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Topics - revtonynewnham

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121
Reed organs and harmoniums / New You Tube posts
« on: October 21, 2010, 05:11:31 PM »
I've just uploaded a batch of Harmonium recordings to You Tube.  These are live recordings from a concert earlier this year.  Unfortunately, the quality of the mic, and the automatic level control in the camcorder compromise the sound to some degree, and being a live recording, there are the odd "noises off" - and a few wrong notes!  Enjoy.  The links are below:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swUnLXgD_j0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d6ce0IjFYA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnAotfEZqa0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGSya597Ulc   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJTacGBKa88   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfZs1yGGkjs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccKvspDcSlA   

Every Blessing

Tony

122
Electronic Organs / Experiences of some recent digital organs
« on: September 25, 2010, 03:47:42 PM »
Hi

It's been several years since I've had opportunity to play a "new" digital organ substitute, but over the past few weeks, I've had opportunity to play 3 - all by different builders.  2 of these are home practice organs, the third was a demo at retailer's premises.  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The first of the 3 was a 4m custom job by Dutch firm "Content".  This shares the owner's music room with an Early English chamber organ, so it has plenty to live up to.  The last time I played a Content organ was probably around 20 years ago, soon after a firm in Cornwall started importing them.  At that time they were no more than average for the era.  This 4m was a salutary reminder of how far technology has moved in the time.  Most of the individual sounds - as expected these days - were good, even listening on headphones, which is a good way of hearing what's really going on.   The room was rather small, so as expected, the big ensembles and big reeds didn't really have the impact that the real thing would have, and some sounds were distinctly "electronic" - but the overall effect was good - certainly more than adequate for its function as a practice organ for recital work.  The normal speaker system is sub-bass unit plus a handful of small boxes for the higher sounds - probably all that could be comfortably accommodated in the room.

The second was a Wyvern 3m using Phoenix technology.  I have to say that this sounded vastly superior to the only other Phoenix job that I've played!  Again, it's in a relatively small room (although a little larger than the previous instrument) and is a home practice organ.  Again, most of the individual stops were fine, although I did think that one of the strings sounded a bit "scratchy".  The organ uses kneeboard speakers plus an external unit.  To my ears, the strings and the big reeds didn't come across - the later I think due to room size and the well known limitations of speaker technology.

The 3rd example is the newly released Viscount range, using physical modelling (the other 2 use sample based technology).  Obviously, a dealer's showroom is not the ideal location to evaluate the sound of the organ, although again I was able to use headphones - and turned the reverb off.  Compared to a mid-range Viscount using samples (also on display) the sound was like chalk and cheese.  However, there is a degree of electronic processing - a "chorus" function that, apparently, can't be reduced to zero, so that will obviously make the raw sounds appear more lifelike than they really are.  Thankfully, the setting was low enough that the all too common "out of tune" effect of such processing wasn't obvious.  The organ which I played has a traditional English stop list, which I found somewhat dull - but then, there is a choice of around a dozen alternatives for each stop, and I understand that the buyer can, within limits, choose what stops they want.  The alternative "German" spec. also sounded reasonable.  Again, some of the sounds fell somewhat short of my ideal - strangely, once again the strings sounded harsh, and the reeds were distinctly uninspiring as standard (but the German spec reveals that brighter alternatives are available, plus a significant degree of voicing control - all available to the user (with a return to default option for when you back yourself into a corner!).  The organ can be configured with multiple audio outputs, which I think is essential, where space and finance permit the use of multiple speakers and acoustic (rather than electronic) mixing of sounds.

Overall, I was impressed with the sound of all 3 organs - but none of them came close to replicating the real thing.  Speaker technology is a major part of the problem - and David Pinnegar's experiments in this area show just what can be done to improve the situation.  I could live with any of the 3 - especially as individual sounds can be tailored to some degree.  The Viscount, once again shows the superiority of computer synthesis/modelling over samples.  The computer model even takes into account the number of stops drawn and pipes speaking - very impressive, especially for the price.

Would I buy one?  Given that I don't have space for more than a very small pipe organ, then the answer has to be "Yes" if I had the money.  This is perhaps not the place to state my preference - and anyway, that may well change if I was looking to buy, as I would want to take the time to explore the options (and organs by other builders) thoroughly before making a final decision.  If I had space and funds then there's no question - the real thing wins hands down.

Every Blessing

Tony
(P.S.  I understand that Viscount have an expander using the physical modeling technology available.)

123
Organ concerts / Victorian Reed Organ Museum, Saltaire
« on: September 07, 2010, 11:03:38 PM »
Hi

I'm playing some demonstration recitals on various reed organs at the museum in Saltaire as part of Saltaire Festival.  Sat 18th & Sun 19th September at 12:30 & 1:30 each day.  All being well, the 2 recitals on any one day will contain different pieces, but I'll repeat the programme on Sat & Sun.

Confirmed items so fare are 2 groups of pieces from Cesar Frank's "L'organiste" and arrangements of "War March of the Priests" and the "Hallelujah Chorus" - and probably a Karg-Elart piece (which will be repeated in each recital - I don't have time to learn another one!).  Hope I might see some forum members - admission is free (but donations very welcome!)

Every Blessing

Tony

124
Hi
Our final major public event of our centenary is a recital by Jonathon Bielby (recently retired from Wakefield Cathedral).  This is at Bradford Cathedral at 7:30 pm (not st Paul, Shipley as previous planned).

Free admission (retiring collection).  Do join us for this event.

every Blessing

Tony
(President, Bradford Organists' Association)

125
Reed organs and harmoniums / Demonstration Recitals at Saltaire
« on: August 31, 2010, 10:26:19 PM »
Hi

I'm playing some demonstration recitals on various reed organs at the museum in Saltaire as part of Saltaire Festival.  Sat 18th & Sun 19th September at 12:30 & 1:30 each day.  All being well, the 2 recitals on any one day will contain different pieces, but I'll repeat the programme on Sat & Sun.

Confirmed items so fare are 2 groups of pieces from Cesar Frank's "L'organiste" and arrangements of "War March of the Priests" and the "Hallelujah Chorus" - and probably a Karg-Elart piece (which will be repeated in each recital - I don't have time to learn another one!).  Hope I might see some forum members - admission is free (but donations very welcome!)

Every Blessing

Tony

126
Inspirational instruments / A Day of Contrasts
« on: June 21, 2010, 09:57:11 AM »
Hi

Saturday was the Bradford Organists' association's annual trip (and organ crawl!)  This year, at my suggestion, we went to Chester and North Wales - and saw, heard and played three very different organs - but all interesting and inspiring in their own way.

First stop was St. Mary, Mold, http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N08865

This is one of Rushworth & Dreaper's rare excursions into neo-baroque territory -  not a style of organ that some of our members like!  However, this was an interesting instrument to hear and play (and see - the casework is nice - and the Brustwerk enclosure is sliding/folding doors - operated by the swell pedal!  A surprisingly effective arrangement.  The choruses were clear and bright - and solo tone colours could be found.  As usual on these trips, no-one gets to play for very long - but as President, our "tradition" is that the president gets first crack at the open console sessions. I played the Bacj Chorale prelude "O Mensch, Bewein dein Sunde Grosb" - Solo on the Swell Stopped Flute & Larigot, with Great Flutes 8 & 4 and Pedal 16 for the other parts.  The Brustwerk arrangement made it easy to balance the voices.  This organ is the typical neo-Baroque "screamer" - although undoubtedly brightly voiced.

Next stop (after lunch in a local hotel) was St Peter, Ruthin. http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=R00063.  This is an absolutely unique organ - the details are on NPOR, so I won't waste space here - suffice to say that it's an English Victorian "take" on a French romantic organ.  Does it sound French?  No - although a couple of the reeds do have a French flavour to my ears.  Does it sound typically English?  Again, not really - although all the sounds are there for the Anglican repertoire - and solo organ repertoire - but sometimes not where you expect them.  One quirk is that there is no coupler from the choir to any other manuals - due to the fact that Pyne (the designer) used the "thumbing down" te3chnique heavily, so he specified a closer than normal spacing for the manuals.  For the same reason, there are only general pistons (16 under the choir manual, duplicated by toe levers - with a ridiculous number of memory levels.  I had played this organ a few years ago - I had a morning on it when we were on holiday in the area.  It's not the sort of organ that you can just sit down and play - it takes some time to get used to its idiosyncratic layout - but there are some absolutely beautiful solo voices, as well as good choruses on Great & Swell.  I played the Daquin Noel (the famous one) - but I did chicken out of the variation with all the semiquavers!  Lack of practice!  The Choir Cor Anglais (an unusual stop - one of Wadsworth's specialities) with the Choir Oboe made a fair substitute for the Cromhorne - and everythingelse was there with no problems - I'm told that the echo passages in the finale came of extremely well down in the church.  If you're going to be in this area of Wales, I would recommend any organist contacting the church and arranging a visit - but give yourself plenty of time!

The final call was St Werburgh Catholic Church  in Chester.  http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=E00905.  A rescued Binns - and again a very interesting installation - although it did serve to remind me why I hate detached consoles at the other end of the church to the pipes!  Very much a typical English church organ - and none the worse for that.  My contribution here was a hymn prelude on Diadem by Rosalie Bonighton.  The parish priest here - who called in briefly to say "hello" before rushing off to take a Mass in another church - had previously been at St Cuthbert's, Bradford - the Catholic church just round the corner from where I live.  It's a small world!

Altogether, Saturday was an interesting and inspiring day.

Every Blessing

Tony

127
Miscellaneous & Suggestions / J & D Drake Organ Builders
« on: June 11, 2010, 12:19:35 PM »
Hi

A couple of days ago I came across an organ (1980) by this organ builder, who I've never heard of.  Anyone know anything about the firm - I would guess they are/were in Yorkshire or not too far away.  There's nothing in DBOB (but that only goes up to 1950), and no other instruments by them on NPOR (although there is one by a John Drake - possibly the "J" in "J & D"?

Thanks

Every Blessing

Tony

128
New Pipe Organs / Studio Acusticum, Pitea, Sweden
« on: June 11, 2010, 09:59:00 AM »
Hi

This strange beast was mentioned on another forum yesterday.  http://acusticumorgan.com/specification

It looks interesting - but quite how it would be used remains to be seen!  I've not got time to have a proper look at the web site for a few days, so I'll make no further comment!

129
Hi

On Saturday, Bradford Cathedral is the venue for the second of our Centenary Events.  Apart from the Cathedral Organ (see http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=A00542), we have arranged for the Wingfield Organ (http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=E00205) to be in the cathedral for most of the rest of the year.  I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play this instrument - it's a reconstruction of an organ from the Tudor period.

We also have 2 chamber organs coming, a Fairground organ (for those who like the lighter side of things) - and hopefully a display by the Cinema Organ Society.  As I commented in another post, I will be playing a Harmonium at times during the day, and the Early Music Shop will be there with their kits of portative organs, along with displays by various organisations, and various other things describing how the organ works, etc.  Well worth a visit - Bradford Cathedral is just at the edge of the city centre, close to Forster Square Station, and an easy walk from Bradford Interchange.

The day concludes with a special choral evensong by the cathedral choir, and a recital by cathedral organist Andrew Teague, including a new piece commissioned for the event and written by our president-elect, Paul Fisher.

Hope to see some of you on the day.

Every Blessing

Tony
(President, Bradford Organists' Association)

130
Reed organs and harmoniums / Harmonium at Bradford Cathedral
« on: May 07, 2010, 09:28:53 AM »
Hi

On Saturday 15th May the Bradford Organists' association have an all-day event at Bradford Cathedral.  We have a number of different organs coming on the day - apart from the Cathedral Organ and the Wingfield organ from the Early English Organ Project (which arrived today and will be in residence in the cathedral until December).

However, of more interest to this group is that we will have a Harmonium there, and I will be playing it at various times during the day.  (Sorry - I don't know exactly when as yet).

The doors open at 10:00, and the exhibition and demos will finish around 4:00 - but will be followed by Choral Evensong and a recital on the cathedral organ.

Currently, I think that the organ that I will be playing is an early Debain from the Fluke's collection - but that is subject to change.

Hope to see anyone who isn't too far away.

Every Blessing

Tony

(I'll post something in the relevant topic about the day in general after the weekend).

131
Reed organs and harmoniums / A Unique Museum
« on: April 07, 2010, 09:40:38 AM »
Hi

Since I asked the moderator for this section, here's a post to get it off the ground!

The reed organ in its various guises is often the Cinderella of the organ world - but in fact it's a fascinating and very expressive instrument with a repertoire of its own - particularly the French-style Harmonium, with pieces by Cesar Frank, Guilmant, Karg-Elart, etc.

The "Victorian Reed Organ Museum" in Saltaire, near Bradford is the UK's only specialized museum of these organs, and is well worth a visit.  The museum is run privately by my good friends Phil & Pam Fluke and represents a lifetime of collecting and cataloging ( Apart from several reed organs of various types, they also have a large collection of music for reed organ).

Since Phil has another job, and is also busy with hirings of one of his Mustels (to the BBC or major orchestras quite often) it's best to ring first - 07976 535980 will get Phil.

If you do visit, let me know and if I can I'll meet you there - it's only a couple of miles down the road.

Every Blessing

Tony

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