Author Topic: Town hall organs  (Read 18194 times)

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David Pinnegar

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Town hall organs
« on: February 18, 2011, 04:48:25 PM »
Hi!

Today I had reason to look at a Location Agent's website and found a couple of interesting photos:
http://location-collective.co.uk/location-detail.html?id=7644&cid=972
is an organ with an intriguing disposition - real or false pipes?
and there are one or two others that look interesting.

What really drew my attention was the photo labelled Town Halls on
http://location-collective.co.uk/index.html/public-spaces--services--buildings/250
but can't find the building concerned.

In these days of economic cuts, is the Town Hall organ more endangered than the Church Organ and what, nowadays, are most of them used for?

Best wishes

David P

revtonynewnham

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 03:29:28 PM »
I wonder where these are.  They're not Battersea - (now Battersea Arts Centre) - that has a Hope-Jones 4m, recently made playable.

Every Blessing

Tony

barniclecompton

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2011, 12:25:58 AM »
Heres another thing on here i dont get. Why are town hall organs in with fair organs and theatre organs? Again, Im left askin the question, why are theatre organs in with fair organs?! Not good enough?!

KB7DQH

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Not all Town halls with organs have "unit orchestras"
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2011, 08:49:41 AM »
That certainly is the case in the USA...  Most of the "municipal" organs have either been removed or simply "lost their homes"...   There are notable exceptions...   

I guess one would have to properly define a "town hall"...  Most in the USA would immediately think of
the municipal "seat of government"...  Not surprisingly most of these aren't much more than office buildings, maybe a courtroom or two... and certainly don't have the facilities to house even the smallest percentage of that municipalities' population...

That would be reserved for, in the larger cities, the "municipal auditorium"  which in some cases may be part of a public school facility in smaller towns, in some cases a structure left over from a "world's fair" (one could thus reasonably argue the Spreckel's organ in San Diego could be classified as a "fairgrounds instrument" :o :o :o)  and in a few cases a large multipurpose structure (like Boardwalk Hall)...

Could Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall fit this "narrow" definition ???  I suppose it would have to do with the "ownership" of the facility ???

For years the Seattle Symphony called the Seattle Opera House (another leftover from a World's Fair) home, but because of an increasingly "busy schedule" it got to be more and more difficult for the Symphony to schedule performances, let alone practice... so they got some money together and built their "own" concert hall.  Many Symphonies have done this across the USA, and have included some spectacular pipe organs into the bargain!  One of the newest has yet to receive their organ,
however they have hinted at its specification and builder... Most importantly the organ was no mere afterthought, space having been provided for its installation.

Can we then stretch this concept to include "government-owned" athletic exhibition facilities-- Sports Stadiums ??? ;D   Some of these at one time or in one case will in the future house pipe organs ;) ;D 8)  and do from time to time host "musical performances" ??? ::)


I suppose since this is a forum related to instruments as opposed to buildings that contain instruments  ;)  I am going to make an attempt at explaining what _I_ think the forum adminstrator had in mind by creating this particular "board"...   The first word-- Wurlitzers-- gives us a clue...
And probably not an ideal choice, but, it certainly suggests an idea not immediately apparent...

Likely a better term would have been "Unit Orchestras"... which would imply a sub-set of instruments in the "pipe organ" family...  I have seen this written, that if the Pipe Organ is the "King"
of instruments then the "Theater Pipe Organ" is the "Weird Uncle" :o ;D and I suppose one could make the argument that "fairgrounds instruments" could be called the "bastard child" (Unit Band, but orchestra) ??? :o :o ;D

Which brings us to the "Town Hall", again...  Likely the first installation of what was called by the builder of the instrument a "unit orchestra" was NOT a theater, but, you guessed it...

A Town Hall...  Years before "silent" movies...  in Denver, Colorado.

Eric
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The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

revtonynewnham

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2011, 02:13:35 PM »
Hi

I don't know that I would have posted the topic under this heading - but then, Town Hall organs are, in many ways, the link between the older, classical organ style and theatre organs, since they were designed, in the main, to play orchestral transcriptions - and often to accompany large "Oratorio choirs" & Choral Societies.

Too many have been lost - including the organ in St George's Hall here in Bradford - it's certainly been unplayable for years, and I hear rumours that much of it has been removed.  More worryingly, the recent round of Local Authority cuts mean that Leeds City Council no longer employ a borough organist, I don't know what's happening with the  Town Hall concerts - and Birmingham is down to one a fortnight rather than weekly according to an item in one of the organ magazines.

Every Blessing

Tony

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2011, 08:31:21 PM »
Hi!


Some aspects of this thread have been looked at before in terms of putting Wurlitzers in a category with fair organs - so no insult intended at all . . .


Eric has certainly touched on a commonality in identifying "unit orchestras" - but really one might suppose the common link to be organs for entertainment and organs for dancing. Many of the so-called fair organs are not fair organs at all but describe a category especially in Holland of the Dance Organ, of which many very sophisticated instruments were produced with at least 110 "keys" and more.


Raising "Town Hall" organs in this topic seems appropriate as they are certainly endangered by cuts, being perceived to be in the luxury, non-essential services, category .  . . and by definition exist for events of public entertainment of one sort or other . . .


A forum exists for exchanges of view, for enlightenment through discussion, and hopefully for the generation of greater enthusiasms and dissemination of ideas and the breaking down of common misperceptions . . . . so this is certainly the place to discuss such matters!


Best wishes


Forum Admin
« Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 09:48:31 PM by organforumadmin »

Barrie Davis

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 02:19:51 PM »
Thank you for that and yes it is Battersea, has this organ now been restored? I think Tony said it is playing again.
There is a very neglected 3 manual J.J. Binns in Wednesfield Town Hall. I doubt if any work will be carried out on it due to lack of funds, at least the same authority keeps West Bromwich Town Hall tuned.

Best wishes

Barrie

revtonynewnham

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 03:25:04 PM »
I wonder where these are.  They're not Battersea - (now Battersea Arts Centre) - that has a Hope-Jones 4m, recently made playable.

Every Blessing

Tony

Hi - a departed former member (though still occasional reader) of this forum abusing his brother's rarely-used account... it IS Battersea. Look at http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N17247 and its pictures. Identical.  :)

OK, that's me off again. Bye all!

Hi

The pictures of the exterior don't match - which is why I thought it wasn't battersea.  In fact, the NPOR shots don't show pipes across the back of the stage - but that could just be a stage curtain in the way.

Every Blessing

Tony

Barrie Davis

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 05:47:46 PM »
Hi

I thought one did Tony with a soloist on the stage, it wasnt one of the clear ones, but the very last on npor

Barrie

dragonser

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Re: St George's Hall Liverpool was Town hall organs
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 09:50:20 PM »
Hi,
I'm not sure if St George's Hall Liverpool is a town hall ?
but there was the program on Tv Flog it ! on BBC 2 today at 3-45 pm.
this shows the Organ being played and also a short tour round Henry Willis and Sons, showing how the pipes are made .......
you should be able to see it on BBC iplayer if you are in the uk.
pleased to see one daytime TV program mentioning the Pipe Organ !

regards Peter B

David Pinnegar

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2011, 12:21:11 AM »
Hi - a departed former member (though still occasional reader) of this forum abusing his brother's rarely-used account... it IS Battersea. Look at http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N17247 and its pictures. Identical.  :)

OK, that's me off again. Bye all!

 ;) Pssss . . .  we won't tell . . .  8) but it's hardly secret on an open forum!

Thanks for this - I think the likelihood is that you're entirely right on this one.

Best wishes

David P

KB7DQH

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2011, 01:39:10 AM »
Hmmm... Seems the Largest organ in the State of Alaska is installed in...

Davis Hall!  On the Campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks...

"Concert Hall" organs tend to be "on the Straight" side of organ construction... generally...

This concert announcement

http://www.newsminer.com/bookmark/11658618

brought the existence of the organ to my attention...

A Geophysicist organist???

Eric
KB7DQH
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

Barrie Davis

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2011, 08:09:23 PM »
Wednesbury and Wednesfield are 2 different Towns, the organ in Wednesbury was removed years ago, the Binns still remains, although you are quite correct it is not on NPOR and the entries for that Town are very out of date.

revtonynewnham

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2011, 10:52:02 PM »
Hi


Updates to NPOR are always welcome!

Every Blessing

Tony
(NPOR Editor)

Barrie Davis

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 12:09:03 AM »
Hi Tony

You know I will when I have available time!!!!!!

Best wishes

Barrie

KB7DQH

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2011, 07:36:08 AM »
This article....http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-historic-pipe-organ-20110304,0,7490364,full.story

Quote
Wagner has laid down ground rules for anyone who might want to accept the organ. The piece of local history must remain in Maryland, must be preserved and must be available to the public, he said. So far, he has had no takers. Maybe it's the relocation, which he knows can be daunting but is doable, he said.

Judging from his experience, the instrument needs an area with more than 300 square feet that is at least 8 feet high. A climate-controlled space would be ideal for the pipes and would mean less tuning. Imposing lobbies are most suitable for an instrument that requires this much space, he said. Maybe the State House in Annapolis, the courthouse in Towson or, possibly, the proposed Center for the Arts planned for Bel Air could handle a few tons of musical mechanics.

"Alaska has one at the state office building in Juneau," he said. "They play it every Friday."

His second choice might be a college or a school. Long Island University owns an original pipe organ that is raised from beneath the gymnasium floor. Such an instrument really requires theater-size space, he said.

"It does not belong in a home, but there was no other way to save it," Wagner said. "It sounds good here, but would sound even better in a theate

Quote
Most of those luxurious theaters are gone, as are the versatile Wurlitzers. The company branched out to jukeboxes and other instruments before it went out of business a few years ago.

"We have to preserve those that remain," Smith said. "Think of it as a time machine that can take you to whatever era of music you want to hear. From baroque to rock, this organ is capable of anything."

Wagner acknowledges that parting with it will be difficult, but he remains determined to return it to the public's eye and ear.

"I will miss it because it has been an extremely big piece of my life," he said. "But I want everyone to have the chance to hear the sound that can't be beat."

led to this.... ;)http://www.pstos.org/instruments/ak/juneau/state-bldg.htm

Quote
The State Office Building Kimball was originally installed 1928 in Juneau's Coliseum Theatre. It was later moved to the 20th Century Theatre in 1939-1940.
 
The instrument was moved to its present location in 1976-77 by Balcom & Vaughan. Don Myers, Bill Bunch and the late Frank Butte did the installation. An opening program was given in May 1977.
 
The organ is still used frequently. In the Summer of 2000, J. Allan MacKinnon and several guest artists presented a series of Friday noontime concerts featuring classical and popular music. Occasionally other organists and visiting musicians from the cruise lines provide music on a short notice basis.

Noted in the PSTOS articles this is the last surviving cinema organ in Alaska, one of only two installed in the state...

So here's hoping ;)

Eric
KB7DQH

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

KB7DQH

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2011, 09:59:55 AM »
The City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has purchased a complete Wurlitzer to be combined with an instrument damaged in the flooding of 2008 as part of a Theater restoration project...

Quote
The City of Cedar Rapids, in partnership with The Cedar Rapids Area Theatre Organ Society, continues to restore the Paramount Theatre and its historic Wurlitzer pipe organ. The organ was severely damaged in the Flood of 2008. The City is using proceeds from insurance agreements to rehabilitate the organ so that it will function as it did when it was originally installed in 1928 to accompany silent films.
 
The City has purchased a Wurlitzer Organ Opus 1908 as part of this project. This rare organ was originally installed in the Kenmore Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. The organ will be delivered to a warehouse in Cedar Rapids tomorrow morning. Media representatives are invited to see the organ delivery and learn more about how this organ will be used in the restoration project. Organ restoration experts will be on hand to answer questions.

Quote
For more information about the Paramount Theatre Restoration project, go to www.CRProgress.com or use this link: http://www.cedar-rapids.org/city-news/crprogress/paramount-theatre/Pages/default.aspx.
 

Original media release can be found here...http://www.easterniowagovernment.com/2011/03/10/media-briefing-tomorrow-city-purchases-rare-organ-for-paramount-theatre-restoration-project/

Eric
KB7DQH
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

KB7DQH

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2011, 02:51:21 PM »
This is my 500th post to this forum... :o ;D 8)

 "Found" a letter to the editor of a newspaper in Southeastern
Massachusetts about the 2005 Organ Historical Society convention... and how ironic that the hall where they held their banquet dinner contained an unplayable pipe organ...

Quote
Fall River was represented with stops at St. Anne’s, St. Joesph’s, St. Luke’s and First Congregational. But perhaps the most poignant and bittersweet moment of our visit to Fall River occurred during the evening banquet at the Abbey Grill.

Not lost in the magnificence of the great hall, but commanding attention even while silent and mute, stood the equally magnificent 1875 E and G. G. Hook organ — a fine example of the work of America’s premier organ builder of the 19th century. At every table, conversations centered on that pipe organ.

How splendid it was to be in that spectacular space and how sad we could not hear the once glorious organ.  Unfortunately there was no time to put the organ into playable condition because three other organs, St. Mary’s, Taunton (1893 Hook); St. James, New Bedford (1876 Roosevelt) and St. Joseph’s, Fall River (1883 W.K. Adams) took priority because they were in functioning parishes. 

OK... Why post this here in the Town Hall Organs subject?

Read on...

Quote
However, Fall River could, if they chose, have one of the few municipal organs and concerts halls in the state. Although it was in far worse condition than the Abbey Grill, Worcester chose to restore their Mechanics Hall and pipe organ. Springfield still retains their Municipal Auditorium and it’s organ and restoration is now under way to Soldiers and Sailors Auditorium (and organ) in Melrose.   

Aside from organ concerts (admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea) this beautiful and acoustically live room could be the site for concerts of every kind, from rock to the Fall River Symphony.
 
It will take imagination and determination. Fall River should look to New Bedford and its Waterfront Historic Area League for inspiration and perhaps assistance. That group has had nearly 50 years experience at saving what cannot be saved. 

Give it the old “We’ll Try”  Fall River. This building and what it contains is too significant to not try.
 
Bruce Gardzina

There are actually a couple photos of this space accompanying the letter...

http://www.heraldnews.com/features/x1777808589/LETTER-A-municipal-concert-hall-at-the-Abbey-Grill?img=2

Eric
KB7DQH

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KB7DQH

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2011, 10:59:52 AM »
Quote
Raising "Town Hall" organs in this topic seems appropriate as they are certainly endangered by cuts, being perceived to be in the luxury, non-essential services, category .   . . .

But not necessarily...

http://portlanddailysun.me/node/26752/

Quote
Ticket surcharge, donations eyed to fund historic organ renovation
By David Carkhuff
Jul 19, 2011 12:00 am

A surcharge on tickets for shows at Merrill Auditorium as well as a private fundraising effort are being weighed to pay for almost $2.6 million in repairs and renovations to the Kotzschmar Organ, a nearly century-old pipe organ that weighs in at 50 tons and boasts over 6,800 pipes.

"We're going to renovate it," said Kathleen Grammer, executive director of the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, a nonprofit group that schedules organ concerts and tends to the historic instrument. "The organ has been moved twice in its lifetime, and it's going to be 100 years old in 2012."

The Kotzschmar Organ — named for Hermann Kotzschmar, a Portland organist and music teacher who died in 1908 — is exhibiting "metal fatigue" in its pipes, and some of the leather components of the organ's "wind chests" are degraded, Grammer said.

"It's never really had a totally professional renovation," Grammer said.

"It hasn't been renovated, it's been maintained," she said.

The idea is to continue a $2 surcharge on Merrill Auditorium tickets, a holdover from a 1995 payment plan for a $2.3 million revenue bond that funded renovations to Merrill. City staff reported this week that the bond, originally due to be paid off by January 2015, now is expected to reach its final payments in the next few months, according to a report to the City Council.

The Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ have committed to raising half of the cost of renovations to the organ, while city staff proposed that the ticket surcharge be retained and used to pay for the city's half of the organ renovations.

The organ was built in 1912 and was a gift to the city by publishing magnate Cyrus Curtis, a Portland native. Curtis publications included the Ladies Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post; in Philadelphia he made his fortune in publishing, according to local historian Herb Adams.

A philanthropist, Curtis donated the Kotzschmar Organ in memory of its namesake, who was a friend of the Curtis family. Curtis's middle initials, "H.K.," are identical to the initials of Hermann Kotzschmar, an indication of the intimacy of the two families, Adams noted.

Curtis also donated an organ to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Adams said.

"He was a great devotee of music, that's why he chose to do these things, but he could not read music," Adams noted.

Descendants of the Curtis family include folk musician Gordon Bok and actress Stephanie Zimbalist.

Curtis is buried in Pennsylvania. Kotzschmar, who served as music director at the First Parish Church in Portland, was cremated and his ashes are in a marble urn near the church organ, Adams said.

When the organ in Kotzschmar's name was installed, Merrill Auditorium had to be reconfigured to accommodate the massive instrument, Adams noted. The original organ of 1912 was enlarged in 1927 by the Austin Organ Company, and the most recent addition to the organ took place in October of 2000, when Austin Organs Inc. installed a new, custom-designed five-manual console.

This console was made possible by major gifts from Anita and Charles Stickney, Sally and Malcolm White, a grant from the Theodore Presser Foundation, as well as other individual donors, the Friends group reported.

For more information about the Kotzschmar Organ, visit the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ website at www.foko.org.

Eric
KB7DQH

The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

pcnd5584

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Re: Town hall organs
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2011, 11:11:50 AM »
Heres another thing on here i dont get. Why are town hall organs in with fair organs and theatre organs? Again, Im left askin the question, why are theatre organs in with fair organs?! Not good enough?!

Not necessarily. It may simply be that those who are responsible for producing such lists and sites, tend to group them in the category of 'entertainment venues'. I suspect that they would regard church organs (which, in any case, would be outside their purview) as fitting into the category of 'religious venues'. It may also be that they would view such places with deep suspicion....
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

 


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