Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Stanley Monkhouse

Members
  • Posts

    57
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Stanley Monkhouse

  1. Also on another thread: This will come as no surprise to anyone who has kept up with contemporary church politics and finances. The current situation and the likely immediate future make for very gloomy prospects for the church in general and cathedrals and choirs in particular, especially those away from major tourist trails. Think of Carlisle, Newcastle, Blackburn, Bradford, Ripon, Derby, Birmingham, Bury St Edmunds, Portsmouth, Truro. The life of a DOM for cathedrals without choral foundation or choir school must be hugely arduous: chorister recruitment, retention and nurturing, keeping clear of the mires of clergy politics, the routine stuff and more. I hope Sheffield can work its way through this and live to tell the tale. I wonder about the sustainability of boarding choir schools with not only financial pressures, but increasingly too an awareness of the harmful effects of boarding on the very young. And with the economic double whammy of brexit and virus, how many families will be able to afford fees? Sheffield and other places need support. Edit or delete this
  2. I can shed no light, only add to the search for it. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has kept up with contemporary church politics and finances. The current situation and the likely immediate future make for very gloomy prospects for the church in general and cathedrals and choirs in particular, especially those away from major tourist trails. Think of Carlisle, Newcastle, Blackburn, Bradford, Ripon, Derby, Birmingham, Bury St Edmunds, Portsmouth, Truro. The life of a DOM for cathedrals without choral foundation or choir school must be hugely arduous: chorister recruitment, retention and nurturing, keeping clear of the mires of clergy politics, the routine stuff and more. I hope Sheffield can work its way through this and live to tell the tale. I wonder about the sustainability of boarding choir schools with not only financial pressures, but increasingly too an awareness of the harmful effects of boarding on the very young. And with the economic double whammy of brexit and virus, how many families will be able to afford fees? Sheffield and other places need support.Edit or delete this Like · Reply · 14m
  3. Thank you all. I'll ponder the responses. I'm not sure that all my questions are answered, but I'm not sure they will ever be. Over the years, I've read that screen organs with soundboards running N-S project sound down the nave better than those with soundboards E-W. Where's the evidence? I've read about reflected sound as opposed to direct sound - which implies that the sound is predominately from a small area of the pipe circumference which might be so in flues but not reeds. I once read that the high pitched Great mixture at Durham introduced in Conrad Eden's day helped the sound to reach down the nave bringing the rest of the Great with it. This sounds like poppycock to me. A great deal of what is written about rebuilds/restorations falls into the genre of self-justification, especially when written by the consultant concerned - whose hearing may or may not (as mentioned earlier) be defective. I remember Mr Clutton waxing lyrical on the different approaches he recommended at Ely and St Paul's back in the day, and thinking that he sounded like a snake-oil salesman. It's all very entertaining.
  4. as you wish SL. I'm not paid! Anyhoo my points still stand.
  5. Well, Colin, I like amateur organists - usually for the right reasons. They - we (I am one) often know better than professionals how to control a congregation in hymns. It helps if you cut you teeth in Wesleyan chapels of course. What I particularly like about us is the usually uninhibited opinions that may not always reflect current ideology but nevertheless speak the plan unvarnished in substantial measure. Regarding the cliqueiness of the organ world - yes it is, and judging from the contributions on the British Organ Facebook page, the young ones are worse than the old ones. Less tolerant too. It was ever thus I suppose. My wife tells me I could be a pompous gobshite when I was young. I strongly suspect it's a disappearing problem. I've written before on this board and elsewhere of the likely future of the church, and therefore of organs and church music. In short, outside the cathedrals and some major churches, there isn't one. Read the church blogs, follow General Synod and look at those currently being ordained. Be careful about following General Synod - it can be a symptom of psychosis.
  6. Way off topic warning: Wonderful performance of the b minor. The organist plays the acoustic as much as the music. Very proper. SL writes "Bach organ music can be incredibly boring". Indeed it can, and the b minor often is. The sectional nature of Buxtehude, Bruhns etc appeals to me more, and on the right instrument at the appropriate tempo, can be hair-raisingly exciting. Listen Plet Kee's Bruhns G major at Roskilde. How anyone can survive that without being turned to jelly I don't know(OK slight exaggeration but not much).
  7. John: "However, I too find a distinct benefit to my hearing loss ..." As I hint, there are several benefits, and not being "able" to hear what is said to me is more often than not a great blessing. SWMBO is deaf too, so it's really quite blissful. We send each other Facebook and email messages.
  8. John, my hearing deteriorates too, high frequencies esp, so women's voices are harder to hear, and those of many young people who speak as if they're on helium. Organ wise this has two unexpected consequences. (1) Although high tones disappear, screeching mixtures are almost painful. (2) isolated notes above about F42 (from CC) sound out of tune. But I'm going off topic. Just goes to show how subjective it all is and how we should take the opinions of others with barrowfuls of salt. Indeed, I sometimes think organ tonal "experts" should have a certificate of normal hearing, whatever normal is, if they expect to be paid for their services. Loss of hearing is not without its benefits of course. As a now retired clerk in holy orders, I can tell you that latterly PCC meetings were verging on the blissful.
  9. Thank you Colin. Pre-Nicholson/Wood Southwell is interesting. Until 1970/1 the Great, with Pedal big stuff, was in the south nave triforium - presumably in part a recognition of the acoustic problem. In 70/71 the Great, much reduced in size, was squashed into the Caroe case on the screen leaving only pedal open woods and big reeds in the nave triforium. When accompanying a nave congregation (I speak from experience) only (almost) full Gt and Sw had any impact at all - and that not much, and the pedal reeds were overwhelming (the tuba - always a splendid stop at Southwell - had plenty impact, of course). I'm not questioning the quality of organ building, but rather what seem to be the peculiar acoustics that mean that the old screen organ sound was swallowed up in a way that did not seem quite so severe in other places. The stone is Permian sandstone and all sandstones are - correct me if I'm wrong - sound absorbent (Carlisle, Manchester, Chester, Lichfield) though most are "redder" than Southwell's. Maybe that is a factor.
  10. Thank you Paul. I read that in Baroque Tricks too, but it doesn't explain what went on his mind. Nor does it help with the question of why if FW and RD felt them "unsuitable", AH did not. We shall never know.
  11. Thanks Colin. Now get to work on my supplemental questions in my response above to John Robinson. Please!
  12. Thank you, Mr White Rose Man, now tinged pink. I could add more! At Southwell, by no means high or wide, the old HNB organ on the screen was hopelessly inadequate in the nave, despite the Great then being on the west side and Swell shutters opening west. This was said to be part of the reason for the installation of the separate organ in the nave triforium. It was also said (Ken Beard I think) that the lantern swallowed up the sound. And yet the lantern at Southwell is puny compared to say that at Ripon where there is not the same problem. And at York and Lincoln the lanterns are gigantic, yet the organ sound penetrated the enormous naves, though not well, better than at Southwell, IMO. Type of stone? Southwell, York and Ripon all have wooden nave roofs. (I'm talking of York organ 1960 to 2019).
  13. Where does sound come from in flue pipes? If the body, why are pipes planted with mouths uniformly orientated? Does it actually matter, or is it simply that it looks good to the tuner? Why does it matter in pulpitum organs which way soundboards are orientated: east-west (eg Lincoln, York, Ripon, Wells) or north-south (eg Gloucester and presumably new Manchester) - especially when sound bounces about in those large buildings? Does it matter where big pedal pipes are situated? Do sound waves of low notes behave differently from those of the rest of the compass? Taking Ripon as an example, the pedal flues and 32 Bombardon are in the choir aisles east of the screen and in effect in a separate building with the mouths of the biggest open woods below aisle floor level. There is little space over the screen organ, and the openings from choir aisles to transepts are merely doors, so how does the pedal sound carry? I'm not aware of Ripon pedal being considered inadequate when heard from the nave. Or Lincoln - and Selby - where the 32 flues are in a triforium. And why was Downes determined to discard the 32 wood at Gloucester? Was it merely his doctrinaire prejudice because the pipes were yards away? Where does sound come from in reed pipes? If hoods help prevent insects losing their way, why are not all but the smallest non-capped pipes hooded? That'll do for starters.
  14. Off topic warning! Over the last 20 years we've downsized a few times and moved back and forth across the Irish Sea. Now in a 3 up 2 down house there's no way I could keep what I once had. The policy I adopted was "have I played this in the last 20 years?" If the answer was no, the next question was "am I likely to in the next say 10?" (I'm 70). If no, out it went. Messiaen, Durufle, Liszr,, Reubke, and many more, all gone to good homes. I kept all Bach and Buxtehude however. Reger would have gone, but I've never knowingly played or possessed any. Vierne went: it's very bulky and all on IMSLP. I have not regretted any losses.
  15. Here's something to provoke. The English organ tradition was ruined by at least two things: (1) the removal of organs to chancel dog kennels as a consequence of liturgical change wrought by the Oxford movement and the catholic revival; and (2) the need to accompany congregational singing, never really a part of CofE tradition until imported from Wesleyan influences, by organs in distant chancels of churches with dreadful acoustics (porous stone, too much wood, not enough height). Which composers wrote durable, quality music for such instruments? Erm, that's a hard one. Lots wrote lovely miniatures and organ-enthusiast stuff, but nothing that might reasonably be valued by a non-organ geek serious musician. HOWEVER, change may come soon. Given the current cliff edge that the CoE is about to fall over, church leaders met government ministers last week, presumably to discuss inter alia finance. The CoE can't afford both buildings and clergy, Either clergy pay and pensions go, or buildings are shuttered. I can't see the church politburo agreeing to give up its pay and extremely generous non-contributory DB pensions, so unless government takes over the buildings, there will be mass closures. The government has more pressing calls upon its funds than churches. If churches go, organs go. Perhaps the organ, freed of its liturgical duties, will develop in different ways. It'll take a few generations though - a couple of centuries.
  16. You may be right about the organ, Owen. I played it a very long time ago, before the 32ft extension was installed. Of course, IIRC the acoustic is unhelpful - too much wood. Lovely stained glass though - Strachan I think. That is definitely worth preserving.
  17. well, it'll not be long before that's the case here, I suspect - at least, organs that are playable. Organs in churches proliferated with the Oxford movement. Before that, fiddlers on the gallery at the back. Back to the future?
  18. Since I posted, I've learnt that the headline was sensationalist and the article premature. But not necessarily misleading in substance. I have it on good authority that the East Fife presbytery of the Kirk has settled on an "everything-must-go policy", which will take them down to one or two churches from about forty or so. The Kirk is in serious decline: if you're so inclined., this makes for interesting reading: https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/about-us/property-and-church-buildings/properties-for-sale?t=1588706575 They're a bit further down the road, and much more candid, than the C of E. As to the organ, it's not great. A few undistinguished bits and pieces with a brash fanfare trumpet extended to 32' - yes, 32. Loud and lumpy. Harrsons did their best I suppose. https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=A00533 Sheffield could do better. I posted this not to start a discussion about churches and their inept and spineless leadership over the last 200 years or more - after all, this board is about organs - but rather to alert readers to the fact that there are bad times just around the corner for churches, and THEREFORE for organs. In the absence of a Scandi/German/Italian style church tax, it's difficut to know what to do. France is perhaps more equivalent to our situation, except that even that is better off in that the buildings are looked after by the state or local community.
  19. All I can say is: get used to it. Brechin cathedral too. The virus and lockdown mean no church services, therefore no weekly giving, therefore in the C of E diocesan share unpaid. The share pays for clergy and pensions, each stipendiary cleric costing about 55K pa (stipend, training, housing, pension etc). The commissioners 70 million loaned to diocese in this emergency won't cover more than a few weeks. The stockmarket has taken a huge hit, so diocesan investment income is, to coin a phrase, bolloxed. Churchgoing is for many a habit, Lost habits tend not to be resurrected and anyway most churchgoers are elderly and many will die before they're allowed out again. Some economic historians say nothing like this has happened for 10 generations - 400 years or so. Dioceses are or soon will be bankrupt. Stipendiary clergy will soon be unaffordable. Churches will close. It's as if this virus were deliberately designed to strike at capitalism. Good thing, some might say.
  20. Quite fascinating. Thank you David P. Birdsong and Messiaen - the connexions are obvious. It's one thing to read about them in programme notes, but quite another to have them displayed thus. I find these Mozarts a revelation. I like 594 and 608 very much, though the allegro of 594 is to my fingers fiendish, and hearing them performed thus has changed my view of them completely. Having been as a young lad bowled over by the Rawthorne GCOS inflation - great fun and exciting, I'm not knocking it - I see how they fizz and bubble when played like this. I've been interested in temperament ever since a trip to Norden, Neuenfelde and Stralsund when I experienced how much easier it is to make Buxtehude and Bruhns and Tunder sound exciting on those instruments than it is on our boring ET ones. Thank you.
  21. I had one of these things in the late 1950s early 1960s - VistaScreen I think it was called. Tourist spots sold cards for them "to remind you of your visit". I remember those of Lynton and Lynmouth particularly, but no organs. I don't think I'd been infected by the organ virus then.
  22. Just a sharp-ish mixture. IIRC the Gt and Sw clarions at St Matthews Northampton (similar but smaller Walker) break into (clarion) mixtures fairly low down in the compass.
  23. Correction: the later pieces, Prelude, Minuet, Processuoal, are dated 1939.
  24. As fas as I can see from the scores the early pieces have no dedication. The later pieces (1940s) are dedicated thus: Minuet, A M Goodhart; Prelude, John Alston; Processional, A M Henderson.
×
×
  • Create New...