News - January 2013
Last year ended on a melancholy note with the death on November 14th of Graham Hawkes, our Chairman for many years, who guided us through some difficult times. He leaves a great gap which will not be easily filled. There was a Funeral Mass for Graham at All Saints Margaret Street, where he was a trustee of the Choral Foundation. Graham had chosen the music which included the Burial Sentences by Croft, the Spatzenmesse by Mozart, the Hymn "Love's redeeming work is done", and the Kiev Kontakion of the Departed. The final voluntary was the "Sortie" by Lefebure-Wely which received a spirited rendering on the Margaret Street Harrison organ.
Our 2012 season concluded in great style with our Silent Film Evening and Supper on November 30th. After the supper, which was excellent as usual, Donald Mackenzie, Organist of the Odeon Leicester Square, played an improvisation on well known tunes which accompanied some vintage steam train footage. Donald paid a moving tribute to Graham Hawkes, and then talked about his friendship with the late Carlo Curley, after which he played Carlo's arrangement of The Londonderry Air. After the interval we had the classic black and white film "The General" featuring Buster Keaton. Donald accompanied the film capturing every twist and turn on the screen. Under Donald's skilled hands and feet the organ was made to sigh, sing, thunder, and express every emotion in-between! We are extremely grateful to Donald, who has become a welcome fixture in our winter calendar.
Renewal of Friends Form:
Those of you who have not yet renewed and wish to renew as Friends, please fill in the form on the back of this news letter.
We start our concert season with a recital by David Houlder on February 19th at the usual time of 7.30. David is Sub-Organist of Leeds Minster, and accompanies the daily choral services. He was also Sub-Organist of Liverpool Cathedral, so he knows a thing or two about managing a large Willis organ. In addition, David has a distinguished career as a choral director and accompanist. We look forward to an exciting programme.
We have provisional dates for the rest of the year. We are restricted in this respect, in that commercial bookings for the Great Hall which may subsequently come in, have priority over our events. However, the next two provisional dates are:
Wednesday April 3rd, and Wednesday May 29th. The A.P. management reserve the right to change or move these dates up to six weeks before the event, however this rarely happens. More details of those events will be forthcoming in our next Newsletter.
We are hopeful that the Royal College of Music Chamber Orchestra under Professor Mark Messenger will return in the Autumn, together with our Silent Film Night featuring Donald Mackenzie.
The Swell Clarion 8', and Cornopean 4' are nearing the end of their refurbishment and part renewal. We look forward to having them back in the organ shortly.
Our new Trustee Daniel Spencer has kindly donated a new cover for the console. Simon Gutteridge has donated new lighting for the console.
The large humidifier developed a leak towards the end of last year and caused a flood on the organ gallery. The humidifier is under a maintenance contract and the A.P. staff, together with the contractors rectified the fault. The humidity caused tuning to be more than usually difficult before the last recital. We hope that this will be an end to the problem.
Trustee Mark Smith has agreed to relieve the secretary of the task of liaising with the media and local interest groups regarding our events. If you know of any interest group who might like to be on our publicity list please let Mark know. He can be contacted at: markydsmith at googlemail dot com
Some of you may have been watching a series of documentary programmes made by Michael entitled "Great British Railway Journeys". This was based on the nineteenth century Bradshaw guide. In a recent programme he made the journey from Kings Cross to Peterborough. His first stop was the site of the old Alexandra Palace station. The Palace had its own branch spur which was closed to passenger traffic in 1954. The booking office, which is on the North side of the Great Hall still survives, and is used for community events. The Palace General Manager Duncan Wilson was interviewed by Michael in the Great Hall with the organ in the background, and talked about the many thousands of people who arrived at the Palace by rail in the early days, particularly to hear organ, choral and orchestral concerts.
Temporary Protective Enclosure:
For those of you that have visited the organ gallery, you will know that the organ is very vulnerable to anyone who gains access. Although A.P. rules are strict about entry to the gallery there are inevitably people who manage get up there, whether they be riggers, photographers or roadies. One photographer managed to stand on the roller cover for the console and badly damage it. Pipes have been found displaced, and an electronic circuit board tampered with.
We are currently obtaining quotations to erect a temporary enclosure round the organ that would prevent people on the gallery from gaining access. This would also help with control of dust and dirt and assist with humidity and tuning.
We do hope that as many people as possible come to support us on February 19th. In the meantime, we are working towards a stimulating programme for the rest of the year. As always, we thank you for your continued support.
News - August 2012
From The Secretary, Hugh Macpherson. The Appeal Trustees were much saddened by Graham's decision to resign as Chairman, but we fully understand that his energy must be directed towards maintaining his health. We greatly appreciate the leadership that he has shown over the past years, guiding us through times that were not always easy. Graham is still going to edit our Newsletter, and be acting Chairman as his health permits. With the new management at the Palace we are now entering a vital phase of refurbishment of the whole Palace and Park complex. It is our determination to make sure that the organ is part of this, and we welcome the experience of Graham as one of our elder statesmen.
From The Chairman, Graham Hawkes. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to serve as your Chairman, with the support of your dedicated Trustees. In spite of some anxious times, I have enjoyed the experience tremendously. I was very thankful to leave on a high note, the brilliant recital given by James Luxton and Thomas Keogh. The organ sounded absolutely splendid and I enjoyed the programme, which was totally appropriate for our fabulous concert organ. The transcription of Finlandia would undoubtedly received the approval of G.D.Cunningham and George Thalben–Ball. The concluding encore of Colonel Bogey finished on full organ. I was also grateful for the fact that, at my advanced age, I could still address you without using a microphone. I hope to continue writing the Newsletters, even though I have just revealed the authorship.
Sadly I have to report the death of a founder member and our former Archivist, Douglas Carrington. Douglas studied dentistry at the University of Leeds. Whilst there, he became friendly with the tuner of the splendid organ of the Town Hall. Subsequently he studied at the University of Bristol and was naturally drawn to the magnificent church and organ of St. Mary's Redcliffe. In retirement Douglas amassed a considerable collection of literature on organs, churches and cathedrals and often attended several recitals each week. When Douglas felt that he could no longer maintain contact with us, our custodian, Stephen Walmsley, travelled to Lytham St. Annes to collect the archives and spent pleasant day with him. Douglas returned to his Alma Mater by donating his body to the Department of Bio-Medical Science at the University of Leeds. It was fittingly appropriate that Simon Lindley, the organist of Leeds Town Hall, where Douglas first experienced his life-long enthusiasm, attended the memorial service. Douglas's wife Linda, played for that service, and to her we extend our heartfelt condolences and thank her for her continuing interest in our work.
We have also just heard of the sad death of the internationally famous organist and virtuoso performer, Carlo Curley. Although some of us may have memories of seeing the organ when it was still playable before the War, I suspect that many of us never actually heard it. However, a large number of you will recollect hearing Carlo playing his Allen computer organ with the speakers concealed behind the 32 ft. casework. He gave several recitals before the fire and perhaps it would be fair to say that these gave encouragement to many of those who believed that the organ should and could be restored. With his great panache and showmanship, he would welcome members of the audience waiting with a copy of his vinyl 33rpm record and, with a green felt tipped pen and a flamboyant flourish, write his name across the whole of the record sleeve. He was a great ambassador for the organ.
The Organ - The Swell Reeds The Palace has issued a contract for the restoration of the Swell Reeds and we have paid the initial instalment. As soon as the Great Hall is free, after the closure of the Dutch House set up for the Olympic Games, they will be removed to Liverpool and hopefully restored in time for the film evening by Donald Mackenzie in November. These two ranks of pipes, the 8ft. Cornopean and the 4ft. Clarion have long been a cause of considerable concern. They date back to 1875 and suffered damage and were repaired several times. They also underwent alteration when the pitch of the organ was altered in 1939. The lead of the blocks is very soft and they are the most difficult ranks to tune on the whole instrument. Once tuned, they will often change pitch within minutes. On many occasions they have been unplayable and thus the Swell Organ has lost its principle solo stops and become another accompanying department. It is the intention to replace the pipes, using the originals as templates; a few will be retained on site for historical purposes. The replacement pipes will be voiced in-house by Henry Willis & Sons Ltd.
The Grand Design. Although our main aim has been to keep the organ playing, we have been restoring the instrument rank by rank. However, at our present rate of one stop every two to three years, it will take us well over a century to complete the work. Furthermore, we have reached a point where this is no longer possible. We did inform you that we hoped to restore the Great Reeds. These would have had to have been situated on the floor of the gallery, not in their correct final position, and would have had to have been moved at a later stage, thus involving a double expenditure. After careful consideration, we have concluded that we must launch a major appeal in two stages.
Phase One. This will cost approximately 500,000. It will involve the revision and completion of the building frame and the design, manufacture and installation of the casework and the magnificent display pipes. They will be the 32 ft. metal Double Open Bass, the 32 ft. wood Double Open Diapason and the 32 ft. Sub Bass. These will be the largest pipes in the organ and will comprise the front and both sides of the organ making the appearance similar to what it was before the fire. Henry Willis & Sons Ltd. still possess the metal rolling machines on which the 1873 and subsequent 1875 pipes were made. Not only will the case give added security but it will also protect the more delicate work inside from direct sunlight and, to some extent, dirt and dust. The present tuning and maintenance problems should thus be greatly reduced. There is also the aesthetic appearance to consider. The restored organ will be situated high on the present graceful gallery and not, as previously, at the top of a flight of orchestral steps. To my eyes and ears the organ will always be the King of Instruments - Mozart. His first thought is of the sight of the organ. Think of the initial impact of seeing the interior of the Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds Town Halls and St. George's Hall, Liverpool. The focal point of the Great Hall at Alexandra Palace is also the organ, whatever event takes place here, it cannot be ignored. The organ should and must be the crowning jewel of the vast and impressive space which is the greatest asset of Alexandra Palace.
Phase Two. This will cost approximately the same amount, 500,000. It will consist of the enclosed Solo Organ, the rest of the Great Organ, the Swell Organ and the Pedal Organ and even include the Tubular Bells!
CAN WE DO IT? Shortly we shall be launching a wide-ranging Appeal. Some of you may be members of The Cinema Organ Society. When the Trocadero Cinema, Elephant & Castle was closed in 1963 they stored the four manual, 21 rank 1930 Wurlitzer organ. Later they installed it at the University of the South Bank and when that was no longer available they stored it once again. They are now in the final stages of installing it in the Troxy Cinema, Stepney. So far they have raised almost 250,000 of which 50,000 was donated in six months. Let them be an inspiration to us all!
Wednesday 5th September at 7.30 pm. John Pryer & Richard Dawson "Keble College: Ancient & Modern."
Tuesday 30th October at 7.30 pm. The Royal College of Music Chamber Orchestra and Organ, Conductor Mark Messenger, soloist David Aprahamian Liddle. Including solo and orchestral works for organ and orchestra and music by Arne and Mozart, we believe that this will be the first classical orchestral concert in the Great Hall since 1980.
Friday 30th November at 7.30 pm. Silent Film Night with Donald Mackenzie of the Odeon, Leicester Square. As well as organ solos, the programme will feature, by public demand and after six years, Buster Keaton's film The General.
This will be preceded by The Annual Supper at 5.30 pm. Please phone 0208 870 4082 for cost, bookings and menu choices.
Become a Friend of Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal for 15 p.a. and receive regular mailings. Send to The Treasurer, 41 Vanderbilt Road, London SW18 3BG
News - February 2012
The encouraging aspect of writing these letters is that we are seldom short of copy, which must mean that there is always something happening. Having said that, it is such a rare event for any of our readers to submit anything that I can distinctly remember that the last item received was Daryl's recollections of his meetings with Norman Cocker. So, although it is somewhat late, make a New Year's Resolution and send us a short article.
It is with considerable regret that we have to announce the retirement, on health grounds, of one of our trustees, Michael Rhodes. Very shortly after he was appointed, we found ourselves without a Treasurer. After considerable and heavy persuasion from the Chairman, Michael agreed to help us out for a year, which ultimately extended to eight years. During that time he computerised the whole system and thoroughly re-organised our financial, accounting and banking systems.
His inspired and successful lottery application enabled us to purchase the twin screen viewing system with cameras, projectors and all the associated equipment. He also possessed all the technical skill required to set up and operate the system. This has revolutionised our concerts; without it we should be reduced to knitting or completing crossword or sudoku puzzles whilst listening to the music; we certainly should not have not been treated to the spectacle of a duet, in which one of the artists played the pedals with his hands!
His activities ranged far beyond those of a treasurer. Michael organised the Friends' membership and printed the address labels to enable us to mail the Newsletters. All this was done from his home at Stoke-on-Trent. His journeys from there to Alexandra Palace and back often meant that he did not return home until the early hours of the morning and the strain on him was often only too obvious. The Trustees and Friends owe Michael a great debt of gratitude for his tremendous work and hope that the laying down of this considerable burden will help to restore his health. We look forward to seeing him relaxing in the audience at future events.
We only hope that we have acquired from him sufficient technical to run the twin screen system smoothly. We do rely on far too few people to help us so, if you have any experience in the audio-visual field, please make yourself known to us. We are always looking for more volunteers.
The last Newsletter heralded the annual Supper and Donald Mackenzie's return to accompany his traditional programme of silent films. For those of you who were unfortunately unable to attend, it was a highly successful evening. We had an encouragingly large attendance. The enjoyable meal, was arranged by David Moores, and consumed in the Londesborough Room by some sixty Friends and guests. We then joined others in the Great Hall for a concert of Donald's music and the mirth of the golden days of the silent screen.
Tuesday 28th February at 7.30 pm
We are delighted to welcome back David Aprahamian Liddle, who played for us last February. You will remember that David is a composer as well as an organist and his programme, detailed below, will include two of his own compositions. We particularly look forward to hearing The Skye Boat Song. It is fascinating to think how many composers have been inspired by beautiful Scottish folk songs. It is a very rare event to hear an entire organ symphony, especially by a composer as challenging as Vierne.
J. S. Bach: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme BWV 645
Karg-Elert: Nun Danket Op.65
David Aprahamian Liddle: I Skye Boat Song Op.10 No.1; II Arabesque Op.7
Hollins: I Spring Song; II A Trumpet Minuet
Vierne: Symphony No.1 Op.14
I Prelude; II Fugue; III Pastorale; IV Allegro Vivace; V Andante; VI Final
Thursday 12th April at 7.30 pm By popular demand we have invited back the Two Bright Young Birmingham Stars, James Luxton and Thomas Keogh. At their last concert they demonstrated a mature knowledge of the repertoire of the romantic concert organ coupled with a confident mastery of the instrument. I am sure that we can look forward to a similarly wide-ranging programme that will suit all tastes.
Wednesday 16th May at 7.30 pm We welcome the return of Stephen Disley, the Organist of Southwark Cathedral. Although Stephen has played for us several times, it is almost three years ago since we last heard him. A glance at his previous programmes will remind you that we are always treated to some of the virtuoso items in the organ repertoire.
Future Events: The remaining provisional dates for the 2012 calendar, together with the names of artists, will appear in the next Newsletter.
The Organ In case you think that we have forgotten, behind the scenes we are making progress on our plans for the next stage in the restoration of the organ. We shall shortly be considering the costing of a five rank wind-chest to accommodate the Great reeds; initially the 16 foot Double Trumpet, the 8 foot Trumpet-harmonic and the 4 foot Clarion. This will be the most significant event for many years. We are then planning to launch an appeal couple with some exciting events to whet your appetites. We are also discussing with the Palace Management the provision on the gallery of a temporary casing around the base of the organ to provide greater security and to improve its appearance.
Subscriptions Those Friends who do not pay by standing order will find enclosed a renewal notice for annual subscriptions, which fell due in January. Thank you.
News - November 2011
We urge you all to support us at the final event of the year, the annual Supper and programme of organ items and silent films with organ accompaniment. As usual, the maestro at the console will be our familiar friend Donald Mackenzie, the organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square. The preceding Supper in the Londesborough Room is a great opportunity to meet other Friends socially over a splendid meal. It will be a fun evening and has inspired, if that is the right word, the following anonymous contribution:
We're showing great films at old Ally Pally,
There's Supper as well, so don't dilly-dally.
It's Laurel and Hardy,
No time to be tardy,
Bring neighbours, bring friends and even Aunt Sally.
Since the Programme begins with the Overture, Morning, Noon and Night, it could be described as Supper with Suppe.
Please fill in the enclosed booking form and return it right away. Of course, if you wish to attend the film programme only, which starts at 7.30 pm, there is no need to book in advance.
Corrections: We managed to get both names wrong in the two new appointments that we announced in the last Newsletter. The name of the recently appointed Chief Executive is Duncan Wilson and our Organ Scholar is James Perkins; we apologise to both of them.
Increase in Admission Charges: It is with regret that we have to announce that in 2012 we shall be forced to raise the cost of admission to concerts. These have remained unchanged for some ten years. Although we have had to bear dramatic increases in the cost of printing and posting, our main expenditure is on the fees that we pay to visiting performers. These have not been increased for eight years and we are conscious that we must pay a proper rate. In fact, as a registered charity, we cannot stage events in the knowledge that we shall probably be making a loss. We think that some of our performers are doing us a generous favour. So, from 1st of January 2012 the cost of admission will be £10, with £7 for Friends and students free.
Sid and Jean Perkins: We are sorry to inform you that Sid Perkins has had a bad fall and broken his hip. We understand that he is now at home and making a good recovery. However, he and Jean feel that they can no longer set up their stall in the Great Hall and must retire. For so many years we have hovered over their eclectic selection of sheet music, c.d.'s and musical memorabilia, each time discovering new treasures. They have been extremely generous to the A.P.O.A. and have become an integral part of each event. We shall miss them enormously. Thank you Sid and Jean.
The Future: The Officers of the Trust had a useful first meeting with the new Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson, and in spite of the presence of hard working and hard-hatted riggers in the Great Hall, we were able to show him the organ. Above the noise of machinery below, we were able to let him hear the splendid sound of the organ for a few minutes.
In the New Year we shall be revealing our plans for the next stage of the restoration programme; the Great Reeds. This will be coupled with an Appeal, so start saving now! We are negotiating the dates for the 2012 programme and these will be published in January. The first event is likely to be in late February.
The Trustees wish to thank you for all your support. We look forward to seeing you at ALL the 2012 events and take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous and Healthy New Year.
News - September 2011
Many of you will have participated in one of our most ambitious events for many years, the concert in July featuring The London Welsh Male Voice Choir and The Kaos Signing Choir. Certainly we have not been entertained by so many performers for a very long time and the sight of the serried ranks of The London Welsh Male Voice Choir in their scarlet jackets will linger in our memories.
The next recital will be given on Thursday the 15th of September at 7.30 p.m. by one of our illustrious Patrons, Carl Jackson, who is the Director of Music at Her Majesty's Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. Those of you who attended his last recital will remember his talented and exciting playing. The programme will include music by Elgar, Parry, Howells, Liszt and Alain. This will be an evening that you simply must not miss!
A New Chief Executive. We have been informed that Alexandra Park and Palace has appointed a new Chief Executive, Duncan Ellis OBE, who is to take up his appointment in October. He joins the Palace from the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, where he has been Chief Executive for the past nine years. Under his direction it has become one of London's top attractions. With over one million visitors a year, it is now ranked as the 15th most visited tourist attraction in the United Kingdom. Previously he was the first Director of the Somerset House Trust, where he significantly raised its cultural identity by leading the project to restore the public spaces and open the site to the public from 1997. We look forward to meeting Mr. Ellis and working with him on the restoration of the Alexandra Palace Organ.
It cannot have escaped the notice of Friends that we have been making a conscious effort to involve young organists in our programmes. In 2010 we introduced Three Bright Young Stars: Benjamin Morris, Richard Dawson and Lawrence Williams. In April of this year we featured Two Bright Young Birmingham Stars: Thomas Keogh and James Luxton. We have now decided to continue this work. With this in mind, the Trustees have appointed an organ scholar.
The Alexandra Palace Organ Scholar. We are pleased to announce the appointment of the first organ scholar, James Parker. Either there is something in the water, or the Palace Titular Organist, John Pryer, exudes an aura of inspiration for, like three of the young organists previously mentioned, James also has his roots in the Birmingham area. A pupil of St. Peter's Collegiate School Wolverhampton, where he studied A Level Music, History and English, he obtained the Associate Recital Diploma for Piano from Trinity College London and Grade 8 from The Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music in organ, piano and horn. He was, for three years, a pupil of Andrew Fletcher, one of our recent recitalists.
From 2006 to 2007 James studied at The Royal Military School of Music, at Kneller Hall, and served for three years in The Band of The Royal Artillery. Currently he is studying at The Royal College of Music, is Accompanist/ Associate Director of Music for the Concordia Chamber Choir and Organ Scholar at the Church of All Saints, Margaret Street. One of his duties will be to play the organ on a more regular basis, which should greatly improve its condition. We look forward to a recital from James in the next series.
The Organ. The Trustees have decided to proceed with the next phase of the restoration of the organ. It seems a long time since we completed the Choir Organ with the installation of the Contra Viola and the Cor Anglais. Henry Willis IV designed an incomplete organ to sound as though it was finished. Within these limitations, he made a brilliant job of it. However, there is one area that causes performing problems and that we intend to address.
We plan to install the reeds on the Great Organ. The only existing reeds on the Swell and Choir manuals are relatively small. In building up to a climax, performers have to change from these to the heavy pressure reeds on the Solo Organ. The jump in dynamics is too large; it is rather like ascending a fine staircase to find that several steps are missing three quarters of the way up. Originally there were five reed stops on the Great Organ and it is our intention to restore these in two stages. In the first stage we shall have the wind chests made for all five ranks and install the 16 foot Double Trumpet, the 8 foot Trumpet Harmonic and the 4 foot Clarion, which will make a fine chorus. The 8 foot Trumpet and the 8 foot Posaune will be restored in the second phase. This work will result in a more flexible and exciting instrument and enable our players to give even better performances. We shall give more details and launch an appeal early next year.
CHANGE OF DATE Bookings at the Palace have escalated in recent months. Whereas that is good news for their financial stability, it does greatly increase the chances of our bookings being moved. As I am sure you are aware, we are allowed six events each year, which are free unless we incur extra costs such as more security staff etc. for the London Welsh Male Voice Choir. Consequently the date of the next performance will NOT be Wednesday the 23rd of November but:
Monday 21st November at 7.30 pm. The Annual Supper which, by its popularity has become an established event, will be held at 5.30 pm for 6 o'clock. Booking forms for this will be sent out about a month before in October at a time when we can confirm the date. In the meantime, please put this provisional date in your diary.
This will be followed at 7.30 pm by organ solos and a varied programme of accompanied silent, comic films played by our familiar friend Donald Mackenzie, the organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square. We are hoping to include some films for our Steam Train enthusiasts. This was a very popular feature on a previous occasion. With his annual appearances, Donald Mackenzie has become by far our most frequent visiting performer. We really do appreciate hearing the wonderful combination of sounds that he coaxes from the organ. In his skilled hands, we become totally oblivious to the absence of dialogue. Bring your friends and neighbours to hear and enjoy the authentic experience of the early cinema. Donald is keeping alive one of the so-called "lost" arts.
News - June 2011
THE LONDON WELSH MALE VOICE CHOIR IN CONCERT WITH THE KAOS SIGNING CHOIR AND JOHN PRYER ON THE GRAND ORGAN
The world famous London Welsh Male Voice Choir will be performing in a concert supported by the young stars of the North London based KAOS signing choir, and will feature John Pryer on the Grand Organ. The aim of the concert is to support the restoration of the organ to its pre-war state, from which the legendary EMI recordings and sound samples date. It was then heralded as "The Finest Concert Organ in Europe." The restoration will reverse the extensive damage caused during and after World War II, and the fire of 1980.
The LWMVC was formed in 1902 by England based Welsh exiles who wished to carry on one of the great cultural traditions of their homeland. Today's choir, now over 100 strong, maintains these traditions and retains its leadership in entertaining audiences of all ages with its colour and eclectic mix of musical sounds.
The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf & Hearing Children is an award-winning integrated project for children aged 4 to 18. It is the only integrated deaf and hearing children's choir in the UK. The choir regularly wows audiences with performances of original Songs Of Kaos, all written by or especially for the group. The 200-strong Kaos Signing Choir has performed for Princess Anne, and won the Under-18's Choir Class at the North London Festival of Music and Drama in 2005, 2007 and 2008.
John Pryer is the "titular" organist of the Alexandra Palace. He was organ scholar at Keble College Oxford, and subsequently organist at both of Birmingham's cathedrals. He is currently organist at The Birmingham Oratory.
This concert will appeal equally to lovers of Choral and Organ music. The LWMVC will delight those who love contemporary male voice choral music, with items taken from its broad international repertoire, plus those who want to hear the traditional sounds of the choir's homeland. The remarkable KAOS Signing Choir will demonstrate that the future of choral singing is alive and well and can be enjoyed by all. John Pryer will demonstrate his wonderful talent as one of the country's foremost organ improvisers.
This will be our largest fund raising event for many years and we would encourage you to pass the word to all your friends and neighbours.
TICKETS for the Concert. At the front £15, and rear £12 (No Concessions)
There will be a SUPPER at 5.30 pm, tickets £23. Pre- booking for the Supper is essential
Concert Tickets available on the door or in advance from:
Simon Gutteridge, 41 Vanderbilt Road, London SW18 3BG
Cheques should be made payable to Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal
The programme played by the Two Bright Young Birmingham Stars on the 27th of April was extremely well received by an enthusiastic audience. Eminently suited for the concert organ, it not only included music by Bach and Handel but it also works by some of the great nineteenth and twentieth century organ composers. The concluding item was a duet, the march Blaze Away by Holzman. One of our Friends wrote that she had never before seen the pedal board played with hands; we guess that goes for most of us!
On the 25th of May, in the face of major difficulties, which would have defeated all but such a consummate performer, Peter Wright gave a stunning recital of music across a wide range of composers and styles. His attempts to practise the previous day were forestalled by the disappearance of the console key and on the day of the recital he had to contend with a workforce putting up drapes for a forthcoming event, to the deafening accompaniment of cherry pickers and other vehicles. It was gratifying that his concert deservedly attracted several new members from the organ world.
Thursday 15th September at 7.30 pm. We welcome back Carl Jackson, one of our distinguished Patrons and Organist of Her Majesty's Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace.
Wednesday 23rd November at 7.30 pm. The Annual Supper which, by its popularity has become an established event, will be held at 5.30 pm. This will be followed at 7.30 pm by organ solos and a programme of accompanied silent films played by our familiar friend Donald Mackenzie, the organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square.
The Organ. We shortly hope to launch the next phase of the restoration. The organ is now in the capable hands of Willis's new London tuner, Lindsay Robinson and his son John, who are doing excellent work.
Please remember that all dates are provisional but you can check them nearer the time by phoning 01727 861555 or by checking our website at allypallyorgan.org.uk
We look forward to seeing you and your friends at our future events
News - February 2011
Last year ended with a flourish with the annual supper in the Londesborough Room followed by Donald Mackenzie accompanying the classic silent film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. All those who attended enjoyed another memorable evening.
We are very sad to announce the death in December one of our stalwart Friends, Fr. Kenneth Dain. He was ordained into the Church of England and served a curacy at St. Mary Magdelene Paddington, before converting to the Church of Rome. He lived within sight of the Palace and continued ministering into his early eighties. He was a familiar sight with his clerical collar and walking stick at nearly all our recitals.
Geoffrey Stevenson, who died in July, left us a legacy of £100, for which we are very grateful. He was always willing to help out at a stall or with the sale of tickets. He was active at organ events at St. Michael's Cornhill and St. Paul's Covent Garden. Shortly before he died, David Aprahamian Liddle was able to play him a recording of the recital that Francis Jackson had just given at Alexandra Palace and he was visited in hospital by one of our Trustees, John Apperley. We shall miss him.
We are pleased to announce that we have arranged a varied and stimulating series of concerts for the current year. Please remember that all dates are provisional but you can check them nearer the time by phoning 01727 861555 or by checking our website allypallyorgan.org.uk
Tuesday 15th February at 7.30 p.m. It is with great pleasure that we welcome back the distinguished local organist David Aprahamian Liddle. David gave the inaugural recital on the organ in 1990 at the completion of the first phase of the restoration. In 1991 he gave a performance which was broadcast. Between 1991 and 1993 he arranged a series of Sunday afternoon prom concerts with guest players. His varied programme will include works by Alfred Hollins, Jehan Alain, J.S.Bach, Rheinberger, Alec Rowley's The Four Winds, the Finale from Widor's Eighth Symphony and the second performance of his own latest composition, Sharounag.
Wednesday 27th April at 7.30 p.m. Following last year's great success of the Three Bright Young Stars, we are pleased to present a concert played by Two Bright Young Birmingham Stars. They are Thomas Keogh, organist of St. Alban the Martyr Birmingham, and James Luxton, organ scholar of St. Thomas, Stourbidge, both of whom are students at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Victorian provincial prosperity manifested itself in the construction of vast town halls, each one a demonstration of civic pride. These imposing buildings housed huge concert organs, each city vying with its neighbours to provide the best. St. George's Hall Liverpool, and Leeds and Birmingham Town Halls were all equipped with magnificent instruments. In London the Royal Albert Hall and Alexandra Palace were similarly furnished with splendid organs; Liverpool, and the two London organs, were all built by Father Willis.
It goes without saying that the cathedrals and parish churches in these and our other great cities were similarly furnished with some outstanding organs. However, the concert organ was designed for a secular repertoire. Not only was it used for civic ceremonies, but it was regularly played for lunchtime and evening concerts, attracting organists from all over the world. During W.T.Best's tenure at St. George's Hall Liverpool, organ transcriptions of orchestral works became very popular. A splendid example of this can be found on the track of The Ride of the Valkyries played by George Thalben Ball on our classic CD of recordings made in 1930 and 1931. These are on sale at £15 each as there is now only a very limited supply available.
There are very strong links between Alexandra Palace and Birmingham. The great G.D. Cunningham, who was resident organist of the Palace from 1901 to 1929, held a similar position at Birmingham Town Hall. He was succeeded at Birmingham by George Thalben Ball. Recently we have been entertained by two very fine Birmingham organists, namely Paul Carr and Andrew Fletcher. Our titular organist, John Pryer, has been the organist at both of Birmingham's cathedrals and is currently the organist of The Birmingham Oratory.
Wednesday May 25th at 7.30 p.m. Peter Wright, the distinguished organist and director of music at Southwark Cathedral, will be delighting us with a very varied programme which will include music by Simon Preston, Pierre Cochereau, Flor Peeters, Marcel Dupré and Edwin Lemare.
Saturday 9th July at 7.30 pm This is a firm booking for a major event. We have been enormously lucky in securing the LONDON WELSH MALE VOICE CHOIR for a concert spectacular. This famous choir gives major concerts all over the world and has a huge following. They recently led a festival of ten Welsh male voice choirs in the Royal Albert Hall, which taxed even the lungs of the 1871 Willis/Harrison/Mander organ! Our July 9th concert will feature guest soloists, and of course there will be plenty of opportunity to hear the organ both in accompaniment and solo roles. The Kaos Signing Choir, for deaf and hearing children, will take part in the programme. They are based in north London and have won many awards. This is part of our philosophy to broaden the base of our fundraising efforts, and to bring the organ to the notice of a wider public. Fuller details will be published nearer the time.
Thursday 15th September at 7.30 pm AND Wednesday 23rd November at 7.30 pm Details of these events will be announced later.
Membership. Those Friends who have paid by standing order will find their new membership card enclosed. Those of you who pay annually will find a renewal form enclosed. On the reverse side there is a standing order form should you wish to change to subscribing by this method. We are grateful to those of you who send us donations, The membership of Friends remains steady but we would welcome more, so please recruit amongst your friends.
The Organ. We shortly hope to launch the next phase of the restoration. The organ is now in the capable hands of Willis's new London tuner, Lindsay Robinson and his son John, who are doing excellent work.
Wanted – A Grand Piano. Although the organ will feature in the concert given by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, we shall have to hire a piano. Because of the vast size of the Great Hall, we should like a grand piano. If anyone knows of someone who would be willing to donate such an instrument, and it does occasionally happen that one is looking for a good home, we should be very happy to receive it.
We look forward to seeing you and your friends at some, and hopefully all, of these events.
News - October 2010
Annual Buffet Supper, Wednesday 24th November at 5.30 p.m.
The last event of the current season will be held on Wednesday the 24th of November. Once again David Moores will be arranging the Annual Supper at 5.30 p.m. in the gracious setting of the Londesborough Room. Those of you who have experienced this evening will agree that we are always treated to a very fine meal. We are pleased to announce that, in spite of the present financial crisis, there has been no increase in the price of this event. Of course, you don
t have to attend the Supper to participate in the following programme at 7.30 p.m. when we shall once again be captivated by the unique skills of Donald Mackenzie. As it is essential to cater for exact numbers, you will find a booking form enclosed.
At 7.30 p.m. Donald Mackenzie will play the Introduction & Toccata from Boellman
s Suite Gothique and then accompany the film
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Without trawling through the archives, it would be difficult to estimate how many times Donald has entertained us. Most of you will know that he is the resident organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square where he regularly performs on one of the few organs to have a name, The Duchess. Those of you who have not had the opportunity to experience this art form will be amazed. Such is his skill in portraying the action by music that one soon forgets the absence of dialogue, although there are, of course, sub-titles. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the great film classics and stars Lon Chaney,
The Man of a Thousand Faces.
Made in 1923, the film is based on the novel by Victor Hugo.
Treasurer Seven years ago the Chairman persuaded Michael Rhodes to take on the post of Treasurer. He reluctantly agreed to do the job for one year. Now, on medical advice, he has been forced to reduce some of his commitments. We are all extremely indebted to Michael for his hard work and dedication. He has completely computerised our accounting and has also effectively taken on the duties of membership secretary. It was entirely due to his initiative that we made a successful bid to the Lottery Awards for All to purchase the equipment for the twin large screen projection. Fortunately Michael will remain as a Trustee and give us the full use of his technical expertise in the running of the equipment. We look forward to seeing Michael with a new spring in his step following the lightening of his load.
Simon Gutteridge, our most recently appointed Trustee and Director of Music at St. Paul
s Covent Garden, has kindly agreed to take over the post of Treasurer. We are indebted to him for taking on this demanding position. The PO Box number in Stoke-on-Trent is now discontinued and all membership applications and payments can be made to the London address at the head of this Newsletter. We would also like to thank Stewart Norman for his continuing assistance as our Honorary Auditor.
Future Events in 2011
We have been given the following dates for the start of the coming season. We shall send out a further Newsletter early in the New Year with details of performing artists. Please note that, with one exception, these are provisional dates. Friends can always confirm events nearer the time by phoning 01727 861555
Tuesday 15th February 7.30 pm; Wednesday 27th April 7.30 pm; Wednesday 25th May 7.30 pm. Put these dates in your new diaries.
Saturday 9th July at 7.30 pm This is a firm booking for a major event. We have been enormously lucky in securing the LONDON WELSH MALE VOICE CHOIR for a concert spectacular. This world famous choir gives major concerts all over the world and has a huge following. They recently led a festival of ten Welsh male voice choirs in the Royal Albert Hall, which taxed even the lungs of the 1871 Willis/Harrison/Mander organ! Our July 9th concert will feature guest soloists, and of course there will be plenty of opportunity to hear the organ in accompaniment and solo roles. This is part of our philosophy to broaden the base of our fundraising efforts, and to bring the organ to the notice of a wider public. Fuller details will be published nearer the time,
We regret to announce the death of Geoffrey Stevenson on the 16th of July. His solicitor has informed us that he has left the sum of
100 to the Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal. We are extremely grateful for this bequest and appreciative that he enjoyed the organ concerts and was anxious to show us his support.
For those Friends who are unable to attend the film evening, the Trustees would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. We look forward to many hours of entertainment by performers old and new and to the launching of the next step forward in the restoration of The Queen Alexandra Organ.
News - July 2010
Skating On Thin Ice We have been extremely concerned and much occupied by news which reached us about three weeks ago. We were informed that, as a result of the need to refurbish the skating rink, a temporary ice rink was to be located at the south end of the Great Hall, below the rose window. Consequently our bookings for July, August and September would all have to be cancelled. As you know, all our bookings are free and subject to a month's cancellation if other profitable events occur.
Following a suggestion from David Wyld of Henry Willis & Sons Ltd., we did consider relocating Dr. Francis Jackson's recital to All Hallows, Gospel Oak. It is a huge building (1889-1901 by James Brooks) with a chancel built in 1913-1915 by Giles Gilbert Scott. Pevsner describes it as One of the noblest churches of its date in England.
The church has remarkable acoustics and is often used for concerts and recording sessions. The splendid four manual organ, largely untouched, was the last new instrument built by William Hill in 1915. We are extremely grateful to both the Vicar, Fr. David Houlding and the organist, Martin Kemp, for their kind offer of assistance. However,
The Big Thaw. Last week we heard that the Palace was abandoning the idea of a temporary ice rink and that our dates have been reinstated. The one good thing that has come out of this troublesome event is that we hope to establish links with All Hallows and we will be welcoming members of their congregation to our recital. The only temporary casualty has been that we have had to postpone a visit from the Surrey Organists
Association. It had been a great relief that we no longer have to worry about the effects of temperature and humidity changes on the organ, which an ice rink would have posed. However, as I write, the prospect of a large sheet of ice is a welcoming thought. We shall have to see how the organ has coped with Wimbledon weather. So, do come to the Palace as originally planned for our next big event.
Thursday 15th July at 7.30 p.m. Dr. Francis Jackson, Organist Emeritus of York Minster.
We welcome back the distinguished organist and composer, the nonagenarian Dr. Francis Jackson, who treated us to a memorable concert last July. Dr. Jackson writes that having typed the programme,
I then realised that there was rather too much in the key of A, minor and major; so, appropriately in his two hundredth year, Schumann has profited.
He will be playing the Sketch in D flat opus 58/3. The programme will include the Prelude and Fugue in A minor BWV 543 by Bach, the Fantasia and Fugue in G by Hubert Parry and works by Wolstenholme, Vierne and Franck. We can especially look forward to the Sonata 3 opus 50 by Francis Jackson.
Some Friends who pay annually will receive a final reminder that their 2010 subscription is due for renewal. Once again we should like to thank our Treasurer, Michael Rhodes for all the work that he carries out on our behalf. We have received notice from Michael that, following medical advice, he will have to shed some of his many jobs. We shall offer our thanks more fully at a later date when we hope to name his successor. Michael will, of course, continue as a Trustee and guide us with his technical advice in setting up our audio-visual equipment for the twin screen presentation. I have been reminded that, as a Trust, we should suggest to all Friends that they might consider making a bequest to the A.P.O.A. in their wills.
After a long gap between April and July, the remaining events come in quick succession. Please put the provisional dates in your diaries. You can confirm nearer the time by ringing 01727 861555
Wednesday 4th August at 7.30 p.m. Bright Young Stars (Three For The Price Of One)
Three young organists will join forces to present a dazzling recital. This is part of our policy to encourage organ scholars and other talented young musicians to play a large concert organ. The trio will consist of: Richard Dawson, Benjamin Morris and Laurence Williams.
Wednesday 8th September at 6.30 p.m. Friends Evening
This is the traditional annual event. Bring your friends and neighbours and enjoy yourselves. John Pryer, the Titular Organist of the Palace, will give a short demonstration after which you are all free to play.
Wednesday 24th of November at 5.30 p.m. Annual Supper
We shall be inviting you all to attend the third annual Supper. This splendid meal will, as usual be arranged by our Trustee David Moores. All of you who have previously attended will know that you can expect an excellent meal and the very briefest (two minutes) of speeches.
Wednesday 24th of November at 7.30 p.m. Donald Mackenzie and Silent Films
Following the Supper we shall welcome back Donald Mackenzie, the organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square, who will play some organ pieces and accompany a programme of silent films. This is always one of the great highlights of our year. Of course, you can come to this programme without attending the Supper but then you won't know what you have missed.
For many years our evenings have been brightened by the presence of Jean and Sid Perkins, who have run a stall in the Great Hall. Their selection of sheet music, C.D.
s, and a treasure trove of musical memorabilia, have been a delight to all of us. Unfortunately Sid is finding driving to and from the Palace, particularly after dark, more and more difficult. We should like to thank them for their very generous support. We look forward to the occasions when their daughter can bring them, so look out for the occasional surprise.
In April SKY televised a boxing tournament in the Great Hall. They used the organ gallery for a commentary position and generously donated
1,000 to our funds. We initially hoped that they would be using the organ and that we should see the competitors entering the ring to the sound of The March of the Gladiators!
News - February 2010
Election of a New Trustee
We would like to inform you that we have elected a new Trustee, Simon Gutteridge. You may remember that Simon gallantly stepped into the gap that occurred last September, when there was a last minute change in date. He treated us to an excellent recital, which also demonstrated his skill as a composer and improviser. Simon is the Director of Music at the "Actors' Church," St. Paul's Covent Garden. We welcome him to our ranks.
November Film Evening & Supper
Last year concluded on a high note with the Supper, which was attended by seventy-six people. We enjoyed an excellent meal, thanks to a great deal of organisation by David Moores and the very good and friendly service given by the Catering Department at the Palace. Only the time of the event causes us to call it a Supper, whereas it is in fact an early Dinner. Once again it was so successful that it looks set to becoming an annual event. It provides a very good opportunity for us all to meet socially in the impressive Londesborough Room. Do come along this year and join us and bring your friends, relatives and neighbours with you. You might consider giving a ticket for the whole evening's entertainment to someone as a present.
We welcomed as our guests Cllr. Sheila Peacock, who is a Trustee of the Palace; Les Myers, the Facilities Manager; Stuart Norman, a former Trustee of the Organ Appeal and our Honorary Auditor; and Jean and Sid Perkins, who for many years have supported us by running their fascinating stall of recordings, sheet music and other musical memorabilia.
After welcoming our guests and thanking the organisers of the Supper, the Chairman made a short speech. He pointed out that we were within a week of the eightieth anniversary of the grand ceremony held to mark the reopening of the organ in 1929. He reminded those present that it had been badly damaged at the end of the First World War. King George V had graciously allowed the restoration to be a memorial to his mother, Queen Alexandra. He suggested that the correct name for the instrument should be "The Queen Alexandra Organ."
The Supper was followed by Donald Mackenzie's masterly performances of solo items, such as The Dam Buster's March, and his unforgettable accompaniment of two Buster Keaton films. Donald is such a regular performer that we are liable to forget the skill with which he portrays every event shown on the screen. Donald and the audience were delighted with the organ. Suffice to say that after last year's technical problems this year his every command was obeyed.
The Next Concert - Tuesday 16th of February 2010 at 7.30 pm.
This will be performed by Paul Carr of St. Paul's Church, Birmingham, who has obviously forgiven us for having to cancel his last scheduled appearance. His programme will include: Overture Ruslan & Lyudmila, Glinka; Vocalise, Rachmaninov; Fantasia on Carmen, Bizet; Dance of the Reed Pipes, Tchaikowsky; Prelude & Fugue in D (BWV 532) and Gigue Fugue (BWV 577) by Bach; Dance Suite, Rawsthorne; and the Hungarian Dance No. 1, Dvorak. Paul says, "Unfortunately I don't know any pancake music, it being Shrove Tuesday." Those of you who remember his Fourth of July, Independence Day recital will have to wait and see. He might cook something up!
The Rest Of The Season- Please Put These Provisional Dates In Your Diaries
Wednesday 7th April at 7.30 pm. Andrew Fletcher (International Recitalist)
Thursday 15th July at 7.30 pm. Dr. Francis Jackson CBE, Organist Emeritus York Minster
Wednesday 4th of August at 7.30 pm. Two Bright Young Stars: Richard Dawson (Organ Scholar Elect, Emmanuel College, Cambridge); Laurence Williams (former Organ Scholar, St. George's Chapel, Windsor)
Wednesday 1st September at 6.30 pm. Friends' Evening - Come and Play.
Wednesday 24th November at 5.30 pm Annual Supper followed by Donald Mackenzie, organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square, who will play a programme of solo items and accompany silent films.
These are now due. If you subscribe by standing order, you do not need to take any further action and your membership card is enclosed. Otherwise, a renewal form is included with this mailing and we would be grateful if you could send your cheque, made payable to Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal, to the address shown on this form as soon as possible. Alternatively, you may bring it to a concert or pay by cash at the concert. The Trustees would like to thank you for your renewal and support last year and also thank those who so generously gave additionally to their subscriptions, which has helped the work of the Appeal enormously.
News - October 2009
We have pleasure in inviting you to our next concert on Wednesday November 25th at 7.30pm preceded by a pre-concert Annual Buffet Supper after which Donald Mackenzie will be play improvised accompaniments to Buster Keaton silent films, and also organ solos which will include the Eric Coates's Dam Busters March. Donald, Organist at the Odeon Leicester Square, needs no introduction having delighted Alexandra Palace audiences several times before. He is now rated as one of the finest of the Europe's silent film cinema organists.
The programme will contain two classic silent slapsticks: Coney Island ( 1917) -also known as Fatty at Coney Island because it features Fatty Arbuckle who directs the film- and Steamboat Bill Junior (1928). In Coney Island Arbuckle escapes from his battle-axe wife and vies for the girlfriend of Buster Keaton , the scrambled plot becoming an excuse for a vast array of timeless gags, these clowns turning the amusement park upside down. The Steamboat Bill Jnr. plot concerns a young man straight out of college making good as a Mississippi steamboat captain, trying to follow in his father's footsteps but falling in love with the daughter of his father's business rival! The finest moments come during the cyclone sequence with Keaton who calculated and performed his own stunts suspended on a cable of a 120 foot crane which hurls him airborne from place to place. These films are astonishing and will become even more exciting as Donald Mackenzie uses the resources of the Alexandra Palace organ to add excitement at crucial moments.
Admission £7 Friends £5 Undergrounds: Wood Green /Finsbury Park then W3 Bus. Rail: Alexandra Palace. Palm Court entrance
The Pre-Concert Buffet Supper November 25th 5.30pm for 6.0pm (Assemble in the Palm Court entrance)
This will be available if pre-booked ( using the enclosed form): A two-course meal, coffee and concert ticket will cost £24.50. The following will be available:- The menu which must be chosen at the time of booking is :-
Steak & Mushroom Pie or Grilled Salmon served with new potatoes and mixed vegetables,
Apple Pie with custard or cream plus coffee. There will be a cash bar for the purchase of drinks
Please contact us for booking details. We shall meet at 5.30 pm onwards for the supper at 6.00pm. Tickets will be sent for the supper and concert.
Concert on September 23rd by Simon Gutteridge
Simon's concert was a huge success and the daytime autumnal clouds ensured more stable temperature conditions for the organ which sounded excellent. A cunningly devised programme where he juxtaposed two of his improvisations ( Introduction - Scherzo & Fantasie) with Elgar, Franck, Charpentier, Mulet , Lidon and Dupre and his amusing arrangement of the Teddy Bears' Picnic proved to be highly successful .
Playing and registrations were first rate with a novel but efficient way of achieving a smooth build up, then capping it with a solo reed played first by the right hand, before finally coupling the solo. This produced an exciting tutti sound. It is a long time since we have heard Lidon at Alexandra Palace and the Dupré Cortege et Litanie was well-placed as a final item. Originally written for a small orchestra of 11 players Dupré transcribed it for organ, and organ & orchestra after one of his American tours. It begins with a haunting cortege theme which was registered on the beautiful softer registers of our organ followed by the Litanie, an appealing quasi-plainchant motif. Typical of Dupre though , both organist and audience have to work hard to deserve what is to follow: a magnificent Toccata-like ending, massive fortissimo chords over a sustained pedal E, just right for the Alexandra Palace organ and a fitting conclusion to a memorable recital.
A New Trustee
At an Organ Trustees meeting on September 23rd Simon Gutteridge was invited to become a Trustee. Simon has a considerable knowledge of the organ as a recitalist, composer and technical advisor. He has been organist and Director of music and St. Paul's Church Convent Garden since 1979. We look forward to utilizing his many talents as the great work of restoration continues.
New Friends and audience members :
Now is a good time to recruit a new Friend to the Organ Appeal, or to bring a friend along to one of our concerts.
A suggested alternative Christmas present for your friends . Why give them tickets the annual supper and concert on November 25th as a present?
We look forward to seeing you in November.
News - September 2009
CHANGE OF DATE
We have to advise you of a change in the date of the next concert. Originally it was to be held on the 29th of September and at the annual Friends' Evening in August it was announced that it would take place a day later. Unfortunately both these date are no longer possible and the concert will now be held on Wednesday the 23rd of September at 7.30 p.m. We regret this alteration and hope that, in spite of the short notice, you will be able to attend.
As many of you will know, all our dates are provisional. We are given six events each year but, of course, these have to be changed should the Palace receive bookings that clash. Since the commercial cost of hiring the Great Hall is £27,000, you will appreciate that they cannot afford to lose this revenue. Additionally, there has to be unimpeded access to the organ on the previous day for tuning and maintenance, which means that a two-day slot must be made available.
We deeply regret that Paul Carr could not make a second alteration to his diary. You will recollect that he has played for us on previous occasions and gave a brilliant July the Fourth recital full of stirring Souza marches. We look forward to being able to hear him play again in the not too distant future. In the meantime we have been extremely fortunate in being able to engage the services of Simon Gutteridge, the Director of Music of St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden, the actors' church. He has produced a very interesting programme, which we are sure you will enjoy. This will include:
Imperial March & Nimrod from the Enigma Variations ~ Elgar; Pastorale ~ Franck; Improvisation Introduction & Scherzo ~ Gutteridge; Sonata on the first tone ~ Lidon; Tue es Petra ~ Mulet; Te Deum ~ Charpentier; Cortege et Litanie ~DuprÈ.
Recent Events. In July we were honoured to have Dr. Francis Jackson at the console. Of course, he is a legend in his own lifetime and he gave a virtuoso performance. We shall never forget the views on the screen of his feet twinkling across the pedal board.
Although he had heard the organ in the 1930's, it was the first time that he had played it. After concluding his programme with the Carillon de Westminster, he launched into an encore by playing a Rondo by BoÎllmann. As if this were not enough, he then treated us to an utterly memorable performance of Norman Cocker's Tuba Tune. What was so special was the evident way that he enjoyed playing the instrument. Those of you who were able to attend were indeed priviledged.
The annual Friends' Evening in August saw the organ gallery awash with usual array of talent that usually resides in the audience. It is always encouraging to see the number of Friends who are prepared to "have a go!" Unfortunately the seldom used general crescendo pedal decided to take on a life of its own and, for about half an hour, all chosen registrations brought on the heavy pressure reeds. Fortunately this was overcome and we now know how to prevent it happening again. We do learn from these unfortunate incidents.
The long awaited Cor Anglais has now been installed. We first heard it during Dr. Jackson's recital and our titular organist, John Pryer, demonstrated it at length during his improvisation at the beginning of the Friends' Evening. Only five pipes had survived and these were used as templates to produce an exact replica of the Willis rank. The Choir Organ, the bottom keyboard of the four manuals, is now complete at seventeen stops.
It is with regret that we announce the death of our former Chairman Arthur Phillips at the age of eighty-four. Many of you will remember him striding down the Great Hall with his walking stick. He served in the RAF, both at home and in India during the war. He worked in teaching and in educational television. Although he was a self-contained man, his many interests embraced amateur dramatics, trade unionism and many campaigns for the arts, equal rights and social harmony and, of course, for CND. His other voluntary works included being Chair of a school governing body. He continued as a governor until last year. Arthur gave great service to the Trustees, especially during a somewhat tempestuous period in its history. He worked tirelessly for the restoration of the organ and continued to receive the Newsletters. We owe him a great debt of gratitude and extend our condolences to his family.
Forthcoming Events. The following event will be on Wednesday the 25th of November at 7.30 p.m. We will once again welcome back Donald Mackenzie, the organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square, to what has now become a firmly established fixture. He will be playing solo items and accompanying a programme of silent films. These will include Buster Keaton's Coney Island (1917) and Steam Boat Bill Jnr. (1928).
Following its great success last year, this will be preceded by a Supper at 5.30 p.m. A separate Newsletter will be sent to you with booking details and a menu nearer the time. We hope to meet some of our Patrons and the Palace Trustees as our guests. You may wish to come only to the organ performance but we hope that you will attend both events. Please put this date in your diaries as we have been assured that it will not be subject to any alteration.
We look forward to seeing you at both the September and the November meetings.
News - June 2009
PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS FOR OUR CELEBRITY RECITALIST
On Sunday the 12th of July at 3 p.m. we will all be privileged to welcome Dr. Francis Jackson CBE to the console for his first official performance on the organ. Although I am sure that his fame has penetrated the furthest recesses of our collected consciousness, and since we hope that you will be bringing with you friends and acquaintances who have never heard an organ recital before, here is a very brief, and totally inadequate, biography. Francis Jackson was born in October 1917 in Malton in Yorkshire. He trained as a chorister at York Minster under the great Sir Edward Bairstow and succeeded him as organist in 1946, a post he held until his retirement in 1982. He has been the recipient of many awards and is the Organist Emeritus of York Minster. As well as being a legendary performer, he is a prolific composer and has made numerous recordings. Yesterday, the 10th of June, Choral Evensong was broadcast from York Minster. Francis Jackson's name was mentioned five times in the Radio Times as being the composer of: the Introit, Responses, the setting of the Canticles, the Anthem and the final Voluntary. This is but a slender indication of his true genius. You may have missed previous recitals: you cannot and must not to miss this one!
When Francis Jackson was appointed organist of York Minster, the term organist was used for the person in charge of a cathedral's music. There was usually an assistant who deputised in the absence of the organist. Choirs were seldom conducted except by the nod of the head by the head boys or the lay clerks, one on the decani side and the other on cantoris. The organist remained firmly in the organ loft. Now we are used to having choirs conducted, usually by the director of music, who is in overall charge, and there is often an assistant, a sub-organist and an organ scholar. Thus today the director of music at York Minster is Robert Sharpe and the organist is John Scott Whiteley. He is familiar to many of us as the person who is seen on BBC television programmes, late at night, walking to or from the consoles of vast baroque, or even rococo, European organs to play Bach.
Seeing The Console And The Player
The new equipment that we were able to purchase with our grant from the Awards for All Lottery Fund, allows us to show the organist, keyboards, and the full pedal board, and so makes our concerts more accessible for all to enjoy. We are learning to use the cameras and projectors and to set up all the equipment. If any of you feel that you could assist us, your help would be very much appreciated.
Announcements at Concerts
We are acutely aware of the fact that many announcements cannot be heard. This is partly because of the vast size of the Great Hall and the fact that the speakers are situated at the sides, whereas the audience is seated in the centre. It is especially frustrating when the recitalist imparts information from the organ gallery. At times your Chairman produces his parade ground voice and shouts announcements at you from the floor. We are addressing the problem and hope to acquire a simple public address system with speakers located in front of the audience.
Unhappily John Pryer's recital in March was dogged by a series of unfortunate circumstances. The first note of the Hollins A Trumpet Minuet failed to sound and he had to change the registration. In fact there were so many problems that part of it had to be improvised. Subsequently the Swell repeatedly coupled through to the Great on its own volition. However, John persevered and ended with a resounding Improvisation on Girls and Boys Come Out to Play.
Stephen Disley's concert in May was a happier occasion. The organ behaved itself and we were treated to some of the most exquisite sounds of the choir organ in a varied and very comprehensive programme. The first half was classical eighteenth century music and the second half romantic nineteenth and twentieth century concluding with a spirited performance of Louise Vierne's Carillon de Westminster.
Please put these provisional dates in your diary
Friends' Evening ~ Wednesday 19th August at 6.30 p.m.
This annual event has proved to be very popular and is a totally informal time when we have the opportunity to meet each other, largely on the organ gallery. Everyone and anyone is welcome to play the instrument. It is not confined to Friends but includes the friends of Friends. Do bring along your music, or improvise if you prefer. We start at the earlier time of 6.30 p.m.
Tuesday 29th September 7.30 p.m.
Paul Carr from Birmingham. I am sure that you will remember the last exciting recital that Paul gave to celebrate The Fourth of July, with all those Souza marches.
Wednesday 25th November at 7.30 p.m. Donald Mackenzie will return to accompany another programme of silent films and play some organ solos. The main film will be Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jnr. Following the previously highly successful occasion, we hope to precede this with another Supper. All those who attended were very complimentary about the occasion.
Thank you to all our Friends and supporters. We look forward to seeing you at some, or all, of these events. Subscriptions. We would like to thank all of you who have responded so swiftly to subscription renewals and those who make generous donations in excess of their subscriptions.
News - March 2009
A Major Improvement - Seeing The Organ And The Player
You will see that we have acquired a new logo, largely due to the endeavours of our Treasurer, Michael Rhodes. We are very pleased to announce that the Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal has been awarded a £9,808 grant from the Awards for All' Lottery Fund towards the purchase of dual cameras, projection, lighting and screen equipment for use at our organ concerts, silent film evenings and educational activities.
This means that we can now project on to two large screens the elegant console of The Finest Concert Organ in Europe,' showing the organist & keyboards, and the full pedal board at floor level. The specification for the equipment is identical to the dual screen system which has been successfully employed at the Victoria Hall Hanley Organ Proms, where there has been a considerable increase in interest in the organ concerts. The equipment was inaugurated at our January 21st silent film evening, and will, in future, make our concerts more accessible for all to enjoy. We are most grateful to the Lottery Awards for All' management for their grant.
The January Concert
The evening started with a Supper served in the elegant surroundings of the Londesborough Suite. One hundred and eleven people gathered for an excellent meal organised by David Moores and served by the catering staff of the Palace. This was so successful that it has been decided to make it an annual event. Over 300 attended the concert which commenced with a fanfare to launch the new equipment Two silent films, the 1925 The Iron Mule and Steam Trains of Local Interest followed with excellent accompaniments by Donald Mackenzie including the Oh Dr Beeching' theme, and then organ solos. It is a pity that the 1923 comedy film Safety Last had to be shown without accompaniment due to an electrical power failure to the organ blowers but it was well received and there were many laughs. We are pleased to say that the root cause of the electrical failure has been determined and corrected.
The Concert on March 18th at 7.30 p.m.
John Pryer will be playing A Trumpet Minuet by Alfred Hollins, Chorale No.3 in A minor by Cesar Franck, March of the Magi Kings & Toccata by Theodore Dubois, Pastorale by Roger-Ducasse, Prelude on Londonderry Air by Noel Rawsthorne and an Improvisation by John Pryer.
It was pleasing to note an improvement in the sound of the organ on January 21st. Our Curator, Stephen Walmsley, reports that the swell reeds have now been restored to improve their tuning stability and repairs to the 32' reed carried out. The internal humidifier has also been restored. Regarding loss of electricity to the blowers the Curator explains what happened in an historical context:
In Ivan Barwell's fascinating book, The Finest Concert Organ in Europe, the author mentions the original method of raising wind for the Ally Pally organ when he refers to one occasion where it is reported that, in the absence of the engineer, steam blew off and entered the organ which ~ to quote the builder's grandson again ~ had to be opened up to dry out. Of course, time had to be allowed for the raising of steam before the organ could be brought into use, either for playing or tuning, and it was customary to give twenty-four hours notice if the instrument were to have its breath.
With the advent of modern electric blowing, the 24 hours notice of 1875 has now fallen to just 30 seconds but, as those who attended the last concert will testify, there are occasions when even this normally reliable method of raising wind can fail. In a sound-insulated room behind the organ, three blowers make up one of the larger plants installed in the UK today ~ large enough for the whole instrument when fully restored ~ and at 20kw of rated power they have their own dedicated electrical circuit. A problem with this circuit during the interval left the organ silent. Since the concert, the Palace engineers have painstakingly located and repaired that problem so that we can look forward to future concerts without interruption.
Please put these provisional dates in your diaries.
Wednesday 20th May at 7.30 p.m. Stephen Disley
Sunday 12th July at 3 p.m. Dr. Francis Jackson
Wednesday 19th August at 6.30 p.m. Friends' Evening
Tuesday 29th September at 7.30 p.m. Paul Carr
Wednesday 25th November at 7.30 p.m. Donald Mackenzie and silent films.
Those Friends who do not subscribe by way of a standing order and who have not already sent cheques will receive a renewal form with this Newsletter. We should like to thank all those who have made a donation in excess of the subscription. These donations greatly assist us with the ongoing restoration of the organ.
We are looking for a few able-bodied volunteers who would be prepared to help with setting up and packing way the audio-video equipment both before and after future concerts and recitals. Please let one of the Trustees know if you can help.
Thank you to all our Friends and supporters. We look forward to seeing you at some, or all, of these events.
News - Jan 2009
We have pleasure in inviting you to our next concert which will be on Wednesday January 21st at 7.30pm when Donald Mackenzie will be playing improvised accompaniments to silent films and organ solos. Donald, Organist at the Odeon Leicester Square, needs no introduction having delighted Alexandra Palace audiences several times before. He is now ranked as one of the finest of the Europe's silent film cinema organists and he is in great demand abroad. His programme is listed on the concerts page.
Refreshments will be available. Admission £7 ~ Friends £5 ~ Underground: Wood Green then W3 Bus. Nearest Rail: Alexandra Palace. The Palm Court entrance.
Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal New Year Pre-Concert Buffet Supper January 21st 5.30pm
We have had an excellent response to the Supper booking and some places are still available. If you would like to book please do so at once using the form enclosed, and certainly no later than January 14th. The two-course meal will £20 which INCLUDES the cost of admission to the concert. The following will be available:-
Steak & Mushroom Pie or Breast of chicken or Grilled Salmon
and Trifle, or Apple Pie or Cheesecake.
There will be a cash bar
Please contact us for booking details.
Meet in the Londesborough room ( downstairs) Palm Course entrance 5.30pm for 6pm
Future Alexandra Palace Organ Concerts in 2009
Our 2009 series of concerts on the Willis Organ in the Grand Hall are:-
Wednesday March 18th 7.30pm John Pryer (Birmingham Oratory & Alexandra Palace)
Wednesday May 20th 7.30pm Stephen Disley ( Southwark Cathedral)
Sunday July 12th 3.00pm Francis Jackson CBE ( Organist Emeritus, York Minster)
Wednesday August 19th 6.30pm Friends' Evening
Tuesday September 29th 7.30pm Paul Carr ( St Paul's Birmingham-International Recitalist)
Wednesday November 25th 7.30pm Donald Mackenzie ( Odeon, Leicester Square)
The dates given are provisional and we will inform Friends if any changes are necessary.
These are now due. If you subscribe via standing order you do not need to take any further action and your membership card is enclosed. Otherwise, a renewal form is included with this mailing and we would be grateful if you could send your cheque as soon as possible. Alternatively, you may bring it to a concert or pay by cash at a concert. The Trustees would like to thank you for your renewal and support last year and also thank all those who so generously gave additionally to their subscriptions which has helped the work of the Appeal enormously.
Projection Screen Equipment
In order to save the cost of hiring equipment for future silent film productions, and also to be able to show the organist and console at each concert, we have applied to the Lottery Awards for All' fund for a grant to purchase our own equipment. We hope to be able to make an announcement about the progress of this grant application in the near future.
James Lancelot's October Concert
It was a pity that another organ concert on the same night at the Royal Albert Hall ( but arranged after ours) had caused some depletion of the audience for James Lancelot's outstanding concert here. Once again there were many complimentary comments about the Alexandra Palace organ's fine chorus tone and lovely softer registers which Mr Lancelot enjoyed exploiting, and with his very fine playing we had an excellent evening. We thank all those who supported him.
New Friends or members of the audience
We would be very grateful if you could advertise the Alexandra Palace Organ Concerts and also introduce new Friends. Flyers and new membership forms are enclosed.
The Trustees of the Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal would like to thank you all for your support and to wish you a very Happy New Year. We look forward to seeing you on January 21st .
News - October 2008
Although we had a miserable summer as far as the weather was concerned, the organ has enjoyed it immensely. Without hours of direct sunlight and scorching temperatures, it has remained in remarkably fine shape. Even at the August meeting of the Friends, when it was not tuned, it performed admirably. All those clouds had silver linings.
The Next Event. As previously advertised, this will take place on Wednesday the 22nd of October at 7.30 p.m. James Lancelot, the organist of Durham Cathedral, will be playing an interesting programme of music by J.S.Bach, S.S.Wesley, Mendelssohn, CÈsar Franck and Louis Vierne.
Change Of Date. Because of an important booking, the Palace has had to withdraw our free use of the Great Hall in November. Later dates offered were considered to be too close to Christmas and the New Year. We have therefore relocated to Wednesday the 21st of January 2009 at 7.30 p.m. Once again we shall be delighted to welcome back Donald Mackenzie, the organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square. He will play solo items and also accompany an exciting programme of silent films. These will include Harold Lloyd in Safety Last and hopefully more railway films from the great days of steam. This event will be preceded by a two course Supper at 5.30 pm; details further down.
Recent Events. In March Dr. Arthur Wills was unable to play and, at very short notice, we were able to engage the services of Adrian Richards from St. Margaret's Priory, King's Lynn. He played a very varied programme to suit all tastes and delighted the audience by speaking to the items from the floor of the Great Hall. Because of indisposition, one of our Patrons, Dr. RoyMassey, was also unable to play for the May concert. On this occasion Keith Hearnshaw stepped into the breach and delighted us with some dazzling playing. In July Stephen Disley, from Southwark Cathedral paid us another very welcome visit. We are indeed very fortunate to be able to have the services of such able and brilliant performers, all of whom seem to enjoy the Father Willis sounds. We also realise the enormous amount of work that is undertaken by John Pryer in making all the necessary arrangements.
The August meeting once again consisted of the Annual Meeting of Friends. The evening commenced with an exciting improvisation by our Titular Organist, John Pryer, based on Sir Arthur Sullivan's The Lost Chord. The organ bench was in constant use and for nearly three hours and a great number of people played a great variety of music. Roger Tucker, with his customary clipboard in hand, arranged the order of players. The evening ended with one of our Friends being volunteered by his wife. He found the lost Chord by playing the sound of a great Amen. The first time was on soft stops on the Great with pedals, the second time on full Great and the final performance, by use of the general crescendo pedal, on full organ. He was astounded by his achievement, which was greeted by hearty applause. A non-playing Friend could now claim to have played the Alexandra Palace Organ and the Chairman had conducted his first master class.
The Organ. On the 19th of September the Trustees visited the organ works of Henry Willis & Sons in Liverpool. The splendid purpose built building with its clock tower, was the former home of the firm of Rushworth & Dreaper. We were given a conducted tour and saw a spectacular new organ, which is being built for a church in Florence. We had a fascinating demonstration of reed voicing. We also viewed some of the ranks of pipes from the Alexandra Palace organ, which are stored in crates awaiting the full restoration. Finally we had a meeting of the Trustees in the oak panelled boardroom. Some photographs will be added to our web site. We have been promised that the long awaited cor anglais will be installed for the January performance. That will take us just over the halfway mark with fifty working stops.
Supper. David Moores has arranged for us to have a supper before the silent films on the 21st of January. This will take place at 5.30 p.m. It will be a two-course meal and the cost will be £20, which will include admission to the film concert. The proposed menu is as follows:
Steak & mushroom pie OR Breast of chicken OR Grilled salmon
Trifle OR Apple pie OR Cheesecake.
Wine will be available at very reasonable prices. A vegetarian option will be available for those who indicate this requirement.
Of course, those who cannot make the supper will be admitted to the concert at the usual prices at £7 for 7.30 p.m. We do hope that you will support this innovative event. Please contact us for booking details.
News - September 2008
CHANGE OF DATE. Unfortunately, because of a major event in the Great Hall, the Palace has had to cancel our booking on the 17th of November. Donald Mackenzie's concert, featuring organ accompaniments to silent films, has been rescheduled for Wednesday January 21st 2009 at 7:30pm.
News - February 2008
Following the sudden tragic death of Paul Smith, the Trustees have unanimously elected Hugh Macpherson to be the new Secretary. In the continuing situation of uncertainty as to a possible/ probable new round of applications for a lease on the Palace and the consequential requirement for a new round of consultations, he has taken on the post at a critical time. However, he is now in a position where he can fully represent the best interests of the Organ.
CHANGE OF DATE. Unfortunately, because of a major event in the Great Hall, the Palace has had to cancel our booking on Sunday the 16th of March. Sadly Nigel Ogden is not available for the new date. We look forward to inviting him on a future occasion. It should be explained that we traditionally have six annual free bookings of the Great Hall for our events. These have always been on the condition that the dates are provisional and cannot be confirmed until up to a month before the event. We greatly regret this current cancellation but are pleased to announce that Adrian Richards, organist of the Priory and Parish Church of St. Margaret, King's Lynn will be playing on Wednesday March 26th at 7.30 p.m. This will be his first Appearance at the console.
Adrian has prepared a very exciting programme. It will include music by Bonnet, Delius, Haydn, Guilmant and Bourgeois as well as Elgar's Imperial March, Bossi's Etude and Vierne's Carillon de Westminster. In addition, as if to compensate for his absence, he has included Penguin's Playtime by Nigel Ogden. This is an evening that you cannot afford to miss and it should demonstrate the full tonal range of the organ. Please come along, bring many friends and ensure that this year's season starts with a bang.
Because of their provisional status, publicity for our concerts is very difficult. We do place national advertisements and we are constantly striving to spread the word. Although one or two Friends circulate information to local venues, we are still short of distributors. If you have contacts, especially with local churches, do let us know and we will send you the necessary information.
The Previous Concert. Sunday December the 2nd marked the third annual appearance of Donald Mackenzie, the organist of the Odeon Leicester Square, accompanying a programme of silent films. These included films of Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. Donald also treated us to interludes of seasonal music. The climax of the programme was somewhat diminished by the complete loss of the solo reeds for the last few bars. A train appeared to be about to demolish a house being moved on wheels. At the last minute it is seen to be running on a parallel track. However, just as one is breathing a sigh of relief, another train appears out of nowhere and flattens the house. The audience should have jumped out of their seats by the unexpected sound of full organ. Unfortunately this did not happen. Of course, Donald coped with the situation with faultless aplomb. Subsequent investigation revealed that the heavy pressure wind supply had cut out because a weighted cord had jumped off its pulley. A visit by one of the Willis team from Liverpool has rectified this fault, which should not happen again.
Another improvement to the organ concerns the humdidifier. This has not been working for about eighteen months. Previously it was spraying out jets of water rather than producing a fine mist. Although the relatively mild and wet summer of 2007 has meant that the organ stayed relatively in tune, the previous summer presented us with numerous problems. Now the humdifier has been serviced and is fully operational. We are awaiting a quotation to have a water softener introduced to the system, which should prevent future clogging from the hard water. If all is successful we expect that there should be a noticeable improvement during what we hope will be a fine summer. Life for an organ situated under 10,000 square feet of glass cannot be easy!
Future Events ~ Please enter these dates in your diaries and make a note of the varying starting times. Doors open half an hour before each event. Should there be any further alterations nearer the time we will notify you with a special mailing.
Sunday 18th May at 3 p.m. Dr. Roy Massey, former organist of Hereford Cathedral and one of our patrons.
Wednesday 9th July at 7.30 p.m. Player to be announced later.
Wednesday 13th August at 6.30 p.m. The annual get to know the organ meeting of Friends and their friends. The evening will start with a short demonstration and talk. Everyone is invited to play the organ and view the console. If you know of anyone, apart from yourself, who would like to try the organ, bring them along. We would like to make this a community event.
Wednesday 22nd October at 7.30 p.m. James Lancelot, organist of Durham Cathedral.
Wednesday 19th November at 7.30 p.m. Donald Mackenzie accompanying a programme of silent films.
Whereas, thanks to our Curator, Stephen Walmsley, our website must contain more archival material, both photographic and historical information, than almost any other organ, we are always glad to receive fresh material. Alban Clarke kindly sent us a period photograph of a concert taken from behind the 1/- seats. It features a packed audience, a vast choir and orchestra and the focal point is an organist at the console. He also included a photograph of the 1929 blowing apparatus. Friends may recollect that last August Alban played two pieces written by his father for G.D.Cunningham to be played on the Alexandra Palace organ.
Please let us have any thoughts that you might have for inclusion in future Newsletters. Your memories and comments are always appreciated. Please refer to the website for the latest news. The address is included in the heading of this Newsletter.
Thank you and best wishes from all the Trustees.
News - November 2007
It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the sudden death of our Secretary, Paul Smith. Paul was the son of a clergyman and, like our titular organist John Pryer, was educated at Clifton College where he had organ lessons. He subsequently read Law and had a very successful career, latterly as an independent solicitor specialising in contract law. Over the last few years he has worked on multi-billion dollar oil contracts in Nigeria and Dubai. Wherever his work took him, he was always readily available on his mobile phone and could immediately switch his thoughts to the Alexandra Palace organ.
Paul was essentially a modest man and in spite of the fact that he gave occasional lunchtime recitals at St. Stephen's Walbrook and other City churches, we could never persuade him to play the one instrument that took up so much of his time and energy. It was not widely known that he gave bursaries to promising young organists to assist them with their studies. Paul himself took lessons from both Christopher Dearnly and Stephen Disley. In his home he had a four manual organ of 140 stops, including couplers, whose specification was based on that of the instrument in St. George's Hall, Liverpool. He said that he played for his own continual astonishment.
Paul's other hobbies included steam trains, an enormous model railway layout and his collection of classic cars. It is tragic that he did not have time to enjoy these hobbies in the retirement that he was contemplating. He has been an invaluable Trustee for many years, most recently steering us thus far through the troubled waters of the 125 year lease application and the subsequent judicial review. We shall desperately miss his legal expertise and sound advice in the forthcoming critical weeks. It will be difficult for us to meet without waiting for him to plug in his laptop computer to start taking down the Minutes.
To his wife Lesley and his two sons Andrew and Matthew we extend heart-felt condolences on behalf of the Trustees and all the Friends of Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal.
The Previous Concert
The brilliant Organist of Norwich Cathedral, David Dunnett, played his third concert on the Willis organ in the Great Hall to the general delight of everyone present. He chose another sequence of quite short works, eminently suited to the softly lit, dark evening occasion: 'lollipops' by Festing, Jongen, Massenet, and Bourgeois helped create the special Ally Pally magic that we all love. Brewer's Marche Heroique had given us a rousing start and the Bach St Anne prelude and fugue something solid to end the first part. Part two started with a familiar piece of editing which reduced Reinberger's Sonata No.8 to an Introduction & Passacaglia but I missed the inner movements, which are very lyrical. After this the Meditation from Thais worked wonderfully well in the vast acoustic, the wistful melody seeming to hang peacefully in the air. The Concert Overture by Hollins gave us a bigger organ sound for the finale, delivered with the panache we expect from this popular player. The organ's tonal quality has improved this year and the reinstallation of the four reed stops on the unenclosed Solo division has given it vastly more power when needed, which was not called for at this concert.
The Next Big Event
Do come and support us on Sunday December 2nd at 6 p.m. Once again we welcome back Donald Mackenzie, who will be using his virtuoso skills to accompany a programme of silent films. Those of you who witnessed his past two programmes, the Phantom of the Opera and The General will know that we will be treated to another memorable evening. The programme will consist of two Laurel & Hardy films, Easy Street and Big Business, also Buster Keaton's One Week and Sidney Drew's Foxtrot Finesse. In addition there will be a programme of organ solos, Festive Flavours. We can guarantee that this will be an event that you cannot afford to miss.
A great deal of preparation goes into these productions. Michael Rhodes and his team will be leaving Stoke on Trent in two cars at an early hour to set up all the necessary equipment. In addition, much preparation is required to transfer the films to the requisite means of projection. I am informed that Michael's house presently resembles a recording studio.
A Time of Uncertainty
Some of you may be aware of the most recent developments at the Palace. The granting of the 125 lease to Firoka was subjected to a judicial review. The action was brought by Jacob O'Callaghan and was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on the 5th of October before Mr. Justice Sullivan. In his judgement he ruled that the consultative process had not been effective or fair and was fundamentally flawed. He quashed the order for the lease and costs were awarded to the claimant.
If and when a future application for the granting of a lease is made, the Trustees of the Alexandra Organ Appeal will seek every means in their power to ensure the future of the organ, continuing plans for the completion of its restoration and a guarantee that the instrument will be properly maintained, tuned and available for concerts as has been the established custom hitherto.
At the present events can only be confirmed one month in advance. This, of course, makes advertising and publicity extremely difficult. However, we have pencilled into the Palace diary the date for the next concert. The organist who will be entertaining us, as he does so regularly on BBC Radio 2, will be Nigel Ogden. As soon as you purchase your new diaries please make a note of the details, which are, Sunday the 16th of March at 3 p.m. In the meantime, we wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. We look forward to seeing you all and lots of new Friends and we shall let you know of any future developments as soon as they have been confirmed.
News - Summer 2007
I am reminded of A. A. Milne's They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace - Christopher Robin went down with Alice. Well, the guard, or rather the management, is changing at Alexandra Palace. The proposed developers, Firoka, have put in a new management team which is running in parallel with the existing management. At present we are liaising with two General Managers. Unfortunately certain interested parties have sought a judicial revue of the decision of the Charity Commissioners to approve the lease. Of course, their interests do not include the organ! Since no date has yet been set down for a hearing, the long-term arrangements are somewhat uncertain. This makes forward planning for concerts and for the maintenance and tuning of the organ a problem. We can only be sure of events one month in advance.
However, the September concert has been confirmed and the next two events have been pencilled in with the Palace. Please make a note of them in your diaries and assume that they will take place. In the event of any alterations, we shall send out further information. Of course, this does present problems with advanced publicity but we shall do our best to inform a wider public than the Friends as soon as we are certain of the arrangements and bookings. We shall also keep our website (address above) up-to-date with all the latest news and information.
Independence Day, July the 4th. Paul Carr, Director of Music at St. Paul's Church in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham paid his first, and we hope not last, visit to the Palace to delight us with a well-chosen programme of mainly American music. The one exception was a performance of Marcel DuprÈ's Prelude & Fugue in G minor in honour of the composer's famous association with the organ.
The organ appreciated the humid weather and it has seldom sounded better. Perhaps the highlights of the first half of his recital were the Variations on America by Charles Ives, of course our national anthem, the Trumpet Tune in F Major by David Johnson and a stunning performance of John Philip Sousa's march The Liberty Bell. The second half started with another Sousa march, The Stars & Stripes Forever and continued with another trumpet tune by Johnson this time in G. This was followed by The Star Spangled Banner Concert Variations by Dudley Buck. A member of the Palace staff was observed discreetly dancing at the back of the Great Hall to Scott Joplin's The Entertainer and the programme concluded with Garth Benson's Toccata on Vom Himmel Hoch. Paul Carr played with great panache and used the organ, which he so obviously enjoyed, across its full range of tonal expressions. He introduced each half of the concert from the floor to a thoroughly delighted and appreciative audience.
Friends' Evening, August 22nd Following the very successful event held last summer we decided to repeat it this year. We started at 6.30 p.m. and the last player finished somewhat reluctantly at just after 9 p.m. This informal event is proving to be very popular and Michael Rhodes, our Treasurer, enrolled four new Friends. Roger Tucker, with clipboard in hand, kept a rota of all those who wished to play. Some played more than once and the organ bench was never unoccupied. Non-players enjoyed watching the mysteries of the console being explained and revealed. One of our Friends, Alban Clarke, played two chorale preludes, A Greek Air and Leoni, composed by his late father, saying, The Alexandra Palace organ has exactly the sort of sound he had in mind for these works.
John Pryer, the Titular Organist, gave an opening demonstration of the instrument's versatility with a brilliant improvisation on The Teddy Bears' Picnic. One Friend commented that, from the console, the softer registers were absolutely magical and could only be compared with those at Salisbury and Lincoln. This tallies with the observations made by Colin Walsh when he last played.
Although not an organ event, I remember sitting in the old Great Hall on the 5th of October 1976 listening to a BBC Radio 3 invitation concert. The New Philharmonia Orchestra was conducted by Vernon Hanley and we heard the first professional performance of Havergal Brian's Symphony Number 26 and the first world performance of his Symphony Number 20 in C# minor. Were any other Friends there and has anyone attended another first performance of two symphonies in the same concert? I remember looking up at the pipes, which formed the case of the organ, and wondering if we would ever hear what is probably the largest symphony ever written, his Gothic Symphony. Of course it has an organ part. We have Proms in the Park, what about Proms in the Palace?
Wednesday 26th September at 7.30 p.m. John McGreal, organist of the London Oratory, will play: a Choral Prelude and the Toccata & Fugue in d minor by Bach, Passacaglia in c minor by Buxtehude, the Second Sonata by Mendelssohn, the Third Choral by CÈsar Franck and works by Vierne and Grison. The programme has been designed to show the many different tonal aspects of the instrument.
Wednesday 31st October at 7.30 p.m. David Dunnet, organist of Norwich Cathedral, will play: the St. Anne Prelude & Fugue by Bach and works by Herbert Brewer, Festing, Jongen, Rheinberger, Massenet, Derek Bourgeois and Alfred Hollins.
Sunday 2nd December at 6 p.m. - Donald Mackenzie, organist of the Odeon, Leicester Square, will once again brilliantly improvise to silent films. Details will be announced later.
Sunday 16th March 2008 at 2.30 p.m. Nigel Ogden from Manchester Town Hall and BBC Radio 2, The Organist Entertains.
Any subsequent changes or additional information will be detailed in future Newsletters and announced at concerts. We look forward to seeing you and your friends at all these events.
News - Spring 2007
News of the Organ
We know that many of you are busy people and we like to keep you abreast of future events so that you can put them into your diaries. We made our submission to the Charity Commission in January expressing our interest in, and concerns for, the future of the organ. Apparently over two hundred submissions were made about many different aspects concerning the whole Palace. The Charity Commission stated that it would report back on the proposals concerning the development bid by the middle of February. This date has been delayed so we still do not know the terms of the proposed development lease. So, for the time being, we are still continuing to deal with the officers of the Alexandra Palace Trust in time-honoured fashion. It is a case of business as usual.
In spite of a very cold evening, a large audience came to hear a splendid recital given by Colin Walsh, the Organist Laureate of Lincoln Cathedral. Those of you who have purchased recordings of Colin playing the Lincoln organ will recognise many similarities with the Alexandra Palace instrument. I would particularly recommend the CD 1898, made to celebrate the centenary of the Lincoln Father Willis organ. It is also significant that earlier in his career he was assistant organist at Salisbury Cathedral. His Father Willis background was all too evident in his sympathetic and understanding use of the whole instrument.
The carefully balanced programme explored the full tonal vocabulary of the organ. Starting with the stirring War March of the Priests by Mendelssohn, we were treated to the sparkling March of the Tin Soldiers by Jessel, PiËce HÈroÔque by Franck, the Dubois Toccata in G and the programme ended with the stunning Final (Evocation) by DuprÈ. More reflective pieces demonstrated the softer stops on the Choir Organ and the expressive flutes. These included Elgar's Salut d'Amour, Yon's Toccatina for the Flutes, PrÈlude FunÈbre by Ropartz and the Arabesque sur les Flutes by Langlais. To celebrate Bach's birthday, we were treated to a stunning performance of the Fantasia & Fugue in G minor. This concert marked the re-siting and restoration of the solo reeds and to demonstrate this Colin Walsh chose to play Cocker's Tuba Tune. The members of the audience gave him an enthusiastic ovation for this memorable evening.
Afterwards Colin Walsh wrote: There is no doubt that there is the making of a world class instrument, as indeed it once was, and I would wish, along with a lot of other people that there was the money to restore it to its former glory. In particular, I thought that the choir organ was very beautiful with its delicate singing soft stops and the great chorus has a real grit to it, not unlike the great chorus that I remember at St. Paul's Cathedral. Thank you Colin for your appreciative comments.
Norman Cocker One of the Friends recollected his wartime experiences when he was stationed in Lancashire. He frequently found himself in the company of a gentleman in the local hostelry in Bury. His companion turned out to be Norman Cocker, who lived above the pub. Not only was he a convivial companion, but on one occasion our Friend was invited upstairs to meet J. I. Taylor from Compton's during discussions on proposed work on the organ of Manchester Cathedral. Norman was also the organist of the Regal Cinema in Altringham. I wonder whether Jean or Sid Perkins can find a recording of him playing there. We are always looking for items for the Newsletter and would welcome similar reminiscences.
The Next Recital ~ Wednesday 2nd May at 7.30 p.m.
One of our patrons, Dr. Roy Massey, will be making a welcomed return. For many years he was the organist of Hereford Cathedral and he is very much at home at our similar console. He remarked that, owing to the many years of enforced disuse, our console is remarkably unworn. His programme will make passing reference to the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Edward Elgar. He will be playing two of the Pomp & Circumstance Marches, concluding the first half of the programme with Number 4 in G and finishing the recital with Number 1 in D. I wonder how many of us will find ourselves singing! Other works will include the Overture to Athalia ~ Handel; Prelude and Fugue in C minor ~ Mendelssohn; Sinfonia & Toccata ~ Pergolesi; Benedictus ~ Reger; Gand Choeur in A flat ~ SalomÈ; a Fantasia ~ Bach; Prelude in A minor ~ Respighi; Salut d'Amour ~ Elgar.
The Following Recital ~ Wednesday 4th July at 7.30 p.m.
Paul Carr, the organist to St. Paul's, Birmingham will play An American Programme to Celebrate Independence Day. This themed evening promises to be a spectacular event. The programme will include Widor's Marche AmÈricaine; Variations on America by Charles Ives; The Libery Bell and The Stars & Stripes Forever! by John Philip Sousa; The Star Spangled Banner Concert Variations by Dudley Buck; The Entertainer by Scott Joplin and many other items. Do come along and join in the celebrations.
Wednesday 22nd August ~ Friends Evening at 6.30 p.m.
Following the very successful event held last summer, we shall be holding a repeat special occasion. All Friends and friends of Friends are invited to come up to the console and play and watch others play. Bring your music with you and get to know other supporters of the Alexandra Palace Organ and the Trustees in a relaxed setting. This event will start at 6.30 p.m. but come along when you can. We aim to end about 9.30 p.m.
Dates of Future Recitals ~ Please put these in your diary now
Wednesday 26th September at 7.30 p.m. ~ John McGreal from The London Oratory.
Wednesday 31st October at 7.30 p.m. ~ David Dunnet from Norwich Cathedral.
Wednesday 5th December at 7.30 p.m. - Donald Mackenzie from the Odeon, Leicester Square improvising to silent films, details of which will be announced later.
Sunday 16th March 2008 at 2.30 p.m. - Nigel Ogden from Manchester Town Hall and BBC Radio 2, The Organist Entertains.
Any subsequent changes or additional information will be detailed in future Newsletters and announced at concerts. We look forward to seeing you and your friends at these exciting events.
News - February 2007
News of the Organ
Following the restoration of the Contra Viola, we have at last arranged for
work to start on the provision of the new Cor Anglais. This will complete
the restoration of the Choir Organ, which will then have its full complement
of seventeen stops. At the moment there are forty-nine out of the
ninety-eight speaking stops in operation, so this fiftieth stop will be a
milestone in taking us just beyond the half way point.
However, lest we become too complacent, it will be the last rank for which
there is a wind chest and action in place so the next step forward will
involve a much greater financial leap. We must also bear in mind that the
pipes forming the case, which were lost in the 1980 fire, were two of the
largest and most expensive ranks in the organ.
Friends might be interested to know that the un-restored pipes, nearly half
the instrument, that are in store at the Rotunda Organ Works of Henry Willis
& Sons in Liverpool, belong to the Trustees of the Alexandra Palace Organ
Appeal. When each rank is restored, it becomes part of the organ and passes
into the ownership of the Alexandra Palace Trust.
Whereas some of the ranks of pipes in store are relatively undamaged and
complete, the Cor Anglais was less fortunate. Only ten of the original pipes
have survived in one form or another. These will be cut open and flattened
to provide patterns and to determine the exact scale of the replacement
pipes. We are hoping that one of the survivors can be put on display as a
tangible reminder of what we are all doing. For, without the support of the
Friends and many kind donors, none of this work would have been possible.
Thank you all for both your financial and moral support. We are greatly
looking forward to the return of this beautiful sounding stop, which will
not have been heard by anyone since 1944 and not by the general public since
1939. Of course, we shall keep you informed as to when the work will be
The sale of the Palace to Firoka on a long lease is going according to plan.
The Charity Commissioners are currently considering representations made to
them by various groups (including ourselves) that have an interest in the
Palace. Once these are taken into consideration then the sale is expected
to be completed. We look forward to working with Firoka on the continued
restoration of the organ and to developing the use of the Great Hall as a
The World of Donald Mackenzie
The evening of Tuesday the twelfth of December 2006 witnessed one of the
most successful events that we have ever held. Following his brilliant
improvisations to accompany the film The Phantom of the Opera in December
2005, Donald Mackenzie returned to delight us with a performance of Buster
Keaton's film The General.
Our treasurer, Michael Rhodes, and his team were all up at five in the
morning to bring the equipment to London from Stoke on Trent. We saw Donald
arrive at the console to commence his playing of a short programme of
seasonal Christmas music.. The first half of the programme ended with a
short film of the last train out of Alexandra Palace Station. At the end, we
saw visitors walking down the track against a splendid backdrop of the north
façade of the Palace.
With such familiar melodies as The Stars and Stripes, John Brown's Body and
Dixie, Donald Mackenzie deftly wove a rich tapestry of sound appropriately
matched to the various appearances of the Confederate and Union armies. So
sensitive was his sound painting that many of us forgot that we were
watching a silent movie. At the end of the evening he deservedly received a
standing ovation. We hope that his appearances can become a regular feature
in our annual cycle of events and will continue to attract a wide audience.
Thank you Donald for a truly memorable evening.
Friends' Annual Subscriptions
Renewals become due in January each year and those paying by standing order
need take no further action. We thank-you for your subscription this year.
Those who pay by cheque or cash will find a renewal form in their envelope
and we would be grateful if you would return it promptly with a cheque for
£15 payable to the Alexandra Palace Organ Appeal to the address shown on the
form, or alternatively, bring it or cash to the March concert. We would
like to thank the many Friends who generously make additional donations to
We know just how busy many of you are so we are giving as much advance
notice as possible so that you can enter dates in your diaries. All dates
for the current year are Wednesday evenings at 7.30 p.m. The first is on the
21st of March, when Colin Walsh, Organist Emeritus, Lincoln Cathedral, will
be playing a very varied and popular programme. This will feature the newly
restored solo reeds, the big guns of the organ! On the 2nd of May we will
welcome back one of our distinguished patrons, Dr. Roy Massey. Appropriately
enough, on the 4th of July we hope to stage a concert with an American
theme. Following the very popular and successful trial last year, we shall
again be staging a special evening for Friends and the friends of Friends on
the 22nd of August. Come up to the console and play and watch others
playing. Do bring friends with you. We hope to start this particular event
at about 6.30 p.m.
Later provisional dates are the 26th of September, the 31st of October and
the 5th of December. We hope to start the year 2008 with a Sunday afternoon
concert on the 16th of March. More details of these will be published in the
News - Summer 2006
Momentous events are afoot at the Palace. After months of negotiations, the Palace Trustees and Haringay Council seem to be in the final stages of negotiating a 125 year lease on the Palace to Firoka (Heythrop Park). As explained in our last newsletter plans are going forward for a mixed leisure use with the addition of an hotel, restaurant and bars. We expect the lease to be signed later in the year. The Organ Appeal Trustees are seeking assurances from both the Palace Trustees and Firoka that the organ will continue to be maintained and promoted.
Alexander Mason from Lichfield Cathedral gave his first recital on the organ on May 10th. Despite the lack of the big reeds the programme was very exciting, including works by Handel, Buxtehude, Reger, Whitlock, Franck, Vierne and others including
Kiwi Fireworks by Paul Spicer and Toccata alla Rumba by Planyavsky. Before the recital John Pryer and Graham Hawkes met him in the organ gallery. When asked if we had a sealed envelope giving the theme for the concluding variation he was told that one had not been supplied. John said What shall we do---, to which Graham replied I thought you were going to say what shall we do with the drunken sailor?
Alex immediately chose this for his brilliant and spectacular improvisation which brought the audience to their feet. We look forward to hearing from him again.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 17TH at 7.30 John Pryer our Titular organist will give a recital
TUESDAY 12TH DECEMBER at 7.30 Donald Mackenzie of the Odeon, Leicester Square will make a welcome return to the Palace. This will be another film evening. This time he will be accompanying Buster Keaton's The General. This has a railway theme which will be continued in the rest of the programme with the showing of films of local railways and steam trains ~ perhaps even the Alexandra Palace Railway!
The latest Newsletter from the Cinema Organ Society reveals that, after many years of silence the organ of The Dome in Brighton (Hill Norman and Beard 1935) has been restored and recitals are now taking place. A new 104 bed hotel has been built at the East Sussex National Golf Course near Uckfield and a huge Wurlitzer is being installed in the concert hall.
We are currently raising £5,000 for the restoration of the Cor Anglais rank on the choir. Once this is achieved the choir organ will be complete for the first time since 1942. This means that in terms of speaking stops we are almost half way towards completion. There is however a long way ahead with some of the more expensive stops and the supporting framework to be funded.
The Organ Trustees would like to thank those generous people and bodies who have enabled us to reach this stage. We hope to work together with Firoka to promote the hall and organ. We are always looking for fundraising ideas, please get in touch with us if you have ideas how you can help.
News - Spring 2006
As usual, a lot has happened and momentous events are afoot. After a period of consultation and short-listing, the Alexandra Palace Development Team has named a preferred bidder. The Board of Trustees has selected Firoka (Heythrop Park) for a 125 year lease to redevelop the Palace. The plans are for a mixed-use exhibition, leisure and entertainment development, creating hospitality venues through the addition of a hotel, restaurants and bars. Other amenities include an ice rink, indoor bowling, cinema, health & fitness club, children's entertainments and a heritage museum.
They intend to retain existing exhibition space and create new facilities by refurbishing the major halls. What seems to be most encouraging to us is: A commitment to supporting the works on the Willis Organ, the restoration of the theatre and associated stage for public use. Further updates will doubtless be available on the Palace website.
In the meantime, you will notice that all the dates that we have been given for future concerts are on Wednesday evenings and two have been allocated to us in August. We have not staged events in August before and hope that it will not be too hot for the organ! We regret that there are no Sunday dates available but this reflects the increase in the number of events being staged at the Palace, which is to be welcomed.
Friends' Subscriptions. These fell due in January so we are enclosing a reminder with the appropriate forms. Over forty of you now pay by standing order. Thank you all for your continuing support, not only financially but in your attendance at concerts. We would welcome more members so perhaps you can persuade one of your friends to become a Friend!
The Phantom of the Opera For many years our December booking has been given over to the young people of Haringey for a Christmas concert. However, they were unable to stage the annual event in 2005 and so we decided to try something different. Although we hoped for a good response, little did we realise how successful our foray into uncharted waters would be. Donald Mackenzie, the distinguished organist of the Odeon Leicester Square, made a spectacular, cloaked appearance at the console to set the scene for a truly memorable evening. Probably for the first time, although we await further information from Friends, the audience was able to see both the film and the accompanist at the console. The sheer versatility of Donald's playing was greeted with spontaneous applause at the conclusion of the film. One of the most encouraging sights was the number of new faces in the audience. Special thanks must be given to Michael Rhodes and John Apperley for organising and setting up all the equipment.
The next Recital is on Sunday 26th March 2nd at 3 p.m. and will be given by Nigel Ogden. Few people have done so much to ensure the continued popularity of the concert organ. For the last 26 years he has presented BBC Radio 2's longest-running specialist music programme The Organist Entertains. He will be playing an exciting programme of 12 items, several arranged by himself. This will be a memorable concert, so please come along and bring all your friends with you. Programme details are available on the concerts page.
Dates of Future Recitals ~ Please put these in your diary now
Wednesday 10th May at 7.30 p.m. - Alexander Mason of Lichfield Cathedral.
Wednesday 12th July at 7.30 p.m. ~ Carl Jackson of The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace.
Wednesday 2nd August at 7.30 p.m. & Wednesday 30th August at 7.30 p.m.
Tuesday 12th December at 7.30 p.m. Donald Mackenzie.
Wednesday 21st March 2007 Details to be arranged.
The December concert will consist of Donald Mackenzie improvising the accompaniment to silent films. The selection will feature local steam trains and Buster Keaton's The General, which also features steam trains. We hope that this programme will attract the local steam buffs.'
One of the August concerts will be devoted to the Friends and young organists will be invited to come and play', an event that proved very successful a few years ago.
A New Patron. We are delighted to announce that Carl Jackson, the Director of Music at Her Majesty's Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, has kindly agreed to become a Patron of the Appeal. Carl is a distinguished musician who has been at Hampton Court for almost ten years. We are very much looking forward to his recital in July.
The Organ. The restored Contra Viola has been much appreciated. It is a 16ft stop on the Choir Organ and is also duplexed to the pedals. The solo tubas, which have baked up on high, have been removed to Liverpool for restoration. They will now be located at the level of the Great organ. All the associated mechanisms have been completely cleaned and refurbished. This will result in the 16ft Contra Tromba and the 4ft Clarion-harmonic being heard again for the first time in some three years. Unfortunately only five pipes from the Cor-Anglais rank have survived. These provide sufficient information for a new rank to be made. However, we need to raise approximately £5,000 to restore this final stop to complete the present layout of the instrument.
News - October 2005
The Choir Contra Viola 16 has been installed and was heard at Stephen Disley's concert on October 5th.
The Solo soundboard was removed for planned restoration in September 2005. When opened up, it was found that the damage was more
severe than expected and a result of water entering the hall through the roof as well as climatic
conditions. It is even more remarkable, then, that the soundboard continued to function well as long as it did, with
two of the four heavy-pressure stops available until its removal.
The additional funds required to repair this further damage will be the subject of an insurance claim by The Palace.
The problems with the roof have been fixed.
News - March 2005
As far as London was concerned, Wednesday the 2nd of March was the worst night of the winter. A snowstorm swirled across Hampstead Heath and in the Phoenix Bar the first two arrivals, Stephen Walmsley and Graham Hawkes, jokingly discussed themes for their improvisations should the recitalist fail to arrive. Fortunately he managed the journey from Birmingham. Our Treasurer, Michael Rhodes arrived from Stoke-on-Trent and David Wyld, representing The Palace's organbuilder, came from Liverpool. About sixty Friends battled their way up to the Palace to hear the concert. Thank you; if honours were at our disposal, you would all receive a medal. In spite of the weather, the humidity level in the blowing chamber was the lowest recorded.
John Pryer, our titular organist, treated us to a splendid performance. The first part of his programme was devoted to classical / romantic works by Bach, Bossi and Reger and the second was given over to such light hearted music as the Dam Busters March and The Sailor's Hornpipe. He concluded with a spirited and inspired Improvisation upon A Whiter Shade of Pale. This turned out to be more than appropriate, although he could not have known that it would be snowing when he chose his programme.
Our next concert will be given on Wednesday the 13th of April at 7.30 p.m. by David Dunnett, the organist of Norwich Cathedral. Unfortunately the date given in the February Newsletter was incorrect. It was the one initially given to us by the Palace; subsequent bookings necessitated a change of date. The programme will be as follows: Coronation March ~ Meyerbeer; Spring Song ~ Alfred Hollins; Prelude & Fugue in B minor ~ J.S.Bach; Sonata in C# minor ~ Harwood; Festival Tocatta ~ Percy Fletcher; Andante with variations in D ~ Mendelssohn; Handel in the Strand ~ Percy Grainger; Popular Song ~ Walton; Finale (Symphonie VI) ~ Charles Widor. Please come along and bring all you friends, relations and neighbours to this great musical occasion.
Whilst on the subject of forthcoming events, you might like to know some details of the 10th July concert which will be given by Colin Andrews and Janette Fishell, the famous duo from Greenville, North Carolina. The programme will include works by Bonnet, Liszt's mighty Introduction & Fugue on Ad nos, two movements from Holst's The Planets, Russian and American dances, concluding with a duet arrangement from Samson & Delilah. It has been a considerable time since we have heard four hands at the console and for many it will be a first time experience.
We are always indebted to Jean and Sid Perkins of the Cinema Organ Society who provide a stall loaded with interesting CD's, sheet music and other memorabilia at our every concert. Do pay them a visit. At the March recital I bought two CDs at £5 each. One of these was David Briggs playing his transcriptions of Pierre Cochereau's Improvisations on the organ of Truro Cathedral. This organ, by Father Willis, was described by Sir John Dykes Bower as "the little giant." It sounds so very like our own instrument but the specification reveals that it is in fact five stops smaller than the present Alexandra Palace organ.
The Trustees are busy planning events well into 2006. Amongst suggestions already received have been for showing a classic silent film with organ accompaniment and the possibility of holding an afternoon tea dance. Should you have any further suggestions or requests, please write to us at the PO Box number or contact one of us at any future concert. We are planning to have another meeting of Friends after one of the summer concerts.
News - February 2005
The Winter Concert
The Palace enables us to hold our recitals by kindly giving us six free bookings of the Great Hall each year. Without this generosity we should not be able to afford to hire the premises for recitals. By tradition we always allow the Music & Performing Arts Centre of Haringey Education Services to use our December booking for their concert.
Once again we were pleased to see some of the Friends in attendance at this event. Before the concert, and during the interval, we were entertained by the playing of the highly professional Steel Orchestra of some twenty very proficient young performers. Over three hundred children, drawn from eleven local schools and supported by nearly ninety parents and volunteers, plus the New London Children's Choir, provided the vocal music. They were supported by the seventy strong student Symphony Orchestra of Haringey.
The concert started with an impressive procession to a traditional aboriginal chant. This was followed by a performance of the third and fourth movements of the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony. When Ann Carey played the first dramatic chords of the organ entry, the sound of the Father Willis reeds had an electrifying effect on the children; all heads turned and it was obvious that this was the first time that they had ever heard a live instrument. The main item in the second half of the programme consisted of well-chosen and enthusiastically sung excerpts from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. It was a highly gratifying experience to know that we were able to contribute to the musical experience of so many young people. The Trustees are hoping to extend and increase this work with local schools; do make a date to join in the 2005 celebrations.
The Next Recital
This will take place on Wednesday 2nd of March at 7.30 p.m. and will be given by our titular organist John Pryer. We are lucky to have such an experienced player who literally knows this organ both inside and out. He will be playing a programme of works by Bossi, Bach, Reger, Eric Coates, Bonnet, and an arrangement of The Sailor's Hornpipe. He will be concluding his recital with one of his inspired improvisations. For more details, and for the dates of future concerts see the concerts page. Please come along and bring all your friends with you.
As promised at the last meeting of Friends, work is shortly to be undertaken on the organ. The solo tubas are to be moved down to the level of the Great organ and all the associated mechanisms will be completely cleaned and refurbished. This will result in the 16ft Contra Tromba and the 4ft Clarion-harmonic being heard again for the first time in some three years. At the same time the original Contra Viola, which has languished in store at Liverpool, is to be restored. Unfortunately only five pipes from the Cor-Anglais rank have survived. These provide sufficient information for a new rank to be made but this will have to wait until we have sufficient funds available. However, as a spur to fund raising, we can tell you that this will cost £4,614 at today's prices.
Unfortunately Douglas Carrington, who has been our Archivist for many years, feels that the time has come for him to retire. We are extremely grateful for all the work that he has undertaken on our behalf. Not only has he filed and indexed a multitude of documents, but he has also secured references to the Palace organ from a great variety of other sources. We send him our thanks and best wishes for the future.