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Monday 17th May 2021
This evening I delivered a talk via Zoom to members of many organists’ associations, at the invitation of the Nottingham & District Society of Organists. The talk, which lasts 90 minutes and is in two parts, is about various recent interesting organ projects of mine and their challenges, and was watched as far away as New York, from where David Briggs kindly sent me an appreciative email shortly afterwards.
Links to the talk on YouTube can be found in the Illustrated Lectures section of this website, but for convenience, here they are:
Recent Projects: part one and Recent Projects: part two.
Thursday 22nd April 2021
Today, with the sun streaming through the windows of All Saints' church, Elston (near Newark) we bade farewell in a moving funeral service to a leading light of Nottinghamshire's music — John Morehen. Following organ lessons at Gloucester with Herbert Sumsion, John had been a Clifton College music scholar, then the first organ scholar at New College Oxford. His doctoral studies at King's College Cambridge eventually led him, via the organ loft of St George's chapel, Windsor and many solo broadcasts, to the music department of Nottingham University, where he rose to the Professorship. His musical activities in the city and county are too numerous to list here (they can be read about in his Obituaries) as also are his innumerable kindnesses and generosity to others. He leaves a great hole in our community. Rest in peace, John.
Monday 8th March 2021
Another venturing forth today — to St Philip’s cathedral, Birmingham. I was privileged to act as consultant for the complete rebuilding of the historic organ there in 1992-3, by Nicholsons, who have been in charge of the instrument since the 1890s. It fell to them to save the organ in 1940 after a fire-bomb left the cathedral open to the skies (see photo below). It was stored in Pershore Abbey (a stone’s throw from where Carlo Curley’s ashes are now interred) and reinstalled in 1948 with a new console and electro-pneumatic action. I greatly enjoyed revisiting the instrument and was delighted to see that nothing much needs doing to it other than a gentle clean and some overhaul work to the keys and pedals. The Schwarbrick and Snetzler ranks sound as beautiful as ever, and the pair of 18th-century cases still gorgeous.
Wednesday 17th February 2021
I ventured out today to Ranmoor (Sheffield) — strictly necessary, on business, to ‘snag’ and sign-off an organ. Andrew Carter (seen here at the Ranmoor console) has been refurbishing every last piece of the fine Brindley & Foster / Nicholson / Wells organ at St John’s. This magnificent Victorian church has a superb choral and organ tradition — maintained to this day. The organ has a fine Nicholson console from their comprehensive rebuild and electrification of 1963. The David Wells rebuild and enlargement of 1997 was to a typically well thought-out tonal scheme by Roger Fisher. The recent work has been a complete releathering, cleaning, sorting out the wind system, tonal balancing and a full console refurbishment. It is the final major project in the long and distinguished career of Walker-trained Andrew Carter, who is handing over such contracts to Peter Wood & Son of Harrogate, with whom he will work for the time being. We wish Andrew all the best.
Saturday 23rd January 2021
Not getting out much in January, it has been a pleasure to put together for publication an autobiographical book by retired Nicholson Tonal Director, Guy Russell. Entitled A Life Full of Pipe Dreams, it will shortly be published by the Institute of British Organ Building. It's a great read, half the text being about Guy's life in the trade, the second half being a remarkably complete guide to pipe voicing. A unique book written by a unique and talented individual.
Wednesday 23rd December 2020
December has remained a busy month on the organ consulting front, with projects in Cambridge (Chesterton), Corbridge, Birmingham (Olton), Radley College, Ravenstonedale, Rochester, Sheffield (Ranmoor), Platt (Borough Green) etc all underway with organbuilders, and others being planned. Thanks to Covid, travel has been limited to visiting one organ-builder, which made me smile as my latest two big projects will in due course involve very lengthy travel — to Nairobi Cathedral in one direction (Kenya) and to Christ Church Cathedral, Christchurch, in another (New Zealand)! I'm sure we all long for the inoculation so that things can gradually get back to normal. Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to anyone reading this.