestone St. Mary & St. Eanswythe, Holy Trinity Church
Maidstone, All Saints' Parish Church
The President's Dinner
St. Mary's Platt
The Swiss connection
What is it that roareth thus?
by Nicholas King
IT WAS good to welcome more than thirty members and their guests to the President’s Dinner at the Priory Hotel, Larkfield on 21st September. All seem to have had an enjoyable evening, at which we received an interesting and stimulating speech from Dr Harry Bramma recounting experiences and advice from his distinguished career.
Reports on the autumn meetings at Maidstone and Folkestone appear later in this Journal. I was most disappointed to miss the latter because of mobility problems (and am grateful to those who have enquired solicitously after my recovery), especially as the meeting visited the church where I cut my first musical teeth. I am indebted to Colin Jilks for hosting that meeting at short notice in my absence.
Nicholas King Photo C Jilks
SITUATED on the main A20, just west of Maidstone, Larkfield Priory Hotel proved an ideal venue for our 2013 President’s Dinner on 21st September. Our new President, Nicholas King, had arranged not only the hotel, the meal and guest speaker, but also a choir to sing Grace, with Larkfield Priory affording us the use of a suitable practice room for rehearsal. A complimentary glass of wine lubricated the conversation prior to enjoying our three course meal of: Pork pâté, served on a bed of mixed salad leaves topped with cherry tomatoes, red wine and vinegar reduction; Pan fried lemon sole with white sauce, new potatoes and seasonal vegetables; and Larkfield’s cheesecake with a duo of fruit purée. The meal concluded with coffee, tea and chocolates; there were vegetarian alternatives for those who required them. Prior to the meal, however, Grace was sung by a four-part double choir drawn from the thirty members and guests, directed by the President; this was Edward German’s Non nobis, Domine, with words from Psalm 115, verse 1, Not unto us, O Lord.
This seemed to be appreciated by all those present and hopefully did not offend the ear of our guest speaker, Dr Harry Bramma, who is vastly experienced in such musical matters. He was Assistant Organist at W orcester Cathedral during the 1960s, then Southwark Cathedral from 1976-1989. He became Organist and Director of Music at All Saints’, Margaret Street, London in 1989 and also Director of The Royal School of Church Music in the same year. He remained at All Saints’, Margaret Street for fifteen years, until 2004 and at The Royal School of Church Music for nine years until 1998. Dr Bramma is a member of The Southwark and South London Organists’ Association and, although now retired, remains an eager peripatetic organist applying his consummate skills with alacrity in a variety of churches.
Before introducing Dr Bramma, Nicholas King spoke most courteously and entertainingly of his early days in Kent under past President, Reg Adams, at Folkestone Parish Church, together with many amusing anecdotes and his hopes for our Association during the next few years. Dr Bramma reflected on his many years as an organist, contrasting his experience with what young organists are faced with today. In particular the plethora of pistons and playing aids now fitted to organs, often finding the tonal settings on the pistons of organs he visits very discouraging. Using hand registration, he endeavours to thoroughly explore an instrument, seeking the tonal beauty that the organ can produce if only the right combination of stops is found, which may not always be the expected conventional settings. A good listening ear is needed, often utilising “à la carte” registration during service playing, carefully choosing the right combination of stops able to respond to immediate needs. Modern sequencers and step- pers can be the enemy of the organ, he feels, until an instrument is thoroughly known and its inner at tractions revealed. The 1960’s Neo Baroque brought a nasty classical revival, with harsh mixtures and deviant colours. Often, even on English organs, he occasionally hears full mixtures used supported on the merest 8ft flute, des- perately needing the support of the 8ft and 16ft diapasons to produce an effective tonal chorus. He particularly enjoys good mechanical key actions, often employed with electric drawstop actions. Dr Bramma’s engaging talk covered many topics, illustrated with innumerable entertaining anecdotes, although he worries about young people today with their seemingly short attention spans, more concerned with twiddling their phones and electronic gadgets.
President, Nicholas King with Dr Harry Bramma Photo C Jilks
Nevertheless, we are most grateful to Dr Bramma who gave us much to consider and assimilate, presented in his warm engaging manner, making our President’s Dinner an occasion to remember. Before the evening concluded there was a raffle, organised by our Secretary, Rosemary Clemence, raising useful funds, and then announcements of future meetings. W e must thank our President, Nicholas King, for arranging such a splendid evening for us.
OUR Organ Festival, scheduled for 5th October 2013, was to follow the familiar precedent of previous successful Festivals, and much preparation had been undertaken by the Festival committee. Alas, owing to other commitments, only three contestants were available to play and, sensibly, it was decided to postpone this Festival until a future date, when more young organists might be free to take part.
However, All Saints’ Parish Church and last years’ Festival winner, Daniel Marx, who was to give the Festival recital, had been booked for the afternoon, so it was decided to continue the meeting adding a piano recital by Jane Wiseley in place of the Festival organists. A commendable compromise, it seemed, although further irritating gremlins lay prowling ignominiously in wait for us, but more later.
Opening the afternoon, a petite but poised Jane Wiseley, had agreed to play a full and engaging piano programme for us. Jane was born at Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, starting piano lessons at the age of seven. Later, she gained academic and music scholarships to The King’s School Canterbury, her developing performances being noted for her interpretative ideas and poetic capacity. Although Jane specialized in philosophy at Cambridge, she is now working towards a career in solo piano performance, studying under the renowned Bulgarian and Russian concert artists Lora Dimitrova and Michail Kazakevich.
Jane’s recital of music by Debussy, Prokofiev, Ravel and Liszt was thoughtfully chosen and well balanced, a demanding programme delivered entirely from memory. All Saints’ grand piano, with lid set fully open, was positioned in front of the chancel steps and angled comfortably for the audience seated in a convenient semi- circle to one side. Jane opened her recital with L’ île Joyeuse by Debussy with its expansive chords and rich harmony, her sparkling technique embellishing trills and sensuous tenor register melodies, bringing the music to life, totally engaging a deeply attentive audience. She followed with Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives Nos. 2, 17 and 15, the abstract, but gentle, timbres overlaid with driving arpeggios. Then Prokofiev’s Sonata No.6, 4th movement, illustrating Leningrad following the 1939-1945 war, with its driving mechanistic oppression, although with optimistic colours and phrases filtering through; Jane’s commanding technique allowed the full dynamics of the piece, from hushed pianos to embracing fortissimos, to blossom. Ravel’s Ondine revelled in its gushing melodic cadences overlaid with bright arpeggio figures, before Jane’s last piece — technically one of the most difficult in the repertoire — Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No.1. With her masterful technique and musical fluidity, Jane imbued the descriptive dance figures with utter realism, representing Faust invoking Mephistopheles and selling his soul to the devil, contrasting with the sensuous middle-section melodies which were enchantingly played. This was a recital delivered with panache and charm affording rapturous well deserved applause from an appreciative audience.
Jane Wiseley at the All Saints’ piano Photo C Jilks
Members were relaxed and ready for tea with heightened anticipation, such is the reputation of the All Saints’ confections. They were not to be disappointed, as the tables lay ready at the back of the church with the finest sandwiches and home cooked scones, to be followed by a lavish selection of delicious cakes.
However, unknown to members, lurking incongruities were still to manifest themselves. Regrettably, when Daniel Marx had been practising and setting up his recital, the organ at All Saints’ had mysteriously turned itself off and refused to start again. (Following the repair by the blower engineers, it was later revealed that the main start switch in the vestry had burnt out and needed complete replacement). With commendable presence of mind, Brian Moore and Lionel Marchant approached Maidstone Baptist church, just opposite All Saints’, to enquire if it would be possible to use their organ for the recital. With their full support and agreement, Daniel quickly and competently transferred his whole programme, having only a short time to explore an unknown organ.
The organ is reputed to have been built for the Great Exhibition in 1851, although there is some doubt as to its precise date.
Daniel Marx at the Organ of Maidstone Baptist Church Photo C Jilks
This three-manuel and pedal electric action organ undoubtedly has an early ornate case and Daniel certainly produced some enjoyable Baroque colours, if other tonalities were more modern; nevertheless, with a recital programme ranging from Buxtehude to Franck, he seemed to find just what was needed from the organ.
Daniel is still only 19 years of age, but has recently started as Organ Scholar at St John’s Church, Notting Hill, having previously been organist at St Jude-on- the- Hill in Hampstead Garden Suburb. He is currently in his second year of a Physics degree at Imperial College London, although, while at Westminster School, he frequently accompanied the choir in services in Westminster Abbey. He also accompanied the choir when it was resident at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Daniel is currently studying with international recitalist and teacher, Daniel Moult, and in March 2013 played the organ part of Britten’s ‘St Nicolas’ in a per- formance in the Barbican Hall. He was, of course, the finalist in the advanced section of our 2012 Organ Festival.
Daniel’s recital opened with Praeludium in D by Buxtehude, the Great organ producing an exciting Baroque sound, supported by Swell reeds coupled to the pedal, played with a lilting musicality. Sweelinck’s Ballo del Graduca enjoyed a grandiose opening, leading to solo trumpet tunes played in the treble and then tenor registers, each variation becoming more extravagant and flamboyant.
His well-chosen programme then surrendered to the gentle tempo of J S Bach’s chorale prelude ‘Wenn wir in höchsten nöten sein’, with its telling Great organ solos and Swell organ accompaniment. Franck’s ‘Prélude, Fugue et Variation’ was totally beguiling, with its singing Swell oboe melodies, before the full rich Fugue et Variations — ably assisted by Brian Moore, with stop changes and page turning — before the return of the original melodic theme. The romantic genre continued with four chorale preludes by Brahms, from his Eleven Chorale preludes: O Welt, ich muß dich lassen Nr.3; Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele Nr.5; Est ist ein Ros’ entsprungen Nr.8; and, O Welt, ich muß dich lassen Nr.11. These contained some of Brahms later work comprising inspiring chord structures and poignant melodic motifs.
The final section of this enjoyable recital explored John Bull’s ‘Fantasia on a Fugue of Sweelinck’ and, finally, J S Bach’s ‘Praeludium, Trio et Fuga in C’ BW V 545, its majestic opening extend- ing the organ to its maximum, Daniel’s playing revealing his musicality of phrasing and unhurried grace; a recital performance based on an assured technique and self-effacing maturity. We are most grateful to Daniel, not only for playing, but taking the afternoon’s many inconveniences in his stride, allowing us to enjoy his music to the full.
Together with an outstanding Jane Wiseley, and a fine tea, the afternoon may not have been as originally planned, but was an exceptional and enjoyable meeting, for which we must particularly thank Deputy President, Brian Moore, together with the All Saints’ team for all their hard work in arranging it.
Maidstone Baptist Church, organ case detail Photo C Jilks
St Mary & St Eanswythe,
Holy Trinity Church
STAN DI N G high on the cliffs, heroically surveying the English Channel, Folkestone Parish Church is dedicated to St Mary & St Eanswythe, an Anglo-Saxon saint who established the Christian Church at Folkestone. A Saxon princess, Saint Eanswythe was born circa 614 daughter of Eadbald, King of Kent and Emma, who was the daughter of the King of the Franks. The present Parish Church dates from 1138 where St Eanswythe’s remains were reputedly re-interred from an earlier church. In 1885 human remains were discovered in a wall of the build- ing believed to be the bones of Saint Eanswythe, making Folkestone Parish Church the only church in England that contains the remains of its dedicated Saint and founder.
Meeting on 16 November we were disappointed to find that our President, Nicholas King, was unwell and unable to be with us. Starting as a choirboy in 1958, under Reg Adams, Nicholas was particularly looking forward to revisiting his roots. However, our Deputy President, Colin Jilks, stepped in to guide the proceedings and, following a welcome cup of tea and biscuits in the vestry, kindly arranged by Church Warden, Bob Cass, we were able to enjoy the organ. Colin, who has tuned and maintained the organ for over forty years, enthusiastically described the William Hill instrument, which was originally installed in 1894. I t was rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1930 with a new 3- manual and pedal console and exhaust pneumatic action, with a few tonal additions and changes made. The Great organ was embellished with a new large open diapason, increasing the Great’s 8ft diapasons to three, also changes were made to the Choir, and the Swell lost a mixture but gained a vox humana. However, together with its impressive case, with its painted and stencilled front pipes (featured on the Journal front cover), the organ remains very much as William Hill intended, including the Great organ’s arresting four rank mixture, which contains a 17th and a flat 21st (which sounds a B flat when a note of C is held) in its lower octaves, adding an engaging richness of colour to the magnificent full Great chorus, comple- menting the organ’s full Swell with its rousingly dramatic 16-8-4 chorus reeds; the organ’s specification is now: Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 1v 8; Swell Organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 2 111 16 8 8 4 8; Choir Organ, 8 8 8 8 8 4 8 8; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 16 16 8 16; with a comprehensive range of couplers.
Rod Spencer, who has been Organist and Director of Music at the church for fourteen years, gave a short talk on the history of the church before demonstrating this fine instrument for us with Karg-Elert’s Harmonies du Soir, Op. 72, and Prelude and Fugue in G minor by Buxtehude. The Karg-Elert demonstrated the organ’s lush strings and Choir flutes before the Buxtehude’s full Great chorus with Pedal 16ft reed leading, finally, to a thrilling climax and full organ finish, leaving members in breathless veneration of this fine organ. Thanking Rod Spencer for his inspired playing, our Deputy President then invited members to try the organ for themselves and, as can be imagined, there was a queue wishing to explore the instrument for themselves.
William Hill 1930 console, St Mary & St Eanswythe Photo C Jilks
Making our way to Holy Trinity Church, Sandgate Road, Folkestone, we found an impressive mid-Victorian church, which sports a clear view of France from the top of its unusual octagonal tower. Holy Trinity Church has a commanding position in the town and it was built by Lord Radnor in 1868 as part of the planned expan- sion of Folkestone. The Church is of brick with Kentish rag cornerstones and has clerestory windows, which add to the building’s light feel. I t has some exceptional stained-glass and a vibrant gold reredos set in a colourful apse, which has recently been restored revealing its true colour and design.
We were greeted by Holy Trinity’s Organist and Director of Music, Tim Parsons, who spoke about the church and organ. Apparently, the recent restoration of the church apse, sanctuary and chancel, with the removal of hangings and carpet, has greatly enhanced the building’s acoustics and, consequently, the sound of the organ, which is set, with its imposing Victorian stencilled pipe case, on the north side of the chancel. Tim is a prolific musician, taking his Holy Trinity choir to sing at cathedrals around the country as well as being the accompanist for Folkestone Choral Society and the Shepway Singers, playing the organ, harpsichord and piano.
The organ, by Bishop & Son installed in 1888, has undergone many changes over the years. In 1923 F Tunks & Sons restored a troublesome pneumatic action, which was subsequently partly electrified by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1949, followed by a few additions by F H Browne & Sons in the 1950s. A full major rebuild was undertaken by J W Walker & Sons in 1966, with tonal revisions the responsibility of John T Belcher, the organist at the time. A new transmission and capture piston system was installed by Browne & Sons in 2003 and a new Great trumpet stop in 2007.
Before Tim Parsons demonstrated the organ, a generous tea was served at the back of the church, with tea and real filter coffee, lovingly brewed by the Holy Trinity ladies in two large professional coffee machines.
Tim’s programme was well chosen to demonstrate the organ, opening with Tuba Tune by Norman Cocker; then J S Bach’s O mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß , before concluding with Allegro from Symphony No. 2 by Louis Vierne.
The Tuba Tune revealed the Positive organ’s bold Harmonic Trumpet 8ft, supported by the clean colourful Swell and Great choruses. Bach’s singing melodies particularly suited the Positive organ’s Clarinet 8ft and flutes with a selection of different mutations. The Vierne opened with
HolyTrinity, Folkestone console Photo C Jilks
a rich full organ tone, the reeds having enough crisp edge to convey a distinc- tive French flavour, then a plethora of idiosyncratically evolving colours leading to an exciting full organ finish. Tim’s playing was totally engaging throughout, consummately at ease with the organ and the contrasting musical genre.
This Holy Trinity organ is a fine instrument, its ample specification providing exciting timbres and colours with crisp reeds, clean diapasons, mel- low flutes and sumptuous strings. However, its original Bishop & Son pedigree has been greatly diluted over the years with just a vestige remaining in the Great diapasons, its lineage now more reflecting J W Walker & Sons following the rebuild in 1966.
The organ’s specification is now:
Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 111 8;
Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 8 16 8 4;
Positive Organ, 8 4 4 22/3 2 13/5 111 8 8 4;
Pedal Organ, 16 16 16 8 8 102/3 4 4 2 16 16
8 8, with usual couplers and stepper piston system. The organ’s specification is extensive, although the Pedal section, based on a metal open diapason 16ft and many extended ranks, perhaps lacks the warmth and gravitas of a wooden 16ft open diapason.
Nevertheless, our visit to Folkestone had been a memorable one, with two fine organs both eminently demonstrated, set in two contrasting yet equally fascinating churches. We must thank Rod Spencer and Tim Parsons for their playing and also, in his absence, Nicholas King who had arranged the afternoon for us.
Bishop & Son 1888 organ case Holy Trinity, Folkestone Photo C Jilks
by Colin Jilks
THE front cover of our February Journal displays a picture of the 1894 William Hill organ at St Mary & St Eanswythe, Folkestone, which we visited in November 2013. Interestingly, it is by the same organ builder as the organ depicted on the cover of our August 2013 edition, although, being built in 1837, they are separated by some fifty-seven years.
Gary Tollerfield, writing only a few weeks before he died, wrote of the Gothic Revival and the evolution of stencilled and painted pipe fronts, the 1837 William Hill instrument being a very early example. Here at St Mary & St Eanswythe, the evolution of the pipe decoration has almost reached its zenith, with the Gothic style reflecting the influence of Augustus Pugin.
This is a fine example of the period, with most of the case display pipes being speaking pipes, comprising the bass of the Great organ 8ft open diapason No. 2 (the organ’s original main diapason) and some of the Great 16ft double diapason.
Eschewing the straight ‘pipe-rack’ design, the case echoes older case designs in having three towers of three pipes, separated by two flats, all with repeated pipe shades, although of different dimensions; also, the seemingly obligatory castellation adorns the tower posts and flats. This attractive stencilling design seems to be unique to Folkestone, although the gentle colours used: yellows, creams, reds, greens and browns, are the pigments often favoured by William Hill. The lower curved organ case section, set under the front pipes just above the con- sole, is beautifully ornamented and illus- trated with three oil paintings and two scripted panels; they were painted by Folkestone’s Organist and Choirmaster, Alfred Oake, in 1894 and have adorned the organ since its installation.
1894 William Hill, Folkestone Photo C Jilks
Although I have known this organ for over forty years I feel less than qualified to comment on it, remaining in the shadow of Gary Tollerfield, who for many years regularly wrote our Front Cover page, allowing us to share in his wealth of knowledge of organ cases; he also provid- ed our Journal cover pictures taken on his professional Hasselblad camera, with films processed and printed in his darkroom. He revealed not just the intricate details of organ builders’ differing preferences, but also the vast fundamental evolutional design changes over the years. Gary was one of the most knowledgeable organ-case experts in the country which, together with his enthusiasm and affability in sharing his expertise, makes him such an irreplace- able loss. We shall miss him.
From our transport correspondent*
MEMBERS driving along the main roads between Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal and Dover in recent months may have been surprised to see the amiable visage of our member Stephen Yarrow, Organist of St. Mary, Dover, beaming down upon them from the backs of two buses.
T he Stagecoach East Ken t bus company run trunck services 13 and 15 between these points, branding them as their "Diamond" network
Following the repainting in 2012 of the regular vehicles used on these services, nominations were invited for four people to be depicted on two each of these buses as “local diamonds”, in recognition of their charitable work in the local community.
Stephen was one of the successful nominees, in recognition of his work at Dover both with the Rotary Club and with the Pharos Chamber Choir, and can be seen on the back of buses 27519 and 27520 in the Stagecoach East Kent fleet, as shown on the attached picture of the latter at Canterbury Bus Station.
We congratulate Stephen on this unusual but well-deserved honour!
* aka your President
IT MUST have been not long after I began as Assistant Director of Music at Tonbridge School (September 1975) that I came to know Gary and Janet. Gary started coming to me for organ lessons, whilst his children, Paul and Sarah, were taking their first steps on the road to being the fine musicians they became. Paul auditioned on his trumpet for a music scholarship to Tonbridge and I recall examining Sarah for several RSCM Awards, culminating in her St Cecilia.
Gary soon became a firm friend and many were the evenings I spent at Moatlands Oast, appreciating his effective and rare Conn organ (with its acoustic ‘pipe’ tubes improving the organ-like sound emerging from the loudspeakers), then planning his exciting foray into real pipes as the Conn was sold and a beautiful new Hill, Norman & Beard Chester organ appeared in its place. The special feature of this organ was the rather costly ‘extra’ I had recommended – taking the Spitzprincipal rank right down to 8ft C with Haskell basses (4ft open metal pipes with re-entrant tubes to produce 8ft pitch). They gave the organ a true bass line, which enabled it to sound larger and more profound than an organ without an open 8ft bass ever can. On a small church organ a Swell 16ft reed, or Great Mixture, or Pedal Violone or Trombone all can have a similar effect: making the instrument far more effective than it would be without them.
Gary loved this organ – and its colour scheme (have you ever seen blue Bourdons before?). He also loved his forays into the world of Hi-Fi. KEF – just down the road – was his favoured loudspeaker firm. Janet would firmly close the kitchen door from within whilst we played the latest organ LP on his Quad amplifier and Thorens/SME deck, first through KEF Concertos and then through KEF 104s. The 104s were magnificent speakers though to give of their best they had to be driven hard – which meant loud organ music! I still recall our excitement at the very first CD sent to me at Organists’ Review for review – Lionel Rogg playing Reger, I recall – with which we attempted to take the roof off his oast.
Gary was so positive and so encouraging of everyone and everything – nowhere more so than at St Mary Platt, where the old organ sounded fine but was possessed of the heaviest mechanical action in Kent (or so it seemed to us). After many years endeavouring to persuade the church to have it rebuilt with electric action he finally achieved his ambition. He and I set about designing the scheme so splendidly carried out by H NB in 1983. I t gained new soundboards with electric action, proper choruses, a ‘cornet decomposée’ (Hale trademark!) and an impressive Trombone. The exciting west end solo reed on its extra manual came later (2001) at the skilful hands of Colin Jilks, whom (incidentally) I have known also since 1975, as he then tuned the old Tonbridge School organ for H NB. Gary was in seventh heaven over this organ – and the congregation was equally enthusiastic as I can still recall from giving the opening recital (having first recorded my encore on the HNB playback system – such fun).
Gary, as readers will know, sang at St Paul’s Cathedral Chorus (as it is now called, having originally been founded by Sir John Stainer) for many years. We hugely enjoyed ourselves, he and I, when he turned pages for a recital I gave there towards the end of Christopher Dearnley’s time as cathedral organist. My copies of the Alcock Introduction & Passacaglia and Mathias Invocations are still marked with stops for him to draw – well, who would erase ‘draw Dome Trompette Militaire’ or ‘Add Manual V to Great’!
KCOA was another activity Gary and I shared. Meetings in those days were at Mr Warriner’s house at Boughton Monchelsea. Sedate – and rather dull! – they were. I t needed Gary’s twinkle to enliven them, and interest was also added by Dr Gerald Knight, who graciously came on the committee after his retirement as Director of the RSCM. He had of course been involved with the KCOA, and had indeed been President, during his years as cathedral organist at Canterbury in the 1930s and 1940s. I have on my house organ the pedalboard from the console that Gerald had installed when Willis rebuilt the Canterbury organ. Dr Knight entertained us with tales of his overseas travels for the RSCM, and I clearly remember the last time we saw him: at the end of the meeting he stood to leave, declaring “I shan’t see you all for a while, my dears, as I’m just about to go into hospital for a little op.” Gerald was – quite unexpectedly – to die in hospital, and so another era in the church music life of our country and beyond came to an end.
Gary’s generosity extended in all directions – and in one particular direction he gave me great assistance and inspiration: photography. On numerous visits to Moatlands Oast I would be treated to a slide show of his latest pin-sharp square-plate transparencies of organ cases; all taken of course with his trusty Swedish Hasselblad camera. When I had to revise a lecture I give on painted organ pipes, Gary not only supplied me with many of his own wonderful photographs but also introduced me to the processing firm that he had used for years; we had an interesting visit to them which resulted in the addition to my talk of many beautifully scanned and framed transparencies. Whenever I give this talk Gary now comes to mind – and whenever I think of Gary I see that smiling face, willing, helpful, enthusiastic, positive, non-judgemental, generous and so friendly. Since leaving Rochester for Southwell in 1989 I have seen Gary and Janet but rarely; however when we met it was as if we just picked up from our last conversation. I shall miss that. And I shall miss a true friend.
Organist or Organist & Choir Leader
We are seeking an organist, or an Organist & Choir Leader.
Salary based on RSCM and generouse Fees.
Details from Mrs Val Butler, Church Administrator, 01732 885482.
by Nigel C B Durrant
Bij Alkmaar begint de victorie – the expression dates from the Siege of Alkmaar in 1573, which has gone down into our nation’s history as a turning point in the Eighty Years’ War (though the war itself went on until 1648). The first William of Orange had ordered his Army of Flanders, the regular Habsburg army stationed in The Netherlands, to destroy the dykes sur- rounding the town, but for one and a half months the townspeople, from their city walls, successfully kept the aggressors at bay with boiling tar and bundles of burning branches and Alkmaar became one of the first Dutch towns to be relieved. Victory begins in Alkmaar.
Alkmaar acquired city rights in 1254 and has a bloody history, an incredible 1,099 registered monuments and the National Brewery Museum. The town is known here affectionately as Cheesetown (and an inhabitant irreverently as ‘cheesebonce’) because of the local cheesemarket which attracts thousands of tourists each year, but it is likely that our Journal readers will more readily associate the town with Helmut Walcha’s iconic Bach recordings. These were made on the historic Hagerbeer- Schnitger (1645/1725) organ in the Grote- of-Laurenskerk which is still used for concerts (though services are no longer held there. I t is now promoted as a Centre for Art, Culture and Social Activities; last February it was the venue for a whisky festival). The monumental 15th/16th century building is not likely to be confused with the similarly named
Roman Catholic Laurentiuskerk nearby. This neo-gothic structure was the first commission in the west of the country for the influential architect Pierre Cuypers, whose long life partly coincid- ed with that of Augustus Pugin and with whom he shared several conceptual ideas. The well-known Alkmaar organ builder Lodewijk Ypma placed a new organ in 1862 in the west-end gallery in the newly completed church where it remained until it was replaced in 1950, when it was re-housed (and is still in use). The new 2,458-pipe, 3-manual and pedal organ by Ypma-successor B. Pels & Zonen (Alkmaar) was somewhat unadvisedly removed from its gallery in 1977 and ‘brought downstairs’ to be placed in a transept where the line of the top of the instrument, which had been designed to allow an uninterrupted view of the rose window above the gallery, is hideously incongruous. I t has been suggested that the quality of the organ is so much higher than that of most comparable Dutch instruments of the same period so it could be a showpiece for Pels, whose organ works were nearby. Be that as it may, the instrument is worth hearing, being a well-conceived product of the changeover from inter- bellum romanticism to the concepts of the Organ Revival Movement. Plans are afoot to return the organ to the gallery.
Say ‘St. Pancras’ to most English people and they will immediately think of an important railway terminus. But a native of Alkmaar saying the name will likely be referring to a village now integrated into the city, separated from the centre by a railway branch line, home to a Dutch curiosum, a remarkable example of human perseverance that paid off and has now celebrated its 50th anniversary. Born in 1903, Cor Booy had to work hard as a boy for his farmer father but who from a very young age delighted in the sound of the village church’s organ. On Sunday his father would play psalms on the harmonium at home after the service and it was not long before the young Cor himself started taking lessons from a local musician. I t soon became clear that, while he would never master the art of reading music, he could improvise and play uncommonly well by ear – faultlessly, it is said, repeating exactly what he heard. Aged 10, he played during church services and he never missed a chance to hear his chosen instrument during recitals in the city. Inevitably, the domestic harmonium no longer captivated the youthful Cor who set his heart on having his own pipe-organ. Perhaps naïvely, he knocked on the door of the Pels concern – who knows how the discussion went? – but the long and short of the story is that a two manual and pedal pipe-organ cost- ing 8,000 guilders was erected in his married brother’s home. Every day Cor would cycle over the muddy paths between the geraniums and cabbage-fields to play; fortunately the neigh- bours were sympathetic and would even conglobulate outside to be regaled by Bach, Handel and Widor. Despite the ravages of war, the first recital on Cor’s new organ was given in 1944 by the renowned Feike Asma.
As sometimes happens, the hero of our story then met a lady and became engaged. Full of plans for their future together he acquired a spacious villa where his organ was re-erected by Pels. And then, again as sometimes happens, the engagement was broken off, leaving him sharing his house, perfectly contentedly, with only his 1,200-pipe organ. But then his home was compulsorily taken over by the council, for a school-teacher.
Orgelzaal Booy, Alkmaar Photo N Durrant
Cor refused to sell his beloved instrument and eventually built a large ‘garage’ himself next to his parents’ farmhouse for the organ (with the con- sole in the living-room in which, if everybody proved friendly, an audience of 60 could be accommodated for recitals). And the council paid the bills! The move proved successful; various well-known organists would frequently wend their way between fields of gladioli for the pleasure of playing there but, hardly surprisingly, Cor was not satisfied with the acoustics so five years later the ‘garage’ was demolished and the cur- rent auditorium was professionally designed and built. Once again Pels moved the instrument to its new home, increasing the number of stops to 21. It is worth mentioning that Cor himself painted the ceiling blue with stars round the lights and his cousin, also Cor, painted the windows so effectively that most people think they are of stained glass. The first concert in Orgelzaal Booy was given on May 21st, 1960.
Cor died in 1988 having seen his organ further enlarged. No longer isolated by marshy land, his concert-hall is still used for occasional concerts. I t can now easily be approached by road with a bus-stop close by and visitors (whether organ-lovers or their family) will find much to interest them in the neigh- bourhood.
TH OSE of us who have reached a certain age may remember a landmark series of recordings that were issued in the 1960s featuring Lionel Rogg playing Bach on the new Metzler organ of the Grossmunster, Zurich. These recordings were an all-Swiss affair. Lionel Rogg was born in Geneva in 1936, the recordings were made by the Technical Service of Radio Zurich, and the firm of Metzler is based close by. The organ was heavily influenced by the organ reform movement and is a large instrument of 4 manuals and 67 stops. Photographs show an imposing instrument, set on a gallery and arranged in a Werkprinzip manner. The action is mechanical but the stop action is electro-pneumatic. All sec- tions are encased, the casing painted a fetching shade of green and the front pipes decorated. Usually the player is unseen behind the Ruckpositif. Here there appear to be two ruckpositifs, one moved to the left and one moved to the right with the player visible between them.
Possibly these sections are the Chorpositiv and the Schwellpositiv. There are twelve or so reed stops distributed around the vari- ous manuals. However the only Great reed is a Spanische Trompete set en- chamade just above the player’s head, available at 16 and 8 foot pitch. This is surely not a chorus reed and it seems out of character with the rest of the instrument. Many organ designers seem to have a strange desire to include ‘odd’ stops. Examples that spring to mind are the French style reeds on the RFH Harrison and the high pressure, Willis style tuba on the Tonbridge Marcussen. As might be expected, the Grossmunster organ has a number of mixture ranks. If we ignore the two cornet stops, there are no less than 29 mixture ranks. This sounds like a recipe for possible disaster, but the recordings show that the organ does not ‘scream’ although the choruses do have a hard edge.
It is tempting to suppose that this instrument played a part when Trinity College, Cambridge, decided in the early 1970s to commission a new organ from Metzler. This wasn’t the first organ in Cambridge by a continental builder, but it was the first Swiss one. The KCOA visited the organ in 1981 and it proved to be an interesting instrument. Set on a gallery, it looks for all the world like an 18th century organ. This is due in no small measure to the case, which is from the late 1600’s Father Smith organ. A consider- able amount of Father Smith pipework survives too; the Great has a complete Father Smith diapason chorus of 5 stops from 16ft Principal to 2ft super octave.
However the Swell is pure Metzler. The action is mechanical and so is the stop mechanism, therefore there are no combination pistons and certainly no sequencer. There are seven foot pedals but it seems that some of them work the couplers leaving only a few to select various combinations. The stop jambs are not angled but are set flat and roughly level with the front of the Great keys. An unusual feature, but probably not unique, is that all four divisions have their stops partly on the left hand jamb, and partly on the right hand one. The diapason chorus stops are on the left and the flutes and mutations are on the right. The reeds appear to be scattered at random, but probably conform to some Swiss logic. The stop mechanism seems to be a case of archaism for its own sake, making the organ much more difficult to play without having any effect on the sound. However Trinity College seem quite content to use an electric blower.
The previous Trinity organ had a number of the larger pipes in the ante- chapel; although Metzler decided that all the pipework must be in the case, which is why there is no pedal 32-foot stop.
On first sight there is lit tle similarity between the Trinity organ and the Grossmunster one. However, in the course of writing this article I came across a Metzler organ, built in 1969 for the Roman Catholic church in Frauenfeld, Switzerland. This looks very like the Trinity organ, even to the gilded pipe mouths, but is slightly larger with 44 stops as against 42 for Trinity. The stop lists however are strikingly similar and both instruments are entirely mechanical. Whether one instrument served as a model for the other, or whether this is a case of Anglo-Swiss cross-fertilization is open to conjecture, but there must be some- one out there who knows.
(The writer acknowledges