I’ve created these pages for my personal use and to share information about the organ with others through the Internet. From time to time I will also use these pages to publish things I think may be of interest to the Internet organ community. I would welcome comments about the contents of the site – please contact me by e-mail.
After a long break, I’m starting to update the website again: it will take a little while to review and update the existing pages and add new material.
A little bit about me…
I have been interested in the organ since childhood and have played as amateur since my early teens. By profession I am a computer scientist and since 2008 I have been the Director of the Computing Service at Sussex University.
Since the summer of 2003 I have played the organ at All Saints Church Thornton Hough Wirral where we have a delightful Norman & Beard organ built in 1912. Details of the organ will follow soon. Before that I was organist at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Heswall for more than ten years where the organ was an interesting two manual Rushworth & Dreaper organ. I’ve held posts at a number of other churches including St Andrew’s Paddock Wood Kent, All Saints’ Brenchley Kent, Christ the King Gordon Square London and St Jude’s South Shields.
At All Saints Thornton Hough we sing traditional Anglican music; we have a choir of about 18 voices, we sing an anthem or motet at each service and once a month we sing choral evensong (with a setting for the canticles and an anthem). We also sing some of the “more modern” music too – items which work with a choir and organ accompaniment.
As the style of music within churches has become more biased towards a so called modern style, and the use of the organ and traditional (Anglican) music diminished, back in 2001 I decided to take steps to ensure that I could continue to enjoy playing the organ without the necessity of holding a church post by buying an electronic organ for practice and pleasure at home (and, of course, I had always wanted a home organ too).
I decided to go electronic because of space limitations and the high cost of even a very modest pipe organ. I know that some would suggest I would have been better having even the smallest pipe organ rather and an electronic instrument – and it may have indeed been a better vehicle instrument for me to develop (and practice) my technique. However, as well as improving my playing technique, I wanted to enjoy the thrill of playing an instrument with complete choruses and a wide range of solo stops: many of us amateur organists don’t have ready (or regular) access to such instruments. After very careful investigation, I purchased a custom-built three manual Phoenix Organ which was installed in our study at the end of May 2001. It has been a source of great pleasure and has enabled me to improve my playing. In 2006, the organ was enhanced by the addition of a floating Solo division and a we made a small number of stop changes.
I also have a “small” pipe organ at home (well in the garage). It is a three rank extension organ built by Vincent (Sunderland) and very similar to many instruments I played as a teenager in the north east (of England). This is actually my second home pipe organ. The first was a small two manual and pedal instrument that I purchased from the family of a gentleman who had installed this organ (rescued from a chapel) in his living room – they needed to have it removed following his untimely death. The organ had lost its case and had been very much altered from its 1850 origins when it came into my possession. I have now passed this organ on to Henry Willis & Sons in Liverpool.
Back in 2001/2 I heard about some software being developed my Martin Dyde (an English programmer and organ enthusiast) call Hauptwerk. It was a very interesting development that implemented an organ using a PC program which played sound samples (one per pipe) in response to midi input. I obtained a trial version but after looking at it for a short time did nothing further with it. Over the following years Martin continued to develop the software, setting up his own company, Crumhorn Labs, to market his system. When I moved to my job in Sussex I bought a copy of Hauptwerk (then at release 3.2) to use with my midi keyboard in my mid-week house in Sussex. Since then I’ve become an enthusiastic user of Hauptwerk and a number of the excellent virtual organs, which run under Hauptwerk, that are available for a number of different suppliers.
I listen to a lot of recorded organ music and attend concerts and recitals. There are a large number of organ CDs and a growing number of DVDs out there – some of them are very good both in letting you hear the qualities of the instrument and in preserving outstanding performances.
I do other things as well (and go to work too) – life is very hectic and hugely enjoyable. I have a very understanding and supportive family to whom, I am very grateful. I am greatly blessed.