Author Topic: Carlo Curley's touring organ and Wurlitzer at East Sussex National Uckfield  (Read 11929 times)

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David Pinnegar

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Hi!

I'm told that on Sunday Carlo Curley is playing his old Allen at the East Sussex National Golf Club at 3pm. I don't have more details than that but no doubt they are hiding somewhere on the net to be found . . . ?

However, it's not really his old Allen but a new set of sampled sounds hiding behind the drawstops. I happened to see it in the Summer but it was not really finished enough for me to give an objective opinion about it other than to say that at the time it was certainly not giving the sort of effect that we remember inspiring crowds at the Alexandra Palace in the 1980s . . .

So the recital should be interesting . . . at least.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2012, 01:19:06 AM »
There's a big new 4m Wurlitzer there too - could you please go and investigate for us?  :)

dragonser

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2012, 11:53:50 AM »
Hi,
there was a previous EOCS visit there, but it was one I didn't manage to get along to.
I hope that anyone that can get along lets us know that they thought.
from an online article "utilises four Artisan Sound Engines to digitally produce the 162 stops ('colours') spread over the 4-manual and pedal ('keyboard') console which has been re-fitted with a modern Artisan MicroMIDI control system. "

regards Peter B

David Pinnegar

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2012, 12:07:22 PM »
Hi!

The Wurlitzer is a lovely no expense spared installation but . . . there is a delay between manuals and pedals - pedals sounding perceptably 1/4 second late - that makes it very difficult to play and anyone who succeeds is a genius!

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2012, 01:15:06 PM »
So what's causing such a problem with such a prestigious instrument? Are there any concerts on it?

I understand that the voicing was worked on by Keith Bance and David Frostick - men trained at Nicholson by Denys Thurlow on Schwimmer-winded  neoclassical organs... about as far away from a Wurlitzer as you could imagine!
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 04:53:42 PM by pcnd5584 »

David Drinkell

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2012, 05:06:32 AM »
Carlo's touring organs are a bit like Queen Elizabeth's beds.  He came to Belfast Cathedral once to do a Christmas Spectacular (it was broadcast on Radio 3).  The current touring organ wasn't available, so the instrument which was used (along with the Harrison) was borrowed for the occasion from a parish church somewhere in the Home Counties.

One touring organ was lodged in Harwich Parish Church when Carlo was in the States.  I remember having a whirl on it.  At the time, the church organ (an historically important one by Flight) was sick unto death - a state in which I found it when I first took up organ playing some 45 years ago and in which it continued until Peter Bumstead restored it in 1992!  I think the Allen connection came about because Carlo was friends with Michael Woodward, who lived in the town.  Christopher Dearnley had a house there too, so the old Flight got quite a bit of playing, despite being in such a state.

David Pinnegar

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2012, 12:43:46 AM »
Hi!

I had the good fortune today to be dragged by a friend to come to this concert. In the summer I had seen the instrument and its setting and tried a stop or two and I apologise wholeheartedly for not having had the vision to have understood what was possible.

Elsewhere on this forum in Believer's Corner there is a thread about "What would you do with £25M" and certainly the visionary behind the East Sussex National Golf Course and hotel and concert / dinner / dancing facilities incorporating too his passions for organ with both this instrument and the Wurlitzer, which I understand has had considerable work done to it since I experienced it in the summer with good result, knew just what to do.

The venue is superb and . . . whilst expecting the worst, I found the current incarnation of Carlo's touring organ absolutely superb. Perhaps of the 100s of stops there might be two or three which need more work beyond today's inaugural recital, but the experience of organ music through this instrument and at this venue is very fine. An audience of 300 or more perhaps (there were probably around 300 attending today) can be accommodated in warmth, comfort and familiar surroundings and it provides a great way for people unfamiliar with the King of Instruments to be introduced to it in comfort without risk of being put off at square one . . .

Carlo's programme today was intended to show the available tone colours and certainly when he brought on a Wurlitzeresque tremulant a few smiles came to many people's faces.

The console and manuals were captured by cameras and shown on a big screen, which vibrated visibly near the beginning to the vibrations of a 64ft . . . !

And to cap it all, at the back was a stall selling music and CDs in aid of the Alexandra Palace organ fund . . . at significantly bargain prices so noone could come away with any excuse not to have a library of organ recordings to enjoy.

Carlo was clearly very much at home with the instrument and whilst the innards are no longer Allen, the rebuild of a specification of sampled sounds faithful to the original stoplist has worked superbly.

This is a venue and an instrument capable of significant inspiration and concerts are worthy of support in the future.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

wurlitzerwilly

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2012, 03:04:06 PM »
Hello all.

David has posted me a link here which has prompted me to join in.  :)

As the co-rebuilder of what is now to be known as the Carlo Curley Touring Organ (abbreviate to CCOrgan if you wish) and having had a hand in various aspects of the 4/32 WurliTzer, I'm pleased to answer any questions about the Uckfield installation, to the best of my current knowledge.

A few facts:

There are only two parts of the original Allen actually in use at ESN - The console shell (with stops, keyboards etc) and two of the bass/mid-range cabinets (now located beneath the stage). The 16' and 32' ranks are further augmented by two Allen SR1 bass enclosures, which use passive resonator technology. Even the pedal lighting is now LED, because the original bulbs failed and are a very odd sized Edison Screw (110volt).
The entire control system (relay) is Artisan uMIDI which is powered by a small 5volt power supply and is programmable via MIDI. The action current is supplied by two 30volt 30amp switch mode power supplies.
There are four Asus 'T' series PCs carrying the samples over the divisions. 1) Pedal/Choir/Bombarde. 2) Great. 3) Swell. 4) Solo/Positiv.
The operating system is Linux which supports the Artisan Sound Engine software.
The Artisan software was chosen at the time of commission because they were the only company who could provide samples that would cover the entire stop range of the organ. Things have since moved on an there are now other choices - using several sample sets of known organs and Hauptwerk could produce the same requirement.
Each PC contains an M-Audio Delta 1010LT sound card, each capable of 10 (mono) audio channels (5 stereo when paired). These in turn feed 20 x Behringer TRUTH 2031A studio monitors, located above the console, in conjunction with 8 x Behringer monitors - 4 each side of the auditorium near the ceiling. There are a further 2 x Behringer monitors located high up on the rear wall, which carry audio from the Antiphonal division, which is made up of ranks from the Solo and Bombarde divisions.
The bass bins are fed from a single 1200 watt amplifier (I forget the {UK} manufacture) and we have a 2nd spare similar amplifier, which I don't think we're going to need! ;)

David is right - there are some samples that are dubious to downright horrible. There is an intention to improve on these!
The Vox in the Swell IS a WurliTzer Vox, complete with fully sampled theatre tremulant! It was a trial and Carlo loves it, so it stays. :D

Unfortunately, unlike Hauptwerk and some others, the Artisan software does not allow true voicing.  The tools are somewhat crude and although Artisan have brought out a revised system to run on their hardware sound engines, it only really provides a rudimentary GUI interface for the existing facilities. We don't have that luxury at Uckfield. All that is provided is a 'volume control' for each rank to allow balancing, a tremulant depth and speed control and an audio channel routing control, either in mono or stereo. There is also volume control over individual pipes, if the odd sample is found to be 'off'. There is no tuning control and no voicing such as brightness etc. We had to make do with what is provided and with hindsight,  I would not do it that way again. Absolutely every aspect of software in the sound engines has to be hand written via a text file, then the entire division/s re-loaded before any alterations can be heard. It is possible to vary the tuning of the entire organ, so that if a duet concert was performed in conjunction with the WurliTzer, it would be easier to retune the CCOrgan to match, rather than retune the entire 32 ranks of real WurliTzer pipes!!!

Over the past year, tuning has been a major bone of contention and we've almost come to blows to obtain correctly tuned replacements. In fact the DoppelFlute 8' in the Choir and the Octavin 2' in the Swell were only replaced 2 days ago, despite the Internet's best efforts to prevent us downloading them.  :-\


Regarding the WurliTzer - many ranks were adjusted and tuned by Len Rawle and Keith Bance. David Frostick has never been involved. The entire organ was to have been tonally finished by Clarke Wilson and John Struve (USA) but due to illness, they could not make it. Recently Ed and Patti Zolmann were recommended, after their impressive work at Howden-Le-Wear and they have spent over two months carrying out a tonal finishing programme as well as a brief visit to make improvements at Singing Hills. Apart from some pedal ranks that need some serious heavy engineering, the organ sounds $1million. I won't say much more for fear of being accused of professional bias, but it's a shame that the Opus 2 relay doesn't do the organ justice at this time. How Michael Wooldridge manages to gloss over any issues that appear during the monthly tea dances can only be due to his dedication and professionalism.

My £5 worth. Any more, please feel free to ask.

Regards,

Alan.

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2012, 04:48:09 PM »
Interesting to note it's using Linux - I've recently acquired a very good bespoke PC (secondhand - it's enormously capable, with a 4GHz processor, but my friend who built it is now exceeding its limitations!) with which I shall replace my current junk PC - and it will be my first ever 100% Microsoft-free computer, running Linux. Apparently it's much more reliable than Windows, as well as being rather faster.

As for the Wurlitzer, when, if at all, are there going to be any concerts on it?

wurlitzerwilly

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2012, 09:49:49 AM »
I really don't like Linux, it's far too geeky and fiddly for me. Also, it doesn't have the driver and tools support that Windows has. I don't think it's necessarily faster than Windows, provided that you remove all of the unnecessary services and any bloatware that came with it. I just built a PC with an i7 and an SSD running Windows 7 and it is the fastest thing I've ever seen. It loads our Paramount 332 with Hauptwerk in < 1 minute from pressing the 'on' button.

I think the 1st major concert on the ESN WurliTzer will be in March or April. I'll check for you.
As soon as there are definite dates, they will be on one of my websites:
www.theatreorgans.co.uk select Concerts from the menu.

Regards,

Alan.

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2012, 03:24:30 PM »
Have you ever encountered Ubuntu? It's Linux-based but perhaps rather more user-friendly.

rh1306

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2012, 07:02:59 PM »
Hi,

The inagural concert on the Wurlitzer at the East Sussex National Hotel and Golf Club will be given by Richard Hills and Michael Wooldridge on Saturday, 21st April, 2011 at 7pm.  Contact 01825 880088 for bookings.

Regards,

Richard

revtonynewnham

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2012, 07:06:45 PM »
Hi

For what it's worth, Ubuntu isn't Linux-based, it's one of a number of different versions of Linux!

Tony

wurlitzerwilly

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2012, 01:36:56 AM »
Hi,

The inagural concert on the Wurlitzer at the East Sussex National Hotel and Golf Club will be given by Richard Hills and Michael Wooldridge on Saturday, 21st April, 2011 at 7pm.  Contact 01825 880088 for bookings.

Regards,

Richard
Thanks for reminding me Richard. Saves me digging through my paperwork.  ;D

Regards,

Alan.

wurlitzerwilly

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2012, 01:51:38 AM »
Hi

For what it's worth, Ubuntu isn't Linux-based, it's one of a number of different versions of Linux!

Tony
Yes Tony, I'm well aware of Ubuntu as that's what the Artisan Sound Engines run on at Uckfield. Unfortunately they're using a rather old version - Ubuntu v5 - to avoid latency issues and that version doesn't have support for many modern facilities, such as PCIe, much to my dismay.  :(

I still find Ubuntu geeky and not especially friendly. Its security is just so far over the top for 'normal' users who are not on a network and don't need the infernal nannying.

There's a 'console' that comes with the Delta 1010LT cards, but Linux doesn't support that either. It would make life so much easier if it did, as the console has real-time input and output bar graphs, which would make setting up far more friendly.

Even with the new Sound Engines which use Suse, the facilities are fairly crude and there appears to be one useful (NOT) 'feature' which picks up wheel presses from the mouse and dumps random text all over the definition file when using the editor, which cannot be removed. Grrrr......

To me, having to open a Terminal and type "killall sep" to stop the Sound Engine and to type "./ase" to restart it, is like living back in the dark ages of DOS!

Believe me, as an Assembler programmer, I like nothing better than delving into code at bit level, but to have to do almost that to get round a GUI based OS is crude in the extreme.

Regards,

Alan.

David Pinnegar

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Re: Carlo Curley at Uckfield on Sunday on the reincarnation of his Allen
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2012, 04:21:20 PM »
To me, having to open a Terminal and type "killall sep" to stop the Sound Engine and to type "./ase" to restart it, is like living back in the dark ages of DOS!

Believe me, as an Assembler programmer, I like nothing better than delving into code at bit level, but to have to do almost that to get round a GUI based OS is crude in the extreme.

As this is hardly an off-the-shelf commercially produced product which could thereby be a threat to pipe organs, it would seem appropriate to move this thread into the "Inspirational Organs" category . . . ?

Best wishes

David P

David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

David Pinnegar

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Hi!

As Carlo Curley inspired a generation, and as it was particularly with this instrument in its former incarnation with which he did much, it seems appropriate to include here the history that Carlo has recounted . . .

Best wishes

David P

Quote
The instrument you will be hearing this afternoon represents a most important chapter of my career as a concert organist. I had closely observed the tours performed by my teacher, the pre-eminent virtuoso, Dr. Virgil Fox and while he performed on many of the world’s finest in situ pipe-organs, when I became acquainted with him, a major portion of his work consisted of going to organ-less venues and performing in both solo and orchestral context with a comprehensive 3-manual electronic instrument. Therefore I soon came to realise the importance of having a mobile organ that would allow organ music to be presented virtually anywhere.

In 19711 played the very first digital computer organ built by Allen Organ Company in conjunction with North American Rockwell. I was joined by many of my colleagues in being mightily impressed that Allen’s effort was indeed the first commercially available musical instrument which generated sound via digital means.

Therefore in late 1974 I commissioned a large 4-manual ‘road organ’ from Allen thanks to the generosity of my patron, Mrs. Florence Candler of the Atlanta Coca-Cola family. Florence had been a close friend of Virgil Fox for many years and it was through her connection that I came to meet and play for him. (She loved organ music and in the Music Room of the Candler mansion there had been installed a 4-manual, 88-rank Aeolian pipe-organ. There is nothing quite like having a cathedral-sized organ in one’s residence!)

Allow me to quote from a Curley touring organ programme I recently discovered in a file dating from 1975:

“In the beginning. . . came the soaring tidal wave sonorities of the pipe-organ — followed now by the debut of a new musical medium, with an almost boundless repertoire of sounds, embellishments and nuance.
 
 
Built to Carlo Curley’s exact specification by the Allen Organ Company of Macungie, Pennsylvania (USA), this giant, one-of-a-kind 5,500 watt instrument incorporates no pipes. It’s in the forefront of an historic leap forward into the space-program realm of micro-circuits and digital computers. Standard organ keys and stops control seven specialized digital computers to produce through 380 speakers housed in 50 enclosures: 1) — A full range of pipe-organ sounds, as well as 2) — Tremendous theatre organ timbres and — heretofore impossible — 3) — Unshackle the artist from recording studio limits to perform the works of great composers in the contemporary sound of the analogue synthesizer.

Three instruments in one, yet, though all 400,000 micro and macro parts of this giant weigh in at better than three and one-half tons, after each of Carlo Curley’s performances on tour, the entire unit can be packed up and moved, making it truly one of the largest portable music mediums in existence today.”

After a year of transporting this behemoth ‘from sea to shining sea’ in North America I chanced to be visited by the doyen of English master organists, Dr. (later Sir) George Thalben-Ball, Organist and Choirmaster of London’s Temple Church. At Virgil Fox’s recommendation I had travelled to London in 1970/71 for a period of private study with ‘The Doctor’ and a long and steadfast friendship grew from these sessions. He chanced to attend a recital in Pennsylvania where the Touring Organ was used and at the post performance supper he suggested that I should consider bringing the instrument to the UK and present a Summer series of concerts in the Great Hall of Alexandra Palace. He knew the venue quite well having performed and recorded on the famous ‘Father’ Willis pipe-organ in the Great Hall. (The Willis had suffered from war damage and neglect in general and had been removed to storage. Only the organ’s swell boxes, inner frame-work and massive 32’ metal Diapason façade pipes remained.)
 

 
 
When I was next in London I visited the ‘Ally Pally’ with The Doctor and through his contacts I met a member of the Greater London Council Parks Departments, which owned and managed the Palace.

And the rest, as the old saying goes, is history. The organ arrived to much fanfare. The Press couldn’t seem to get enough of it and both national and local television, radio and newspapers spread the word far and wide that organ music had returned to the Ally Pally. From 1976 through to 1979 the Summer series drew record attendances, sometimes in excess of 3,000, quite unheard of given that a normal audience for a church recital usually drew between 40 and 50! And Thalben-Ball volunteered to give one of the Palace recitals, which was magical.

It didn’t take an Einstein to figure out that I needed to consider downsizing to an instrument far easier to move and install. While Florence Candler had so kindly underwritten the organ’s cost, sadly she did not provide a sinking fund to keep it afloat. Given that organists have never been paid rock-star fees for their services, it came as no surprise that often the performance funds barely covered the cost of maintaining a truck and driver/engineer so the decision was taken to sell the organ in 1979.

it eventually found its way to a private home in Hove and now ‘hangs its hat’ here in the National Suite where the inner workings have all been brought to 21st Century standard. Details of the modernized and enhanced instrument follow gleaned from a recent Press Release:

“This state-of-the-art musical behemoth weighs in excess of one ton and utilize3 four Artisan Sound Engines to digitally produce the 162 stops (‘colours’) spread over the 4-manual and pedal (‘keyboard’) console which has been re-fitted with c modern Artisan MicroMIDI control system. Curley refers to the console as
flight-deck of the 777”. The tonalities are heard in the auditorium via thirtj speaker enclosures and four woofer/subwoofer units, the latter faithfully reproducing the low 16 to 32-Hz pitches as found in the largest pipe-organs 6,500-watts of audio power the organ’s tonal delivery to every corner of the 400 seat haiL The work was carried out by Alan Baker and David Houlgate.”
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

AnOrganCornucopia

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Well, the Wurlitzer is in pretty fine shape now - just a few tiny troubles remaining on Friday evening. Troublesome pedals are all sorted and an Opus II update installed...

David Pinnegar

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What troubles on pedals?

When I visited in the course of installation there was a differential delay between manuals and pedals.

And what is an Opus II update?

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

AnOrganCornucopia

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Pedal bite points were all over the place and there was one pedal high up the 'board which needed a hefty wallop right into the felts to get the note to sound. It turned out the magnet on the underneath of the pedal was several mm from where it needed to be and was barely communicating with the sensor underneath, so we moved that and got it working properly.

Opus II is the relay system, all computer-controlled - the console actually has two on-board processors complete with fan cooling unit, like a mini-PC. The pedal bite points were adjusted by Peter through his laptop, adjusting all sorts of values while talking on Skype to the man in Canada who purveys this software. A big update was installed which fixed various things - I don't really understand it so we'll need to get Peter to answer. He posts occasionally here as Peter H.

 


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