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Giles Williams

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  1. The point of posting this item was neither to make a national comparison not to in anyway belittle the abilities of Mr Walker who even at the American Cathedral has become a rather obscure historical character but rather to say wistfully that, had I been around at the time, I would have made a beeline for the ave George V. Of the six recitalists, I hardly think it contentious to say that the last four enjoy an enduring reputation internationally for their contribution to the organ repertoire. As a proud Brit living and working in Paris, the post was merely to state and share my amazement that such a concentration of talent could have been assembled during the course of a liturgical season, if it is construed otherwise, franchement, je m'en fous.
  2. A poster was recently found at the American Cathedral in Paris which was designed to publicise the Lenten series of free organ recitals in the building way back in 1949. The list was as follows; March 4 - Charles Doddesley Walker, Organist of the American Cathedral March 11 - André Marchal, Organist of Saint-Eustache March 18 - Jean Langlais, Organist of Sainte-Clotilde March 25 - Marcel Dupré, Organist of Saint-Sulpice April 1 - Olivier Messiaen, Organist of Sainte-Trinité April 8 - Maurice Duruflé, Organist of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont And all of the above in a church advertised as being heated! Posterity doesn't seem to say much about Mr Walker's competence or otherwise but the other five make for a pretty interesting line-up.
  3. So where should I go? I want good organ playing - spectacular if possible. Good singing would be a bonus (but in Paris? Even now?), though I would be very happy with some congregational plainsong. For a totally-biased option, you could come to the American Catheddral on Av. George-V where we will be singing the main morning service at 11h00 including Bainton's And I saw a new heaven during the service accompanied by our CC organ (admittedly much messed about). Details may be found at www.americancathedral.org. For a more authentic CC off the beaten track apart from those mentioned above, you could try Notre-Dame d'Auteuil in the 16e where Frédéric Blanc is in charge or alternatively St-Antoine des Quinze-Vingts in the 12e where I think Eric Lebrun is still at the helm. A total "leftfield" option would be Notre-Dame de la Croix in Ménilmontant, very near Pere-Lachaise (sorry no "e" grave accent on my QWERTY keyboard) Cemetery where there is a wonderful 2-manual CC. What ever you do, bear in mind that Toussaint is a public holiday here and, being in the middle of the school holidays to boot, some organists may have taken the time to go away. The websites of the churches are generally pretty reliable, so I would try and check on what is going on.
  4. Tunks was also involved in the 1921-2 "work" to the 1838 Hill organ of Christ Church, Newgate Street - designed by Gauntlett and played by Mendelssohn . In his book "The Organs of the City of London", Nick Plumley is scathing of this firms work "Tunks of Clapham began a process of destroying this most important historical instrument's integrity by throwing out upperwork from all departments and by adding harmonic trebles to the chorus reeds".
  5. Unfortunately he has not delved deep enough into Anglican choral repertoire deeply enough! Not only is " 'ave a banana" integral to the Greig but also to the Nunc of the Sumsion in G setting!
  6. It is a fabulous instrument which I had the good fortune to play in its' second home at Wynnstay Hall where I believe it was installed sometime around the 1870's and the G & D work was carried out. Unlike the rather dry atmosphere at the National Gallery of Wales, the hall in which it was located in Ruabon was cube-shaped complete with poloshed wooden floor and a panelled oak ceiling modelled on the Market Hall in Ghent. When the hall was empty of people, the instrument filled the hall with a quite beautiful sound. The trade-off of course was that it was located in a hard-up independent school where its' condition was fairly parlous and the casework very tatty and abused. When the school finally went mammaries-vertical and Wynnstay entered a period of limbo, there was a serious concern that the instrument might fall prey to petty vandalism or worse. Seeing it so resplendently restored in Cardiff gave me a great sense of joy that others too might hear and play it. The original home of the insrument was in St James' Square in Belgravia, which was designed by the Adam brothers along with many other furnishings for Sir Watkin Williams Wynn Bt (another splendid Adam case in London may be seen at Home House, Portman Square where, alas, devoid of its innards it now serves as a particularly handsome drinks cabinet!). A sister instrument also reputed to contain Snetzler pipework and that was built and cased by G & D was in the parish church of St Mary in Ruabon. Unfortunatley this was wantonly discarded in 1970 for a particulalry ghastly Compton electronic which in turn was replaced c 1987 by a second-hand Binns from a redundant church in Wrexham.
  7. Hi Ian, Many thanks for that. Coincidentally I had intended to go to the American Cathedral tomorrow so I shall endeavour to track Monsieur Tipton down! Thanks for that, Giles
  8. My wife and I have recently moved to Paris in connection with her job. Having now secured work for myself here, one of the other things that the ex-pat contact pays for is for me (somewhat unflatteringly referred to in the corporate bumpf as a "trailing spouse") to engage in some form of academic study. This allowance this has in fact been used by previous accompanying partners for a variety of, ahem, educational topics including golf lessons! Does any board member have any information as to who the best person to contact regarding lessons might be as I am interested in continuing my studies? Also, with regards to practice and such like, has anyone any idea as to whether there is a Parisian "organ society" as various Google searches have yielded "rien". I have made contact with one of the Anglican churches here though rehearsal time is very limited due to the fact that the church is in the basement of a residential block and the inhabitants complain about the noise of the organ especially in the evenings. Any help most gratefully recieved, Giles
  9. David Saint's posting I found particularly helpful - insofar as it has galvanised my view that I was not going to throw away £68 this year. Quite frankly, this forum and others like it have provided more enlightenment, greater amusement and more general enjoyment than I have gleaned from five years' membership of the RCO. As an academic body, its awards are to be respected but for those who have neither the inclination nor the time to work towards these, the fringe benefits of finding out what is going on where and by whom may be sought elsewhere. I rather suspect that the RCO (like the Organists's Review in current guise) has become rudderless and that its' best days are probably behind it.
  10. Giles Williams


    Granted, but Guildford Cathedral organ would probably not feature on too many peoples' "Desert Island Organs"!
  11. Further investigations have led me to find that it is being run out of a lock-up garage in Bermondsey.
  12. Giles Williams


    ...yn un o'r tîm cyflwyno rheolaidd ar y rhaglen gan ddarllen y newyddion yn ogystal â bod yn un o bartneriaid Terry Wogan ar ei sioe. Take it from me as a polyglot Taff, the literal translation of this is "..If Terry Wogan shows his face here again performing the Floral Dancel, I shall insert his stick microphone up his blankety-blank.." Coming back to the original topic, Michael Hoeg the asst at Llandaff really does get the best out of the old mongrel (rather like Geoffrey Morgan did at Guildford) proving the maxim that whilst impossible to polish poo, a bow may be tied around it!
  13. Apparently there is a new riposte to the original joke... Q. What is the difference between an organist and a terrorist? A. With a terrorist, it is nothing personal!
  14. The Penarth organl ain't half bad either though the Hill at St German's, Roath is in a better acoustic. Shame that HW IV could not avoid improving the Choir division alone at Roath in the mid 60s though...
  15. St Ouen is an absolute stunner - the Vierne recordings by Jeremy Filsell sound splendid on a recent release. However, having played both through a combination of passable French and bare-faced cheek, IMHO the St Sernin, Toulouse instrument is better still. Though marginally smaller, it really is the most amazing sound that I have heard and certainly played... Other favourites include St Sulpice, the Armley Schulze, the Kelvingrove Lewis and the Redcliffe Harrison. So as to assuage doubts that I am a total megalomaniac, I have very fond memories of the Snetzler/G&D in it's former home, Wynnstay Hall near Wrexham where it had a lively resonant hall in which to project. Now in the National Museum of Wales, complete with winsome Robert Adam case, it gave hours of delight to me as a teenager equipped with Old English Organ Music For Manuals editions 1- 978563. I am ashamed to say that I have not heard it in its new home though it does look stunning after Goetze and Gwynne worked their magic.
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