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Stanley Monkhouse

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  1. 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.
  2. Last para: brilliant! This could be another reason why Buxtehude et al sound better in winter in North Germany/Denmark than they do here.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. Not at all. Copy and paste if you like. stan
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. David P, send me an email wsmonkhouse at gmail etc or friend me on Facebook - Im easy to find.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Well, Colin, your article makes my post look a bit silly! Good stuff. I used to think that perhaps there would be another choral revival in another 200 years, but now I see the western version of Xtianity going down the tube completely - it's almost there now. David P's right - Xtianity has to be rethought without the sky pixie magic stuff if its to get traction again here (though having said that there seems no shortage of people who believe anything). I'm learning to laugh at it. If all this is so, why spend big money restoring/rebuilding/enlarging/rehoming organs that soon won't be used? As an example, take Willis I's last at St Bees - not pure Willis now. Small village, local economy woeful unless Sellafield thrives (it's not really at present). Let's say 1 million needed. Why bother? lots of other examples.
  13. I agree with your last para, and much else. Jesus preached an essentially Buddhist message. He came to abolish religion. The religious jerks hated him. If you want to know more of what I think, read my blog: https://ramblingrector.me I deduce that you think the organ's future in this country is grim. So do I. I enjoyed it when I was able to.
  14. ... and before your blood pressure blows a gasket. Barry, you write "Perhaps the nation’s public schools, most having chapels, are now the only schools where there is still a trickle or flow of potential organ scholars. " People who attend church even just a little don't believe me when I tell them that at funerals, weddings and baptisms that I have done over the last 10 years, nobody under the age of 60, roughly, knows the Lord's prayer or any hymns other than the ones I mentioned. and possibly, if they are rugby supporters, Cwm Rhondda. My last parish was inner urban, partly UPA, increasingly Moslem. The potential Christians, if they have any desire for Church attachment, tended towards the free churches: Pentecostal, Elim, unattached evangelical churches. They would no more dream of setting foot in the CoE (except for carols with the brass band) which they saw as snooty (not so), judgemental (not so there), hypocritical (yes indeed) and pretentious (absolutely). Although the circumstances are different, the phenomenon is like that of the late 18th and early 19th centuries that saw working people forsake the CoE for Methodism and such like. I've gone off topic. Please forgive. But it's relevant.
  15. A bit of background from my viewpoint: a cathedral-trained organist turned urban vicar after a 30 year career as a medical academic, now retired. The choral revival in the Church of England has lasted about 180 years. Together with other developments it’s provoked the evolution of the English organ. It's now waning. Some cathedral choirs are finding life difficult. Many (? most) parish church choirs have folded or are terminally ill. Congregations have been decimated. Hardly anybody under the age of 50, unless they've attended fee-paying schools, knows hymns other than Morning has broken, Sing Hosanna and Lord of all hopefulness (the Lord's Prayer too). The liturgy of the Church of England is changing. The need for organs to ‘paint the psalms’ has all but vanished outside (most) cathedrals. Many clergy are not interested in music that uses organs. Many clergy are not interested in the sort of liturgy that organs can enrich. Cathedral evensongs attract, but they’re now just an arm of the heritage industry for the middle classes who can afford to drive to them (fuel prices might have an effect there). Young people were never particularly keen to take up the organ. I attended state schools in the 1950s and 1960s and there were a few of us, even in Carlisle, but the situation is worse now, young organists coming almost exclusively from fee-paying schools. Any state school boy (I wouldn’t know about girls) interested in the arts is quite likely to have the ordure kicked out of him these days (I speak from personal and pastoral experience). It’s not kool or macho. Churches can hardly afford to keep the buildings going, let alone what’s in them. The average congregation numbers 27 and falling fast. The average age of a churchgoer is about 67 and rising fast—they’ll be dead soon. Churchgoing is just a hobby like hiking or climbing or knitting. The English public are not particularly interested in organs. Musicians tend to look down their noses at organs and organ music. So most organs won’t need to lead hearty congregational singing or paint the psalms. The English organ is, if you like, being freed from its churchy associations. What do you see as its future?
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