Author Topic: Sheffield Cathedral  (Read 22260 times)

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revtonynewnham

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Sheffield Cathedral
« on: October 10, 2012, 02:54:35 PM »
Hi

I heard today that the Mander pipe organ (long out of use) has been removed by a firm of organ builders - hopefully it will resurface elsewhere in due course.  at least it hasn't been dumped.  I don't know if a new or secondhand pipe organ is on the cards - I'll post again if I hear more.

Every Blessing

Tony

Barrie Davis

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 09:36:58 AM »
Hi
I wonder who has removed it and what its ultimate destination will be. What was the matter with it, Manders work is normally firsy class.

Best wishes

Barrie

revtonynewnham

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 10:03:14 AM »
Hi Barrie

PM sent

Tony

David Drinkell

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2012, 04:41:34 AM »
It was a fine instrument in many ways and quite a sensation for its time.  Graham Matthews, who was organist for a long time, reckoned that it was more neo-classical than other cathedral organs, including Gloucester or Blackburn.  Be that as it may, I liked it.  The only things I felt it lacked were a substantial 16' reed on the manual - the Swell double reed was very light and there were no subs - and some warmer flutes and strings.  Sheffield Cathedral is (or was) a very awkward shape and I think the Mander organ did as good a job as was then possible.  The Nave Organ, with pipes by Stinckens, helped.  Mander was fond of this device - I think his first nave division was at Ashford Parish Church, unless Sheffield pre-dated it.  Has the building been altered again in recent years?  One must remember also, that Mander used the basis of a Father Willis organ from elsewhere and, as in other places, it may have been considered better to start again rather than work with a mixture of pipework and soundboards of varying ages.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2012, 04:43:14 AM by David Drinkell »

MusingMuso

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 01:35:26 PM »
The last time I played the pipe organ at Sheffield Cathedral was, I think, around 1998, and it seemed to be working fine. For whatever reason, it was much unloved by the cathedral staff, and from a choral accompaniment point of view, I have sympathy.

I never found it a bad organ.....quite the contrary, but there was a certain separation of styles which, I suspect, would not happen to-day.

I always think that the Walker/Willis re-build at Kendal PC was better, but that was probably down to the building and the position of the organ at the west end, as well as avoiding the mismatch of romantic and neo-baroque pipework.

Best,

MM


David Drinkell

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 05:19:09 AM »
Quite a lot of the fluework was Father Willis.  I don't find it wicked to treat it in the way Mander did here - mostly by adding quint mixtures.  Roger Yates did it at St. John's, Taunton, and that's a fabulous job.  It may have lacked a wide enough palette for choral accompaniment, although the Great was perhaps more useful in that respect than similar divisions elsewhere.  Canterbury is the same ('Not much good for accompanying the choir, is it?'  remarked Allan Wicks of the Choir Organ there).  I suppose that if Blackburn could be successfully augmented with romantic voices, the same could be done here if space permitted.  And it was a shame that the 32' stops were never put in (just as, at Canterbury, the 32' flue was discarded).  Maybe they wanted the space.  I looked at the cathedral website and the plan for refurbishing the inside included a space for the organ at the west end, with a reference to an historical organ which they proposed to 'rescue' - presumably the Warrington CC. Would it work?  The west end organ at Leicester is not always convenient (I've always liked the instrument itself, although it has been described as not the best Harrison about), and Chelmsford modified their plans to include a chancel organ after deciding to put the main organ at the west end.  Sheffield is, I would think, longer than Leicester or Chelmsford.

Who knows?  I am guilty of uninformed speculation - it's a long time since I played the organ and I'm sure that the excellent incumbent musicians will work out a plan which suits the place well.

MusingMuso

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2012, 04:25:46 PM »

 - it's a long time since I played the organ and I'm sure that the excellent incumbent musicians will work out a plan which suits the place well.



Yes, I'm sure Neil would be able to do what is required. He became organist of the church where I play after I left for London, and when I came north again and climbed back on the bench, he had moved on to London, then St Alban's, Norwich and eventually Sheffield.

Best,

MM

pcnd5584

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 10:22:14 PM »
Hi

I heard today that the Mander pipe organ (long out of use) has been removed by a firm of organ builders - hopefully it will resurface elsewhere in due course.  at least it hasn't been dumped.  I don't know if a new or secondhand pipe organ is on the cards - I'll post again if I hear more.

Every Blessing

Tony

This is interesting - as far as I knew, it was supposed to have been removed years ago. At one time, the authorities at Newquay Parish Church (Cornwall) expressed serious interest in it. However, the planned installation did not materialise and this church is now having a replacement pipe organ which is a combination of two existing instruments.

Could I also request details by PM, please, Tony?

I do have a recording of this instrument and, whilst perhaps not Mander's finest, it nevertheless seemed to acquit itself fairly well. I can only judge from the recording, but I am not sure of the accuracy of Graham Matthews' claim of it being more neo-Classical than Gloucester or Blackburn. It simply sounded middle-of-the-road 'enlightened' post-Romantic - if this convoluted description actually means anything.
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

David Drinkell

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2012, 05:29:41 AM »
[I do have a recording of this instrument and, whilst perhaps not Mander's finest, it nevertheless seemed to acquit itself fairly well. I can only judge from the recording, but I am not sure of the accuracy of Graham Matthews' claim of it being more neo-Classical than Gloucester or Blackburn. It simply sounded middle-of-the-road 'enlightened' post-Romantic - if this convoluted description actually means anything.

I think you may be right.  I was quoting what Graham Matthews said to me in 1978.  At that time, the instrument was fairly new and state-of-the-art.  Matthews lived with it for most of its life, having been appointed, I think, just after it was built. One feature, at least, was due to the previous organist - Thomas Hanforth - and that was that the solo reed, although en chamade, was a tuba and in no way a trompeta real (or whatever one may call them).  Cecil Clutton, in his write-up in 'The Organ' reckoned that it was something of an anachronism in the context, and he wasn't normally averse to tubas.

I certainly found Gloucester to be a lot more spikey and colourful, but whether that was pure neo-classicism or just Downesiness (to coin a phrase), I was never sure.  Downes organs have a certain family likeness, I think (I reckon Paisley Abbey is the best of them).  Sheffield could be very lively, but was more mainstream by the standards of the day.  The nave organ, though, was rather more neo-classical than the main organ, so the sound in the church may have been more startling than the rest of the instrument would suggest.

Blackburn Cathedral is the only Anglican Cathedral in England that I haven't visited, although there are a few more I haven't played in (Rochester, Lichfield, Wells, Lincoln, Oxford, Ripon, Manchester, Southwell, Wakefield, Birmingham,  Coventry, Newcastle, Bradford and Derby), but I understand that a combination of the instrument and the acoustic results in a mightily exciting sound.  Sheffield is not a straightforward building acoustically.

Pondering further, I can think of a few earlyish Manders which are very fine and well-handled, but rather careful.  Ashford Parish Church in Kent is one.  Corpus Christi, Cambridge broke new ground but is still just a trifle sedate.  I always thought St. Vedast, Foster Lane was a cracker, and St. Giles, Cripplegate equally or more so.  The latter had the advantage of a surprise up the sleeve in the form of the Willis reeds ('The Mighty Wurlitzer bit', as David Roblou described them).  The Sheffield organ had, I feel, few surprises and little scope for creating them, rather like comparing an old Hill with a Father Willis.

MusingMuso

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2012, 01:31:57 PM »
I last played the organ at Sheffield about 12 years ago, and it seemed much inloved by the cathedral staff. I don't know why, because it may not have been an organ which one rushed to hear, it wasn't one from which you sprinted afterwards.

I think the bigger problem was one of sighting and choir accompaniment; being thrust well back in a transept, from which sound only projected forwards. Nothing really seemed to "turn the corner" into the nave, (hence the nave sited division), and probably sounded unblanaced with the choir under most circumstances.

I'm afraid it comes down to the building, which is like a collection of different rooms stitched together and rather typical of many northern churches pressed into use as a cathedral. Acoustically, Blackburn is not without problems, and neither are Bradford and even Manchester; the latter almost square like Kendal Parish Church.

Of them all, from a listening and hearing point of view, Kendal is probably the most sucessful, though Blackburn is certainly the finest organ once you get up close. The Kendal solution was to place the organ at the West end, and it seems to work quite well, but then, that has other impications for the choir.

I'm afraid that English church architecture is not always conducive to a happy combination of organ, choir and congregation, and solving one problem often presents another. Clearly, we should rip the buildings down and start again; instead building them around the organ as they should have been in the first instance.

Best,

MM

flared_ophicleide

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2012, 12:11:19 AM »
The only things I felt it lacked were a substantial 16' reed on the manual - the Swell double reed was very light

I agree indeed.  According to the stoplist I found on NPOR, this 16' reed is a Crumhorn.  If a 16' Crumhorn is going to go anywhere in an organ, it should be put in a Positive.  At least a Contra Fagotto (if not a Double Trumpet) should be in the Swell, esp. in a cathedral organ.

When I visit Sheffield Cathedral in the spring, the organ may not be there then, but from what I've learned, the Cathedral, itself, is very fascinating.

pcnd5584

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2012, 01:29:59 PM »
The only things I felt it lacked were a substantial 16' reed on the manual - the Swell double reed was very light

I agree indeed.  According to the stoplist I found on NPOR, this 16' reed is a Crumhorn.  If a 16' Crumhorn is going to go anywhere in an organ, it should be put in a Positive.  At least a Contra Fagotto (if not a Double Trumpet) should be in the Swell, esp. in a cathedral organ. ...

Indeed - I almost wonder if there was a slight Downes influence, here; c.f. his instruments in Buckfast Abbey (Swell: Contra Clarinet 16ft., extended to 8ft.) and Saint Alban's Cathedral and Abbey (Swell: Corno di Bassetto 16ft.).

Incidentally, Tony (if you read this); could you try searching for the organ of Saint Alban's Cathedral and Abbey, Herts, on the NPOR - and, if successful, let me know what you typed in the 'Search by buildings' box, in order to find details of this instrument, please? I tried about eight or ten permutations (remembering to omit 'noise' words) - but with no success....

For the record, I even tried simply 'Hertfordshire', and got about thirty or so buildings - but not the cathedral. Surely this cathedral organ has been included by someone?

In the end, I tried the cathedral's website - which has a good photograph of the new H&H console and a detailed stoplist. I note with interest the additions (I wonder if they will ever put in their Nave Organ?) - including the large quantity of new fašade pipes (two ranks on the Pedal Organ and three on the G.O.). As far as I can recall, I do not believe that there is any extension in these stops, so it looks as if practically all of the case pipes have been replaced. Interesting - I wonder why?

I note also that the chorus mixtures have been re-pitched lower (again?) - and that the tierce rank has been removed from the Swell Cimbel, which now commences at 29-33-36. 

Perhaps the least surprising addition is the new 32ft. reed, although to judge from its name, I should imagine that it is fairly gentle - perhaps in the mold of that at Chichester Cathedral. Downes seemed frequently to eschew such stops.   The only examples I can recall are (obviously) the RFH (H&H) and Saint David's Hall. Cardiff (Collins). However, there are a number of examples of instruments designed by him, for large buildings, which did not possess such a rank: Buckfast Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral, Paisley Abbey and Saint Alban's Cathedral. This seems a little strange, since, when writing about the 32ft. Bombarde at the RFH, he said of it: '...increased the roundness and general musicality of this important but critical stop, as heard in the tutti'. *



* p. 177, Baroque Tricks: Adventures with the Organ Builders - Ralph Downes. Positif Press, Oxford. (1983.)           
« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 02:01:44 PM by pcnd5584 »
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Gwas_Bach

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2012, 04:48:42 PM »
pcnd,

"Albans Cathedral" works! Note the lack of an apostrophe.

flared_ophicleide

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2012, 05:31:08 PM »
Right. I keep having to remind myself that the NPOR search engine tends to be very picky about what you put in.

I looked on St. Albans' stoplist and saw that the Great has a 16' Bass Trumpet.  If I were asked by the organist and the Dean what changes I would make, I would say this....   

Without the added expense of adding or swapping ranks from the outside, I would move the Great Bass Trumpet to the Swell and put the C.d.B. on its own chest in the Solo.  Even without a double reed in the Great, the Great can still be very effective.  Temple Church, in London, has a similar arrangement in its Great.  Two double flues and no double reed.

Getting back to Sheffield:  it would be tempting to assume that R. Downes had a hand in the design of this organ.  Because I like to search for facts and truths, I couldn't find anything saying that there was a direct connection between Downes and Mander, or do I remember if there was.  Mander  included the 16' Crumhorn in the Swell.  It replaced Rushworth & Dreaper's Double Trumpet.  (God, what were they thinking?!)
« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 05:47:54 PM by flared_ophicleide »

David Drinkell

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2012, 07:53:14 PM »
Paisley has got the 32' reed now, added by Harrisons' at their restoration a few years ago.

Belfast Cathedral organ also had two flue doubles but no reed double on the Great.  However, it originally had (and now has again) a coupler 'Sub Octave Reeds'.  I wonder if the Glentanar organ, now in the Temple Church, was originally so equipped.

I don't think any of the Rushworth organ at Sheffield was used by Mander.  I believe that part of it (transept division?) went elsewhere as a new instrument.  When I played the Mander organ, about 1977, I got talking to an elderly gentleman who said that the Brindley organ had been very fine, but the Rushworth which succeeded it was less so.  Possibly positioning had something to do with this.  I think the Rushworth was mostly at the west end (so it had to come out when they extended the building in that direction) with a transept division which was mostly obtained by extension.  Isn't position a factor in replacing the Mander?  It's certainly a very odd shape of a building.

I can't, somehow, imagine Downes and Mander working together.  Too much determination on both sides.  I was, however,  once told by John Budgen (of Bishop & Son) that when the old Bishop organ at St. Giles, Camberwell came up for restoration, the church got to the point of agreeing on a scheme (to include electrification of the action) drawn up by Clutton and to be carried out by Mander.  In a last-minute change of mind, bishops' did the work with Downes as consultant and the tracker action was retained.

flared_ophicleide

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2012, 04:07:44 AM »
I can imagine the Brindley & Foster, whose stoplist I looked up just now, was a very nice instrument.  One B&F, I'm impressed with, is the one at Freemason Hall, Edinburgh.  Though it is smaller, it still gives one a good idea of the tonal concept.

As to the positioning of the Mander, this most certainly can have a major effect on musical delivery.  When considering an odd-shaped room, one should imagine sound waves moving throughout the room.  While doing so, he/she should ask the question: "what would get in the way of soundwaves?", or, "what's going to prevent the congregation or audience from hearing as much of the instrument as possible?"

One idea that comes to mind is to start out by finding a spot in the Cathedral where you can see as much of the space as possible in any direction, thereby establishing a possible site for the organ. Also, take into consideration any possible acoustical interruptions in the vaulting and ceiling, bearing in mind that, ideally, you want the pipework to be placed as high up as practical, since sound carries better when its source is elevated.

« Last Edit: November 25, 2012, 08:01:47 PM by flared_ophicleide »

revtonynewnham

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2012, 09:28:58 AM »
Hi

The NPOR site does have some suggestions re entering searches.  We don't usually use apostrophe's after saints names because it's not actually the correct designation (I'm told) It's always just the name (with a few odd exceptions such as St George's Hall - and St Paul's Cathedral because the then manager got fed up with complaints from people who hadn't read the instructions and couldn't find the info).

The best way to deal with NPOR searches is to put the MINIMUM info in and find what you want from the list of results.  And make sure the spelling is right!

Every Blessing

Tony

MusingMuso

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2012, 10:45:18 PM »
I can imagine the Brindley & Foster, whose stoplist I looked up just now, was a very nice instrument.  One B&F, I'm impressed with, is the one at Freemason Hall, Edinburgh.  Though it is smaller, it still gives one a good idea of the tonal concept.




===================


Indeed, the Brindley & Foster organ would have been a good sound.....they always were, if rather predictable in many ways. The Sheffield instrument was perhaps most famous for the very complex console controls and registration aids, which some organists liked and other found disturbing.  The console is detailed in John Knott's history of the firm.


In some ways, one of the reasons for the demise of the company would have been obvious at Sheffield Cathedral, because nobility of sound was giving way to orchestral expressiveness, which requires a fairly dominant Swell organ inside a good swell-box. Brindley swell organs retained the terraced dynamics of Schulze from the 1840's, and were much quieter than the great organs. This was at odds with changing fashions. Furthermore, B & F remained loyal to the "Brindgradus" system operating on pneumatic action, and so far as I know, they didn't build organ with EP action, but don't quote me on that.



It's a pity that the company didn't survive, because innovation was there right from the start; not just in the complex pneumatic actions and the use of the German keglade chests, but in bringing the Schulze type of sound to many hundreds of churches and chapels. Had they moved with the times, they would probably still be around to-day.


MM


pcnd5584

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2012, 01:05:20 AM »
pcnd,

"Albans Cathedral" works! Note the lack of an apostrophe.

Thank you - although I did try 'albans cathedral hertfordshire'.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 01:27:08 AM by pcnd5584 »
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Acorn

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Re: Sheffield Cathedral
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2016, 02:59:27 PM »
I have just been reading the postings relating to Sheffield Cathedral in the hope that there might be some news of a pipe organ to replace the Copeman Hart/Phoenix job, but nothing seems to be brewing. I wonder if the plan for a "new" pipe organ has been abandoned? I hope not.

But comments relating to the former Mander organ are, nevertheless, interesting. I first heard it around 1973, recitals given by Lionel Rogg and Geoffrey Coffin. The organ did not inspire me at all even though I was more or less sitting in its direct firing line from where it was poorly sited. Earlier organs seemed to have been sited at the cathedral's west end, a sensible place I believe, and I think that was certainly so for a R&D.

 


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