SATURDAY 16 March . GOA Visit to Oxford

On Saturday 16th March, Cameron Luke arranged another visit to Oxford for which we give him our thanks. At 11.00 a.m. we assembled at Oxford Town Hall. The organ is a fine, though small, concert instrument designed by John Stainer and built by ‘Father’ Henry Willis in 1897. It stands in a small apse facing the audience from where it sings out wonderfully filling the hall with sound. The console fittings are original (oak jambs and music desk with large ivory stop-heads), composition pedals and originally a ‘trigger’ (though now balanced) style swell pedal to the right of the pedal board. It has been awarded an Historic Organ Certificate, Grade I by the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS). As might be expected there is little, if anything, in the way of ‘Grand Choruses’ and ‘Bach-like’ plena, but members who were ‘Willisean-Reed-Fanciers’ enjoyed a treat with the Solo Tromba.

The full specification is given on NPOR N08021. 16 8 8 8 4 4 2 /3 2 III 8 16 8 8 8 8 4 2 16 8 8 8 4/ 8 8 8 4 2 8 8 8 8/16 16 8 16 Keble College:   After this treat, we all enjoyed lunch.

After our food, we walked swiftly to Keble College where we were able to sample the delights of one of Oxford’s newest arrivals. Keble College building is a monument to the Gothic Revival. Designed by W. Butterfield, most of the college buildings, including the chapel, are built with structural polychromy i.e. patterning and (external) wall decoration is achieved by using different coloured stone (or in this case, brick) imaginatively. The chapel is the largest in Oxford. Lofty and vaulted, it achieves at once a ‘cathedral-like’ atmosphere (perhaps more-so than Christ Church? Discuss!). The organ is sited in a gallery in the ‘south’ transept (the chapel beneath houses Holman-Hunt’s original painting, ‘The Light of The World’). The front pipes are those of the original organ by Hill and are boldly stencilled to Butterfield’s design. Completed in 2011, the new organ has been built by Kenneth Tickell and Company of Northampton. Gone, hopefully, are the days when older, often worthy, instruments are replaced by ‘Neo-Baroque’ organs in a misguided attempt to furnish an organ ‘that will play Bach’! This organ, as with many by other organ builders the world over, is making a conscious effort to recapture some of the grandeur, versatility, colour and warmth of the best of the nineteenth century tradition. It is within that tradition, but with a contemporary slant;

similar but different in approach to the town hall organ. Modern tracker action with electrical stop controls and many thumb pistons for those who delight in such things! The full specification is

given on NPOR H00775. Great 16 8 8 8 4 4 2 II IV 8 Swell 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 IV 16 8 8 4 Choir/Solo 8 8 4 4 2 2 /3  2 1 3 /5  16  8  8 Bombard V8 Pedal 16 16 16 10 2 /3  8  8  4  III 16

Report based on information from Cameron Luke.