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A colleague has alerted me to the fact that the organ in the Great Hall at Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College - formerly Wyggeston Boys' School (Leicester) is in urgent need of a new home. It is a two manual Walker organ dating from 1932 The NPOR link is here:

The balcony on which it stands is to be re-developed and the organ will be disposed of, if no offer of removal to a new home is forthcoming. If anyone knows of a church (or school, etc) requiring an instrument of this size and design, please contact me by PM, and I can put you in touch with someone who used to play it and who has drawn this to my attention.

Thank you.

Miscellaneous & Suggestions / The Battered Bride....
« on: May 05, 2012, 09:45:56 PM »
Is it just me, or do other board users who play in churches also have problems with brides?

Take the wedding which I had to play for today: it started with some electric post from my colleague, informing me he could not play for a wedding scheduled for 5th May, and could I do it? He had (thoughtfully) attached the original e-mail from the bride-to-be, together with her choices for the music. This included marching up the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon, processing out to Bach's Jesu, joy of man's desiring and Colours of day for one of the hymns.

She had arrived at this interesting selection by means of a website which purported to provide 'suitable' choices for wedding music.

She had also, to be fair, asked my colleague if he thought that her choices would be acceptable. Unfortunately, since he knew he was not going to be the organist for her nuptials, he simply replied to the effect that, yes, they would be fine.

As soon as I had read through the list (and imagined her walking proudly up the aisle to Pedal 16ft. and 8ft. Flutes, with a quiet 8ft. Flute joining in on the G.O. half-way up the aisle), I decided that, if only to retain my sanity on the day, I had better arrange to meet the young lady and her intending spouse, in order to discuss the music.

A couple of weeks later, on a rainy evening, we met at the church and I began by querying, as gently as I could, whether she really wanted to walk up and down the aisle to the pieces she had chosen. At this point, she assumed a petulant expression and declared "Well, your colleague thought they would be fine."  "Yes", I replied, "because he is not going to be here. If you had told him that you wished to march up the aisle to the theme from Spartacus, played on an accordion by a camp Portugese quantity surveyor, currently living in Arbroath, he would still have said that it was fine."

She seemed a little unconvinced by this so, sighing, I said "Look, both of you go down the Nave to the west end and process up while I play the Pachelbel." This they duly did and, arrived at the central crossing as I was about half-way through the first clavier phrase.

"Not a very grand entrance, is it?", I said.  Then I got them to walk up to the High Altar, and repeat the procedure in the other direction, while I played Jesu, joy (on Hautbois, Flute and Bourdon). After this, they were a little more interested in what I had to suggest.

In the end, she came in to Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary and went out to Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba which, whilst perhaps making little sene on paper, was at least more aurally stimulating.

As far as the hymns were concerned, whilst I had to endure One more step along the road I go (played at a stately pace, on Fonds 16ft., 8ft. and 4ft.*), I did manage to kill the idea of Colours of day - simply by telling her that I had never heard of it.

I had also suggested that I play the Bach at the signing of the registers, which I did. Fortunately I only had to play it twice, since I had asked our curate (who conducted the wedding) to keep a tight rein on the photographer, in order that this part of the ceremony did not last a geological period.

Oh, I forgot to mention - she arrived late. As usual. (For brides generally, of course.) She had decided to hire a pony and trap - but presumably from a local farmer, instead of from a wedding car/transport company (who would have known how long to allow for the journey in this town, at this time of year - and whilst we endure yet further major 'road-scaping'). Fortunately there was no wedding scheduled to follow - although I did have two pupils still to teach.

The above is comparatively tame, considering the weddings I have played for previously. There was one, involving a couple both in the armed forces, which was - well, a bit odd. The bride was clearly drunk (and I do mean 'drunk'). She fell over whilst marching up the aisle at the start and became wedged between two pews. Fortunately she was apparently unhurt and simply laughed.... loudly.... for about six minutes. The vicar was little better: he arrived breathlessly about three minutes prior to the start of the wedding, looking a little dis-arranged. That is to say, his hair was sticking out at all angles and he smelled as if he had just attempted to set himself on fire.

Then there was the one where the wedding began conventionally, and continued quite sensibly right up until the time when the best man was supposed to hand the ring over to our officiating priest. There followed an unscripted silence, so I turned around to witness the said best man rooting frantically through the pockets of his suit - to no avail. I lost interest, only to regain it a few seconds later, when the entire assembled congregation heard him say "Oh bugger, it's on the kitchen table." An exasperated frown crossed the face of our priest; I am not sure whether this was due to the colourful language, or simply for the inconvenience. Anyway, I doubt that the brlde that day was the only one ever to have been married whilst sporting a chunky brass curtain ring, which on this occasion was procured at white-heat from the adjacent church rooms....

So, is it just me - or do others have similar experiences they could relate?

* I was worried that the congregation would start clapping rhythmically if I played it in a sprightly manner.

Does anyone here know anything about recent events at Saint Mary's, Newark with regard to the choir and organist/director of music?

Since I have no wish to spread rumours or unwittingly give erroneous information, I would simply ask that, if anyone does actually have any definite information (which is acknowledged to be fact, as opposed to heresay, please), could they contact me by PM, please?

Thank you.

I hope that the rest of the administration team do not mind me advertising a link to my own website:

There are a few resources and galleries to look through, in addition to a feature on the CD recording of the organ in Wimborne Minster. However, there is still a great deal of work to do. The Gazetteer in particular, needs sorting into a more logical order; this will have to wait for a few days or so, though.

Visitors are welcome.

Restoring pipe organs / A link to a video of the organ of Sacré-Coeur.
« on: December 22, 2011, 05:27:51 PM »
This is worth a look (complete with an English translation over-dubbed). To skip the advert at the beginning, click the small cross on the top right-hand corner:

A number of friends have, at various times, mentioned certain English cathedral organs which they do not like - either because of the specification (and therefore, the voicing) or due to such things as an uncomfortable console or an unhelpful layout.

Now here is your chance to redesign these instruments in a way which is more practical - or in a style which you would consider to be more tonally appropriate.

Or, if you prefer, you can simply go back in time and rescue an organ from certain transformation. There are but three stipulations:

1) You must return to the point immediately before the rebuild which you consider to have spoiled the organ - but obviously, it cannot be an exact re-incarnation of its previous specification.
2) The upperboards cannot be re-worked to increase the number of stops (save in the Pedal Organ); so, apart from the odd extra Solo reed, the departments must have the same number of speaking stops as before.
3) It should make sense (on paper, at least) as a viable musical instrument, equally suitable for choral accompaniment and solo playing.

With this in mind, I am going to start off with the organ of Gloucester Cathedral. My starting-point is 1969-70 - Ralph Downes is on holiday and so he missed the invitation to re-design the FHW / H&H instrument....


Double Open Wood (Ext.) 32
Open Wood 16
Open Diapason (M) 16
Sub Bass 16
Quintatön (Solo) 16
Principal (M) 8
Violoncello (M) 8
Flute 8
Fifteenth (M) 4
MIxture (15-19-22) III
Contra Posaune (Ext.) 32
Ophicleide 16
Posaune 16
Clarion (Ext. Oph.) 8
Choir to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Solo to Pedal


Viola da Gamba 8
Claribel Flute 8
Gemshorn (conical) 4
Suabe Flöte 4
Flageolet 2
Mixture (15-19-22) III
Swell to Choir
Solo to Choir


Double Open Diapason 16
Open Diapason I 8
Open Diapason II 8
Stopped Diapason 8
Octave 4
Flûte Harmonique 4
Octave Quint 2 2/3
Super Octave 2
Sesquialtera (17-19-22) III
Furniture (15-19-22-26-29) V
Double Trumpet 16
Trumpet 8
Great Reeds on Pedal
Great Reeds on Choir

Choir to Great
Swell to Great
Solo to Great


Open Diapason 8
Lieblich Gedeckt 8
Salicional 8
Vox Angelica (AA) 8
Principal 4
Lieblich Flöte 4
Fifteenth 2
Mixture (22-26-29) III
Hautboy 8
Vox Humana 8
Contra Posaune 16
Cornopean 8
Clarion 4
Sub Octave
Unison Off
Solo to Swell


Quintatön 16  (70 pipes)
Viole de Gambe 8
Viole Céleste (CC) 8
Flûte Harmonique 8
Flauto Traverso 4
Orchestral Bassoon 16  (70 pipes)
Corno di Bassetto 8
Tuba Mirabilis 8
Trompette Harmonique 8
Sub Octave
Unison Off


Pedal and Great Pistons Coupled
Pedal to Swell Pistons
Generals on Swell Foot Pistons

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