Author Topic: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell  (Read 7460 times)

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Neil Crawford

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Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« on: October 21, 2014, 06:06:32 PM »
Kenneth Tickell
Manchester Cathedral, UK
Kenneth Tickell and Company are proud to announce that they have been commissioned to build a new organ for the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George in Manchester.
The new organ has been designed to enhance worship in both the chancel and nave of the cathedral, as well as being a distinguished concert and recital instrument. The musical and liturgical needs of a cathedral should govern the design and placement of an instrument, and for most of the working life of this cathedral an organ, or portions of an organ, have been included on the screen. The beautiful medieval screen will be reinforced to allow the new organ to sit above it with case fronts facing both East to the altar and quire, where daily services are sung, and West to the newly paved nave where Sunday morning services, many concerts and diocesan services take place.
The new organ, of six divisions, comprises 79 stops over four manuals and pedal. The main screen case will contain the Great, Swell and Pedal, arranged to speak equally east and west. A Choir organ speaks east into the chancel and a west facing Positive organ provides solo repertoire orientated stops. Both of these divisions will play from the same manual. On the south side of the chancel, a two-level Solo organ will be provided in a position least evident from the nave, allowing new eastward vistas to be revealed when the current organ is removed. The Jesus Chapel pedal 32' stops will be retained as will two of the high pressure solo reeds and the Contre Viole. The organ will have tracker key action for Great, Swell, Positive and screen Pedal, and electric action for the Solo, Choir and 32' pedal chests. All coupling will be electric.
The organ may be played from either of two consoles; a mechanical action screen console positioned on the north side of the case, or the mobile electric-action console in the main body of the building. Construction will begin in the workshop in 2015 with completion early in 2017.

http://www.tickell-organs.co.uk/specInfo/Manchester.htm
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Northern Friend

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2015, 04:10:34 PM »
Yes this finally appears to be going ahead. A possible new organ built on the medieval screen was first proposed about 30 years ago. The current 4 manual Harrison was installed after the previous Wm. Hill organ on the screen was destroyed. The current organ enclosed in boxes down the north and south quire aisles is rather 'Harrison-esque' - a lot of organ fitted in a small space. Someone once referred to it as 'a buried giant'. I don't think it's been one of Harrison's better ones. Most of the metal pipes are heavy plain metal - the best and brighter of them and in terms of sound are the Solo strings and reeds.
This new proposal and stops spec. looks really good and exciting to me. The pipework being kept I consider is of the best that exists. the 16' Viole from the Solo with the 2 heavy pressure reeds, French Horn and Tuba - nice round orchestral stops. Both enclosed on big pressure - around 500mm or 20 inches. The Pedal 32s very Harrison big round scale - full length and in a side chapel where in the main body of the nave it's not too obvious where the sound is emerging from. The Ophicleides are big - again like seems to be on other Harrisons i.e. Durham Cath. with the pedal reeds are as big as the Tuba. These pedal reeds at Manchester are on around 460mm or 18 inches.
Anyway a new bright sounding organ with mechanical action as well as electric and electric detached console - Great Stuff!!   

David Drinkell

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2015, 07:20:08 PM »
There were two tubas - an 'Orchestral Tuba' and a big one - "Norman Cocker's Tuba".  The latter, I believe, was removed a while ago and has been lying around at Harrisons' ever since.  Is it coming back, I wonder?

Northern Friend

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2015, 11:58:44 AM »
Hi David
Yes I remember the "Tuba Magna" as a boy chorister there in the 60s and 70s. There were originally two consoles - one in the quire and another in the nave. Harrisons did some work on the action electrics and cleaned it in the 70s. The Nave console was removed and the Quire console was placed on the screen. As the central screen was where the Tuba Magna was situated - it was removed for the console to go in its place. I wonder whether Harrisons still have this pipework after all this time.
Talking of Norman Cocker - it does take me back to the then organist Derrick Cantrell who occasionally played Cocker's Tuba Tune and used the very same tuba during the piece. 

pcnd5584

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2015, 11:52:28 PM »
Yes this finally appears to be going ahead. A possible new organ built on the medieval screen was first proposed about 30 years ago. The current 4 manual Harrison was installed after the previous Wm. Hill organ on the screen was destroyed. The current organ enclosed in boxes down the north and south quire aisles is rather 'Harrison-esque' - a lot of organ fitted in a small space. Someone once referred to it as 'a buried giant'. I don't think it's been one of Harrison's better ones. ....

This may have been largely the fault of Norman Cocker. His scheme for the previous instrtument (mostly destroyed in WWII) was far better. Allan Wicks (appointed after the death of Cocker) was able to secure a few last-minute alterations to the stop-list, but there are still a number of oddities and departures from Harrisons' normal practice. Remember too that the organ was first installed between 1952-57 and there would still have been restrictions on the purchase of certain materials - to say nothing of a shortage of funds. Much of it, like many other reconstituted instruments built at this time, was almost certainly done 'on the cheap'.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 01:39:24 AM by pcnd5584 »
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David Drinkell

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2015, 07:04:51 AM »
For a lot of its life, at least, most of the Hill was off the screen, the only portion in the Scott case being a very powerful chorus to mixture plus big tuba.  The present organ thus perpetuates the previous layout.

I agree that Cocker's 1930s scheme was a masterly essay in pulling all the elements together (including the 'Father Smith' organ which had hitherto been a separate entity).  Cocker's essay on the subject in "The Organ" remains one of the best.

With Allan Wicks's modifications, I think the present scheme - on paper - is one of the best of the period.  It is more imaginative and versatile than St. John's College, Cambridge, which was always hailed as a forward-looking design.  In practice,  I make no judgement as I only heard the beast once.  I can well imagine that the 'works' may have given trouble from early on, bearing in mind that parts were already old and probably considerably shaken-up from the Blitz.  Then there would have been a whole army of top-note chests, etc.  I am firmly in favour of the extra notes at the top to accommodate the octave couplers (I think one has to live with an instrument so-equipped to realise how valuable this is), but they need to be there from the beginning (as they usually are in North America) and not grafted on later.

I didn't know until I read this correspondence that the big Tuba was horizontal on the screen.  By 'Eck!!

Northern Friend

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2015, 05:34:59 PM »
That's interesting - re the chorus to mixture and big tuba on the screen. I think that the plan in the 70s must have been to reinstate this in some way. I vaguely recall that the plan was to have a screen Great and no doubt retain the existing screen Tuba.
Re the previous post - I was a chorister at the time the Tuba was on the screen. I recall a small soundboard with the hooded pipes of the Tuba on the floor of the screen however any of the pipes over 3 foot tall must have been horizontal - I can't remember any pipes as tall as a smallish choirboy!!
I take your point about shortage of materials - I guess certainly tin or tin alloy pipes would have been rare at that time.
Despite all this it is of credit that the current Harrison probably made to a budget has been effective and supported high quality music and musicians for around 60 years. 

David Drinkell

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2015, 07:17:05 PM »
Cocker originally planned for a complete screen division, but funds were not sufficient to include it.  In fact, he had visions of an enormous amount of organ, including electronic divisions, to serve various parts of the building and hoped to pipe sections would be built by Harrison and Compton as a joint effort.  That would have been interesting....

Nearly all British organ work after World War 2 consisted of recycling old material.  The Milton Organ at Tewkesbury has been quoted as an extreme example of the practice. Although it sounded remarkably well, its innards were a nightmare and gave varying amounts of trouble until Ken Jones built a new organ fairly recently.  Similarly, Nicholson's St. Edmundsbury Cathedral organ suffered from re-use of old soundboards and action.  One of the contributing factors to the huge success of Manders' work at St. Paul's was that everything mechanical and electrical was new, thus allowing the old pipes to speak their best.

Terz

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2015, 10:07:37 AM »
The use of re-cycled parts was one of the reasons George Pace (not in fashion at the moment) designed wooden screens to hide it all.  It gave him control of what the finished organ casework looked like instead of leaving it very much to chance with organ builders' re-cycled front pipes.

Barrie Davis

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2015, 10:41:39 AM »
I have seen Cockers scheme for the Harrison/Compton somewhere but cannot remember where can anyone help me to find it again.

pcnd5584

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2015, 01:52:11 PM »
Cocker originally planned for a complete screen division, but funds were not sufficient to include it.  In fact, he had visions of an enormous amount of organ, including electronic divisions, to serve various parts of the building and hoped to pipe sections would be built by Harrison and Compton as a joint effort.  That would have been interesting.... ...

...And probably bizarre. Thank goodness it was never built. The Cocker/Wicks/H&H is quite weird enough for my taste....
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David Drinkell

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2015, 05:02:15 PM »
It was different, certainly, but I'd be interested to know in what ways you find it weird.  I don't think I would have wanted so much duplication of solo stops to different departments, although I can see where Cocker was coming from.  For the rest of it, I think it's a clever, forward-looking scheme.

It's rather big for a building that size (in the UK, anyway - in the States I suppose it would be small!).

pcnd5584

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2015, 07:56:42 PM »
It was different, certainly, but I'd be interested to know in what ways you find it weird.  I don't think I would have wanted so much duplication of solo stops to different departments, although I can see where Cocker was coming from.  For the rest of it, I think it's a clever, forward-looking scheme.

It's rather big for a building that size (in the UK, anyway - in the States I suppose it would be small!).

There are a number of things. Firstly, as you state, the multiple duplication of certain G.O. and Solo Organ reeds. Given that Cocker was also a cinema organist, I too can imagine what he may have had in mind - but I still regard this as wasteful.

Secondly the mixture scheme. As built in 1952-57, the G.O. had a miserly little three-ranik compound stop, commencing at 22-26-29. True, in 1979 the Nineteenth rank was added to the Mixture, and itself replaced by a Seventeenth. (God knows why - there was already a separate Tierce on the Choir Organ and a two-rank Sesquialtera  of 12-17 on the Swell Organ; I certainly would not want a diapason Seventeenth as well.) However, also in 1979, the Swell Mixture was reduced from five ranks to four, the thirty-third rank being dispensed with. This now left both chorus mixtures as 19-22-26-29. Given that the Choir Organ culminates in a Twenty Second, but has no compound stop and the Solo Organ has a slightly odd scheme (I shall return to this aspect), as far as I am concerned, this large instrument is deficient in upper-work - particularly for the period.

Then there is the Solo Organ - which simply does not know what it wants to be. It has a family of strings (though no Cornet des Violes), but then it has a really odd flute chorus, based on a Spitzflöte. However, the 4ft. is a  Flūte Harmonique - then there is a Nazard, a Blockflute and a Flageolet (the latter at 1ft. pitch). What was Cocker thinking? No Romantic Solo unuison flute, a mixture of scales and voicing for the rest. Presumably the Nazard, Blockflute and Flageolet are all fairly wide-scale, so these are unlikely to mix with the Flūte Harmonique. Then this is capped by, of all things, a Tierce Cymbel. (I know it is not labelled as such - but it contains 31st rank). There are undoubtedly some uses for such a stop - the one on the Swell at Gloucester does add materially to the tutti - but there are far more uses for a Cymbel which consists of quint and unison ranks. In any case, a Cymbel would be far more useful on the Choir Organ, with the Solo Organ having a better selection of quiet orchestral reeds. There is only one Clarinet (on the Choir Organ), no Orchestral Hautboy or Cor Anglais - and no quiet reed at 16ft. pitch
« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 01:42:48 AM by pcnd5584 »
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David Drinkell

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2015, 02:59:53 PM »
I agree - all that you mention seems odd.  But for the period I think it was a rather daring and forward-looking scheme.  In particular, the Solo had a lot of potential for interesting registration and the little cymbal could have been coupled and various pitches to increase the interest on any other manual.  I imagine Cocker specified a viole cornet there and Allan Wicks got it changed. Likewise, the overall Mixture scheme was, I believe, Wicks's and presumably had to fit in with what was already prepared in a scheme which was well-advanced when he took over.  The Great Nineteenth could have been quite useful in chorus building, particularly when one remembers that there were octave couplers on the Great.  I, too, don't care for principal-toned tierces (I had one at St. Magnus Cathedral).  Francis Jackson had a Larigot on the Great at York.  At one time, Holy Rude, Stirling had the Great twelfth transposed to make a nineteenth.  While I instinctively felt that it was wrong to alter Rushworth's masterpiece (other things happened, too), I also had a sneaking feeling that it was more useful (I often think a lot of twelfths are not much use, although now and again I come across one which is just right).

pcnd5584

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2015, 04:46:37 PM »
I agree - all that you mention seems odd.  But for the period I think it was a rather daring and forward-looking scheme.  In particular, the Solo had a lot of potential for interesting registration and the little cymbal could have been coupled and various pitches to increase the interest on any other manual.  I imagine Cocker specified a viole cornet there and Allan Wicks got it changed. Likewise, the overall Mixture scheme was, I believe, Wicks's and presumably had to fit in with what was already prepared in a scheme which was well-advanced when he took over.  The Great Nineteenth could have been quite useful in chorus building, particularly when one remembers that there were octave couplers on the Great.  I, too, don't care for principal-toned tierces (I had one at St. Magnus Cathedral).  Francis Jackson had a Larigot on the Great at York.  At one time, Holy Rude, Stirling had the Great twelfth transposed to make a nineteenth.  While I instinctively felt that it was wrong to alter Rushworth's masterpiece (other things happened, too), I also had a sneaking feeling that it was more useful (I often think a lot of twelfths are not much use, although now and again I come across one which is just right).

Some excellent observations, David - I agree with all that you say. In particular, Stirling should be left as it is - a masterpiece of late Romantic organ building. I was interested to note that the mixture scheme was Wicks' own. Do you have any further details regarding changes which he was able to make, please?

Incidentally, although I have never played at Kirkwall Cathedral, I am in two minds about it - I think I almost prefer the original stop-list - at least on the Choir Organ. (As far as I am aware, you were not there in 1971, so I am hoping that it was not you who drew up the revised scheme....) However, I admit that the Pedal is more comprehensive (although I assume that the 32ft. is still acoustic, despite being re-named), the G.O. and Swell chorus work looks to be better, too. I would be interested to know what you thought of it, please.
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Northern Friend

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Re: Manchester Cathedral - Kenneth Tickell
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2016, 02:52:44 PM »
Visited Manchester and the cathedral last week and saw the new organ mid-construction. Beginning to look magnificent! A huge undertaking as confirmed by the guys there from Tickell's. Essentially a 5 manual on 4.
Hybrid mechanical and electric actions.
Evidence of superb casework and saw some of the east display pipes being gilded. Whilst a good deal of scaffolding blocks the full view - found some good photos on the Manchester Cathedral Face Book page and on the FB page of Shires Organ Pipes Ltd who seemed to have made the majority of the pipes.
Already looking forward to another visit a bit further down the line.

 


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