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Stanley Monkhouse

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  1. A fine musician. In the mid 1980s I was having FRCO paperwork lessons from music academic Robert Pascall (RIP) who knew JB well, having been a pupil of her father. She came to Nottingham to do a masterclass. Robert was short of pupils and he asked me if I'd be one of the guinea pigs. I played Mendelssohn IV first movement. She didn't like a few things I did - fair enough. She told the assembled company how important it was to try and get into the composer's mind. She mentioned that she had spent some considerable time doing that for her recent Messiaen collection, whereupon I said "well there you have the advantage over me and Felix". Much laughter. She didn't appreciate my impertinence. RIP.
  2. Philip, my opinion is my opinion. Yours is yours. They're just opinions. There is no absolute or "finest" anything. FWIW I like Stanford in A very much - the nearest thing Brahms gets to Anglican canticles - indeed I'd go so far as to say that I doubt there's a finer (I don't mind the comparative) setting by anyone. Howells canticles do little for me - I'd limit them to CR and Paul's. I find Glouc lovely only in the right acoustic. What depresses me, and we've touched on this on the board, is the fragility of the tradition. It's difficult enough to see where organists of the future will come from - but then it's difficult to see where they'd be employed. Residential training for clergy is contracting. The likelihood of clergy trained on nonresidential courses, given the nature of courses and applicants, being sympathetic to traditional cathedral music is not high. Cathedrals are funded better than parish churches, but they're not rolling in it (whether it's a funding issue I don't know but Lichfield cathedral has just appointed a residentiary canon - UNPAID, house for duty). The way that cathedral staff see the role of a cathedral is changing. Choir schools struggle. Boarding for children is increasingly attacked as being psychologically unhealthy for children and parents (as a parent of two boys who attended cathedral boarding schools I understand why). Parents find "better" things for their offspring to do. The parish church choral/floral tradition is now almost skeletal: such places as St Peter's Wolverhampton are as rare as the avian dentition. Without any difficulty I can list a dozen parish churches where it's gone. Look at Leeds PC - one of the wombs of the choral revival. Yes, there are groups of adults up and down the country that sing Evensong here and there month by month, but how many of them will be doing that in say 10 years' time? It's admirable to point to good stuff going on now, but there's no denying that the environment is increasingly apathetic (to say nothing of the way that bishops seem intent on driving people away through their lamentably inept pronouncements). Let's enjoy it while it lasts.
  3. John (Furse), I obvs need a lot of coats. Stanford in C is not for me either - at least not as usually: done - too loud, too coarse, too stop-start. And the way most choirs do the Gloria con molto belto - ye Gods. IM(not very)HO it's a prayer, needs to heed CVS's metronome mark and dynamics. And might organists remember that when in was published 1909 (I think) 32 ft reeds were rare in cathedrals. Call me what you like, but for me an Anglican evening service it's hard to beat is Dyson in F (yes F, not D): gentle, beautiful, magical. And anthem? Tallis Loquebantur variis linguis - at a fair lick (ho ho). You can let rip in that. How many coats have I used up now?
  4. I know I'll be lynched for this, but please not Corvedale. Am I the only person in the cosmos that doesn't like it? Predictable tune, unadventurous harmonies, tedious boring rhythm. I'll get my coat.
  5. Colin, I didn't have anything in mind except my "feeling" that organ music in cold churches seemed more satisfying than in warm ones. There might be something in it. It's difficult untangling physics from neurobiology - ear, cochlea, eighth cranial nerve, auditory pathways, emotional perception. It leads me to another question that physicists might illuminate, but I hesitate to voice it until this one has died down. Thank you all for your expertise and erudition.
  6. Last para: brilliant! This could be another reason why Buxtehude et al sound better in winter in North Germany/Denmark than they do here.
  7. Some years ago I arranged in advance to play the instruments of Norden, Neuenfelde, Meldorf, and Stralsund, and visited a couple of others ad hoc. It cured me of organ crawling—nothing else would ever match up. This, and experience over the years, raised a question. I doubt that there was much in the way of central heating when Schnitger, Stellwagen and the like were plying their trade, and the large brick barns of the Baltic coast can’t ever have been warm. I have the impression that organs sound their best in the cold. Am I deluded? Of course, the paraphernalia of comfort like carpets and soft furnishings affect acoustics, so maybe it’s just this, but nevertheless I ask the question: does temperature affect our perception of sound? (I’m not talking of tuning). Do organs sound better in freezing churches? My other observation may already have been discussed on this board, but FWIW I was bowled over by just how exciting Buxtehude, Bruhns and Tunder were on the unequal temperament organs. Astonishing. Equal temperament does not do them justice. There is no doubt in my mind about that.
  8. Yes to all that Colin. One of the reasons I rejoined Mander was that the views expressed here tend to be more considered than on other pages, and contributors have not indulged in snide remarks as on some. I know it's not been that active over recent yers, but we can make it so. I gave up on BIOS: it lacks/ed the kind of objectivity that we see in this thread. I suppose you can't get much more objective that a mathematician/[physicist.
  9. Interesting responses. Thanks very much. The popularity of Evensong is mentioned several times, held up as a sign of renewal by some, and securing of the organ’s future by most. I doubt both these. In these remarks, I’m not talking of tourist traps like York or Canterbury, but of “ordinary” cathedrals like Lichfield or Peterborough, to name but two. The popularity of Evensong is a middle class manifestation of the pull of heritage, the nostalgia of past days, the reminder of a time of security or childhood before life got messy, and of course the pull of beauty. I don’t think it has much to do with doctrinal Christianity. People that attend have made a special trip, probably by car. Who knows what eco-demands and fuel prices will do to car use (fuel prices are decidedly iffy as I write). I doubt people will trek miles for Stanford in C. The maintenance of the tradition is expensive and work-intensive. Choir schools close or become day schools: Ripon, Southwell, Lichfield in recent years, and more to come. Lay clerks, organists, organs ... Recruitment of choristers demands huge work. I am in awe of people like Cathy Lamb who runs the recruitment programme at Lichfield. It’s not a job for the weary and faint-hearted, Where will organists of the future come from? Some of you are hopeful. Well, given who you are and where you come from, you would say that, wouldn’t you! I’m less sanguine that the attraction of cathedral life will draw musicians from a self-employed career. And remember that in music degrees these days, classical music, harmony, counterpoint etc have been displaced to a variable extent by electronic and computer work, so you can’t assume students will be exposed to much classical choral stuff, if any. I’ve recently stepped down as the accompanist of a local (adults) choral society that had a varied repertoire: Mozart, Faure, Byrd, Rutter, Ireland, Parry, Gjeilo, Whitacre, Beatles, spirituals, jazz and more. Two things made me think about the future. First, most singers are unenthusiastic about "churchy" stuff, and second, all but a handful, who are themselves churchgoers, were completely flummoxed by hymns when they came to my Corpus Christi mass to sing Byrd and Bairstow – they’d NEVER encountered hymns before. I've said my piece. I may be wrong, I hope I'm wrong
  10. Not at all. Copy and paste if you like. stan
  11. Some years ago I played these at Candlemas Vespers: Clair de lune - Louis Vierne Mit Fried' und Freud' ich fahr' dahin - Buxtehude (not all sections) O my soul, rejoice with gladness - Karg-Elert
  12. Guilmant first sonata last movement near the end when the big tune rises like the sun coming out. Bach Aus tier, 6 part, double pedal, all of it. perhaps we need a new thread.
  13. David P, send me an email wsmonkhouse at gmail etc or friend me on Facebook - Im easy to find.
  14. Quite so, John Carter. I know this is supposed to be about the future of organs, but because of the intertwined history, it's also about the future of the liturgical style that organs have been used for. By and large, there isn't one IMHO. The worship styles that attract (not me particularly) don't need them. They pay no heed to denominational boundaries - evangelical CoE feels much like any other nonliturgical church. Here's a view of the future. The no-women catholics will go to Rome eventually. The liberal catholics will die out - nobody including themselves knows what they stand for. The no-women evos will continue, funded by US bible bashers (as some are now), in their own exclusive sect. Rural churches wil be shut except perhaps for the most important festival - Harvest. Choral/floral might survive here and there, depending on money and personnel, but very few. The rest, inc civic, will be vanilla evangelical, people dipping in and out, and two or three rimes a year clergy will have to scrabble about in vestry cupboards looking for surplice and scarf (Harvest, Remembrance, civic dos). Nobody will know any traditional hymns. I've been accompanist for a choral society and none of the (mature adult) members, other than the few who were church attenders, knew how to cope with "Love divine", "Now my tongue", "Praise to the holiest" when they came to sing Byrd's 4 part mass at Corpus Christi. I'm not exaggerating.
  15. Is there a church tax in NL? Such a thing certainly benefits organs, no matter how badly churches are attended. The situation here - national church but no national money - is the worst possible, compared to Germany, NL, Scandinavia, even France.
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