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Mander Organs


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Everything posted by themythes

  1. In response to pcnd5584: I heard the organ almost entirely from the organ console - I was trying to hold Adrian’s music up straight as the music desk was out at the time for adjustment! Thus it would be difficult for me to offer a judgement upon the way that the organ does or does not fill the cathedral, though Pierre’s point about its height is, I think, a telling one. What little I was able to hear of the undulating stops on Swell and Choir, together with other quiet stops suggest that the delicate effects that we all enjoy in the psalms, together with the mood setting so necessary in the Anglican repertoire will be there in abundance. Don’t forget that in the fullness of time there is planned a sizeable two manual and pedal department in the Scott case in the transepts; however, it has been my understanding that the quire organ has been designed to be of maximum effect in the chancel. Doubtless you will be able to hear it well in the nave, but I’m not sure that it has been designed to permeate throughout the whole cathedral. Hence the transept organ and the west end plans. Now if I’ve got that wrong I can expect a thorough ticking off from Adrian, who will then put me and the rest of us right! It has to be said that each of us will have to make up our own minds about the new instrument and I, for one, will be most interested to read of members’ reactions to it as the months go by. It won’t suit everybody, I’m sure, but I am positive that for most it will be as charming as my fat black cat Archie, and unlike him on a bad day, it won’t bite you. Forgive me, if you will, repeating myself - one of my many failings, but I’ll say it again: the view from the west end really is simply stunning! David Harrison
  2. My experience of playing the organ so far has been limited to a brief couple of minutes, but I can assure any doubters about the console that the action is as crisp and regular as one would wish it to be. Yesterday Adrian played through a few old favourites to give me some idea of how it sounds: a couple of movements of Vierne 1, a Bach Trio sonata and a chorale prelude complete with cornet separe and tremulant, and the fugue from the Reubke. Never did the full organ sound oppressive and both blend and balance, to my ears at least, were outstanding. The pedal 16 and 32 reeds are, in my opinion, absolutely magnificent, as indeed are those on the great. In the trio sonata, which I was able to hear from the chancel, just an 8ft flute and the fifteenth for one of the manuals filled the space in a quite remarkable way - I don't recall exactly what the other manual registration was but again the balance and depth of tone were exceptional. I am sure that forum members, who seem to contain a large number of experienced and accomplished organists would find no trouble acclimatising quickly to the console. Finally, if you are visiting the cathedral, try to enter by one of the doors nearest the west window; go to stand under the window and then look up the nave to the quire. The sun, if it is shining picks out the silver and gold of the pipes and casework beautifully and the new cases can already be seen very clearly. It is truly a sight to quicken the pulse of any organist! David Harrison
  3. I am grateful to jonadkins for starting a new thread on the subject of late brides; I know I should have done it myself, but unfortunately I haven’t used the forum enough yet to work out how to do it. It is interesting to read of such uniform agreement on the subject, even from our ordained members; clearly, it is incumbent upon organists and clergy to impress upon those planning weddings to take the question of arrival time seriously. A more irritating situation occurs when one plays as a guest organist at another church that may not be quite so on the ball as one’s own church. At present I stop playing 5 minutes after the advertised starting time; one distinguished organist of my acquaintance stops precisely on the appointed hour. One can always segue into “Why are we waiting” (not much use at Christmastide); are there any other examples used by fellow members that might be useful? I suppose that one could adapt an idea of S.S. Wesley and simply hold a C major chord on full organ for as long as it took for the bride to turn up. The threat of this, especially if demonstrated beforehand, could concentrate the hearts and minds of the bridal party most effectively. Of course, there are other chords which could be even more effective. David Harrison
  4. Peter Clark has touched on a matter which frequently exercises me; generally I try to provide any kind of wedding music that is feasible on the organ or the piano – it is their day, after all - and while I sympathise totally with colleagues on the question of illicit recordings, is there anyone out there who gets as irritated as I do by brides who are often considerably more than 5 minutes late? How often do we hear the plea that it is “traditional”? When one of my daughters was to be married in one of our great English Cathedrals, I was instructed to get her to the church in time and be ready to step off from a prearranged spot at a specific point in Parry’s “I was glad”. This had been paced out by the groom to make sure the bride was in the correct place by the final chords. We managed it perfectly despite the bride’s mother having fallen in the cloisters five minutes beforehand and broken her ankle! In one church where I used to deputise regularly, there were often weddings throughout the afternoon on the hour like a conveyor belt; the vicar would give the strictest instructions to the bride to be on time, because if she wasn’t she would miss her wedding; there was invariably another one, like the proverbial omnibus, right behind. Several got postponed in this way, I believe. Does anyone have a good way of dealing with bridal tardiness in a diplomatic manner? David Harrison
  5. With reference to your original posting of June 2nd, I have traced a copy of this broadcast which ought to be of good quality. If you can email me individually - I'm sorry I am not sure how to contact you directly yet; finding general cancel usually freezes my braincell - I would be willing to put you in direct touch with he who has the recording on his hard disc; that is, assuming that you haven't already solved the problem. David Harrison
  6. This https://www.guildmusic.com/reviews/rev7215z.htm might prove interesting. I have the disc and can endorse Daniel Moult’s review. David Harrison
  7. Is this any good? David Harrison http://afortmadeofbooks.blogspot.com/2007/...-j-hopkins.html
  8. Coe Fen does seem to be one of the “in” hymns at the moment and I do admit that it has a fine sweep to most of it; but does anyone out there share my puzzlement at the gratuitous extra bar at the end of the third line of music? Very uncongregational, I feel and I am at a loss to understand what musical purpose it serves. Doubtless there are countless contributors who will be kind enough to try to explain to this village organist what he has failed, apparently, to grasp. Ooh-arr. David Harrison
  9. I can confirm pcnd’s story about Michael Austin’s appointment. The Rector and PCC were advised principally by Antony Brown, then Director of Music at Canford. There had been a close association between Canford and the Minster as the posts of Minster Organist and Assistant DOM at the school had been combined. Tony Brown was a keen Bach enthusiast and it was he who suggested the A minor to Michael. In those days, mid sixties, I shared the duties of Assistant Organist with another Canford staff member and was, in fact, asked if I was interested in the post when Michael left. I was unable to take up the offer and Barry Ferguson was appointed, at which point a change of job removed me from the scene. Michael was and still is an accomplished organist, even if he had a tendency to wear a hair shirt occasionally. For a while the swell shutters were removed to allow better egress of sound, though this didn’t last too long. He ran an excellent choir at the Minster and it is no surprise that he has transported a little bit of England to Denmark. David Harrison
  10. Has any topic elicited such an extensive response from so many in so short a time? As a former employee of independent schools I am unable to comment upon what goes on or not in the state sector; I was lucky enough to find an excellent Church of England grammar school for my daughters very close to where I lived in Berkshire which had an excellent music department, but it does seem that this tends to be the exception rather than the rule. I can, however, say with certainty that there are many prep schools that take both their religious observance and their choral singing seriously. At my own school, Papplewick, in Ascot, we sang an anthem every Sunday and the two choirs each sang choral evensong twice a term. In addition we would visit a cathedral each term to sing evensong as well as giving concerts in our locality. It is always difficult to know how much has ‘stuck’ with one’s pupils, but when one hears those choristers, usually the rugger buggers in the choral midst, who voted Naylor’s Vox Dicentis and the Hallelujah Chorus as their top hits, one feels that perhaps a seed has taken root. How much sticks later on in life is virtually impossible to know, but at least one has tried. Other prep schools known to me manage equally gratifying results; just a drop in the ocean perhaps, but better than nothing! Of course, you may well ask how this state of nirvana came about and I would be the first to pay tribute to everyone else in the school – headmaster, teaching staff and music staff – not forgetting those who had taught and established music in the school before I arrived (I have covered this elsewhere in these hallowed portals) . The ethos of the school seemed to be that it didn’t matter whether you coached games, drama, music or any other activity – if you did it properly space, time and encouragement was found for you. Which doesn’t really help others in this topic to solve the problem nationwide. I’ve no answer to that, except what many would consider a cop-out – keep an eye on the Time Ed Sup Independent Section. Banging one’s head against a brick wall is lovely when you stop but it doesn’t really provide lasting job satisfaction! Incidentally, we didn’t neglect the instrumental activities; I have a very pleasing recording of Nimrod which I made myself, played by the school orchestra. Works well in D major – it’s worth a try. I hasten to add that the current Director of Music at Papplewick, who was formerly organist of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Inverness, is doing a marvellous job and, I am sure, has no plans to jack it in the foreseeable future! David Harrison
  11. At the boarding school which I infested as a spotty teenager, it was the custom, each summer, to present a short series of choral and instrumental concerts in the chapel towards the end of the summer term. This particular summer (early fifties) was very hot and even though we were coming up to nine o’clock in the evening, singing was very hard work indeed. We have all taken part in many performances which have either gone up a semitone or so, or down by a similar margin; many pieces will start, for example, in G and end up in A flat, but surely it can’t happen often in Mendelssohn’s “Hear my prayer”. Nevertheless, I bet MM can equal or cap that! DRH
  12. The harvest of Sidney Campbell stories seems to be a fruitful one and the experiences of Vox Humana, especially, make for very entertaining reading; one looks forward keenly to the final results of all of these anecdotes, at some stage, in Churchmouse’s compilation. The organist at Bristol Cathedral when Canon Edmund Fellowes was precentor found himself in a legal tussle with the Dean and Chapter; the case, having gone to court, was won by the organist, who returned to the Cathedral, choosing for the voluntary after evensong “Fixed in his everlasting seat” from Handel’s Semele. But surely the palm for eccentricity should be awarded to the former organist of Truro Cathedral, Guillaume Ormond (1929 - 1970). I’m sure it was Gerald Knight (whose name I mention, not as an unreconstructed name dropper, but merely to suggest the veracity of the story) who told me one or two yarns about this gentleman. As is on record that the detached console did not appear until 1963 and thus Ormond was marooned upstairs for much of his tenure. It was possible to view some parts of the organ loft from the choirstalls and the dean was surprised, one day, to glance idly upwards during one of the spoken parts of the service and thus chance to espy bacon and eggs being fried on the organist’s bench. On another occasion, it transpired that Dr Ormond had absentmindedly taken all the copies of the anthem upstairs to the loft and discovered his mistake during “Lighten our Darkness”. It was far too late to go downstairs and so the whole lot was jettisoned over the side. There must be more stories about this marvellous man; does anyone out there know any more? DRH
  13. That's odd, because I have the strongest recollection of having been told the story by Dr Wicks himself; "you pays yer money . . " The story of Campbell hauling the corpse off the organ seat sounds so wonderful that one wishes it were true; but I think it probably isn't. However, I do recall him telling me that he was visiting Dr Conway in the Isle of Man to where his predecessor had retired. SSC was taken by the Conways for an afternoon spin in the car and they chanced upon a way side restaurant which looked suitable enough for afternoon tea. The proprietor, as he saw them approach, jumped up and immediately wound up an enormous horn gramophone and started a record, only to be greeted by Dr Conway with "Oh, do turn that off; we none of us like music!" May I be forgiven the smallest of points in respect of the correspondence about Sidney Campbell: he greatly disliked having his name spelt with a "y"; it was always "Sidney", though he could be very formal about those who were invited to address him informally; I never was. Do keep the stories about him coming, though; without doubt one of the last of the great ecccentrics. DRH
  14. Everyone own up: how many have ever so slightly raised response notes a tone. Or Two. Or, for the real meanies, three? In reply to the question originally put by Churchmouse (yes, I've forgetten how to cope with quotes, dammit): I can't recall doing this myself, but it does remind me of a singularly disturbing story about a visiting choir at Chichester Cathedral in the days of the old Allen. I don't know how Allen manages the question of transposition these days, but then it was done by a rotating knob which took one up or down according to taste. In the interval between rehearsal and service some of the younger members of the group found their way into the organ loft and pushed, pulled and twiddled every commodity in sight. You don't really need me to continue with this saga, do you? Walmisley in D minor must have sounded very continental; let's hope they didn't have to do the 15th evening either. DRH
  15. Found myself playing for evensong at Winchester one Sunday afternoon many years ago for a choirmaster whom I didn't know. The pipe organ was having major things done to it and we were provided with the ubiquitous (in those days) Allen. I was happily Murrilling away in E major and we arrived at the Gloria of the Nunc Dimittis. Honest, guv, I really did think that I had pre-set the biggest solo reed available on the choir for the fanfare bits at the start, but something had clearly gone wrong: all I and everyone else got was the choir 2 ft piccolo - charming no doubt, novel indeed, but I wasn't asked again. DRH
  16. Anyone fallen asleep while actually giving the recital? DRH
  17. Quote - Slight tangent, but lying awake in the small hours with a bad cough, set me thinking, when did the trend for the No.1 to conduct and the No.2 to accompany, start? - unquote I've come in slightly late on this thread and despite some careful coaching from my local cathedral organist I haven't yet mastered the art of managing quotes. I think it is probably unlikely that one would find an earlier example of separate conducting and accompanying than that of Michael Howard at Ely (1953 - 1958). IMHO he, together with Sir David Willcocks, was one of the most influentail choirmasters of the latter half of the 20th century. His book "Thine adversaries roar" is one of the most interesting books that I have chanced upon in recent times; an "apologia" of the highest order and a fascinating insight into the mind of one of the most interesting characters of Anglican Church music. It's published by Gracewing Press 0 85244 530 X, and appears still to be available; don't miss it! DRH
  18. I’m David Harrison, nearly 70, and a retired schoolmaster. I had a conventional education: Bishop Wordsworth in Salisbury; Brentwood, where I first learnt the organ with Edgar Brice, and the Royal College of Music which was combined with a residential course at the RSCM HQ in Addington. There I came into contact with such luminaries as Gerald Knight, Cyril Taylor and Sidney Campbell. Contrary to ubiquitous perception any sign of current schizophrenia was probably not down to my RCM teachers - Ralph Downes and Harold Darke; instruction from them both was memorable though I have always regretted not taking better advantage of their justly fabled skills and scholarship; no, I was just too dammed idle. A short spell as assistant at Manchester Cathedral is a period of my life of which I am not particularly proud, having lasted there only six months; at the time there was a potential wife to be courted in London. I chose a wife over a potentially glittering and star studded career and eventual marriage to her brought the curse and necessity of regular and steady employment. I spent the rest of a very happy working life teaching music in prep schools such as Brambletye, Sandroyd, Craigflower near Dunfermline, where I was for 4 years organist of the Abbey Church, and finally Papplewick in Ascot. There I found a school that took its church music seriously: a fine chapel, a brilliant Percy Daniel organ and a full time organist; in latter years an outstanding player, Gareth Price, who was both a Durham organ scholar and an FRCO. In addition I inherited a very high musical standard that had been set by my predecessor, Geoffrey Morgan. Following such as he was an unenviable task; whether or not I managed it is not mine to judge, but I did make a good friend for life and I much enjoy reading his contributions to another organists’ chat room to which many of you contribute. Retirement has brought us to an idyllic village near Worcester so that my wife and I can be close to our eldest daughter, one Mrs Lucas by name, whose husband is, she tells me, an organist somewhere in the vicinity. He and I avoid talking shop and almost always discuss other matters of mutual interest such as food, alcohol, motor cars, hi-fi, photography, anything scientific and, of course, our favourite subject – computers: nerds of the world, unite. In fact, I did act for a few traumatic weeks in early 1998 as his assistant at the cathedral just before Daniel Phillips arrived; I was very relieved to hand my keys over to Daniel. Was it not Beethoven who said to a less than expert lady pupil: ‘Madam, you will have to practise long and faithfully before you realise that you can’t play’? I did and I couldn’t. I managed somehow to scramble an FRCO in ‘younger and happier days’, winning, very incidentally, the Dick Turpin prize for Highway Robbery; now I while away my time dribbling in my bathchair and playing a small 2 manual Nicholson at a nearby village church, St Edburga’s, Leigh, where we have an equally small but enthusiastic choir, most of whom are on the PCC (sic), together with a vicar who understands the enhancement that choral music can bring to the church services. They all know that no one is going to be remotely interested in my job if I left and while no one is bullet proof, I do feel the weight of the ball and chain on my ankles. However, it doesn’t make the slightest difference to my pedal technique; I can still get the boxing gloves and skis on for each service. I am sorry if this epistle makes Mr Blunkett’s Memoires seem, in comparison, like a thoroughly riveting read (no, I haven’t, though Private Eye rates it very high), but if you’ve managed to hold on as far as this, you, too, deserve a prize.
  19. Was not this thread originally about the Great and Pedal combinations coupled stopknob? Rightly or wrongly, it appears from ensuing replies that it probably spends much more time drawn than not; thus, surely, it should be Gt and Ped combs UNcoupled. I considered this approach many years ago when organist at Dunfermline Abbey; I never got round to it, but it seemed to me to be at least tidy, if nothing else. David Harrison
  20. In fact I had it from Sidney himself that it had also happened at Ely. One of the weekday 'standby' anthems was a piece entitled "I will arise" by Robert Creyghton. Usually SSC would put this one down when he was away and it would be rehearsed and directed by the assistant (possibly Dr Wills - I don't know). It seems likely that whoever it was preferred to conduct the piece in 4 rather than the 2 indicated; Campbell was, presumably, unable to rehearse the piece beforehand and began it in 2, assuming . . . . The trebles were fine but altos, tenors and basses quickly found themselves in a parallel universe and despite several restarts were unable to rescue the disaster. Campbell turned to the precentor, growled "we've had the anthem", tore up the music, scattered it as the hoar frost twixt the choir stalls and walked out. Apparently the bishop was present and asked SSC afterwards," What happened in the anthem?" "Nothing," was SSC's succint and factually accurate reply. David Harrison
  21. New boy here: apologies for gatecrashing the party. The idea of an appraisal in most churches really does seem to be a case of taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but if one’s church is paying a fairly generous whack then some sort of dialogue between the department heads and the (notional) management seems not unreasonable. Nevertheless NS’s experience (wherever it was) does suggest that nasty things in the woodshed can manifest themselves even in the most upmarket of venues. In fact, a friend who was also on the music staff at NS’s church in Gloucester (whichever one to which we’re referring) had a very similar experience. The calm and measured approach of lucas.org ought surely to solve most problems real or imaginary; his template reminded me of another friend who was handed appraisal forms by a headmaster hell bent on destroying yet another Amazonian rain forest. In answer to the question “What do you consider your weaknesses?” he wrote “Apple crumble, beaujolais nouveau and my inability to spend my time filling in forms like this”. Whether or not you adopt a similar approach is for you alone to judge. David Harrison
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