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Vox Humana

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Everything posted by Vox Humana

  1. Vox Humana

    Can we all try a bit harder?

    I have this pinned to my tool bar, where it takes next to no room and is easy to access. I find it useful, although I have memorised the ASCII codes for the most common characters and find that method the quickest of all, if limited by what passes for my memory..
  2. Vox Humana

    Chapel Royal history

    But it's OK to disturb people during the voluntary.
  3. Vox Humana

    Chapel Royal history

    On the choice of music in the Chapel Royal, here are some entries from the cheque books: 19 December 1663: "The service shalbe appointed by ye Deane or subDeane or his subtitute, with advice of the Master of the Children, for such Anthems as are to be performed by ye Children of ye Chappell." 6 October 1726: "And to prevent disturbance, which is necessarily occasion'd by sending Messages backward and forward in the Chapel, during the Performance of Divine Service, the Sub-Dean, or some other Appointed by him, shall on every Sunday & Holiday make known to the Quire, and also to the Organists, before Prayers begin, what Service and Anthem shall be Perform'd for that time, & on all other days he shall make known the Same, during the Voluntary." 2 August 1859: "The anthem appointed to be sung, will not be changed without the authority of the Dean, or of the Subdean."
  4. Vox Humana

    Chapel Royal history

    Thank you very much for that, Wolsey.
  5. Vox Humana

    Chapel Royal history

    The rationale for calling the choirs of both St James's and Hampton Court the Chapel Royal probably owes something to history. Originally our monarchs were a bunch of unsavoury persons of no fixed abode. They were peripatetic and the royal household moved around with them. By early Tudor times there was a marked preference for residence at the palaces of Greenwich, Westminster and, under Henry VIII, Whitehall, while after the fall of Cardinal Wolsey in 1529, the king took his palace at Hampton Court. As the court's peregrinations settled down a bit, so, too, did the lay clerks of the royal household chapel. Most chose to live in Westminster, from where it was only a modest boat-ride down to Greenwich, but some chose to live elsewhere. Tallis, for example, lived in Greenwich. By contrast, the secular court musicians, a large number of whom were foreigners, preferred to live in London, often grouped by nationality. However, all who were required would still have to resort to boat or horse when the court moved to places such as Windsor or Richmond. The ancient history of the organists is very obscure. There seems to be very little evidence before the first "Cheque Book" was begun in 1561. Presumably the early Chapel Royal followed the usual medieval practice of allocating the task of playing the organ to any lay clerk who could play. But that's just a guess because evidence is lacking. Once information becomes available in Elizabeth's reign it is clear that there were three specific organists (who still would have been primarily lay clerks): Tallis, Blitheman and Byrd. Thereafter, when one of the organists died, he was replaced by another organist. There continued to be three organists up to the death of Purcell in 1695, then two up to the death of Sir George Smart in 1867, after which there was only one. This body of musicians is the one that eventually became associated with St James's Palace. Unfortunately, I have no information about the establishment of the separate musical institution at Hampton Court. I would be interested to learn.
  6. Vox Humana

    BBC studios and the organ

    I have no idea how the project is being funded, but it is probably unrealistic to expect a cash-poor public body to be able to fund a new pipe organ. However, I wonder why they are not relocating the Compton (assuming they are not). Playing Devil's advocate, I suppose that, for works with a prominent organ part, they could always hire a venue that does have an instrument, while for works in which the organ is just another member of the orchestra (e.g. Howells's Hymnus Paradisi; Holst's The Planets) a Hauptwerk set-up would suffice.
  7. Vox Humana

    Recitals for children

    I wasn't there, but I did have a reel-to-reel tape of the subsequent radio broadcast of highlights from the concert (which, with the benefit of hindsight, I think was a broadcast of the tape of the LP). As Paul says, it was clearly a lot of fun.
  8. Vox Humana

    Jean Guillou

    In the far-off days when I was a student I heard Guillou give a recital at the Royal Festival Hall. It was quite riveting, if idiosyncratic. He played his Sinfonietta, only recently composed, I think. I was very much taken with its structure, language and sonorities. Sadly few English organs are spiky enough to do it justice. Here's the first movement on an organ that suits it very well indeed and player ditto.
  9. Vox Humana

    Appointments 2

    I doubt that's what they are saying. I was just wondering what they do mean by this statement, which is about as specific as promises about Brexit.
  10. Vox Humana

    Appointments 2

    "...and a commitment to explore new ways of developing that tradition for future generations." Erm...?
  11. Vox Humana

    Recitals for children

    There's a concert organist known at least by name to everyone here who insists strongly on avoiding the word "recital" for his performances because of its stuffy connotations. While youngsters might not have any preconceptions either way, it still might be a good idea to find a more inspiring title for the event.
  12. Vox Humana

    Henry Ley

    Thank you very much! I thought that your book would have to be the earlier one. That presumably makes the weaker, OUP version a later revision - which I find very curious. There are actually at least four different versions of that last quarter in circulation, although whether they were all made by Ley I don't know. To my mind the strongest is Ley's first thought with the II7b for the antepunultimate chord.
  13. Vox Humana

    Henry Ley

    As I expect you will remember, that revised reading was retained in Sidney Watson's chant book of 1960. Is the book you have dated, Paul? Interestingly, Oxford Chant Book No.2 (1934), which was edited by Ley and Stanley Roper, has a different and much weaker final quarter and also alters the alto and tenor of the third chord to make it a first inversion dominant chord. I am wondering which version is older.
  14. Vox Humana

    Henry Ley

    The only person I know with that surname pronounces it "Lay", matching the pronunciation of the wetlands of Slapton Ley and Beesands Ley in Devon. Whether Henry of that ilk also pronounced it that way I have no idea. Can Rowland tell us more?
  15. Vox Humana

    John Joubert

    His hymn tune for Blake's "To mercy, pity, peace and love" in the Cambridge Hymnal is a wonderful little thing. I don't know that I'd use it as a congregational hymn tune, but it works a treat as a simple, short anthem for a modest parish choir.
  16. Vox Humana

    Musica Britannica

    Some forum members might be interested to know that Stainer & Bell have added a few more volumes to their sale of certain titles in the prestigious Musica Britannica series. The prices are still not cheap, but are very good value for what you get. There are one or two volumes of early keyboard music on offer and some of anthems and motets. I have just splashed out on the three volumes of S. S. Wesley's collected anthems, which are full of fascinating stuff I didn't know. https://stainer.co.uk/category/sale/
  17. Vox Humana

    John Joubert

    I'm sad to hear that, though it comes to us all. I don't think he ever really received quite the acclaim he deserved. His style is unique, but I'd guess that Britten was a strong influence and maybe Stravinsky too. Gloucester made a CD of his choral music which is a worthwhile purchase. There's a detached lack of sentiment in the pieces on that CD and, if that's typical, I wonder whether it counted against him.
  18. Vox Humana

    Buckfast Abbey

    I don't think I am breaking any confidences by mentioning this as the abbey are not being secretive about it and the information is circling independently on the grapevine, but I have been told by two sources within the abbey that they are currently seeking quotes from a range of organ builders for two new organs, a west-end instrument and a quire organ. Both my conversations were unfortunately interrupted so I have no further information. I do not know whether there will be two consoles or whether both instruments will be controlled from one. I would guess the latter since I do not see any need for two and I doubt there would be room in the west gallery (though I have never been up there). We will have to wait and see. Either way, it would seem, prima facie, to be goodbye to the Downes/Walker organ.
  19. Vox Humana

    Can we all try a bit harder?

    I'm fairly sure I remember it being on the grade 4 syllabus around 50 years ago.
  20. There is an interesting thread running in another forum about the standard of organ playing expected these days by conservatoires. Rather to my surprise, considering the general decline of interest in classical music amongst the general populace over the last half-century or so, it was suggested that entry standards are now very much higher than they used to be. I can't for the life of me work out why this should be, but of course it's excellent news. For organists it is apparently expected that you will be of at least ARCO standard and have already held an organ scholarship at a cathedral. It was said that, at an audition for an unnamed conservatoire, the transposition test one candidate was confronted with was a Bach piece from the grade 8 syllabus. If so, I'd say that's FRCO stuff, not ARCO. I note that the organ department at the RCM at least is very much smaller than it was fifty years ago and I wonder whether these facts are connected. All this highlighted just how much out of touch I am. Can anyone enlighten me further on the current situation?
  21. Vox Humana

    Appointments 2

    You are correct.
  22. Vox Humana

    Appointments 2

    I did gather from the gentleman in question that he is helping out there in an unofficial capacity as and when needed, although that seems to be most weeks. He does appear to be very content.
  23. Vox Humana

    The Queen's Speech

    No.
  24. Vox Humana

    Not Christmas Music

    I don't know of any organ piece that Howells wrote actually at Christmas, although the Fugue, Choral and Epilogue was finished about a week before Christmas in 1939. His Four Anthems ("O pray for the peace of Jerusalem", "We have heard with our ears", "Like as the hart", "Let God arise") were written in January 1941 while he and Dorothy were "snowed up", as he put it, in a rented house in Cheltenham.
  25. I didn't read "in the French manner, very much following the work of the 19th century builder Cavaille Coll" as implying a strict C-C clone. I have to say that there does seem to be an excess of flutes in this spec. Not sure what the logic is, unless the church has a particularly dead acoustic that needs warming up. If it were up to me I'd sacrifice one of the Solo ones (probably the 8') for a Cromhorne or Clarinet type stop, whichever would fit the style of the rest of the voicing.
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