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James Dawson

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  1. If I know there has been a funeral during the day I try to practice in the evening beofre the heat completely disappears. We are fortunate that our church heatign works quite quickly, and the treasurer doesn't mind if I switch it on for an hour to take the chill off, but I don't like to do this unless its' very cold. I think legally the PCC has a responsibility to ensure satisfactory working conditions for employees, (which means a minimum of 60 °F within an hour of starting work), but I wouldn't want to push that one given the current state of church finances. Pipe Dreamer
  2. Some of the comments are rather telling; such as (I quote) "any one know where i can get the sheet music for this?"
  3. Surely; the organ became popular in churches because it was the best instrument for accompanying large numbers of congregants in hymn singing? In my view this is still true. When our Happy-Clappies take over on the 4th Sunday they insist on using the piano throughout the service; which is OK for the normal congregation of 35 or 40 souls; but if there is a baptism party the whole thing descends into chaos, as nobody can hear the music. On more than one occasion now we have reverted to the organ just to bring some order to the proceedings. This is a purely practical observation, which has nothing to do with the style of music.
  4. Incense sticks are readily available, and are often used in this household when listening to 'appropriate' music. Sir Charles Stanford said of Elgar's Gerontius that it 'stank of incense': well it does in this house. I agree about only performing hymns from Mission Praise in the dead of night; but I would worry that the mistakes might offend truck drivers and others who listen in the early hours. Looking on the bright side, I suppose the errors, if faithfully performed, would help to keep them awake. Seriously though, I wonder whether there might perhaps be an opportunity for a radio channel of this calibre in today's world? As I said yesterday, I would imagine that such a channel would be far more popular than most people would ever want to admit. For outside of these four walls, I am sure there are many people who enjoy, and gain comfort from hymns and sacred music, but would never dare admit it to friends and colleagues.
  5. DAB (Digital Radio) has been sold to us on the grounds that it provides radio channels for ethnic minorities, alternative music and those with more diverse interests. I wonder; what about a Hymn channel? Or how about an organ and church music channel, to include morning service, choral evensong, and other appropriate material? Then, perhaps on the 5th Sunday of the month, the Happy-Clappies could be allowed some of their own music. (No doubt they would want to take it over for themselves.) I may be biased, but I would imagine that such a channel would be far more popular than most people would ever want to admit. Like other classical radio channels, one might not want to listen to it all day every day, but it would be wonderful to have it on hand. If the TV licensing authorities can provide porn channels on Terrestrial television I would have thought that a request for a hymn and church music channel on DAB radio would be entirely justified. No doubt it would need to be funded by advertising, but that itself could create some interesting sponsorship opportunities.
  6. Hear hear. The problem, as I see it, is that too many church people have very fixed ideas about the format of their services, and refuse to compromise to accomodate others. For example, we lost several members, including a Church Warden, when a lady Curate was apointed, whilst others are now threatening to leave if they smell so much as a whiff of incense, or even if there are too many candles behind the altar! I am sure these people are very holy, but their attitudes towards other church members seem distinctly un-Christian to me. If only people would try to understand and enjoy other people's forms of worship we would all benefit. As things stand it seems to me that many church members would rather see their churches close than accepting a different style of worship once in a while.
  7. But that's just the point; it doesn't! The daughter of a friend is a very promising organist, and has recently taken up an organ scholarship. She applied to attend a RSCM course two years ago (aged 16), but was told "our courses are designed for adults; and in any case, we don't have a child protection policy, so we cannot teach children". The organ world needs young people, and it needs them now! If we wait until the old guard fall off of their perches it will be too late! The Raise Your Game day courses run by the RCO and others are very good, but they only scratch the surface. I know you will say 'this isn't about organists', but if we don't put the horse before the cart we will never get anywhere! Equally, I know of a very traditional church not far away from me where they have a strong choral tradition, an excellent choir, and smells and bells with everything. The situation was so bad when the present priest took office that the Bishop told him 'not to worry if things went pear shape' as the church was closing anyway. They now have a regular attendance of 150 + every Sunday, with some people travelling up to 50 miles to be there! I don't think it should be a case of 'traditional or contemporary' music; as surely there is room for both? The problems come about because many clergy like to be seen as 'hip' and 'modern', and those who pedal the happy clappy stuff will stoop to any level to get their own way. However, I think we should remember that music is just one factor in the equation. Many churches are empty because of church politics and cliques, which make 'ordinary' churchgoers feel unwelcome. Others are empty because the clergy are so heavenly minded they are of little earthly use, and simply do not take the time to minister to their people. I would be seriously worried if I saw our parish priest walking up the drive, as he only ever makes home visits to arrange funerals.
  8. Hmmmm. So who would run this new organisation, and who would it represent? What would be it's aims and objectives, and how would it operate? There are many and various organist's associations running at present, but the majority of these are dying (rather like parish churches) simply because they are run by committees of septuagenarians who genuinely believe that nobody should be allowed within a mile of a pipe organ unless they hold a FRCO, and preferably a BSc Hons from Oxford. (I resigned from one such organist's organisation because their Secretary simply would not accept that there was a place for those who he saw as subordinate to himself.) The RCO and Oundle run some very good courses for organists, but from what I have heard, the numbers and timing are such that individuals often don't get enough time on the bench to get the practical experience they need. So, I think there is scope for a new organisation, but it would need to address the practical needs of those who are at the bottom and middle of the learning curve, whether through age or experience; rather than providing yet another opportunity for those who feel they are at the top of the curve to show off. As an example, take a young person who perhaps plays the piano, and would like to play the organ. Where does he or she go? Good organ tutors are few and far between, and difficult to track down unless you are 'in the know'. Take another example of somebody who is already taking private organ lessons, and would like to apply for a church post at some point, or even an organ scholarship at university, but other than a bit of singing has no experience of a choir? Where do they go? From where I am standing I think we desperately need to encourage new organists into the fold at all levels of experience. There are a few outstanding youngsters who have graduated from public and choir schools, but they will never be enough in number to fill he available posts over the next few years; so perhaps we need to widen the intake to include those with less privileged educational backgrounds? I think it has been said here before, but perhaps the church, through it's diocesan offices, should be providing more support for those who would like to learn the craft. After all, the church runs courses for lay readers and 'Authorised Pastoral Assistants', so why not organists and choir masters? Maybe there is an organisation out there which caters for all of these needs, but I have never found it!
  9. I would agree; but all too often we seem to celebrate mediocrity, alongside vulgarity, infidelity, appalling grammar, obscene wealth and the many other trappings of our 21st century culture. On a brighter note, I was so interested by the comments on this forum that I dug out an old (1949) edition of The English Hymnal from the organ loft to read Mr R Vaughn Williams preface for myself. There were three statements that I particularly liked: Firstly, RVW suggests that "……………. hymns are essentially for the congregation; the choir have their opportunity elsewhere". He goes on to say "And it may be added that a desire to parade a trained choir often accompanies a debased musical taste." On the subject of choir and congregation singing hymns antiphonally he wrote: "…… the eternal war between choir and congregation, each considering the other an unnecessary appendage to the services of the church, is done away with." And finally: "The custom in English churches is to sing many hymns much too fast. It is distressing to hear 'Nun Danket' or 'St Anne' raced through at about twice the proper speed. ....... The speed indications should not be judged at the pianoforte" I really enjoyed reading this wonderfully written introduction, and so much of what he wrote is just as relevant today as it was then. RVW undoubtedly had a way with words, and music.
  10. How sensible, and how refreshing that the Sung Eucharist congregation is not subjected to happy-clappy dross against their will. Whilst on holiday earlier this year I met a fellow organist who was just about to stand down from a post that he had held for nearly forty years. The story was that one of the churches in his parish had been taken over by happy clappies, and as a result lost so many of the regulars (who had been paying the bills) that it had to close. It was then merged with a second church, and guess what happned? When will they learn?
  11. Our clergy seem to do the opposite to this: they like to choose hymns that nobody knows or likes, and nobody but the clergy can sing, (and even they struggle sometimes). The only exception is baptism services, where they like happy-clappy hymns played on the piano so that the un-churhed don't feel out of their depth. Some years ago the Vestry decided to ask the congregation whch hymns they liked singing, and a list of some seventy or so hymns was compiled, but the clergy refused to use them. Next week we have a PCC meeting to discuss whether 'Back to Church Sunday' was a success. I know already that the hymns won't have been! :angry:
  12. I wonder whether the limited hymn repertoire might have something to do with copyright? I have noted on many programmes (not just the BBC) that the same music seems to be repeated over and over again, (think of Vaughn Williams 'The Lark Ascending' and the Widor Toccata on Classic FM). I realise that this has a lot to do with the programme makers perceived ideas about listener preference, but I have also heard that broadcasters buy a licence to perform/play certain music, which is why we hear the same music repeated, especially during the working week. In the case of SoP, they also need to copy the words to provide screen subtitles, which presumably also requires some form of licence? Does anyone know anything about this?
  13. I note that the Antiques Roadshow came from Beverly Minster yesterday, and again showed some fine shots of the organ. I wonder whether it was just coincidence that both came from Beverly, or whether the Beeb were killing two birds with one stone whilst the camera crews were in the area? Shock horror, they might even be trying to work more efficiently these days.
  14. I think these questions can be answered together. Firstly, in my opinion, the provision of music tuition in most of our state schools is woefully inadequate, with the result that very few students leave school having learnt to sing or play an instrument. Some pupils may opt for private tuition, but peer pressure in state schools is such that many pupils will give up their music studies rather than having to face bullying and general mickey taking. Former colleges tell me that there has been some improvement in recent years, with county music teachers visiting schools on a weekly basis; but there is no timetabled provision for such lessons, which means that pupils have to miss other subjects. I do not believe that this is a satisfactory arrangement. Public schools, on the other hand, take a very different approach. Teachers at public schools will tell you that music, like sport, is an essential part of the curriculum, not least because it improves performance and concentration in other subjects. I have no personal experience of teaching in former eastern bloc countries, but I do know that music is held in much greater esteem than it is here. It is also the case that most of the better public schools have very fine organs on which pupils can learn to play, without having to negotiate with clergy and PCC's of access to a church organ. I don't know, but I suspect that access to church organs in mainland Europe and the former eastern bloc is probably less difficult than it is here. I can only agree with you. Most of the organs in public buildings have become unplayable owing to lack of use! (Central heating and lack of maintenance have also played their part. ) This is because only the most highly qualified organists have been allowed within five miles of them, and only then after reams of paperwork and countless risk assessments have been completed! This has had the secondary effect of giving organ playing an 'elitist' image, which in turn has done little to encourage new organists into the fold. Let's be clear here. An organ doesn't care who plays it as long as it gets played. Organs are not damaged by being played too loudly, or by having the wrong keys played. It is only crusty old organists and mandarins in town halls and the church who have created this situation.
  15. Please do not think I am knocking public schools; I am not. I attended one myself, as did my children, so I have no axe to grind on that score. My point is, (and I could be entirely wrong here), that I would imagine the majority of cathedral organists and present organ scholars in this country attended public or choir schools. Or put it another way; how many of them attended secondary moderns? There are clearly very good reasons for this, but given that most organs are under-used, would it not be a good idea to encourage more people to play at all levels?
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