Author Topic: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel  (Read 17989 times)

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organforumadmin

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Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« on: June 25, 2011, 09:23:20 PM »
Hi!


The vintage and near unaltered 1920s Harrison and Harrison is under threat of replacement as it is said to be "at the end of its useful life . . . "


A hint is made on:
http://www.charterhouse.org.uk/Development/developmentplans/developmentplans.aspx


Best wishes


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diapason

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2011, 09:32:55 PM »
Here's the NPOR link: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=A00924

The prospectus (?) doesn't say anything other then 'update' - do we know any more?

Nigel

David Pinnegar

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 01:55:41 PM »
Here's the NPOR link: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=A00924

The prospectus (?) doesn't say anything other then 'update' - do we know any more?

Nigel

Hi!





Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 01:57:35 PM by David Pinnegar »

diapason

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 02:54:49 PM »
Thank you, David.  That does not look good.  Unfortunately, two local independent schools have taken similar action in recent years.  In both cases, the pipe organ was broken up for scrap.  One has been replaced with a Rodgers and the other with a Copeman Hart.  I haven't played the electronics, so can't comment on their quality, but I played both of the pipe organs before their destruction.  It is fair to say that whilst neither was an outstanding instrument, and both certainly needed a considerable amount of work, they could both have been restored.  Representations to the schools to at lease mothball the organs for future restoration were not heeded.

Let us hope that the same does not happen again.

Nigel

Barrie Davis

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2011, 07:39:07 PM »
Hi

I just hope the word "update" is applied, the stoplist is very typical of Harrisons of that era, to be honest on paper I would change very little, but being theoretical is all well and good as a great deal depends on the acoustics and what the organ is required for.
I was interested in Nigels post does NPOR know about the scrapping of those 2 instruments, if not could you let them know for updating by one of the editors.

Best wishes

Barrie

diapason

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2011, 07:46:33 PM »
Yes, Barrie,

Both of these are recorded on NPOR.  I informed them about Wellington School when the organ was destroyed (except for the facade which has been retained to hide the loudspeakers of the Rodgers).  The other, at Taunton School, is also recorded.  The Copeman-Hart now in the chapel has been the subject of some of C-H's advertising in recent months.

Nigel

Barrie Davis

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2011, 08:07:56 PM »
Hi Nigel

I do wish they would not hide speakers behind the original facade in a hope to disguise what is being used.
Have you heard the Rodgers at Worcester, at least the speakers there are not hidden?

I just hope they have the organ restored and possibly updated with better and more modern playing aids,

Barrie

diapason

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2011, 09:00:18 PM »
No, I've not heard the Worcester Rodgers - the only one I've played is a very small two-manual in a local church which replaced a harmonium.  Unfortunately, the speakers are so poor that they cannot handle the power.  Another local church have just installed a Rodgers - I must try to get to try it out.

The facade at Wellington was built by some of the students. It has been moved back from it's original position to make more space available for seating - anyone sitting there will get the full force of the Rodgers!  I've yet to hear it, but I still regret the loss of the 3-manual Osmond which it has replaced.

Nigel

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2011, 08:10:40 PM »
I would like to back up David's post on Charterhouse organ. It was installed about 80 years ago and is excellent for supporting a lively chapel congregation; not ideal I agree as a recital instrument. It was last renovated 30 years ago by Harrison and probably needs a fair bit of rebuilding with updated electronics; some extra ranks could be added without changing its character. But to say this instrument has outlived its life is just wrong. St Marys Redcliffe is 100 years old and has just been rebuilt and the Royal Festival Hall is belatedly in the middle of a complete rebuild. Is anyone suggesting that organs once played by Bach should be stripped out and dumped?

David Pinnegar

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2011, 12:15:31 AM »
I would like to back up David's post on Charterhouse organ. It was installed about 80 years ago and is excellent for supporting a lively chapel congregation; not ideal I agree as a recital instrument. It was last renovated 30 years ago by Harrison and probably needs a fair bit of rebuilding with updated electronics; some extra ranks could be added without changing its character. But to say this instrument has outlived its life is just wrong. St Marys Redcliffe is 100 years old and has just been rebuilt and the Royal Festival Hall is belatedly in the middle of a complete rebuild. Is anyone suggesting that organs once played by Bach should be stripped out and dumped?

Hi!

You raise a number of very valid points which I hope others might take further. Suffice to say at the moment, however, were it to be a choice between St Mary's Redcliffe and Charterhouse that should be saved of an instrument in this style, it should be Charterhouse on account of the very special and spectacular acoustic, absence from which St Mary's suffers.

There are perhaps areas of Listed Building considerations and the emotional attachment that this organ has as being part of its place and of the unique conception of that place as a War Memorial for those who died in the first World War, thereafter incorporating memory of those falling in the second. Other OCs might expand more eloquently on this than can I . . .

Perhaps in the vein of the influence that this organ has had upon those who have experienced it, especially accompanying over 700 hearty singers and being able to compete, a feat of which instruments of what some would argue as greater musical worth would find it hard to beat, its influence on one John Pilling who was an OC is clear. He went on from Comptons to found Makin Organs and the Harrison and Harrison of this vintage was the sound that John Pilling through Makin wanted to perpetuate. The success of the Makin electronic organ is demonstrable proof of the popularity in the psyche of the public of the sort of sound that this instrument is capable. Are we only going to be left with electronic organs to preserve the sound of such tonality in the force of relentless fashion for doing away with such pipe instruments?

On the basis not only of being one of the last surviving Harrisons of this vintage substantially unaltered, but its direct influence on arguably some of the most successful electronic imitations, let alone its function within the war memorial being an intrinsic part of the sound of the time of the memorial, the instrument might be argued to be worthy of an Historic Organ Certificate.

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: June 30, 2011, 08:24:27 AM by organforumadmin »

Barrie Davis

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2011, 08:38:21 AM »
Hi

I didn't realise that the late John Pilling went to Charterhouse, I knew him and his love of Harrison organs was ever present in every Makin that he voiced, even until the time of his death he took great delight in hearing every new Makin installation possible. His comments could be quite scathing at times.

I hope the word "Update" only applies to the action and console accessories and that the stoplist is left unaltered as it is very comprehensive as it stands. I have noticed from NPOR that some work has been carried out not so long ago, the pistons having 10 channels of memory now. Does anyone know when this work was done?

Best wishes

Barrie

David Pinnegar

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2011, 09:56:32 AM »
I hope the word "Update" only applies to the action and console accessories and that the stoplist is left unaltered as it is very comprehensive as it stands. I have noticed from NPOR that some work has been carried out not so long ago, the pistons having 10 channels of memory now. Does anyone know when this work was done?

Hi!

The School's fundraising campaign includes the word "replace" on account of the instrument being "at the end of its useful life" . . .

Solid state action updating was done in 1979-80. In recent years action noise has been apparent and there have been a few wind leaks which have been cured and the odd cipher from time to time. In the '79-80 rebuild the flat 21st was removed from the Great Harmonics, presumably to make it more like a conventional mixture but it's that Septieme harmonic on which the Great Tromba relies to give bite. Certainly nothing irreversible.

Best wishes

David P

diapason

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2011, 10:38:22 AM »
David,

It would seem that, as an Old Boy of the school, you might be in a position to raise awareness of the importance of the organ amongst the OC's.  Without doubt many alumni are now in positions of influence.  I am sure that many organists of note have also played the instrument over the years.  Their support would be invaluable if a campaign to save the organ is to be launched.  Time will be of the essence if plans to remove the organ are just being mooted.  Can this forum help to raise awareness?  If so, let's get things moving.

Nigel

organforumadmin

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2011, 12:09:07 PM »
What are the implications of and processes involved in obtaining a Historic Organ Certificate?


Best wishes


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Barry Williams

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2011, 01:52:21 PM »
An Historic Organ Certificate carries no legal weight or authority whatsoever.  I gather that a couple of people/places have refused to accept such Certificates.  This is a pity.  I know of some churches where the Historic organ Certificate is framed and proudly displayed next to the instrument.

I have submitted quite a few suggestions to BIOS for an HOC.  I have never had any response at all and none of the instruments were ever listed.  This may be because I am no longer a member of BIOS.  However, I understand that a new process now operates, so it might be worth submitting details of suitable organs.  The BIOS Website gives details of how to submit suggestions.  I note that the suggestions now go to Paul Joslin, who is an excellent person.

Barry Williams
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 06:39:14 PM by Barry Williams »

pcnd5584

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2011, 11:29:43 PM »
I would like to back up David's post on Charterhouse organ. It was installed about 80 years ago and is excellent for supporting a lively chapel congregation; not ideal I agree as a recital instrument. It was last renovated 30 years ago by Harrison and probably needs a fair bit of rebuilding with updated electronics; some extra ranks could be added without changing its character. But to say this instrument has outlived its life is just wrong. St Marys Redcliffe is 100 years old and has just been rebuilt and the Royal Festival Hall is belatedly in the middle of a complete rebuild. Is anyone suggesting that organs once played by Bach should be stripped out and dumped?

If I may qualify some of your observations. The instrument at Saint Mary Redcliffe, Bristol has recently undergone a major restoration, not a rebuilding (which usually implies tonal alterations and or additions). The organ in the Royal Festival Hall has likewise been restored - the only alteration being that of the internal layout, which was largely re-configured, due to a decrease in the depth of the chamber. Rather than being 'belatedly in the middle of a complete rebuild', the greater part of it is still sitting, in storage, in Durham. Apparently, despite spending an enormous sum on restoring and upgrading the hall itself, it was not found possible to provide the full sum required to replace the entire pipe organ. I understand that this matter is now being addressed and that this landmark instrument should be heard in its complete state in the not-too-distant future.

However, I note your interesting comments with regard to the instrument at Charterhouse. I have neither seen nor heard this organ, so I cannot comment on whether or not the assessment of its present state is accurate. I would further agree that, given the standard vintage H&H stop-list and the 'house style' of the voicing, it is probably extremely good at leading congregational singing - providing, of course, that most of it is functionaing reasonably well.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 12:03:25 AM by pcnd5584 »
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pcnd5584

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2011, 11:50:14 PM »
Still on the subject of the H&H organ in the chapel at Charterhouse School, one wonders if the custodians of this instrument could be persuaded to restore what is a substantial survival of Harrisons' work. It is rare that an organ of this quality would subsequently become un-restorable. I wonder if it is not simply another case of changing trends - and a desire for a fresh start tonally as much as anything else.

Having said this, it does depend on exactly what was done to the instrument in 1979. On paper, there were few changes. On the Pedal Organ, I must admit that I would be inclined to keep the Principal and Fifteenth, as opposed to re-instating the Octave Wood. The Choir Organ, again, not quite as Arthur Harrison left it. The Nazard replaced a Dulciana, which itself may have replaced an Orchestral Bassoon (presumably at 16ft. pitch, as at Crediton Parish Church). On the G.O., it would not be difficult to reverse either of the (paper) changes: the substitution of an Octave Quint (2 2/3ft.) for the second Principal and the re-casting of the Mixture IV ranks to 17-19-flat 21-22, at CC. The Swell Organ, again on paper, appears to be untouched.

However, as I stated previously, what is never apparent from any written stop-list, is the nature and extent of revoicing which may have been carried-out on existing ranks, without the need to re-name them. This is something which may have to be established through Harrisons' records and order books.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 12:03:51 AM by pcnd5584 »
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NEorganist

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2011, 11:16:24 PM »
 >:(
What absolute rubbish! I can't say how disgusted I am that anyone would say a Harrison organ of 80 years is past it's useful life! I have played at least 2 or 3 Harrison's around my area which were about the first to be built when the firm set up in Durham, and they are certainly still proving useful, and very fine instruments too!!!

David Pinnegar

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2022, 02:36:00 PM »
It is with great regret to read on Facebook that the firm of Nicholson & Co. Ltd have been awarded the contract to undertake this work.

The chapel, as the largest War Memorial in the country, has an intrinsic heritage value beyond organs and the sound of this organ was an inherent part of that heritage. It is the sound to which a generation went off to another war, with perhaps the infamous Tuba compared to a set of fog-horns, inspiring confidence and determination in its generation.

We are the poorer without such.

One hopes that
a. the instrument as is might be sampled for the Virtual Organ community
b. rather than "three best ranks preserved" the whole instrument might be made available for sale and preservation, probably in a country where the past is better respected.

Those who disrespect the past are robbed of the wisdom with which the mistakes of the past might continue to accurse the future.

Best wishes

David P

David Pinnegar

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Re: Harrison and Harrison at Charterhouse Chapel
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2022, 10:41:07 PM »
Here's how the Harrison and Harrison sounds and how versatile it can be
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPW2WKq0IGU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIl-LRafVO4

Best wishes

David Pinnegar

 


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