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Vox Humana

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  1. I wonder why St John's has taken the decision to go mixed, rather than have a separate girls' top line in tandem with the boys? It is, after all, one of the very top church choirs in the country and, so far as I know, it isn't bust, so why is it being fixed? The college surely could fund both if it wanted to, so there must be other reasons. Is it getting more difficult to attract boys? I'm sure most DoMs would say yes, but I would have hoped that the very top choirs would not yet be feeling the pinch. On the other hand, there is an obvious disadvantage in that two top lines get only 50% of the singing experience that a single one does.
  2. In this case the organ is directly above the cantoris choirstalls, so I’m not sure how much advantage a ground-floor console would confer.
  3. Indeed, Darius. I did consider that, but I doubt it very much. We were at the front of the nave (no screen), not very far from organ and choir. The choir may have been slightly more easily audible in the quire, but the difference could not have been much, if anything: the organ would still have been far too loud. The organist was simply using far too much Great Organ - especially for a lumbering, thick-toned H&H (although it was a magnificent instrument of its type). I think the others have already been put off: there was hardly anyone else there! It is, of course, the job of the choirmaster to control the balance, but I have known organists who take this very badly and one in particular who has been told many times by different people that he is playing too loudly, yet remains quite incorrigible. And how many organists have heard their own playing from the congregation’s position?
  4. I have just endured the most depressing experience I have had for quite some time - and when I say depressed I genuinely mean it. Mrs Humana and I have just been to a Choral Evensong in a large church in Lincolnshire. Good, spacious acoustic, fine H&H organ, well-tuned choir. Byrd responses, Walmisley in d minor, Balfour Gardiner Evening Hymn. Apart from the responses, which were insecure, the choir sang very pleasingly in the soft bits. They probably did so too at mf and above, but unfortunately it was impossible to tell for sure because they were completely drowned out by the organist. Even making allowances for circumstances (for all I know, Covid and other factors may have meant the choir was under strength) there was no need for sheer volume of organ used. It wasn’t that the organist couldn’t play. He or she was evidently a highly competent player. Perhaps he/she was only following the choirmaster’s orders, but, whatever the reason, it totally ruined the service. We might as well not have been there. This feeling was compounded, after a very well played voluntary, when Mrs Humana wanted to speak to the vicar, but we waited five minutes while she pointedly ignored us. You would have hoped that any vicar worth their salt would have welcomed visitors, but no. This was old-style Anglicanism at its worst. The whole experience left us feeling very depressed. We certainly won’t ever return here again. Essentially what we got was an organ recital punctuated by readings and prayers. It wasn’t what we went for and we took away nothing positive. This was yet another very competent organist who had no clue about accompaniment. Why?
  5. And a (belated) very happy birthday from me too.
  6. Thank you. I stand corrected. Can it also cope with the depleted wind required for Harmonies?
  7. Now that's something you can't do with a toaster, or with The-System-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Ditto this piece, which I rather like, and which underlines the point S_L made yesterday about originality.
  8. It's a rather lovely piece, whatever it is. My first thought was Delius, although it's nothing that I know. My second thought, given that the Launceston in question here is the one in Tasmania, not Cornwall, was to wonder whether it might be Edgar Bainton—but I'm not aware that he wrote any organ music and the style is probably a bit too chromatic for him. I suspect that this is an original organ piece and not an arrangement, although that's just a guess.
  9. I agree. We all make mistakes and even the presenters of old time could make them, but it's the general sloppiness that bugs me. In the days when the BBC was a public service provider and a standard setter, high standards mattered. Now that the focus is on entertainment and ratings, they don't so much. We now have Radio 3 announcers who, without the slightest respect for the listening experience, think it cool to barge in before the last chord has died away, who talk over the music, who apparently think that we long to heard their voices, and who behave generally like DJs. It's awful. Sorry. End of rant.
  10. Once upon a time, pretty much. These days, not so much. A presenter's personality is now more important than learning. What a contrast with the simple, factual; presentations of old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdNjQbtiGOA. That said, errors apart, I did think the presenter of this prom had a much better style than some.
  11. First of all, how do you get them to listen to reason? A couple of days ago I was talking to the organist of a remote village church (congregation c.20) which has a II/P organ of 11 stops by Anon. It's a rather lovely thing, thanks to the golden touch of the late Bill Drake, although I'm quite sure this wouldn't stop some organists replacing it with a digital instrument, owing to its lack of a 'proper' Full Swell, Tuba, Open Wood, 32' reed, etc., etc. It sits at the back of the church, in the north-west corner, its rear against the side wall. Immediately to the left of the organ, a doorway is about to be drilled through the west wall, to provide access to a toilet to be built onto the outside of the church. A kitchen is also envisaged. Inevitably this wall is several feet thick, so a lot of dust will ensue. Are there plans to cover or dismantle the organ to protect it? No. Also, there is complete disregard for the organist's complaints about the disruption around him that will be caused by stampede of the desperate during his voluntaries. He is trying to insist that the organ is not only dismantled, but turned through 90 degrees to put some space between him and the melée. I wish him luck, but I'm wondering where the church will find the extra money.
  12. Yes, the other two are Arietta and Elegy. All three are very attractive pieces. Melody is the easiest, but none of the three is difficult. If I recall correctly I ordered my copy through Musicroom. It was a reprint, but was stapled and of excellent quality.
  13. So is this now a hybrid organ? If so, why on earth? The original III/P pipe organ sounded more than adequate to my ears. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE7EaJ1TC9c
  14. I find it quite distressing to watch the increasing desperation of the C of E thrashing about in its death throes. As a musician I cannot but deplore this latest strategy, which will not do organists and quality church music any favours at all. However, from the ever-diminishing clergy's point of view, tasked with promoting the Gospel and bringing people to Jesus, what are they to do in this increasingly secular and anti-religious world? There is plenty of evidence that professional quality church music is well regarded and valued, but that on its own will not sustain the church. Perhaps this isn't a suitable topic for discussion on this thread, or even on this forum, but it is something that will affect both the ability of organists and singers to function as church musicians and, as pointed out, the survival of the instruments we play.
  15. I've no idea, but I thought the examples in the 1974 recording particularly tasteless. Sorry to be blunt, but IMO this sort of thing does nothing to enhance the words and nothing to enhance the music; it's just the organist saying, 'Hey! Look at me!' And I say this as one who is very much in favour of things like descants and colouring the mood of the words - but the accompaniment must never usurp the singing.
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