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Everything posted by themythes

  1. Thank you, John, for your advice. Yes, I have an excellent treasurer at my church, but I must pay due tribute to my dear wife who is much more clued up in money matters than I and who came to the conclusion to which I referred. My original intervention does seem to have opened up a can of worms and I hope that colleagues will be guided to the indisputable answer here. It would be sad if good intentions were to lead to one being frogmarched off to durance vile. David Harrison
  2. Thank you, John, for your advice. Yes, I have an excellent treasurer at my church, but I must pay due tribute my dear wife who came to the conclusion to which I referred. My original intervention does seem to have opened up a can of worms and I hope that colleagues will be guided to the indisputable answer here. It would be sad if good intentions were to lead to one being frogmarched off to durance vile. David Harrison
  3. Thank you, John, for your advice. Yes, I have an excellent treasuere at my church, but although I am a complete rabiit when it comes to money matters, may dear wife is most notand it was she who came to the conclusion to bwhich I referred. It does seem to have opened up
  4. Not a visual reference to the silver screen this time but a morsel which has stuck in my mind long after I saw the film “Surprise Package” with Yul Brynner as a gangster and Noel Coward a deposed monarch. The film was not in itself particularly noteworthy but one small section near the beginning remains fondly in my memory: the two characters were discussing the circumstances of the king’s overthrowing and his former majesty had just arrived at the part of the story where a bomb was let off, blowing up the cathedral organ. At this point the storyline was briefly interrupted; after the distraction had passed the king asked the gangster, ‘Where were we?’ To which came the reply, ‘You were telling me about the bit where some guy lobbed a pineapple in the juke box’ . . . David Harrison
  5. Thank you, Vox, for your advice. I did discuss this with the Church Treasurer but there was a problem; perhaps I should contact you with a PM to discuss it further. It seemed to me that it wasn't quite as straightforward as I would have liked in my own case. If I can arrive at a solution to the problem I will post it here in due course. David Harrison
  6. My own situation is a little unusual compared with other board members in that I draw from my church, of my own volition, no emolument of any kind save that of wedding and funeral fees. Vox is spot on. Again. David Harrison
  7. I have to agree with Vox on virtually all his judgements; although I've never been that impressed with Norwich. It suffers, like so many similar instruments from trying to face both ways while sitting on the fence. It sounds to me to be well mannered but bland and rather characterless. There are probably enough stops on it, however, to find a range of apposite noises from the ungodly flourishing like a grey bean tree to Og the king of Basan. I've always had very slight reservations about Salisbury but I must agree that one should not play Winchester immediately afterwards. Not recommended if you aren't actually totally stone deaf. I recall telling Andy Lumsden shortly before he took up his appointment that the Swell Fifteenth was quite a nice stop. I've no idea if he ever found out. Exeter is a marvellous accompanimental instrument and seems to work better as a screen organ than Norwich. And how refreshing, as a native of these parts, to read that someone on this board has heard the Tickell at Worcester and likes it. Last night I heard David Briggs give the first performance of his transcription of the Elgar Second Symphony. There seemed to be a lot of the swell reeds but then my hearing aids are as ill adjusted as I, and I couldn't really give an accurate description of the general effect, except to say that the Brigadier's famously formidable organ technique was liberally and brilliantly displayed. So many of our cathedral organs have been eulogised in the foregoing posts and it should be remembered that one is often reviewing the building as well as the organ. And I reckon, Vox, that as the organist of St Gs is an automatic member of the Cathedral Organists Association then St G counts, for our purposes, as a cathedral. Would you agree? But Vox is dead right; St George's has to be up there at very the top of the tree - a quite remarkable design with inspired voicing. They should all sound like that. David Harrison
  8. Surely you are not referring to the delightful Samantha; I thought her speciality was keeping scores rather than reading them . . . David Harrison
  9. I loved the "God is good to me" words from 'jonadkins'; It reminds me of another "hymn" that was quoted by someone else in this forum during a similar discussion in times past; "Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life". Now, that would be most satisfying to accompany. Shortly after my wife and I arrived in the village where now we live, we went to our local church to attend Harvest Festival. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the hymns included the line "Who put the hump upon the camel?" Fortunately someone noticed the error on the hymn board before my dear wife could carry out her threat of frog marching me out of the church. David Harrison
  10. All the foregoing messages contain a great deal of useful advice and the old adage “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” seems to be entirely apposite. However, I think Tony Newnham’s last point is well worth considering. If you were to approach a local organist or perhaps one of the organists at the cathedral in Norwich, it might well be possible to point you in the direction of someone who could give you immediate advice at the keyboard as you play. I hope that you will keep us all informed as to your progress - and good luck: as we have been told, playing hymns in such a way that the congregation can actually sing them is not necessarily the prerogative of the virtuoso! David Harrison
  11. Just a brief note to say that Adrian Lucas showed me the latest update to his new website yesterday and he has added several new items for our perusal; knowing Adrian as I do he will be adding more items to it as time goes by and therefore it could well be worth a periodic recheck! I have found that adding "Lucas" to "Acclaim Productions" in Google helps get the right one but I am told that this should shortly be sorted by Google. There are some nice new pictures of the Cathedral interior - views you won't normally see unless, of course, you are as high as a kite . . . . Fuller's ESB? Or am I hopelessly out of date? David Harrison
  12. I recall, many years ago, reading in a forward by Ralph Vaughan Williams written for one of the hymn books he edited a summary of that which he felt to be the overriding policy in the choice of music for the hymns contained in the book. My quote may not be exact, as I have been unable, despite many years of searching, to find again the hymn book in question, but one does not forget easily such as sentiment as this: “The man in the street does not like what is good, nor does he like what is bad; he likes what he is used to.” I do admit that it does, perhaps, tend to beg the question of who decides what is good or bad. However, leaving aside that and the questions of grammar and political correctness, as well as my own verbose opening sentence, it does seem to me to sum up what I, personally, feel about what sort of church music should be used, in my church, at least. Fortunately I am in the same enviable position as Handsoff, but so many churches these days seem to me to be unsure as to whether or not they are conducting a religious ceremony or merely providing Sunday Entertainment. So let me offer another little gobbet for you: “Let all mortal flesh keep silence and stand in fear and trembling; and lift itself above all earthly thought.” And we all know from whence that doth come. Incidentally, has anyone on the board come across the ‘Vaughan Williams’ quote? I am certainly not clever enough to have made it up! Salaam from this dyed-in-the-wool. stick-in-the-mud, out-of-date, boring old reactionary: David Harrison
  13. I was much intrigued by the various responses from forum members; several sub-threads spring to mind. The story about the British organist who forgot to take the music with him to America and played it all from memory reminds me the story of another of our distinguished British recitalists (no names, etc.) who was due to play for a concert somewhere on the continent. He, too, had forgotten his music and was not willing to rely upon his memory. There was no time for him to return and so he phoned his wife who faxed the numerous items over to him; in those days fax machines spewed out very limp sheets and so our hero had to do some thing PDQ. He raided the only stationer’s shop nearby that was open and found an album in which to stick the various pages. Imagine the reaction of the audience when they saw the featured virtuoso walk out on to the stage clutching a Snoopy album. An interesting point is made by drd. If the proverbial gun was pointed at me I would have to say, unwillingly, that sight reading is one of my few stronger points; I have been playing parts of Gregory Murray’s setting of the Mass for over ten years now, but I always have to have the copy in front of me. Drd is probably quite right; the better reader one is the less is committed to memory. The various stories about performers not being to get off the merry-go-round reminds me of the time that I chose to play the Brahms G minor Rhapsody from memory when I was at school. Having just made the repeat (the first time) I realised that my recollection what followed it was completely blank. What went through my mind as I played through again had much to do with bricks and next week’s washing; somehow I made it, but I have never played from memory since, unless I have had several large ones beforehand. David Harrison
  14. Back again: I do hope that at my own obsequies there will be plenty of opportunity for humour and the occasional belly laugh. Somehow, I felt that the genie would be out of the bottle ere long and I did enjoy Vox’s splendid list. It reminds me of the customer in the music shop who asked the person behind the counter for a copy of the Kodaly Buttocks Pressing Song. No one in the shop had encountered this singular masterpiece and much furrowing of brows took place. The customer was invited to call back a few days later. Still no one had found the piece he had asked for until another customer, overhearing the discussion wondered whether the piece for which they were searching was one by a Russian composer, Leonid Malashkin, whose piece translated into English as “(O) could I but express in song.” As Neddy Seagoon used to say, “I’m going.” David Harrison
  15. At my church, I am pleasantly surprised by the number of families who ask for “something cheerful”; I have played the March from the Occasional Oratorio sometimes. No list from me that would be of any interest to forum members except for one piece, that is, I am sure, no longer in print - “Air in C” by Arthur Somervell. It was published in an arrangement which put it up a tone into C major and is effectively a take off of the so-called Air on the G string of Bach. It was originally written for violin and piano in B flat and I have made my own arrangement for organ in the original key, which I think sounds better and follows more closely Somervell’s original text. I would be glad to make a pdf of it for anyone interested. I have used it for weddings, funerals and just as a simple pre service voluntary. It begins quietly and is marked to end “ff” but it is just as effective to end quietly. Adrian Lucas included it, in the C Major version, on his Priory disc at Hull City Hall some years back. Somervell’s music is, I feel, sadly neglected; his setting of the 23rd psalm using H.W. Baker’s paraphrase is a little masterpiece; his G major service deserves to be better known and his “Thalassa” Symphony in D minor also very well worth hearing - the marvellous second movement being, in the period between the Wars, as popular as Nimrod for “elegiac” occasions. I have an arrangement of this for piano by the composer and would be glad to send it together with the Air, if requested. Perhaps I shouldn't be flippant in the current context; we have all heard crem stories of "Smoke gets in your eyes" and "Keep the home fires burning" but a friend of mine told me once that, many years ago, she was convinced that she heard "Roll out the barrel" being played in Norwich Cathedral at the end of a funeral service. No, it wasn't him. If the two Somervell pieces are of interest, send me a PM and I will see what I can do. David Harrison
  16. themythes

    Mouse hand

    First of all, may I thank all those who have sent in most helpful and illuminating posts; it seems that there are all kinds of different problems which can afflict those of us who rely both on our computers and on our keyboard skills to see us ‘through all the changing rooms of life’. I consulted my doctor who professed himself unsure as to the exact cause of the difficulty but like several of our correspondents, he felt that the nerves in the arm near the elbow seemed to get the nod. He did say that, according to that which I told him - no pain but tingling sensations, he felt that it was most likely to be nerve ends, there was no cause for alarm and that it was also likely that it would get better eventually if slowly. I was advised to keep him up to date with progress, and, of course, I shall. Ick1508 appears to have had much the same sort of problem as I and I reckon that the discomfort should be gone over the next two or three weeks. There may be those who might bridle slightly at my doctor’s diagnosis or apparent lack of it but I must emphasize that I have experienced no pain at all with this condition and therefore he felt that it was not muscular in origin. I can well understand that one would need to be extremely careful if this were the case. Two organists of my acquaintance have suffered with related problems which turned out to be muscular and eventually, with the right treatment all was well. Last Sunday I had to manage the hymns with only three digits of the right hand; I am fairly confident that by next Sunday I shall be able to cope pretty well normally. When I can barge my way happily once more through ‘Dieu parmi nous’ I will inform you so that you can all arrange to be out of the country at the time. Thank you all once again. David Harrison
  17. themythes

    Mouse hand

    I am unsure as to whether or not this matter has been covered before but I confess that I have not noticed any previous reference to the topic outlined below. I have been using a computer regularly since Windows 3.0 (1990/1), which, of necessity, has involved much use of the right hand for control of the mouse. I have, occasionally, had feelings of discomfort along the 5th finger of my right hand, together with the right edge of the palm; usually the discomfort takes the forms of numbness accompanied by a strong tingling sensation, akin to a very light electric shock. Usually, transference of the mouse to my left hand for a week or two has produced the required effect and my right hand has, eventually, been ‘restored to life and power and thought’. Over the last ten days, the numbness has returned, this time with a vengeance and making it impossible to use a piano or organ keyboard to anything the extent I could manage hitherto. It is possible that some of the medication that I take may have affected these bodily extremities, and no doubt my medical advisor will confirm or deny my diagnosis. So many church musicians use a computer regularly and I wondered if anyone here has suffered similar difficulties; if so what remedies do they recommend? I know that one of two of our contributors are medical experts themselves and may well have an answer. David Harrison Post scriptum: I have just returned from the morning service at church, which I accompanied on the piano. I sense that some of the numbness is beginning to ease off, though in truth, any improvement is so minimal that it may be my imagination at work. It is amazing, however, what can be achieved with just the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand. Even when you are playing the piano.
  18. themythes


    Do I detect a certain lack of enthusiasm for the organs of Percy Daniel? I certainly have not played or heard them all, but undoubtedly one of the finest small organs I have ever encountered was, although a rebuild by them, by far the most successful extension organ in my experience. Regrettably, it is housed in a building which is not open to the general public - the chapel of Papplewick School in Ascot. I was DoM there for 21 years, following Geoffrey Morgan, who designed it. The specification is to be found in NPOR and is worth careful study. I would agree that the Great 8 and 4 flutes, extended from the pedal Bourdon can sound rather dull and the diapason chorus is cheerful without reaching the heights of Willis or Hill; nevertheless, as an instrument for accompaniment it was unsurpassed for its size, with a 16/8ft reed on the swell to kill for. I have always felt it to be the ultimate in design for a small parish church organ. I should also add here that after work done in 1988 there are now 6 pistons per manual and 6 generals with 8 levels of memory. I may well have mentioned it before in this forum, but I would have thought any organists’ association planning a visit in the Ascot region would find the school authorities helpful, the present DoM having come from Inverness, where he was organist of St Andrew’s Cathedral (before the Makin, which was installed under the guidance of his successor, a former member of the Papplewick music staff!). The organ is very well worth a visit. Both Fr Patrick and MM hit the nail on the head, as usual, though I must register some reservations about some of the points raised by Hecklephone. It’s all very well telling the organist to get on and make do with whatever instrument is found in the church; it may well be wise and even admonitory advice that you offer, without doubt, especially if you don’t have to do it yourself Sunday after Sunday. The organ in my own church is quite a sweet toned instrument, while not being anything like worthy of a BIOS certificate; sadly, the action rattles, the pedal naturals are worn through and the only reed is a very unpepperpot oboe - I’ll leave others to guess what sort of pot comes to my mind on the rare occasions that I draw it. Much of the time I use the grand piano to accompany the services and always for the choir items; far from anyone minding, they seems to prefer it in many ways. On the occasions that I have played the Worcester Cathedral Rodgers, I have thought, wistfully, that the noises it produces are so very much better than the ones I have to put up with on our organ. We are, sadly, too poor a parish to contemplate any sort of change in the foreseeable future, so the purist brigade can relax, comforting themselves with the knowledge that I shall continue to be saddled with an organ which is almost impossible to use for proper practice and very limited for the sort of music that I would like to play. David Harrison
  19. First rate advice from MM; I hope that many others will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest! David Harrison
  20. Many thanks, MM; maybe one day I shall able to to return the compliment! David Harrison
  21. Does anyone know whether or not any arrangement for organ or piano exists of Elgar's Coronation March Op 65? Michael Kennedy rates it as less interesting than the Imperial March Opus 32, written for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee: nevertheless, I think it could be most effective, like so much of Elgar's music, on the organ I have only recently become aware of this splendid piece would like to add it to my modest repertoire but I can find no suggestion of the written music, in any form, being available on Google. I assume that it has been published in its original orchestration, but there is no sign, as far as I can discern, of this. If there is anyone who would be kind enough to point me in the right direction, assuming that there is one, I would be much obliged. David Harrison
  22. The suggestion that the original orchestral accompaniment of the Brahms anthem be studied while preparing the organ reduction is a quite excellent one. There are a number of pieces in the “standard” repertoire that started life with orchestral accompaniment or acquired it later. Parry’s “I was glad”, Ireland’s “Greater Love” and a whole host of Stanford numbers, especially the canticles, make for fascinating listening in the orchestral versions, with subtle and not so subtle differences. Other examples will, doubtless, occur to forum members. The opening of “Greater Love” is subtly different to the organ version and the start of the last section has a lead from the horns, I think, which absolves the altos from the tedious business of having to find the note out of the air. Those Stanford canticles which have alternative orchestral accompaniments are very well worth studying; an arrangement of the B flat evening canticles has been made by Adrian Lucas for the Worcester Cathedral Choir and broadcast not so long ago. Of course, there will be those who feel that the organ parts in these pieces should be played exactly as the composer gave them to us; fine, of course; it’s a free country. For myself, I find that the orchestral versions, where practical, frequently offer accompaniments which are tuppence coloured as opposed to penny plain, especially as far as Stanford is concerned. David Harrison
  23. There has been already a significant number of 'choral' topics and I do not recall any adverse reaction from the Mander moderator. Most of us here, I contend, spend much of our time playing the organ in the context of the church service and the vast majority of organs are, surely, designed with choral accompaniment as a significant aspect of the overall plan. I hope that a section for the choral side of things might be thought useful. And while I'm on the line, would I be treading on too many toes if I suggested that 'The Organ and its Music' and 'Nuts and Bolts' should merge under the former title, with a new third category 'Church Music and the Organ', although I'm sure many others can think up much snappier titles. Translation of the above dose of verbal diarrhoea: sign me up! David Harrison
  24. Pcnd5584 makes an interesting point about the placement of couplers; I agree with his suggestion that they should be placed with the department which they augment. I have my own special bee which buzzes through my capacious bonnet in respect of general pistons. Is there anyone who has thoughts on where they should, ideally, be placed? My own feeling is that they should be found, wherever possible, on the left of the keyboards - Chichester Cathedral organ being an admirable example. Where this is not practicable, placing them in the centre, above the top keyboard works well enough; Willis, among others, seems to adopt this approach. However, I do find general pistons on the right very awkward to manage and I wonder whether there is anyone out there who can convince me that this is a good idea. I accept that for recital work it may not matter all that much, but in service accompaniment the left hand is almost always more available than the right. They were placed on the right of the solo keyslip on the old console at Worcester and I found the operation of them to be nothing short of a major nuisance; it didn’t help that there were only six! The new console has them over manual 4, a la Willis; I imagine that this is more comfortable than before, but I can’t speak from practical experience as I have never played the thing. I really must try and make every effort to effect an introduction to the Master of the Choristers. . . . David Harrison
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