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Everything posted by justinf

  1. Thank you all for your replies. This board is as always a great wealth of information and I do appreciate it. The St. Matthew-in-the-City organ looks to be a very interesting project! One of my (non-musical) coworkers happened by while I was looking at the construction pictures and was floored by the quality of the wood and millwork. My first post ought to have read "Compton Polyphone" not "Diaphone" (since corrected). I blame the ghost of R H-J. It does seem a strange collaboration, Holtkamp and Compton, but I suppose it's a warning to anyone trying to pigeonhole Walter Sr. Justin
  2. Pierre posted a YouTube link featuring the Holtkamp organ at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati a few days back. This instrument reminded me of the Holtkamp at my university, though ours was much smaller: Two manuals, exposed pipework, no enclosed divisions, setter board round the back. And yet, it was so thoughtfully voiced and blended so well that it could convincingly pull off much more music than its specification (which I can't find) would suggest. Listening to the Cincinnati organ, especially the Karg-Elert , I am impressed at how effective is the Pedal Cornet. Looking around online, I see Holtkamp installed a number of these Cornets, for example at St. Paul's Episcopal in Cleveland (at 16' and 32', in a Pedal division which also included a Compton Polyphone!), Houghton College, MIT's Kresge Auditorium, and elsewhere. Can anyone clue me in as to what makes a convincing Pedal Cornet, i.e. a resultant 32' and not the 4' or 2' reed? The organ at the church where I grew up had independent 10 2/3' and 6 2/5' ranks, plus a two rank Cornet at 5 1/3' and 3 1/5'; Added to the pedal flues these could add point and definition, a kind of exciting thrum which made me think of Cochereau's comment about the NDP mutations (especially the 4 4/7 Septième) sounding like a chorus of double basses. But in no way did our mutations give the impression of a low pedal reed. I imagine it must be necessary to add further harmonics to fool the ear effectively, probably at least to the septième, just as a manual Cornet demands a tierce. Would the Houghton College example at ten ranks extend this up to the quart, i.e. 16, 10 2/3, 8, 6 2/5, 5 1/3, 4 4/7, 4, 3 5/9, 3 1/5, 2 10/11? How far up the compass of the pedalboard are such Cornets effective, and what do builders do at the top end? It seems these Cornets, when done right, can add solemn grandeur by the bucketfull (as Stephen Bicknell wrote), so I'm surprised not to see more of them. Though I suppose David Briggs is working on it! Justin
  3. Here is something to put a smile on your face: The Opera Company of Philadelphia assembled a flash mob to sing the Hallelujah Chorus in the Macy's Grand Court last weekend, similar to their "Flash Brindisi" earlier this year in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. It looks like great fun, and my, doesn't the organ sound wonderful. Justin (hat tip to my aunt)
  4. I know this comment is off topic, but your post brought back so many memories of the factory power house where my grandfather worked. They also had mercury arc rectifiers, large generators driven off a weir on the river, big copper bus bars (which they dusted by hand, with the other hand firmly in their pocket), and of course all the equipment out in the factory. What a cool place to visit as a young boy! For anyone interested, of a mercury arc rectifier in operation on the Isle of Man. And with that detour over, back to organs! --Justin
  5. I am pleasantly surprised to see a resurgence of interest in the organ amongst younger musicians here in the states. Not so many years ago the organ was viewed as hopelessly dated, the domain of blue-haired old ladies, crusty old men, and the irretrievably nerdy. Playing the organ was a quaint and socially dubious pastime, akin to running model trains, writing Star Wars fan fiction, or hacking the Linux kernel. But somewhere in the past ten years the organists doffed their anoraks, or perhaps a lot more people donned them. I have seen a lot of kids, teenagers and sometimes younger, taking lessons and planning to pursue the organ as an avocation if not a proper vocation. I don't know whether this is the result of outreach by the Guild, or encouragement from churches who for so long neglected or discouraged interested children. Maybe kids are tiring of pointless diversions like playing fake plastic guitars in front of their game console and are trying to do something real. Just in case this is a local phenomenon -- I am in the state capitol, surrounded by several universities and some really fine organs -- I went on the AGO web site from my home town. Sure enough, they had pictures of a "Pipe Organ Encounter" at my old church with lots of kids (even an Amish or Mennonite girl in plain dress, which is kind of cool) playing the organ and having a good time. There was nothing like this, ever, when I was that age. Justin
  6. With apologies to Hector, whose topic I don't wish to hijack (for long), can anyone say what a Souffle is? The only one I know of is in the Rieger at St. Giles, Edinburgh, but I haven't been there in more than a decade and cannot recall what it sounds like. All I can discover is that the name may have been borrowed from the Ondes Martenot. Justin
  7. The Canon does take a bit of time to crank up, which could be problematic with a short aisle. I just played a wedding where we used the Canon for the bridal party, then switched over to Jeremiah Clarke for the bride. If your bride is amenable, perhaps you can use the Canon for the lot, keeping a lid on your registration until she is ready to go. Segue if necessary to the point where F#m is swapped out for D/F# with that decending minor seventh to G and it could be a nice finish to the piece. Justin
  8. Here's a brief after-action report: The violist had her heart set on the Bach Air from Suite No. 3 and the Canon in D, both of which she played very well indeed. For my part, I am heartily grateful to the forward-thinking individual who put a Gemshorn on the Great. Paired with a flute it made a passable soft principal and kept me out of the Schreiendwerk. Everything went off without a hitch -- hm, maybe a poor choice of phrase for a wedding -- and I do want to thank the board again for its suggestions. Justin
  9. justinf

    Great Gambas

    Hi MM, and thank you for the links and enlightening posts. If you look at it sideways, 'Capital B - Right Parenthesis' bears some resemblance to sunglasses and a smile. I think that unchecking "Enable emoticons?" in Post Options will stop that; The proof will be if this post renders properly! Update: It worked. You should be able to go back and do a 'Full Edit' on your post to change the emoticon option. P.S. For those interested, the Brindley & Foster organ in in Sydney.
  10. Thank you, this is very helpful. To the extent that I can influence the interview process, I do want to make sure it is well organized and appropriately rigorous. I don't want the church to be a "cheap date" and settle too quickly or with too superficial an examination. Thanks!
  11. My (PCUSA) church here in North Carolina will soon be searching for an organist to replace a long-serving musician. Since the church is relatively small and hasn't any recent experience interviewing musicians, I am a little concerned that the session might get wowed by flashy playing and choose someone with weak fundamentals or poor accompanimental skills. For example, I have heard several people toss around the name of a young man who filled in a few times last year. They thought him very impressive, but I noticed he played many wrong pedal notes, did not articulate well in hymn playing, and seemed generally ill at ease at the organ. At the piano he seemed more comfortable, but he was unable to play scales during choir warm-ups and after a few mistakes resorted to playing major triads up the scale. A genuinely nice fellow, but not someone I would consider. I will be forwarding some information on hiring and auditioning from the American Guild of Organists to the committee, but I thought I could do far worse than to ask this board for advice. Really, I suppose I'm asking how best to train them to understand what constitutes good organ playing and good choral accompaniment. I will suggest the committee enlist help from other congregations in our area (e.g. the organist or DOM from one of the larger churches nearby), and I was also thinking they might want to study one piece which (amongst other works) each candidate would play. A relatively simple piece, say 'Rhosymedre', could be a useful razor if the committee members each had a copy of the music, had been trained to know it backwards and forwards (articulation, phrasing, registration, rests, etc.), and were familiar with several good recordings. Certainly better than "My, what a great din that last guy made!" As I understand it the session of church is pretty well free to make any decision they wish. I don't know whether it will be a good one, but do want it to be an informed decision. Even small churches deserve good music, otherwise they can end up as yet smaller churches and even disappear. Thank you all for your advice! --Justin
  12. Yes, these Vuvezelists do seem to take their music quite seriously. I think these three missed a trick: I would have been interested to hear them try the Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury, assuming they could get Vuvuzelas in the right keys. Justin
  13. I just stumbled across several videos of Michel Chapuis improvising at St. Ouen. Start with one, say Vater unser im Himmelreich, and you'll find the others easily enough. To go with it, here are a few pictures of Rouen, including the arrangement of stop knobs and combination pedals. --Justin
  14. Hi Martin -- Would it were a funeral! I have always found them to be much more congenial affairs: no anxious mother of the bride, no Wagner, no requests to accompany cousin Sheila as she sings "The Rose". I do have the Gower at home, and I very much appreciate the suggestions and well wishes. Thanks!
  15. Thank you, drd; I will look into those right away. I guess I can cross off my list the (PDQ) Bach "Sonata for Viola Four Hands and Harpsichord." Whew! --Justin
  16. A friend asked me to play for her daughter's wedding later this year. She is a talented violist and would like to include a duet as part of the service, but she doesn't have any music in mind. If you know of any pieces pairing organ and viola, or others which could reasonably be adapted, I would be glad of your suggestions. The organ in question is a modest two manual instrument with a quasi-Germanic specification (Pommer, Krummhorn, Fagott, etc.) and a bright principal chorus. Its second manual is under expression and includes some softer voices, including a celeste, so if I play my cards right I can avoid overpowering her viola or tiring the ears of the happy assembled. Thank you all! Justin
  17. Is it possible that the transposer state is stored by the capture system on that instrument? Seems daft but I've encountered worse, especially on toasters. Press one piston and suddenly you've switched from a Silbermann registration in sixth-comma meantone to an equal-tempered Cavaillé-Coll registration in a different key: Now that's progress! I have no quarrel with sensible registration aids or the odd electronic 32' flue, but some consoles make the organist less a musician than a technician. For example, I once played the GTB Elegy on an instrument with some external MIDI stops, including a reasonable solo Cello. At first it sounded just fine, but sometimes the Cello would be unaccountably loud, other times practically inaudible. After much frustration, I found that while the Cello was not directly under expression, the MIDI device was adjusting some internal volume setting periodically based on the position of the Swell shoe. In order to cope with it I had to couple the Cello to the Swell, adjust the Swell shades, wait for a bit, then uncouple and recouple it to the Great. All for one MIDI stop! Sadly, it seems to be de rigeur in my country to finish organ renovations by adding digital stops, sometimes entire digital divisions, making existing ranks available at new pitches, if necessary with digital extension, making stops from each division available on all the others and nearly everything separately available on the pedal, and adding new sub- and super-octave couplers where none existed. I can think of one nice Skinner of about fifty ranks which was "improved" in this fashion: Amongst other depredations, the Choir Gemshorn was extended to 16', 8', 4', 2 2/3', 2', 1 3/5' and 1'; no less than five digital 32' stops were added to the Pedal and extended up through 4'; new digital orchestral reeds were added to the Great, Choir and Antiphonal divisions, and the console was increased to four manuals. The instrument is absolutely unrecognizable and retains none of its former character. By comparison, a smaller church nearby has an Aeolian-Skinner of less than thirty ranks which was designed and built under the supervision of G. Donald Harrison. Apart from cleaning and releathering it has remained almost unchanged, and its warmth and charm are immediately apparent. The organ has no artifice; It pretends to be nothing more than it is, which is lovely. I would rather spend my days at that instrument, or one (thanks Pierre!), than an organ which has been tarted up by the "more is better" crowd. Sorry for the rant, but it is terribly depressing to see so many good instruments cheapened by unsympathetic additions. Maybe the current economic downturn will do us some good! Justin
  18. I happened across some interesting articles by David Bridgeman-Sutton, including one on the history of pistons, a series on console playing aids, even the dual console Rothwell system installed at St. George's Chapel, Windsor in 1930. There do seem to be competing aesthetics regarding console aids, as with everything else related to the organ. On one hand there are instruments with intra- and inter-manual couplers at 16, 8 and 4, unisons off, crescendo pedal (with multiple programmable settings), multiple tuttis (perhaps also programmable), heaping handfuls of divisional and general pistons, reversibles, transposers, sequencers, steppers, external MIDI boxen, and so on... I even saw a "Pedal to Great 8' coupler on one instrument in Pennsylvania which would make short work of any pedal etude. On the other hand some instruments are very 'straight'; the Mander in St. Ignatius Loyola might fit this description. Is there a definable point at which console aids cease to improve an instrument and instead obfuscate its design and intended use? The answer surely depends on the type of action, the purpose of the instrument, style, and other factors, but all things being equal, are there some console aids you find superfluous or even counterproductive? For example, I won't say anything against the German Rollschweller which so inspired Reger and others, but I have very little use for the modern crescendo pedal. As far as I can tell, its sole purpose is to make organists scratch their heads in consternation, wondering why their registration sounds off, before finding the culprit. Some console aids are even more dangerous: I expect appreciation for his organ's transposition feature disappeared in the middle of the syllable "Ha-". Justin
  19. The previous specification, which included some upperwork on the Récit and replaced two other stops, is at this page, as is more information about the church history and its Silbermann organ. Nearly a third of the ranks are new, based on the builder's site, but as much as one can tell from a YouTube video, they seem to have been married very nicely to the instrument. Thank you for sharing this! Justin
  20. Thank you all very much! Certainly this instrument is of an age, but I do hope it will find its way into the hands of someone who can use it. For all I know, Cynic may already it in his sights. The Aeolian magnum opus just down the road has in the past been threatened, but with its recent restoration (and honorary dedication), I trust its position is relatively secure. Justin
  21. I read that Apple CEO Steve Jobs received a ruling allowing him to raze his derelict mansion near San Francisco. Local groups have been petitioning to stay its demolition, or at least to relocate the building elsewhere. I confess this story didn't interest me terribly until I learned the mansion contains an Aeolian organ. I can't find a specification for it, but a picture of one pipe chamber shows a Vox Humana, Harmonia Aetheria, Flauto Amabile, and four more ranks: a string and its celeste, another flute, and something else. Does anyone know more about this instrument or whether it will be saved or relocated? Even as forlorn as it looks, with leaves blown in over the console, surely some church or someone can put it to good use. Justin
  22. We're singing this in a few weeks, without rhyming 'mind' and 'wind'. I'm happy to sing it either way; It is a lovely carol. While we're on the subject of pronunciation, I am curious to know whether the word 'aye' (pronounced as long 'A', not long 'I') is quite the problem for British singers that it is for Americans. This question came up in William Walton's setting of "Make we joy now in this fest": "Maria ventre concepit, The Holy Ghost was aye her with". I'm afraid that the tendency here in the States is to sing 'eye' all the time, especially in congregational hymns (e.g. "Gladly for aye we adore Him", "Who was, and is, and is to be, for aye the same"). The fact that 'aye' is a homograph seems to be, well, beyond our ken. --Justin
  23. I just caught a serial from the Tom Baker era which I probably haven't seen since I was a kid: Does anyone recall The Ribos Operation? It's quite a fun story, with Iain Cuthbertson gleefully chewing the scenery as a Harvey Mudd-esque character trying to swindle a warmongering tyrant. But what caught my eye, or rather my ear, was the liberal use of an organ in the musical score. It was quite effective in establishing the mood and fit the setting of this story nicely. You can hear a bit of the music on YouTube, naturally. I wonder who recorded this score, and where? Peter, I completely agree on Blink: Not only is it frightening, but a tight, clever script. Not bad for a "Doctor-lite" ep!
  24. I count this very good news indeed: A little cross-pollination makes for a healthy and interesting organ community. The organ scene in this part of North Carolina is much improved by instruments from builders near and far: Richards, Fowkes & Co., John Brombaugh, C. B. Fisk, Lynn Dobson, Orgues Letourneau, D.A. Flentrop (more than once), even Harrison & Harrison. Wouldn't I just love to add Mander to that list (contingent on my lottery numbers coming up)!
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