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James Dawson

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Everything posted by James Dawson

  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
  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
  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
  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 ot
  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
  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 th
  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 "An
  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 k
  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 al
  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
  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?
  16. I must say this does sound like a very sensible idea, although I gather from our Clergy that many of the advisory posts are part time, and non-stipendiary, so the cost to the diocese would be minimal. However, there are two points that I would like to bring out here. Firstly, there seems to be great disparity in how the various diocese deal with music matters, even down to individual attitudes. Having spoken to a few people 'in the know' over the past few days, I have heard that Liverpool Diocese, for example, has a very progressive, enlightened and open policy, in which they actively enc
  17. This weekend is Heritage Open Weekend, when a number of municipal buildings and works are open to the public. I have been informed that there is to be a rare opportunity to hear the City Hall organ in Newcastle upon Tyne this weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday. The City Hall organ was built by Harrison & Harrison in 1928, and has been little altered since then. The Newcastle instrument was one of the last great town hall organs built during the early part of the 20th century, and is of national importance. It also has some very loud Orchestral Trumpets, operating on some 20" of
  18. "A famous toccata" Were you thinking of BWV565 by any chance? I must say it was very well played too. But to be fair this lad had a repertoire that was much wider than a few well known pieces. I listened for over an hour and did not hear anything played twice. As the originator of this thread I am very grateful for the replies that have been given, but I still do not know how many young organists there are out there. As an oldy myself I would like to think that there will still be organs and organists in 100 years time, but I am not sure if there will be any around by then. (No doubt the
  19. Thank you all for this information. I will have to re-read what I thought I knew about this! I have just re-checked the new (2011) ABRSM syllabus, and unless I have it wrong, the GTB Elegy is shown as Grade 7. And they tell us that exams are not getting easier! Mind you, I always thought Vierne's Berceuse was quite easy for Grade 5.
  20. I have heard that Morrisons have bought up a few redundant, or unmanageable Victorian churches in urban areas to build their supermarkets on. They have then built smaller, replacement churches nearby to a very high specification, complete with pipe organs. On the subject of 'successful churches', I cannot help but feel that some Clergy and PCC's would destroy a successful church within five years even if it were handed to them on a plate. The main problem seems to be a tendency to destroy any musical tradition in favour of happy-clappy hymns, and ultra low church ideology.
  21. I have just returned home after a few days away in Kirkby Steven (Cumbria), watching steam trains, and have been pondering the subject of young organists, and whether there are many of them around these days. Why do I ask? Well, whilst in Kirkby I visited the parish church, which I was told, had an interesting, and recently restored pipe organ (my other passion). St Steven's is a very large church, and I was more than pleased to hear some Bach sounding out from the organ as I entered the door. After looking around I sat in a pew to listen for a while, enviously wondering how many dec
  22. The usual request here is to "play something nice", which is a fairly broad description! I recently heard the Elegy by George Thalben Ball played, and wondered whether that might be appropriate. It is certainly very memorable. However, seeing it is listed in the new AB syllabus at G7 I also wondered whether it might be a bit tricky? I am told that the Elegy is an improvision on a hymn tune, and that GTB first played it when the BBC church service he was playing for ended earlier than expected. Does anyone know what the hymn tune is? PD
  23. How would the voicing of 17th century English organs compare with the instruments that we play today, I wonder? We know there have been big changes over the past 100 years, so perhaps these 17th century comentators knew more than we give them credit for. There have been some interesting comments about the organ in our own church, for example. It is reported that a new Swell division was added in about 1883, to great acclaim, but by 1900 it was said to "sound so awful" that it was removed. PD
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