Key project activities
This begins with a study to evaluate whether or not a proposed venue meets the many criteria needed for successful home and includes both technical and operational criteria, accessibility and interest in the building owners and operators to engage in such a venture. Once a likely venue is identified, discussions and negotiations take place to agree and sign contract to install and operate the organ that is mutually beneficial to all parties. This is starting point for committing money to the project.
The Main organ will be installed in the Troxy's two original Wurlitzer chambers on the left side of the proscenium.
The building work needed will include blocking up of the original smoke vents, reinstatement of the lower chamber wall, reinstatement of the original shutter openings and insertion of new walls to reduce the original chamber volume. The new walls will assist in projecting the sound of the organ into the auditorium.
The building work will also include refurbishment and decoration of the chambers ready for installation of the organ. The existence of these existing chambers makes preparation for the organ installation considerably easier.
Once this work is finished, installation of electrical and fire services and heavy items such as blowers, main windtrunks, shutters and other large structural items will take place.
The console - containing the keys, pedals and stops by which the organist plays the organ - was comprehensively rebuilt and restored in 2001/2 and presents a dramatic sight. The original Troxy Wurlitzer console was placed on a rising lift in the left corner of the orchestra pit. To suit the present-day Troxy, the Trocadero console will be placed on a moveable platform, kept in a secure store when not in use and moved into a playing position for concerts and other uses.
This part of the project will create a secure storage garage, which itself will be equipped with the control equipment for the organ blowers, wind supply for the console and connection to the relay system.
In addition, further connection points for air and control wiring will be placed around the auditorium to allow the console to be played in a variety of locations.
The main service required by the organ is 3-phase electricity for the organ blowers, which will be newly installed for the Trocadero Wurlitzer.
The Solo organ will be installed in an existing void on the right of the proscenium, directly opposite the Main chambers. The void will form this single chamber and is 27' 6" tall at its highest point.
A large opening will be created for the swell shutters in the wall separating the void and the auditorium and this necessitates structural engineering work to ensure the integrity of the building. Window openings and vents will also have to be blocked up and an internal steel stairway giving access to two plenum rooms removed. Replacement access to the plenum rooms will be provided.
As with the Main chambers, internal refurbishment, decoration and provision of services will be a part of this work package.
The organ components - the windchests on which the pipes sit and which admit air to the pipes, the regulators and other components of the wind supply system, the organ percussions and other structural elements of the instrument - are nearly 80 years old and although in reasonable condition require refurbishment and restoration to give another 80 years service to the standards required for this flagship installation.
As well as attention to the structural and mechanical components, the pipework itself will be comprehensively cleaned and restored.
All restoration work will be carried out to the highest standards by specialists in the field. Because the organ is being installed in a different building to the original, some structural parts will need to be made new or modified; this work will be done using traditional Wurlitzer designs and methods to assure authenticity.
This whole activity will in itself promote the knowledge and skills needed to care for these historic instruments.
Once the building work and the refurbishment work is completed, installation of the organ itself can take place. This includes building the organ supporting framework structure with the main windchests and percussion units, installing the regulators and main wind distribution systems and fabricating and installing the windtrunking that connects the many parts of the instrument.
Next comes the electrical connection of the windchests, percussions, shutters and tremulants to the organ relay system; the organ is then functionally tested 'on wind'.
Whilst the installation in the two Main chambers will be relatively straightforward, the Solo chamber installation presents more of a challenge in design and construction due to the height of the organ structure, which at its tallest will be over 27 feet high.
Once functional tests are complete, the pipework is 'racked in' (placed on the windchest). At this point the organ makes its first tentative noises, but is not a playing instrument.
Finishing is the process by which the organ is turned from a machine into a musical instrument.
It consists of detailed adjustment to each pipe so that it is in balance with its neighbours and with the acoustics of the auditorium. The goal is to achieve a coherent and musical ensemble that matches the building; the process is highly specialised and is undertaken twice, in effect: once with the tremulants off and once with the tremulants on, to create the best theatre organ sound. It requires 'golden eared' listeners in the auditorium to feed back to the tonal finisher up in the chambers the results of the sounds as they are heard by the organist and audience.
At the Troxy this work, often neglected on original theatre organ installations will be undertaken by the top specialists in the theatre organ field.
Planning is what makes projects happen to cost, quality and time.
Detailed project plans have been developed and followed up using state of art planning methods. The plan you see at the top of the page merely hints at the detail behind, which extends to over 197 separate activities. These not only include practical activities on the organ itself, but also administrative items like requests for quotation, supplier activities and so forth.
On the technical side, the organ layout in the chambers has been designed using Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques already used on a number of Cinema Organ Society projects. To confirm the complex design of the Solo chamber, a 1:12 model has been constructed.
On the building side, the chamber reinstatement and conversion work has been designed and specified by Clements & Porter architects, already associated with the Troxy. They have also been responsible for the Listed Building Consent application to Tower Hamlets, necessary as the Troxy is a Grade 2 listed building.
Project follow-up meetings take place every 2 months in conjunction with COS Southern District Meetings. Overall project status is also reported quarterly at Cinema Organ Society General Committee meetings and Trocadero Wurlitzer Trust meetings held concurrently.
Fundraising 'puts the fuel in the tank' of the project; you can find out more about this on the pages 'How you can help'. A cash flow plan has been developed alongside the project plan, to make sure that the money already raised (a magnificent £100,000, but only about half of what we estimate is needed) is deployed wisely.