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The British Choir/Positive Organ

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We are planning to rebuild our large 3 manual organ. Its origins lie in an1870s' Hill rebuilt by Norman and Beard in 1902, and then rebuilt and enlarged by Hill, Norman and Beard in the 1960s. The 1902 Choir organ was replaced by a Positif organ which stands tonally apart from the rest of the instrument, which is unmistakeably a Hill sound. In my view,the typical British Choir organ to be a lost cause, that is neither of use nor ornament. The Positif organ was actually a move in the right direction, with its semblance of a chorus (not unrelated to the original Hill Choir, which was complete up to a Fifteenth), making it much more useful than an enclosed collection of soft 8' and 4's, with Clarinet and Orchestral Oboe (aka. fancy, ear-tickling solo stops). The Tuba was retained at the last rebuild, and is jolly good! My vision is to raise the pressures from 2 inches to the 3 and a 1/2 inches of the Great, and have a division based on a complete chorus that can balance the Great. I am aided in this aim by an excellent Swell division that earns wide praise from visiting organists for its effectiveness and range of colours. With only a few well thought out additions totalling three stops, we would have full three-manuality, as required in a flexible accompanimental instrument, capable of coping with the demands of the greater parts of the repertoire. Am I being over-ambitious in what I expect? I do not think so, but I invite other opinions on the subject of the British Choir organ.

Northern Friend:
I feel the choir organs being meant to accompany the church choir went largely with the demise of church choirs. The soft flutes, gambas, gemshorns are not really accompanimental any more. A nice clarinet is often good.
If the wind pressures are increased on your proposed scheme - will the existing pipework take it or will they need to be re-voiced. If the current pressure is the original pressure I assume they were voiced to that on an organ builders voicing machine. It's whether the cut-up of the top lip on the flue pipes and the tongues of any reeds will take it, without over-blowing.

A good point. that would be entirely in the hands of the builder. However, the sound of the Positif (I intend to keep the name!) would then be in keeping with the rest of the organ. Although I have grown up with it, if the pipework proves incapable of taking a slightly higher wind-pressure, then its back off to the drawing board! I have to say that if the Positif organ was a single manual instrument on its own, I would preserve it exactly as it is, because HNB did a great job. But....Baroque Positifs on electric action as part of an essentially British organ are, I think, past their time. Incidentally, the greater part of the pipework on the Positif was made by Stinkens in Holland, but the 4' Principal was made mainly from the Choir Dulciana 8', and the Choir Clarinet 8' ended up as the Krummhorn 4' on the enlarged Pedal.  Thank you for making me think! Your observations will receive serious consideration.

David Drinkell:
I bet I can think of a particular old Conacher to which pcnd is not referring - lol


--- Quote from: David Drinkell on January 27, 2015, 09:11:00 PM ---I bet I can think of a particular old Conacher to which pcnd is not referring - lol

--- End quote ---

Yup - I bet you calne....


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