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John Robinson

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Posts posted by John Robinson

  1. 6 hours ago, Choir Man said:

    "The organ’s primary role, however, has been to enhance the daily services of the cathedral, fulfilling the mandate of Vatican II, which stated that ‘[the] pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendour to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things’. Capable of providing gentle aid to prayer or a brassy fanfare for a civic procession, it can accompany anything from a solo chorister to an orchestra and a congregation of thousands."

    That's the first time I have heard of that.  Bearing in mind how many CofE churches are now going all 'happy clappy', I may decide to become a Roman Catholic!

  2. 5 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

    The honours system has long been utterly devalued by cronyism, such that it is impossible without inside knowledge to distinguish the genuinely deserving (of which I'm happy to count Wayne Marshall as one) from the rest.  I have personally known civil servants who were recommend for, and given, gongs for doing nothing more than their routine jobs, simply out of favouritism.  These were only minor gongs, to be sure, but that simply reflects the circles in which I revolved, ever decreasingly.  I have absolutely no doubt that, at least where political service is concerned, the same principles apply right to the top of the tree.

    I have heard it claimed that the process of devaluation began when Harold Wilson gave gongs to the Beatles and that it was a deliberate Socialist policy. I have no idea about that, but it does rather seem that, outside the mutual back-rubbing cliques, gongs are very much weighted towards those held in high, popular esteem. Indeed, we now have a system for public nomination. Sadly, the talent in our organ lofts is of no interest to most of the public and not regarded as of national importance, so they no longer get a look-in.  Perhaps you can't have it both ways.  The more you give gongs to those who are not well known publicly, the more you may be accused of cronyism.

    I would happily abolish the whole system. It wouldn't damage my lifestyle.

    Excellent post!

    I don't really take much interest in who has been awarded this and who has been awarded that, but I'd hazard a guess that if examined closely it would demonstrate more than just an element of Londoncentricism!
    As for the peerage and the House of Lords, I see it these days as nothing more than a free and comfortable retirement home for politicians and their cronies.

  3. 15 hours ago, Vox Humana said:


    It reminds me of the time one of our local Methodist churches was having a make-over. The builders advised ditching the speakers of the antiquated II/P Allen boopbox, assuring one of the stewards that the church's sound system could cope with the organ perfectly well.  Needless to say the steward didn't seek the organist's advice, but agreed on the spot. The church has been regretting it ever since. (I appreciate that Contrebombarde's situation was an emergency.)

    Yes.  Two completely different types of speaker system of course.

  4. On 09/01/2021 at 22:07, Contrabombarde said:

    The"box" is at its simplest merely a MIDI to USB converter cable such as Roland/Edirol UM1 costing around £20. A cheap laptop should allow you to play Grand Orgue or j-organ freeware or Hauptwerk if you want to pay for better sound. Plug keyboard into laptop via MIDI to USB adaptor, configure the software and away you go. For a multikeyboard professional setup you would want something fancier though.

    I once literally had to do it on the fly when our church's electronic organ conked out in the afternoon of the Nine Lessons and Carols, installing HW onto a spare laptop and plugging the church's sound system into the laptop headphone socket.. Everyone commented on how much better the organ sounded tgan usual!

    That reminds me of the lady sitting next to me at the first recital on the new Manchester Cathedral organ, who asked me where the speakers were.

  5. 6 hours ago, SlowOrg said:

    There are also cheaper, similar options which I would consider, especially if I didn't have a proper organ console. First there is Organteq, but of course one shouldn't forget about GrandOrgue which is totally free! I would probably try one of these first.


    Thank you SlowOrg.
    Can I assume that these (once uploaded on to a computer) can be used with any keyboard having a MIDI function?

    I'll pass these suggestions on.

  6. A friend of ours is thinking about buying a Yamaha CP88 with a view to him 'relearning the piano'.  He is also interested in possibly looking at learning to play the pipe organ.
    I see that the unit he is thinking about includes MIDI in and out, and I am wondering whether I should mention Hauptwerk as a possible add-on.
    I know little about Hauptwerk other than the fact that some organists use it in their homes as a practice instrument.
    I assume that it is a matter of buying a 'box' of some sort and that this can be connected, via MIDI, to any electric keyboard.  Is this true?  Assuming this is a viable option, can anyone offer any further advice, please?
    Of course, there are limitations: a single 88 note keyboard, no pedal board, no swell pedal, etc.

  7. 13 hours ago, Choir Man said:

    If building works are taking place, then it's sensible to wrap the organ to prevent the ingress of building dust. I believe that there are some organ builders that specialise in this, and that it is also possible to wrap the organ in a way that leaves it playable

    Yes.  They did that at York Minster some years ago.

  8. 11 hours ago, john carter said:

    Forum members may not be aware that, without a TV licence, you cannot legally watch any live television online, including Now TV, Amazon Prime or YouTube live streams of broadcasts.  The restriction is not limited to BBC i-player. 

    A licence is not required to listen to BBC Radio or BBC Sounds which are, of course, paid for by those of us who spend less than 50p per day on the cost of the licence.  For comparison, the cost of the Times newspaper is £2 per day (£1.10 for subscribers).

    Plenty on catch-up (not live!), Prime and Netflix.  In fact, a great deal more than on live TV these days.
    Of course, the Nine Lessons and Carols will be available on Radio 3 which, as you say, does not need a TV licence.

  9. 13 hours ago, MikeK said:

    I would be interested to know how you managed to record the King's Service if you don't have a licence?

    I cancelled my BBC Tax earlier this year.  I have recorded Nine Lessons and Carols several times over the past years.  I particularly like certain carols which crop up now and again.  To be perfectly honest, I don't really listen to the lessons (or readings!).

  10. 21 hours ago, wolsey said:

    Apologies for being pedantic, but the recorded televised service (Carols from King's) does not have nine readings, nor are they all from scripture.

    True, but the recordings I have are of what I have always referred to as the Nine Lessons and Carols.  I'm really not sure whether the 'lessons' are actually lessons or readings, as they are of little interest to me.  It's the music I like.


  11. 17 hours ago, S_L said:

    Yes - I'm not quite sure what the video was designed to tell me - apart from the French tend to have, in their cathedrals, two organs, le grande orgue at the west End and the orgue de choeur in the choir. Despite this seemingly preponderance of organs, the French don't have strong choral tradition.

    Yes, relating this to York Minster (sorry to drag the discussion back to that subject!) I believe I may have suggested somewhere further back in this thread that the best solution for the 'nave problem' at York would be the addition of a separate nave organ rather than, or perhaps in addition to, increasing the power of the main organ.  Of course, unlike the French system, the two organs should be playable from the same console.

    Obviously, this would be a reversal of the French system in that the 'grande orgue' would be the one on the pulpitum and would also support the choir, whilst the 'orgue de nef' would be the smaller one having the sole function of supporting the congregation in the nave.

    This has been done in a number of cathedrals in this country of course and, as has been mentioned above, there have sometimes been problems with making such a system workable.  I feel that a nave organ at the far west end of the nave at York would present timing problems and that a far better solution would be to site it in the second (or perhaps first) bay west from the under-tower: in a suitable place for supporting a nave full of people yet not too far from the main organ and the (nave) console.

    Of course, there are no such plans (and presumably money) to add a nave organ so such a discussion is academic, though I live in hope!

  12. 2 minutes ago, contraviolone said:

    Of what I have heard so far the effect of the new instrument is certainly quite powerful. It illustrates the characteristic bold voicing of the principal chorus which again will need careful handling. I'm not sure why Harrisons have gone down this path of strong voicing, another good example is my local cathedral at Bury St Edmunds where you will be literally blasted to pieces even with a modest set up of Great to fifteenth. I'm sure it sounds fine down the nave but in the chancel it is overpowering. I fear the same effect may take place at Canterbury.

    I believe that a similar decision has been taken regarding the York organ.
    This has been described as now returning to the 1930s Harrison and Harrison voicing of the instrument for Bairstow which, I understand, was rather more powerful than the post-1960 voicing.  Clearly, prior to the work presently being done on the organ, it has been rather lacking in power down the nave and that problem is, I believe, being addressed.
    That's all to the good, and I am looking forward to hearing the improvements.
    However, I wonder how this will affect how the organ sounds in the choir.  Will it be too powerful?
    I think I might have mentioned this matter somewhere earlier in this thread when I suggested a judicious use of stops might make the organ perfectly suitable for use in the choir.  I am aware that on the Great, for example, there will now be a diapason chorus on 7" wind in addition to the chorus on 4 1/4" wind as was the case previously.  I am assuming that the higher pressure diapasons are intended to provide the greater power necessary in the nave and the lower pressure stops would be used alone in the choir.

  13. 9 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

    Yes, there is plenty to see on the H&H website under Gallery. Looks a cracking job as has been the case at Canterbury.

    Yes.  Under 'MIsc/onsite install' / Sept 2020, there are dozens of photographs of the interior showing just about everything there is!

  14. 7 hours ago, john carter said:

    Wayne Marshall is certainly a talented performer.  I just wish he wasn't in such a hurry.  I'm out of breath just listening.

    Yes, he is a talented organist but, having heard him at Manchester (Bridgewater Hall) I find him rather too rapid.  I'd much prefer him to slow down a little and give me time to listen to the music!

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