Preparing to give a concert on the Three Manual Organ in the Chapel of the Henry Ford Village, Dearbourn, Michigan.

The 'recital' consisted of light classics and some slightly irreverent items which some 200 people said they enjoyed.

 

Photograph taken at the 3 Manuel Rogers Electronic Organ in the Chapel in the Henry Ford Village, Dearbourn, Nr, Detroit, Michigan during my 1997 visit. Choir Boy at Headington Quarry, Oxford.

My first organ post, at the age of sixteen, was in the small Oxfordshire village of Holton. Since then I have been playing pipe and electronic organs for both worship and entertainment.

As well as playing the organ I take part in Development Circles and Discussion Groups. On occasions I find myself on the Platform but make no claims of mediumship.

I have a keen interest in Spiritual Philosophy, hence this site, and give talks on the subject.
Occasionally a helper will link in to say a few words.


My past profession as an Electrical/Electronic Technician has been in the field of High Energy Physics. Worked at the Culham, Harwell and Rutherford Laboratories in the UK also CERN in Switzerland. A few years were spent at the Joint European Torus (JET) Nuclear Fusion project situated on the Culham Lab site in the UK.

It is partly my scientific background that inspires my interest in Spiritualism and my approach to the subject is mostly from an investigative point of view.

Link to page about Theatre and Classical Organs.

Seated at the Compton Theatre Organ in the Civic Hall, Abingdon, Oxfordshire. UK.

Each December I used to play for the Lord Mayor's Christmas Party for the elderly people of the area. The usual 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas', 'Rudolf' and 'Jingle Bells' linked with 'I'll see You Again' and some Christmas Carols pass a pleasent time while the customers consume their Christmas Fare. There may even be an attemp at a some singing.

The lighting in this photo makes me look fat; will have to go on a diet. Organists have to be fit you know. With four keyboards, two hands and two feet on the go plus all the required brain power one needs to be in top condition.

I found out why most Theatre Organists are buskers; the music rest is too far away to read the music and you need extra long arms to turn it over.


Notes for the Technical Person about Organs.
Click on the Gold Ornament on the Right Front of the Console.

A Picture from my Youth.

This photo was taken at the Single Manuel Organ of Forest Hill Church, near Oxford.





John Webster

 

John Webster was a pupil of Dr. John Dykes Bower and Dr. Sydney Watson. In 1938 he became Organ Scholar of University College, Oxford. He was later appointed Organist of the College, and also University Organist of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. He is well known on the continent, having given many recitals and broadcasts there. He is also a Professor of the Organ at Trinity College of Music, London.

Information taken from a record sleeve.


I would also like to remember a brillian organist called Dennis Tidmarsh. He was organist at St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford and also played the Theatre Organ. I was in my twenties at the time and he allowed me to deputise for him. There was one Sunday service when I played the right number hymn tune but from the wrong book. That did not go down very well and the Forgivness and Compassion of the Church was revealed; I did not play there again. That taught me to double check everything beforehand; you could say I am paranoid about it.

My first organ post, found by my organ tutor, Mr John Webster, was at the little village of Holton on the east side of Oxford. I played there for a few years and then moved to Forest Hill.

Forest Hill was combined with the church at Stanton St. John which is the next village. The morning service would be at Forest Hill and the evening service at Stanton St. John; the next week it was the other way round. I would occasionally forget and go to the wrong church in the morning and wonder why nobody came.

I remember John Webster with affection. He taught me to play on the Walker organ of St. Mary the Virgin, The High Street, Oxford. This organ, now moved elsewhere, was a three manual instrument made by Walker of London. I have been told that the organ went to St Mary's in Truro, Corwall.

John also designed the organ in the University College Chapel on the other side of the High Street. He would give me the choice of which organ to play for my lesson. It was at the College that I met an organ where the pipework was some distance from the console. There was a short time delay before you heard the sound after pressing a key. To overcome the phyiscal and mental 'lock-up' that occurs the first time you meet this problem I spent some time playing things I knew very well and concentrated on playing the keys and ignoring as much as possible the sound. After spending some time doing this you get used to the time delay and it never bothers you (much) again.

John died many years ago now but he is still with me when I play the organ. I remember things he told me and try to live up to the standard of musicianship that he would have expected of me.

I look forward to more lessons when I join the 'departed'. We were half way through one of Bach's Trio Sonatas. I am told that my playing will be so much better due to being more awake and 'alive'. I look forward to that but, in the meantime, I do what I can as best I am able. Some people, who must be deaf, say it sounds all right.


John Hardaker is organist at:

St Lawrence, North Kinksey, Oxford. Some Merbecke is sung and Matins once a month with Venite, Te Deum, etc.

Christian Spiritualst Church, Cowley Road, Oxford. The organ is a home electronic Yamaha C55 Organ that sounds very nice in the new, bigger, brick built church.


Dr. Roger Hollinrake asked me to repair his Yamaha digital piano. In conversation I found he knew John Webster, who taught me the organ, quite well. He was organist at St Thomas the Martyr in Oxford and said he had not had a break in ten years - I offered to play for him if that would help. Later on I played for six Sundays in his place, which I quite enjoyed being a full sung service, while he went on his travels. A while later the phone went and he asked if I could stand in for him again, starting the coming Sunday, as he needed some medical attention to his eyes. I was happy to do that thinking I would be helping him sort out a problem. However he pulled a crafty one on me - may not have been his initial intention - and slowly removed all his music until I realised he had taken all his things and gone. I reported this fact but nobody knew anything; he just left. It was not until six years later, when an incoming priest removed all the singing apart from the hymns, that I resigned.

During the later part of that residency I had the interesting experience of a 'visit' from Roger. I was seated at the console doing some practice when I suddenly felt very tired and very hungry. I had no idea why this could be but ate something (I keep a stock of food and drink in the organ loft) and had a bit of a doze. It was only the next day I read the email telling me that Roger had died two days before. I think he came to visit the organ he played for ten years and found me there. I was told he gave up eating and must have been tired when he died. I picked up these feelings from him but, at the time, had no idea what it was about. I hope I helped him offload these earthly feelings so he could move on.

Incidentally, one Sunday a little while after I took over, not knowing that I had, Roger came to a Service perhaps to see how I was doing. He made the comment that is was nice to listen to John Webster again. I must have played some Bach that John had taught me. You never think that you absorb how your tutor plays but, thinking about it, that must be the case as there is no fixed way to play anything. In the Theatre Organ world you have to develop a style so people know it is you playing. The style I had been taught was not mine but my tutors. Hopefully I now play music my way but the Bach still sounds like John Webster and I am pleased about that.



From the Archives

 


Mother and Son

 


Photo taken at
Elliston & Cavell
Oxford

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Copyright © John Hardaker, August 2002.