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John Sayer

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Everything posted by John Sayer

  1. My views must seem hopelessly old-fashioned. There's no harm in thread drift on Facebook or Twitter, but on a specialist forum like this, where a certain standard of conduct is expected from contributors, then they should not abuse the privilege provided, as a matter of courtesy. (In the case to the two recent threads on Ripon Cathedral, some would say there is also the matter of courtesy toward the Dean & Chapter). I'm sorry to say the standard of discussion has deteriorated sadly over the last couple of years. It is surely no coincidence that the number of regular contributors (and postings, too) has declined over that same period. Reading the same verbose opinions of the same small group of mega-posters is, frankly, a bore. Other forums - orgue-l, to name but one - handle this so much better. With that - and with a further plea for serious discussion on this topic to move to a new thread - I bid forum members farewell. JS
  2. So sorry - I meant, thoughtLESSness, of course. Seriously though chaps, can we not behave a little more responsibly in such things? If not, I'm afraid, I do not wish to be a member for much longer. JS
  3. As the risk of repeating something I wrote on another page relating to Ripon Cathedral, would forum members kindly have the courtesy to start a new thread if they wish to take the debate off at a tangent like this. As a member of the congregation I object to views being aired under the heading of Ripon Cathedral which clearly have little if anything to do with the Cathedral, its worship and its music, and this entirely as a result of laziness and thoughtfulness on the part of contributors - and, predominately, regular contributors who ought to know better. Is it too much to ask for consideration and good manners in such matters? It's questionable, in any case, whether such discussion is appropriate in a specifically organ-related forum hosted by a leading UK organ builder. However, that is a matter I leave to the Moderator. As for the proper subject of this thread, members may be interested to know that the future of choral music at Ripon looks brighter than it did a couple of months ago. A new choir term has just started and the boys' and girls' choirs will be singing six services a week from now on. Full details can be found on the Music List on the Cathedral website. Everyone is working hard towards the new vision for the music in this holy place. JS
  4. Indeed. Totally risible, grotesque in its literal sense, ie. clownlike. I really don't think it's worth wasting any more words on a circus act like this. JS
  5. I seem to remember I got mine through Organists Review/Allegro Music. Durham Cathedral Choristers' Association seem to have it in their online shop at £20. The ref number is SCMA1001and you get an audio CD as well as the DVD.. See: www.durhamcathedralchoir.org.uk JS
  6. On a slightly different tack, there is, of course, the excellent DVD produced jointly by the Elgar Birthplace & St Chad's College, Durham, in which James Lancelot gives a masterclass on the Sonata, and suggests re-workings of one or two 'awkward corners'. The disk is also worth buying for the fascinating discussion on the genesis of the work by Prof Jeremy Dibble, Relf Clark, James L and others - not to mention a visit to H&H's works. For me it's probably the best organ-related DVD to have appeared for years. JS JS
  7. It's now clear that a number of builders seem to have used them at one time or another - Walker, Forster & Andrews included - so they are more widespread than I thought. Perhaps there were firms of key-makers, rather than organ builders proper, who specialised in them. JS
  8. Can anyone advise which builders, apart from Father Willis, used rounded sharps? I'm interested to know whether the Rev'd F H Sutton specified them in the organs he designed or was otherwise involved with. Although I'm not totally certain, I believe the following three instruments have this feature: Hoar Cross, Staffs (Bishop) Brrant Broughton, nr Newark (Wordsworth & Maskell) Stockcross, nr Newbury (Bryceson Bros) Another common factor, which may or may not be relevant, is the involvement of Bodley, as designer both of the church and of the organ case. JS
  9. You'll forgive me if I decline to be drawn into further discussion on the Ripon instrument: I've probably said more than I should anyway. Suffice it to say North Yorkshire folk are proud of this rather special instrument - a wonderful synthesis of Thomas Christopher Lewis and Arthur Harrison at their best - and are keen to see it preserved for posterity. Thank you all for the interest you have shown to date. May I suggest that general debate on organ restorations moves to a separate thread? JS
  10. Well, the BBC have given him not one but two Prom slots at the RAH, so they must be hoping for bums on seats. JS
  11. Cathedral organs have a heavy workload, being played for at least 2 hours on average every day, taking into account services, choir rehearsals and organists' practice etc. Roughly speaking they are thus in use for the equivalent of one whole month each year. On that basis, 30 years does not seem an unreasonable expectation, not least given that builders' guarantees are generally for a shorter period than that. I don't believe the Ripon organ has received more frequent attention than others, and some of the interventions at various dates have been quite limited in scope. The last major dismantling and rebuilding was in 1963 and cost £12,000. 1972 saw only minor stop changes. The overhaul in 1988 costing £75,000 dealt mainly with wear and tear (cleaning, new key contacts, ivories, selective releathering etc) with just one new stop, an Orchestral Trumpet 8. In 2000 a new mobile was donated by a benefactor. The proposed 2012 overhaul can be seen in many ways a re-run of 1988. (Note the interesting track record of inflation...) Building and archaeological work in the Cathedral over the last 20 years have not always been kind to the organ, but, apart from that, there are no special circumstances I can think of. As for typical working lifetimes, how does one set about defining such things? JS
  12. Arthur Harrison moved the Choir division from its original (Lewis) position above the player's head on the south side of the case - from where it must have sounded lovely in both nave and quire - to make way for a new Solo division. The Choir was was then enclosed in a new position above the stalls on the north side of the quire, receiving a couple of tonal changes in the process. H&H removed the enclosure in 1963, dispensed with a couple of 8ft stops, made the Lieblich Bourdon 16 also playable on the Pedal, thus making room for a Nasard, Tierce and Cimbel. Re-enclosure was mooted at an early stage of planning for the forthcoming overhaul, but later dropped, mainly on grounds of cost. There was also a wish to leave things as they are (with the exception of the unfortunate Larigot) and avoid the sort of continual 'fiddling' with the specification that seems to happen with each generation. The general consensus was that the £250,000+ raised from the Appeal would be better spent on sorting out the winding system and generally assuring technical reliability for years to come. The current intention is that the Coppel Flute 4 will remain - although one is tempted to do what Ian Bell describes as 'revoicing through re-engraving' and simply label it, harmlessly, Flute 4, the implication being that nobody would notice. JS
  13. It was Rossini, in fact. "M. Wagner a de beaux moments, mais de mauvais quart-d'heures". Is anyone else heretically inclined to 'mix'n-match' movements from different Rheinberger sonatas at times, to come up with a more satifying 3- or 4- course repast? JS
  14. The Cathedral website now has an announcement on the launch of a new Choral Foundation at Ripon - a positive and exciting way forward. JS
  15. Not impertinent at all. This not a major rebuild in any sense of the word, but a refurbishment aimed at giving the instrument another 25-30 years of reliable service. The total cost, including associated costs such as hire of scaffolding and temporary electronic instruments etc, will be around £260,000. JS
  16. I'm sure Ripon will find a suitable solution, as MM suggests. But that solution will have to take into its position as a city of just 16,000 souls in a rural situation, and with the impact of proposed changes in diocesan structure still unclear. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. JS
  17. As Project Manager for the overhaul of the Ripon instrument next year, perhaps I can put the record straight. Work will start after Easter and should be completed by mid-November. In summary it will comprise: a) thorough cleaning and repair of all pipe work; selective re-leathering of reservoirs and drawstop motors; c) reconstruction/rationalisation of the wind distribution system; d) refurbishment and updating of screen console parts of which are now worn out from continuous daily use since the last major rebuild in 1963. e) cleaning of the case (paid for by the Friends) There will be no tonal changes, apart from the replacement of Great Larigot 1 1/3 (1972) by a Flûte harmonique 8 in Lewis style and the recasting of Choir Cimbel III at lower pitch. The handsome nave console, provided by H&H, was a gift to the cathedral in 2000, the former 4m analogue Makin electronic having been disposed of shortly before. As part of the forthcoming work, it will be fitted with new wheels to allow it to be moved into the Quire for recitals. JS
  18. The anthem at the final Evensong of term a couple of weeks ago was Parry's Hear my words, ye people. It raised the roof and drew a spontaneous round of applause from the packed congregation, thereby marking the end of 52 years of the Choir School here in Ripon. An emotional occasion, but, at least at that point, there was every hope of the tradition continuing in the proposed merger with Cundall Manor School. The news that this has now fallen through has left us feeling sadly bereft, as you can imagine. JS
  19. Two friends of mine attended and were similarly enthusiastic. "One of those players you hear, and watch, and time stands still". Exciting, original programme played entirely from memory with quite remarkable technical control. Slightly provocative 'symphonic' rendering of BWV 543, but marvellously inventive, subtle and colourful use of all sections of the instrument in the Mendelssohn and Prokoviev transcriptions, as well as in the modern Canadian pieces. Most memorable, perhaps, as a recital refreshingly different from the normal run-of-the-mill offerings, the only slightly disappointment being the modest size of the audience. JS
  20. Just returned, mightily impressed, from Mlle Demers's recital here in Ripon - 'extra-ordinary' in the true sense of the word. 'Virtuoso' can sometimes be something of a backhanded compliment, but if taken to mean phenomenal technique combined with innate musicality, then it is a worthy accolade in this case. And not a trace of showmanship, unlike certain other virtuoso circus acts currently emanating from the other side of the Atlantic. The Laurin pieces and the transcriptions, particularly, were a delight, extracting some quite remarkable tone colours from the Ripon Lewis/Harrison, many of them refreshingly new even to one like me, who has listened to the instrument, in various guises, over the best part of 40 years. Do try to catch up with Isabelle - a charmingly modest young lady, too - at some point on her UK tour. JS
  21. I wonder if the NPOR reference was meant to be this one - N&B 1912 See http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N14751 JS
  22. I'm reliably informed by a friend that, in the first edition, no actual (i.e. pitched) notes are shown for this passage - only the semiquaver stems and beams. Perhaps someone could confirm? JS
  23. Sorry, one further point, if I may. How are you supposed to hold the crotchet B flat in the LH on the third beat of bar 22? You could thumb down, I suppose, if playing the melody on a upper manual - not what JSB would have done, I'm sure. Or maybe you should just let it go and not worry about it. JS
  24. Apart from the tempo, equally problematic, it seems to me, is the question of dotting. I realise 18c. notation is not always to be read strictly to the letter, but, if JSB goes to the trouble of writing demi-semi-quavers (3 beams) after the ornamented dotted quavers in the melody line, then we should play them as such and not smooth them out to semi-quavers (as on some of the recordings previously mentioned) - i.e. hang on to the E flat and the F in bar 1 almost as long as you can before the final turn - if that makes sense. Some distinguished scholars and players may think otherwise, but, to me this instinctively seems right. JS
  25. What an odd suggestion for a DOA to make! Worksop Priory has a 1/4 length Sordun: not very convincing, as I recall. JS
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