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Mander Organs

Brian Childs

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Everything posted by Brian Childs

  1. Is this not the guy who produced a set of three LPs on the RAH organ ? Was he not Swedish with a real name something like Ake Leven (apologies for missing accents) who was credited with the design of some enormous concert hall organ in Stockholm ?
  2. University College, Bangor, I think.
  3. I completely agree that a committed live performance is invariably preferable to a CD though a quality CD performance would certainly have been preferable to one deplorable instance of incompetence and bad manners it was my misfortune to witness which commenced with the player turning up late - since he had the keys nobody else could stand in - and proceeded downhill as it became obvious that if he had ever seen the chosen music before it was a long time ago...Such behaviour is discourteous to the memory of the deceased and unlikely to bring the solace of music to the bereaved!!! That said when I buried (consigned to the flames ?? but could that not be misinterpreted ?) my mother there were 12 people in the crematorium chapel, eight of whom were comprised by my brother and myself, our wives and our 4 children. The officiating minister had never met her, and though he did the best he could, errors of recollection or notetaking were inevitable and the address was by definition impersonal. As more people live alone , this situation is likely to be repeated with increasing frequency. Moreover, crematoria operate to an increasingly tight timetable as becomes obvious when you leave to see the next party already assembled , and possibly even the one after that already starting to form up in the distance. In such situations it may bring peace of mind to some people to be able to pre-plan not only the cost but also the format of their memorial service and to have confidence that they can have the music of their choice competently performed. A CD of appropriate music might be helpful to such people. And whilst I fully accept that made- to- measure is best, ready- to- wear or off- the- peg is what most people have to make do with most of the time.
  4. While Paul's kind and thoughtful gesture has provided for this particular lady, I rather doubt she is the only person confronting this problem, whether the funeral being planned is for oneself or another. Yet to the best of my knowledge CDs of music suitable for a funeral or memorial service are almost as rare as hen's teeth: the only ones of which I am aware are the Priory Compilation CD and one by the theatre organist John Mann entitled "Music for a Solemn Occasion". By contrast bridal couples are quite generously provided for, including CDs performed on significant organs by players of the calibre of Kevin Bowyer. Yet fewer people are opting to get married while everyone (apart from those lost at sea , obliterated by high explosive or incinerated) will require some kind of funeral service. One would have thought there was a gap in the market here since almost all crematoria and a significant number of churches have sound sytems installed either as an alternative to, or as a substitute for, an actual musician in attendance. I appreciate some members of this board earn fees from playing on such occasions and I have no wish to mount an attack on anyone's livelihood but I am quite sure there must be other individuals out there who would like to be reassured that their final journey will not be made to the strains of "My Way" (unless of course that was their express wish). Perhaps Paul should enquire into the possibility of a commercial release ??
  5. It is perfectly possible I am missing your point David : an alternative explanation is that I am just not looking at the scene from the same viewpoint as you are. My understanding of your basic point is that it amounts to a rip-off to be charged workshop rates / skilled work rates for travelling time. My point is that this is not the correct viewpoint from which to look at the situation since viewing the situation from this standpoint is virtually guaranteed to produce the conclusion that fleecing is in progress. I am suggesting that even if the charge is expressed in terms of hourly rates, this is not the best way to view the situation ( a proposition you are perfectly entitled to refuse to accept). A guy whom I know very well occasionally does the odd conference presentation . His fee would be £250 plus his travelling and accommodation expenses as well. For this sum he would deliver a paper - 35/45 minutes, field any questions and be available to chat at the coffee break. £250 for a morning's work looks expensive; but if the payment is viewed not as for a morning's work but a lifetime's knowledge and experience, (plus several hours preparing the paper), then, seen from that angle, the charge appears less exhorbitant. Could not the same be true of the services of an experienced tuner ? The "plant and equipment" = asset tied up could be the skilled workman : it is not necessary for it to be hard plant. From posts on other threads I think it ought to be clear that I am all in favour of apprenticeships where people receive training in an actual job as opposed to signing up for "university" courses which they then do not attend because they are too busy stacking shelves in supermarkets or serving behind a bar. Also 1907 (100 years ago) is not the period of history conventionally labelled the "dark ages" . Edwardian is the usual label I think.
  6. Whilst it may be true that "free" is almost everyone's favourite four-letter-word, there certainly used to be a widespread view in the legal profession that free advice was normally worth precisely what you paid for it. I suspect that would have been true of many other occupations as well. Whilst it is indisputable that Churches (as buildings/individual congregations) have always welcomed benefactions and a number have virtually owed their existence to the generosity of one or more wealthy patrons, in the 21st century with falling attendances , why should any church/congregation even begin to think it has some sort of entitlement to professional services at free or subsidsed rates ? If someone is prepared to provide them, that is wonderful but it is surely a bonus: not a right or legitimate expectation? I do not see why a church has any more reason to expect subsidised or preferential rates for work on the organ than for work on the roof. Not wishing to be argumentative it does seem to me that we are back to problems of terminology here: wages for work done is what an employer pays to his employee or in the older terminology a master to his servant. This will rarely be the situation between a church and someone doing work for it: the relationship in legal terminology will almost always be a contract for services and the church will be paying not "wages for work done" but a "charge for services provided". A part of that charge will be for the cost of providing those services at the time and place they are provided, or quite simply the cost of travelling time which has to be met by someone. And the cost of travelling time involves more than the actual expense of getting to A from B: certainly more than the cost of the fuel used. There is the profit element, the charge to reflect the fact that equipment en route from A to B is not available for work at C and so on and so forth. So if there is any "waking up" to be done it is perhaps more on the part of those church officers/ officials whose view of the way the economy works seems more rooted in the assumptions of the 19th century than those of the 21st.
  7. While I can understand the feelings of AJT, it does look as if the real cause of the problem is the charging formula employed by tuners which makes it transparent that travelling time is charged to the Church : a different formula might successfully obscure this fact, though it would be unlikely to alter the identity of who actually ended up paying. Would ajt be happier if it was not quite so "in your face" that travelling time is charged to the customer ? After all the "call out charges" levied by plumbers, appliance repairmen and the like are basically a means of getting the customer to pay for travelling time: these tend to be flat rate and ,since the radius of action of the typical plumber is unlikely to be larger than that of the typical tuner, but rather smaller in fact, would be likely to be seen as even more expensive if expressed in terms of a common denominator. In fact the charging basis for many fees for professional services bears only the most tenuous of connections to the difficulty of the work or the time taken to do it. Thus a typical formula if you engage the services of a solicitor to sell your house for you will be a percentage of the consideration (price) you get for it (typically .75%) plus outgoings plus VAT. Estate agents often adopt a similar practice. There is very little evidence which tends to show that there is any kind of direct relationship between the price of a house and the difficultyof/ time required to do the work required to sell it. Perhaps tuners might simultaneously be able to soothe the feelings of clients like ajt and increase their remuneration if they changed the formula used to present the final account to the customer ?
  8. Noel Rawsthorne: "Hallelujah" Great Organ Arrangements Amount of these items currently in your Basket: None Code: RRC1241 Postage Weight: 1.00 units (1 CD/DVD = 1.00 unit) ORGAN1st Price: £6.95 I think you will find that it has, as is appropriate for this season, just been resurrected. Front cover however seems to feature a cavalry charge, presumably an allusion to one of the pieces included. BAC
  9. I am a sucker for this type of collection and must have acquired about 30 + of these programmes over the years but I am afraid this one leaves me cold. The playing seems uninvolved and in my opinion the new position found for the microphone(s) - suspended from the central tower above the pipework - does the sound no favours. Even the Tuba Mirabilis in the Cocker lacks impact, and I much prefer the 60s sound of FJ to the 90s sound of JSW : by contrast what I take to be the new Bombarde ( a stop I have never heard in the building) makes quite a splash in the Purcell, though hardly authentic. Has anyone else heard it and what do they think ?
  10. I concur and I own all of them. I also find myself in agreement with Cynic's remarks and would echo the sentiments expressed. Perhaps the initial lack of answers was caused by the lack of specificity in the question ? Interesting to whom and on what basis ? This may well not have been intended but it seems to me that a question posed in these words is not asking for the same information as is required to answer "Which ones do you like most and why ?" The latter is clearly a question about personal preferences: they may be shared or not but they cannot be wrong. "Interesting" seems to me to imply a greater degree of detachment, but this may well not have been intended. For information, the ones I play most often are Norwich and Ripon. I do not share the reservations of another contributor about Ely and prefer the organ as it is now to what its state was for the generation preceding the recent rebuild. Tending in the other direction, I can admire the technical skill shown at Coventry but I will never derive pleasure from listening to organ music in this style.
  11. Surely any organ is capable of emitting "execrable sound" in the "right" hands ? A lot of people who attended the opening recitals at the RFH thought that was what it did. (Darling, its boiling..."). Do I detect that you consider Wurlitzers, Hammonds et al are only capable of emitting "execrable sound" ? If so, I would recommend you to listen to some of the big installations in the USA , like San Filippo with 80 ranks of pipes, including 3 chamades, playing real organ music (Bach, Mulet, Widor and so on). It might cause you to revise your opinion. At any rate a fair trial would have been held.
  12. I have Ms Marsh's CD (La Nativite du Seigneur but I was hoping for something that played to the strengths of the instrument rather than tending to expose its weaknesses. I do not know Wakefield Cathedral at all really but I suspect that it may be a difficult building for the organ builder, as indeed have proved to be a number of the promoted parish church cathedrals, including my own, Chelmsford. The reason seems to be that the new status leads to the need to find more space to fulfil cathedral type functions than was previously necessary when the building was merely a parish church, and in doing this the organ tends to be crammed away in a side chapel under a low side roof where it experiences considerable difficulty in making any kind of impact in the building. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that such was the problem at Wakefield and that would certainly explain why Comptons were the preferred builder since their experience as cinema organ builders made them expert in fitting pipework into cramped and awkward locations and voicing it to overcome the effects of its unfavourable location in so far as possible. Perhaps someone with much greater knowledge of this particular organ could enlighten us ?
  13. But an appraisal system is not primarily intended to produce feedback, helpful or otherwise. It is one more consequence of the deliberate killing off of the ethos of professionalism, as a consequence of the actions of all those politicians who actually believed that "game theory" really did reflect real life, specifically Margaret Thatcher but not only her. It used to be possible to say to those one was teaching words to the effect that "You should always do the best you can: you cannot do more, you should not do less." For those who aspire to implement this approach much of the rigmarole associated with appraisal systems (which presupposes you will identify and plan to address weaknesses in a systematic and organized fashion ) is totally meaningless, BECAUSE as soon as you identify a weakness or have an idea for how to improve your performance you implement it at once - you do not wait for the next annual meeting !!! That certainly does not mean that there is no scope for improvement or helpful and constructive criticism. But what it most emphatically does mean is that the individual being appraised is in no position to identify weaknesses and/or solutions since if he or she could do so then by definition that individual would not be doing his or her best! Appraisal systems are part of a business culture where jargon rules OK, people seek to be rewarded for reinventing the wheel (and are offended when they are not) , and where "targets" rule everything else to the extent that it is often now considered far better practice to do x amount of work in a particular time even if it includes a number of botched or inadequately performed tasks than it is to do x-y amount all of which is perfectly properly done so that nothing needs to be done again!! There are undoubtedly business consultants around today who would have advised Michael Angelo that a couple of coats of brilliant white emulsion applied with a roller would be a far quicker job and produce a perfectly acceptable finish!
  14. I do not know about Mr Tordoff but Jonathan Bielby was born, I believe, in 1945 and 22 is surely a little young to be DoM in a Cathedral even if it is one of the parish church cathedrals. If memory serves me right he was appointed in 1970, and became Kirklees Borough Organist in 1974, so he was hardly in his dotage even then. I was very fond of the LPs he made for Priory both at the Cathedral and Huddersfield Town Hall. Does anyone know why he has never, to my knowledge, produced a CD of the Cathedral organ ? BAC Possibly a push bike ? In fact he hardly needed a car then since both the minster and the grammar school were but an easy stroll away from his house.
  15. Well I remember it. I have the LP , in fact both it and its companion release of Ralph Downes at Brompton Oratory, seemingly the only two releases that the company - Radnor - ever put out. I have n't played it for years but I think I might dig it out and see what it sounds like.
  16. What about the Duchess of Kent ? Or does she not qualify as a celebrity ?
  17. Dear AJT Could you perhaps explain this in rather more detail , since I cannot grasp the meaning from the words written. Whilst leastqualified would make sense , I am sure it is not true. I suppose "last qualified" could mean youngest. If it simply means that you are the most recently qualified, then it is hardly surprising for the current incumbent to be younger than his predeccesors, but how could that carry an uncomplimentary meaning ?
  18. Just out of curiosity how are the purists (no apostrophe!) likely to react to the way you play the 'Dorian' fugue ? Fortunately I entirely fail to qualify as a purist since my favourite recorded performance of this work - well the one I listen to most frequently - is that of Heathcote Statham at Norwich on Great Cathedral Organ Series 12. Inauthentic it may be but it certainly works for me ! BAC
  19. Fair point but what made Jenkins controversial was he took them out of the academic cloister and published them to what we would now term John Major's "spinsters cycling through the mist..." many of whom were quite unaware that "the dear vicar" might be entertaining views along these lines, if only because in the C of E, at any rate, the opinions that clergy hold on such matters are not necessarily the views they expound in the pulpit. Or it might be more accurate to say that back then, almost a generation ago, that was the case whatever may be the current position. The C of E is after all the state church, and sets (used to set ?) quite a lot of store by being a broad church which could accomodate both the Anglo-Catholic and the person more attuned to an Ebenezer Chapel in its ranks. To do that you need to make quite extensive use of constructive ambiguity and certainly not go out of your way to start raising awkward questions, after all you may find the long promissed legacy you have earmarked to repair the roof (or the organ, for the benfit of those here) is suddenly destined for the cats home if you spend Advent declaiming that the Christmas story is largely bunk, that the evidence in the Imperial records for the "decree of Caesar Augustus by which the world should be taxed" is rather thin, to say the least, and that many of the traditions of Christmas are unequivocally derived from pagan traditions etc etc. I believe it is also a principle of the newspaper industry that when faced with a choice between the truth and a good story you always go with the good story !!
  20. I seem to remember that Jonathan Rennert's biography of Thalben-Ball contains a somewhat similar story about him, as well as one where his efforts with an oil can to lubricate the action of a harmonium he had been asked to play in a church somewhere in Wales proved so effective that pedalling made it mobile and sent him on a journey round the chancel ...
  21. I rather think so. Ian Ramsay was appointed Bishop of Durham in 1966 and died in 1972: David Jenkins became Bishop of Durham in 1984 and held notoriously controversial views on the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.
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