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S_L

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Everything posted by S_L

  1. I've never found myself in a position where I had the opportunity or the will or felt the necessity to 'improve' an instrument and I have never been responsible for an 'historic' instrument. The first church where I was the custodian of the organ was in a rough area of a big city, a relatively large three manual instrument built by a good Durham firm (not H & H) that was in relatively good condition but was, just, too big for the church. The congregation was small, the choir was dying and, I suspect, the church went down a more evangelical route in order to attract more 'bums on seats'!! The instrument is still there, unaltered, and, now, not in good condition I'm told. The second instrument was in a bad way. The church was 'high' to say the least - 'smells and bells' in the extreme! And the organ was used purely to accompany the plainsong and the occasional hymn at Benediction which, to be honest, it did perfectly satisfactorily. There was no music before the Mass and I chose music for afterwards that the instrument, and me, could cope with. The local organists looked down their collective noses at it, and me for even being there! We didn't sing Coll Reg or Stanford - in C! - that wasn't a part of our tradition. The instrument worked Sunday by Sunday - just, and did its job and a local organ builder would come out if there was anything wrong. Eventually the church was taken over by another religious group, it wasn't what they needed, it went to a skip which, in truth, was probably the best place for it. The third instrument was put together by a local organ builder from a much larger, three manual, instrument which he had taken out of a another church, flogged off the bits that he thought would make him 'a few bob' and sold the rest, as a two manual, to the place were I was eventually appointed. This was a RC church, run by a religious order, in the days when they didn't need permission to 'improve' things. The Parish Priest was desperate to improve the quality of the music. The old organ, he was advised, was 'falling apart' (I suspect this wasn't entirely true) and he was 'sold a pup'!!! The organ ,despite being 'new' was terrible, you name it and it was wrong, and the organ builder, eventually, was given his marching orders! My brief was to build up the choir which I did - hugely successfully! But the organ was always a disappointment and totally inadequate for the demands of the choir and the church liturgy. There, probably, was money but the church was not large, the smallest the BBC had ever broadcast from, (there were eight 'different flavoured' Masses on a Sunday and 3000 people came through the doors every week) and there was no space to do anything The console, placed originally in totally the wrong place, became a little peripatetic but, apart from removing the most foul sounding Gt. Trumpet, we managed Sunday by Sunday. It's still there. The forty strong choir has since diminished and I suspect the instrument is now just about adequate for the needs of the liturgy although I do hear that work is being done on it - but I can't find what and by whom! I have a suspicion it is 'being improved'!! I suppose the point I am making is that, as a provider of music for liturgy, two of the instruments I have encountered have, despite their downfalls, just about done the job. The third, the latter, I wouldn't have known what to do with it - apart from consign it all to the skip and start again. And, given the rather small building, the lack of space etc. what would I have put in its place?
  2. That case, of course, originally contained a four manual, forty nine stop organ complete with a full Ped. including 32 sub Bourdon, four 16's and Reeds at 16 & 8, Gt. to Mixtures + Trumpet, Sw to Mixtures and reeds at 16, 8, 8, 4, a choir organ 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4, 4, 2, and Clarionet and a four stop Solo including Tuba Mirabilis. When I played it, in around 1972, (The Vicar was Eric Dancy, his ashes buried outside the church at the East End. He made the most wonderful home-made soup I seem to remember), it had been significantly reduced but was still a big two manual. It was rebuilt in 1996, I think, with the funding coming from the organist. A new console, a new choir organ and some of the 'big stuff' reinstated. It's a big organ for a small village (Pop. 409), to say the least and I would imagine you have to be very careful registering. I'm told there is no longer an organist there! You're probably right Barry, definitely the result of several whims, I should say, but there's not as much as there was originally. The instrument, at Rudston, could, very easily, fit into another thread running at the moment! Good post, by the way, VH!
  3. I do look at British Pipe Organs occasionally but I don't 'do' facebook! What immediately strikes me is how civilised and polite we are on here compared to that site! I know that I've ruffled a few feathers here but I hope it has never got as bad as some of the comments I have read recently on there! Having said that I have noticed some really interesting threads. There was a brief one, albeit with inaccurate information I hesitate to add, on the organ in All Saints church Rudston in the East Riding of Yorkshire. An instrument I know well. And some excellent pictures of all kinds of fascinating instruments too!
  4. I did a quick tally late last night. And I think, on one side, that you are right. Of the 36 Cathedral DoM's, I was able to quickly look up, 17 went to Cambridge, 8 went to Oxford and 11 went to 'other places' - which were mostly London Conservatoires. I think that your being able to list three from 'ethnic minorities' and none, at the moment working in a Cathedral and me being able, without much thought, to list the number of female Cathedral DoM's is testament to the sad state of affairs. Darius. I don't have an answer and I don't know the questions to ask either. I don't think it is to do with the standard of music in our state schools, which is higher now, I suspect, than it has ever been - but it may be! Is it to do with the organ being seen as a stuffy, middle-class, public school domain? Is it the way we present it - or ourselves? Perhaps this all belongs in a new thread!! Time for me to be quiet - for a change!!
  5. I'm not sure that is a good idea. It's too complicated, too many different factors involved but something desperately needs doing about it!!. I'm the product of a state school followed by the RCM and Cambridge. I remember the college, in the late 60's, had a lot of students from state schools. Cambridge Music faculty less so. An ex-student of mine read Music at Oxford (and got a first!). At one point he told me that he was the only student in the faculty who had been to a state school. One product of the Public school system asked how he managed to get into Oxford from a state school as if it, almost, wasn't allowed! The fact that he was the only state school student in the faculty is either a terrible condemnation of state school music or of Oxford - and I'm not entirely sure which!!!
  6. Sorry Rowland - it was just an off the cuff comment at the end of a post. I didn't expect anyone to comment on it!!
  7. The Church in Wales is clearly doing better than its English counterpart - with 16% women as DoM - as opposed to 9.5% in England!! Considering that the female sex makes up 51% of the population I would suggest that neither are doing particularly well!!! Mind you, the same could be said of High Court Judges (W16, M91) and 'Circus Judges' (W87, M513)
  8. It is so good to see more and more ladies appointed to Cathedral positions. My own grandmother was a fine player and, and I may be wrong about this, was one of the first women to be appointed FRCO. Of course, in those days, ladies were barely allowed past the Chancel arch let alone in the exalted position of Master or the Choristers - or whatever!! Of the 43 (?) Church of England Cathedrals in England, even today, only four have ladies at the helm of the Music Department (Coventry, Guildford, Peterborough & Rochester) whilst, to my reckoning only four have female Assistants. One could go further and ask how many Cathedral's have a DoM who isn't product of a Public School - or Oxbridge - or from an 'Ethnic Minority' but, perhaps I better not go there!!!!
  9. Canon Abi Thompson "She graduated in Music at Kings College London and in Theology at Westcott House Cambridge. Abi holds both ABRSM Grade 8 Piano and ABRSM Grade 8 Singing and before ordination was a youth worker and freelance professional singer."
  10. Is it silent? I had the impression that some of it worked - I know there is an appeal!
  11. I like it! It reminds me of the definition of the Organist in that valuable little book 'How to bluff your way in music' "Organists are a strange race...................."
  12. LOL - a phrase I used on a number of occasions when acting as a visiting conductor of a choir - with an en chamade tenor - not so far away from you!!!
  13. That reminds me of the Gordon Reynolds story, I've told it here before but it's worth telling again, of the tenor, I think it was at Halifax Parish Church, who was having trouble with his line!! Some cocky organ scholar decided to help him out - on the Tuba! After the hymn, or whatever it was, the tenor leant over towards the organ and said, in a loud voice that everyone heard "If tha' does that a'gin, I'll break thi' bloody neck!!!!"
  14. As one who has experienced serious fire, first hand (I woke, at 04h00 one morning in February to see a raging fire at my house!) I can say how traumatic it is, standing, watching the fire people pouring gallons of water all over! But it is possessions/belongings that are destroyed - and insured - and can be, largely, replaced/rebuilt etc. Loss of life can never be replaced. I was safe and I am pleased to hear that there was no loss of life at Dobson's. A firm as distinguished as Dobson's, the work they did at St. Thomas' NY was wonderful and the organ at Merton College seems highly regarded in Oxford, will rebuild and come back.
  15. Just to muddy the waters a little! In France, apart from in April/May of last year when the churches were closed we have been allowed to sing. I find myself playing the organ for a Sung Mass, weekly, at the monastery at Echourgnac in Department 24. Up to last Sunday the congregation and the sisters were required to wear masks but, last Sunday the Sisters made a decision that, in future, they wouldn't wear masks. The congregation are required to sit on every other bench in the church and have to sanitize their hands on entry. The sign of peace has, thankfully, been 'put on hold' and communion is under one kind and received only in the hands.
  16. One final comment from me! I'm told that the Festival surrounding the new organ at St. Lawrence's church in York was a huge success with superb attendance at all events. Did any forumites make it to York for any event?
  17. Does anyone look after your organ? Who tunes it? Is it tuned? If so, get it in the tuning book and get it seen to on the next visit. If it makes the instrument unplayable then give them a ring, tell them the problem and get them down to look at it - or get them to send you the part! Failing that, and if the organ isn't regularly looked after, if there is a Mander Organ Van down the road I'd put a note on his window or try and cultivate a conversation with him when you are taking the dog out for a walk. Tell him what you are looking for, explain the situation and he might be able to help you out! My experience has been that organ builders are usually a friendly bunch. It might cost you a pint!! Do you involve the church authorities? That's a difficult one! One side says they might be helpful and concerned about the instrument in their care, another side says they might see it differently - and the ramifications of that are worrying!! It's annoying isn't it! I have Bb11 sticking at the moment - and am waiting for a visit!
  18. Yes, very sad. May Roger Fisher rest in peace.
  19. S_L

    Proms 2021

    Following my comment above I had a look at some scores of Prout's music. I have to say that the writing for instruments, which is correct in the extreme as far as notation is concerned, is far better, in my opinion, that his writing for voices - which, I think, is rather dull.
  20. S_L

    Proms 2021

    The 'Prom' was called 'The Light Organ Prom' & Richard Hills programme on 26th of August 2013 was the following: Eric Coates - March 'Sound and Vision' Arthur Sullivan - Mikado memories (arr. R. Hills) John Ireland - Miniature Suite Villanella Billy Mayerl - Four Aces Suite - Ace of Hearts Edward German - Three Dances from 'Nell Gwyn' Fats Waller - A Handful of Keys The programme note said: A chance to revel in the breathtaking versatility of the ‘king of instruments’! The art of performing classical favourites on the organ has a long and distinguished history and in this Bank Holiday matinee Prom, Richard Hills brings together the traditions of the great theatre organist-entertainers and the Town Hall recitalists – with the accent on melody and virtuosity. Richard Hills also appeared in a 'Late Night Prom' 2015 entitled 'Wireless Nights Prom with Jarvis Cocker'. Also appearing were the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Maxime Tortelier. On this occasion the programme had music by: John Adams. Ronald Binge, Echo & the Bunnymen, JS Bach, Wagner, Barry Gray, Saint-Saens, Debussy, John Williams, Alan Williams, Tim Buckley and The Beatles! I remember 'Late Night Proms', I heard Stockhausen 'Carre' in 1972 and 'Kontakte' in 1985. Late night Proms were where they put programmes slightly 'different' to what might be called 'mainstream repertoire'. And I heard some jolly good music too!!!
  21. S_L

    Proms 2021

    Thanks for that VH. I take back what I said! Interestingly, in listening to the Prout several other works were recommended by YouTube - none of which I knew. by three Americans Howard Hanson - Concerto for organ Harp and strings Howard Hanson (1896-1981): Concerto for Organ,Harp and Strings HQ - YouTube Leo Sowerby - Classica Concerto for Organ and Strings (1944) Leo Sowerby: Classic Concerto for Organ and String Orchestra (1944) - YouTube Horatio Parker Organ Concerto (1902) Horatio Parker - Organ Concerto (1902) - YouTube I have to say that I have always thought of Prout as a rather dull Victorian Academic - a view, possibly, from my student days. But there are four symphonies (No 4 is on YouTube), Two organ Concerti, Two Piano Quartets, Two String Quartets and a Piano Quintet as well as a sizeable number of Vocal works. Looking at the scores I have of his music, it is very much of its time but history hasn't been kind to Ebenezer Prout - but there is a lot worse music out there!! Perhaps time for a little rethink on Prout!!! And, just in case an forumites feel the need to refresh Prout's thoughts on Fugue from their student days! It's all here: Fugue (Prout) - Wikisource, the free online library
  22. S_L

    Proms 2021

    Ebenezer Prout Organ Concerto - I'm not sure it bares too much thinking about!! Having said that I do have score of his string quartets and they are well written!!!
  23. S_L

    Proms 2021

    I once said, on here, that I thought Benjamin Britten to be a composer of beautifully crafted music - as if he played the instrument he was writing for. I was even brave enough to suggest, and was, very slightly, shot down for it, that there was no bad Britten!! I have always thought that Hindemith, like Britten, was an absolute craftsman. There are sonatas for Alto Saxophone, Bassoon, Trumpet, Bass Tuba, Clarinet, 'cello, English Horn, Oboe, Flute, Horn, Trombone, Violin, Viola (of which, of course, he was a great player) and organ. And there are concerti for Clarinet, Horn, Organ, Piano, Trumpet, Bassoon & strings, Violin, Viola and 'cello. All of the music beautifully written for the instrument as if he was a player of that instrument, which, contrary to popular belief, he wasn't!! And then there is piano, vocal and choral music, again, beautifully written. I'm prepared to repeat my comment - there is no bad Hindemith!! And, when they finally put me in my box and take me to church I have asked that the clergy don't preach but, instead the assembled company, if there is anyone there, listen to the Trauermusik by Hindemith. It exists in three versions, the original is for viola but there is also a version for violin and one for 'cello. Beautifully written music, beautifully crafted!! The harmonisation of 'Fur deinen Thron tret ich hiermit', the last movement, is simply wonderful and moves me to tears every time I hear it.
  24. S_L

    Proms 2021

    You may, very well be right. I don't know but I do know that Volumina was performed in the RAH on 10th of September 1978. It was the first (and last!) time the work had been performed at the 'Proms' It was the first work in the programme - followed by Stockhausen's Stimmung and some traditional Raga. The organist was Karl-Erik Welin
  25. S_L

    Proms 2021

    No way an 'honourable' member but I'm told I have a fairly wide knowledge of repertoire though my knowledge of organ repertoire is a little limited!!!! I'd like to hear a live performance of Ligeti's Volumina but I understand that on one occasion it was performed at the RAH the organ couldn't cope with it! Was that the 'Proms' performance in 1978 that also included Stockhausen Stimmung? If you're 'into' French music there is a Concerto by Marcel Dupre, three Concerti by Langlais and seven by Jean Guillou although No.5 is only for organ & Str. Quintet! Hindemith is, seemingly, deeply out of fashion at the moment, but Kammermusik 7 is for organ and wind band and there is a Organ Concerto as well, written in the final year of his life and, like most Hindemith, beautifully crafted. Arthur Butterworth, a much under-rated composer, in my opinion, wrote a splendid Organ Concerto (1973) for, I think, Gillian Weir and Malcolm Arnold's Concerto written in 1954, is in true Malcolm Arnold style!!! There is a Concerto, heard at the Proms in 1984, and, again I think, written for Gillian Weir, by William Mathias and Kenneth Leighton wrote a Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings, seemingly a favourite combination of instruments!! I don't know Andrew Carter's Concerto, he taught my late wife at school, and his music is always well crafted.
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