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Everything posted by msw

  1. There are accessible settings of "For the beauty" by John Joubert and Andrew Carter that might be within your choir's grasp. The former is available in one of the Novello "More than Hymns" books whilst the latter is part of a longer work entitled "Great is the Lord" and published by Morning Star in the USA. The last movement of said cantata, "Thou art the vine," is also worth a look though more suitable perhaps for a dedicatory service than a memorial.
  2. I suppose, now that Sir John has passed away, no changes can be made to the score as he can no longer approve them. Chester might even be prepared to take you up on your typesetting offer! Perhaps you should contact them again and see what the response is this time?
  3. I'll never forget his setting of "Hail, gladdening light" written in 2002 for Gordon Stewart on his taking over of the RSCM Millennium Youth Choir. It was to be broadcast as an introit for Radio 3 Choral Evensong from Durham School Chapel, as part of the RSCM's first International Summer School that year. Present for the pre-broadcast rehearsal, Dr Spedding broke into floods of tears after hearing it sung through - I reckon because the choir's performance far exceeded his expectations and made for a truly moving rendition of such a beautiful setting. Both the music and his reaction to that first performance spoke volumes about his character and his vision.
  4. As a right-handed organist, I find that one of the harder aspects of playing is working out and writing in fingerings for my right hand. I'm sure many other organists have shared that frustration of working out a superb fingering and then trying to remember as much of it as possible whilst taking pencil in hand and annotating the copy - whilst one can simply write in the fingerings for the left hand as one plays. Do left-handed organists, therefore, find it difficult to work out left hand fingerings but easy to work out right hand ones?
  5. They're long out of print but can be ordered in "authorised photocopy form" as a single combined volume (try Allegro Music if not OUP themselves) or, if you just want a particular piece, separate off-prints are also available.
  6. I hope members may forgive me for taking the liberty of posting with a request for copies, but as a wise friend of mine said not so long ago: "If you want to pick apples, you need to go to an orchard..." The Choir of St Mary’s Collegiate Church, Warwick, is seeking to replace its set of plainsong psalters (“A Manual of Plainsong for Divine Service” ed. H.B. Briggs and W.H. Frere, rev. J.H. Arnold: Novello & Co. 1951, hardcover) as these are now in poor condition. Are there any among you that have hardback copies that you no longer use or need? If so, St Mary's will be happy to purchase them off you or make a donation as required. Please PM me if you can help.
  7. Warwickians were treated to Chilcott's "Sun Dance" in the morning (during which the Boys, Girls and Men sang Mozart's Missa Brevis in F and the Hallelujah Chorus from "Handel" by Messiah) and in the evening came an even bigger treat - Rutter's "Variations on an Easter theme" (organ duet by myself and the DoM) at the end of Evensong that had included Smith's Responses, Stanford in C and Elgar's "Light of the world."
  8. Anyone who already owns a copy (and as far as I know, that Kevin Mayhew "Recitalist's Repertoire" volume is the only edition out there at present) should get in touch with Philip Moore and ask him about the revised ending... I got in touch with him earlier this year to let him know I'd be playing it in London, whereupon he kindly sent me a Sibelius file with a new ending to the third movement.
  9. I had a bit of a contractual issue recently, insofar as I'd just been offered a new job when my old employer suddenly threw a contract at me, with a quite long notice period thereon. Being an ISM member, I took advantage of their free legal helpline. As the advisor said to me over the 'phone: "Just accept the other job, give the old place at least a month's notice and don't sign the contract. If they couldn't be bothered to issue it until now, it's their own stupid fault that you can walk away at such short notice." This raises two pertinent points: 1) ISM membership can be well worth the annual subscription fee; 2) Contracts are binding, but only if you've signed them. And in order to that you need to have a copy. And churches are often very slow at providing copies! Having said that, my new place issued one within a month of my arrival. I'll be happy to sign it, for it seems to be well in order and the only quibbles I have are the typos in my name and address on the first page. (This place is clearly on top of its game!)
  10. I was referring to players I've heard live ... but I have heard Carlo on video and he is indeed a gifted speaker. Of course, it's his mission to extol the organ in all circumstances, so his style of presentation has been developed to reflect that objective.
  11. The old Estey organ in the St Helena Cathedral (Montana, USA) had a number of reed stops that were not actually reeds - most notably, one of the Swell ranks was a "Saxophone" made up of string pipes. Since the rebuild in 2008 by Wick (http://www.sthelenas.org/music/organ/) some of those stops have been altered, although it is apparently a far superior instrument now with plenty to excite and amaze.
  12. I like to speak to my audiences if at all possible, giving them potted history of composer and work, with at least one interesting bit of trivia or anecdote concerning composer and/or music in question. Sometimes, if I've put together a programme with a thread running through it - a common style, geographical links or other relationships between the composers, for example - I'll use my speeches to highlight that. If the audience has printed programme notes, I speak less - perhaps just to add some anecdote or other for which there wasn't room in the programme. In any case, I find it can help to save time and keep the music flowing more easily if I introduce some items but not others, or use a speech between two works to refer to both the preceding and following items. (E.g. "A lovely and sunny piece, I'm sure you'll agree, and it's unique amongst JSB's organ works, being his only Prelude and Fugue in A major. The next piece is from an earlier generation, and shows something of the influence on JSB....") Audiences almost certainly appreciate the odd relevant joke now and then: not only does it enhance their enjoyment of the performance but it "humanises" the organist, making him (or her) seem less like the stereotype of stuffy, dour and even strict person operating a dusty machine in dark stony churches. When introducing Lefebure-Wely's Sortie No. 2 to an audience recently, I told them that "he is very well-known in England for his Sortie No. 3 in E flat, which is extremely popular and sounds like a fairground piece. His Sortie No. 1 in B flat is also very popular and sounds like a fairground piece. This Sortie No. 2 in B flat is not at all popular ... and sounds like a fairground piece." That tickled them somewhat! Some of the best recital speeches I've heard have come from, in no particular order: Peter King, Ian Tracey, Roger Fisher, Francis Jackson, Simon Lindley, Timothy Byram-Wigfield, Martin Neary, Peter Dyke and Gordon Stewart. Each knows how to educate and amuse within the same breath!
  13. The Great Bourdon 16' at Selby - put it up an octave and it "outflutes" any of the others!
  14. msw


    Well, almost - he's leaving Kendal on 26th September and starting at Warwick on 1st October...!
  15. The interesting thing is that a Choral Evensong can include all the essential bits and still be over in half an hour. Recently, I went to one of the Thursday Evensongs at Hexham Abbey (which is sung by the Girls' Choir) and in exactly 30 minutes they got through: Preces (Morley) Psalm - 139 vv. 1-10 & 23-24 plus Gloria (Plainchant) 1st Lesson Magnificat (Philip Moore) 2nd Lesson Nunc Dimittis (Philip Moore) Creed Responses (Morley) Anthem - Take my life (Wilson) Intercessions (I think there were just three of these, followed by the Grace) Final Responses (Naylor) Organ Voluntary - Aria from Suite Modale (Peeters) A most refreshing experience, particularly as it was sung to such a high standard. (Michael Haynes, who has just left Hexham to do a P/G course in Music at Newcastle University, has built things up extremely well over the past 11 years; with the highly-experienced Marcus Wibberley poised to take over, Hexham should hopefully remain a place to treasure for its music for some time to come!)
  16. When I arrived at Kendal in 2008, there were two books in use: Hymns Old & New (for 10am Parish Communion) and AMR - the old red book (for 11.30am Matins and 6.30pm Evensong). At Easter 2009, both books were replaced with Common Praise, to be used at all services. In March 2011, Matins bit the dust (except on 5th Sundays) in favour of the new Vicar's All-Age Informal Service, now called "The Gathering," which uses a mixture of hymns from Common Praise with more modern stuff, for which single copies of the four volumes of "Songs of Fellowship" were duly procured, and from time to time we also have to mine the old copies of Hymns Old & New and other more "contemporary" publications - since the words are flashed at the Congregation via Power-Point projection, there is fortunately no need for more than one music copy of any of those. So, having gone from two books to one for ease of planning under the old regime, we're now on to 7+ books: Common Praise (for 9.30am Parish Communion, 11.00am Informal and 6.30pm Evensong) and Songs of Fellowship / Hymns Old & New / Come and Praise / etc (for 11.00am Informal).
  17. Magdalen College Oxford does its own take on "Choral Evening Prayer" at 6pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, the Order of Service being: Preces Psalm Gospel Canticle (or similar) Magnificat &/or Nunc Dimittis Anthem However, I'm remembering a service I attended years ago in Bill Ives' time; things could well have changed somewhat under Daniel Hyde. I believe Sheffield Cathedral did an experiment during Lent 2009 with Sunday Evensong, re-ordering it along the lines suggested by Common Worship, with a Gospel Canticle or Anthem but no Magnificat amongst other significant changes. Apparently it was well received and the Powers-that-Be there were keen to try again in 2010, although I don't know if they did so in the end...! When it comes to Matins, those few places maintaining it as a principal Sunday service on a regular or semi-regular basis have various different approaches, most of them depending upon the degree of congregational participation required. When I worked at Bath Abbey, there was no Venite - sung, chanted or said - and most Sundays the Te Deum was choral but the Jubilate was chanted so that all could join in. However, every so often the Jubilate would be sung to a choral setting, in which case the anthem was replaced by a hymn. (Must to the DoM's chagrin, the Responses were sung by all - Ferial - and the psalm was often joined in with by the congregation, such that all the hard work polishing it on the preceding Friday practice counted largely for nothing.) On the other hand, St Mary's Warwick (which has Choral Matins on the 1st Sunday of each month) includes all three canticles, with the Venite usually chanted; places such as Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral often use choral settings of the Venite in addition to choral settings of Te Deum and Jubilate.
  18. Has anyone mentioned Hull City Hall yet? There's a Tuba that one dare not use except as a solo stop, and then only fleetingly. (And don't even think about adding it to a chorus: you will probably blast a hole in the walls!) Of course, said instrument boasts an array of impressive and characterful reedwork, so that one is spoilt for choice when it comes to big noises.
  19. Wedding list from our place today says it all, really: Opening: Traditional * Hymn: All things bright and beautiful Register: Organist's own choice ^ Exit: Traditional * * sic ^ i.e. "we couldn't care less, just as long as he plays enough music to cover the short act itself plus 20 mins plus of photographer having his way with everyone at the registry desk..." On the flip side, the Church to which I'm heading next month has a wedding at which the Full Choir has been requested (in order to provide "Zadok the Priest" during the Register) and for which TWO opening and TWO closing voluntaries are needed to cover several hundred yards of procession and recession courtesy of bridal party and families! Make of both what you will...
  20. I'd simply say "do whatever fits the music best" - there are times when a trill can be worked out, but others when a mordent is all that can be achieved in the given location at the assumed tempo. Furthermore, one is at liberty to ignore certain ornaments or add one's own. The existence of alternative "ornamented versions" of Bach's Passacaglia and Canzona in d (in Barenreiter Vol. 7) goes to show that one can take things to extremes or keep them plain. After all, the distinction between composer and performer was not so clear cut in those days as it is now, so taking liberty with ornamentation would surely not have the composer spinning in his grave quite so much as ignoring the notes themselves...
  21. Shades of Messiaen, Gorecki, Cochereau and Gubaidulina perhaps? ... All dashed off with skill beyond his years, however!
  22. msw

    Sagrada Familia

    Having visited the ongoing work-in-progress that is Gaudi's incomparable Sagrada Familia in 2005, I've often found myself wondering what kind of organ would eventually be built for it, and indeed who would be awarded the contract. (I'm sure many others have too!) At last it appears there is a partial answer to that question. Though incomplete, the Sagrada Familia has now been consecrated as a minor basilica, by Pope Benedict in November 2010. A 2-manual / pedal organ was installed in the Presbytery (ready for use on that occasion) by Orgues Blancafort; it's the first of several instruments that will be placed at strategic locations throughout the basilica, obviously to try and overcome the tremendous acoustics in there! http://www.orguesblancafort.com/PRO-EN.pdf http://www.orguesblancafort.com/CARACT-EN.pdf There's already some footage of the instrument in use: The latter clip (from the consecration service) proves why multiple organs will be needed: it must have been hell on earth for the organist to try and accompany the choir from effectively the opposite end of the building! One wonders if the project will be completed in tandem with the basilica's own completion, due by 2026...?
  23. Indeed, although I'm sure I read somewhere that Widor was prevailed upon to be less serious (and more like his lamented predecessor) when he took over at St Sulpice, to which his response was something along the lines of "when I hear sermons preached in the style of the Paris Opera..."
  24. msw


    This piece is indeed remarkably fine and would make an excellent recital opener or finale! Lefebure-Wely was certainly a brilliant organist and did have a more serious side. I've played the Fugue in D minor from his "Meditations" which, apart from the chromatic sequence over the dominant pedal towards the end, does little to suggest that this is the composer of those Sorties which "sound like a fairground!" Herewith an excellent performance of said fugue:
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