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Mander Organs

handsoff

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Everything posted by handsoff

  1. handsoff

    School choirs and organ suggestions

    Stainer: The Crucifixion ...and yes, I really mean it! I am very fond of this work with its drama, word-painting and simply wonderful hymn tunes. A good tenor soloist is clearly needed and I'd allow you to omit the Prelude! I know it's unfashionable to like Stainer at the moment but his time will come again...
  2. handsoff

    Christmas music 2018

    I have two carol services at different churches within the Benefice; for the first, a very cheerful and quite light-hearted affair I shall end with a simple arrangement of "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" - short so that it can finish before the kettles boil and catchy enough to make the audience listen. The second service is more traditional and they shall have "In Dulci Jubilo" by Wilbur Held. On Christmas morning I'll play "God Rest Ye Merry" also by Wilbur Held.
  3. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    If she were ever to come back..!
  4. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    I've always been a fan of a good last reharmonisation and in most circumstances much prefer one to a descant with a few exceptions such as Andrew Fletcher's "Hark the Herald" and one to Divinum Mysterium we used to do at Warwick. Last verse jobs do seem to have gone out of fashion although I don't go to nearly as many services in cathedrals and other churches with good organists as I once did. When much younger I went to a residential accompaniment course at Addington Palace and learned a huge amount, including the art of last verses, most of which I seem to have lost over the years. In my own small way I always try to vary the harmonies of at least one hymn per service but bearing in mind there are rarely more than 15 in the congregation and the organ is, umm, limited, I have to be circumspect. One funny story from recent years. In our annual carol service not long ago there was a woman in the congregation with a very pronounced and uncontrolled vibrato coupled to a loud voice and apparently equally large ego. She was the sort that would finish a loud carol by say, going to the upper 5th and then the tonic an octave higher to finish. In "O Come all ye Faithful" I had prepared an alternative harmony for the final verse ("Sing Choirs of...." as it was before Christmas) but she took it it upon herself to belt out the Willcocks descant in competition. Even with the limited organ, I won. Enough to say that she didn't hang about for the mince pies... 😈
  5. handsoff

    Organ Scholarhips and Conservatoires

    That'll spur me on mightily - I like the idea of "Dripping poison on the Dons" (if that was the quote I think I remember reading somewhere!).
  6. handsoff

    Organ Scholarhips and Conservatoires

    Woohoo, a chance of an organ scholarship at last! My last exam was Grade 7 so St John's Cambridge at least please.😁
  7. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    Thank you Wolsey, that will explain the apparent change in volume in the broadcast. Time for another visit, I think...
  8. handsoff

    Westminster Abbey

    I echo all the thoughts about the service expressed above. It sounded to me, listening with a mid-price soundbar and subwoofer, as if the pedal reeds were more forceful than I remember either from other recordings or being in the building. Has any revoicing been done recently or was it likely to have been simply the placement of the BBC's microphones?
  9. handsoff

    List of beautiful English Organs

    During a short break in the village of Coln St Aldwyns, in the Cotswolds, I was able to play this organ. The front, Open Diapason, pipes are beautifully decorated as are, more unusually, the Bourdon pipes placed at either end of the organ. This view shows them to a reasonable extent. The console can hardly be described as beautiful but the sound of the organ is decidedly so. The Gamba is almost Oboe-like and blends perfectly with the Stopped Diapason and 4' Flute; the OD and Principal and quite powerful and bright and supported well by the Bourdon Treble, an unusual manual double for such a small organ and judging by the stop knob a later addition to the organ. The console is unusually sited at the East end of the organ facing West and directly under one set of Bourdon pipes and needs a double mirror setup for the organist to see the choir stalls.
  10. handsoff

    Blind Listening Experiment

    I played a new organ with fully electric action in Witheridge, North Devon, a couple of years ago. This had four different settings available for the general crescendo pedal and they all were set to do exactly what most GCPs don't in that the superfluous quieter ranks were taken off as the louder stops came on. In this case it was clearly up to the player to choose the sound required in each of the settings. The level of playing aids was almost overwhelming to me; used to playing instruments with none! I do appreciate that older organs don't have the flexibility that a new state-of-the-art electric action can provide. Here is a rather blurred picture that Mrs H took on a very basic digital camera as i was playing. The GC pedal is the the right-hand (foot!) of the two. This is the specification although the GCP isn't shown in the leaflet from which it was taken.
  11. handsoff

    Youtube

    A masterful improvisation from Daniel Roth. The relationship between M. Roth and the régistrants is almost telepathic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxJuwWP_s6Y
  12. handsoff

    Last Night of the Proms 2018

    Mmmm. From the BBC SO website. No mention of an organist. Funny that... http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/sXnJWD6dprbBG2LK4wN9Cj/whos-who
  13. handsoff

    Organs that you can play?

    My advice would be to pick an area in which there are organs that you would be interested in seeing and then, using the "A Church Near You" website, ask the contact listed for each church if you might be able to arrange a visit to see and perhaps play the organ. I use this approach when going on holday and have, without exception, been made welcome. I have always made a generous donation upon leaving. My particular interest is village church instruments and I have little interest in playing the much larger multi-department organs and suspect that on occasions access to these might be more limited anyway. A loud tuba or big pedal reed is a tiny part of the experience of being an organist and constant loud playing is tiresome to any audience and will win the player few friends. The pleasure, to me at least, of discovering little used small organs and exploring their resources beats into a cocked hat the "Full Organ" large instrument approach. As has been said elsewhere on this forum the quieter stops on a organ usually provide the most beautiful and expressive sounds and small organs often have some real gems.
  14. handsoff

    St Asaph

    This is terribly sad news for music in Wales. I can't help but think that the problems lie here... Earlier this year, new facilities – costing more than £600,000 –were opened. A third of a million-pound extension and refurbishment of the cathedral’s vestries created a new Translators’ Tearoom, gender-neutral toilets and a community meeting space. The project was funded by more than £130,000 of grants secured from various bodies, including WREN – £50,000 – and the Garfield Weston Foundation, £25,000. The rest of the money was raised by the cathedral or had been left as legacies. A £286,000 grant from the National Lottery went towards the creation of a major interactive project that features interactive displays. All this points to the low regard in which church music and musicians are held in this country. The exceedingly wealthy, in terms of invested assets, Anglican church is, in my very humble opinion, appallingly badly run. Two of the churches in my own benefice are set to be abandoned within the next 2 or 3 years. The tiny congregations are expected to contribute over £4000 each per annum to the diocese. For what? We see nothing other than pastoral letters and last year another Bishop appointed. There is no "backflow" of support and is hard to see where our money goes. In most forms of business the "branch offices" are supported by "head office". Not so in the Anglican church...
  15. handsoff

    Music That We'd Rather Not Play

    To set some background, I am currently deputising at a small parish church in a village near my usual church because the the organist is incapacitated for several weeks. The service times are fortunately fine to allow for travel between the two. The hymns have been picked for the next 3 months and I was given a list at the beginning of last week for the coming period. I have never played "Shine, Jesus Shine" and vowed many years ago that I wouldn't unless under great duress, say if required for a funeral, so was less than chuffed to find that it was scheduled for the end of yesterday morning's service. The hymn book used is that huge orange tome, "Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New" which I was "amused" to see has hymns about elephants and smelly feet. Hmmm. Anyway, I decided to try to avoid S, J S and so picked a more traditional alternative, turned up a few minutes early and spoke to the churchwarden. His relief to my suggestion was palpable and he almost ran to the numbers box to change the boards. The choir were also delighted as, as one of them said, "It's just embarrassing to sing". They said that as I'm currently their organist I should feel free to change anything I wish except the mass setting as everyone likes and knows it. My wife said that I was wrong to change the hymn as it showed arrogance and elitism on my part but I feel that it was justified as the choir and congregation were pleased to not sing it. Had they asked to play it rather than make a change I would, of course, had acceded.
  16. handsoff

    Music That We'd Rather Not Play

    I have certainly not been offended in way or form at all. It takes an awful lot to do that and nothing here has come with a light year of it!
  17. handsoff

    Music That We'd Rather Not Play

    I'm flattered to be described as a Director of Music which although strictly true I suppose, does over-inflate my role as organist of a tiny church with a tiny organ on the point of total failure and no money to fix it. I suspect too that the church will close within 2 or 3 years thanks to the ridiculous amount of money demanded each year by the diocese. The church is in a minute village of perhaps 15 homes and has a congregation of between 8 and 15 souls, all of whom with 2 exceptions come from outside the village solely because of our usage of the BCP and NEH; one family of 3 travelling 20+ miles from Coventry. The mean age is probably 70 and we utterly rely on retired priests to perform the services. I have no objection to some worship songs; there are indeed soome very good examples, but I do know that they would not be accepted at All Saints'. I know this because the Benefice of 4 churches has a Benefice service on a rotating basis on 5th Sundays and in 2 of these, for which I sometimes play, these songs are scheduled. The faction from All Saints' always say that they don't like or want them (or the music group which also accompanies them) when it's our turn. I regularly introduce unfamiliar hymns to them, sometimes to a well-known tune rather than the one set and this seems to go down well. A recent example was "Thee we adore, O hidden Saviour Thee" to the tune of "Abide with Me". This went down really well and I've been asked to repeat soon. (The exercise reminds me of the BBC comedy, still thankfully extant, "I'm sorry I Haven't a Clue" in which my favourite tune swap was "A Whiter Shade of Pale" to the tune of "My Old Man's a Dustman"). It is absolutely true to say that there are some dreadful old hymns. I had to play the tune of "I Vow to Thee" (to alternative words for a wedding last week) and used my school days copy of "Songs of Praise". Some of the dross in there is beyond belief...
  18. handsoff

    Music That We'd Rather Not Play

    I choose the hymns for my church and use both an online lectionary and the "Hymns Suggested for Sundays" in the indices; this helps ensure their relevance. We use the BCP and New English Hymnal which in turn discourage and completely preclude worship songs.
  19. handsoff

    Music That We'd Rather Not Play

    How things come home to roost. I played for a wedding** yesterday at which the hymns were Morning Has Broken, Jerusalem and Shine. I clearly couldn't object to the latter's use so had to grin and bear it but was pleased enough when the congregation really belted it out; so much so that I had to use the rather loud 2' Fifteenth in the final choruses to support them. What has amused me about Shine this time around is the way that it installed itself as an ear worm while practising; to the extent that I have caught myself humming it out loud in public. As my wife is fond of saying, "God always gets his own back..". ** The highlight of the event was the departure of the bride and groom in a hired Lamborghini Aventador convertible - and watching the bride getting into the passenger seat in full meringue and heels. ?
  20. handsoff

    Organs and the warm weather

    I'm just back from playing for a wedding at my regular church on the single manual + pedal hotpotch under the West End tower. Playing 3 of Bach's Short Preludes and Fugues beforehand didn't sound too bad but the final chord of Pachelbel's Canon on the Stop Diapason 8' + 4' Open Flute had more beats than an egg whisking competition. It was fine last Sunday so I can blame the weather over the past few days. Telephone call to the tuner diaried for Monday so as to be ready for next week's repeat...
  21. handsoff

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Thank you David, yes that's the organ - I tried to post the photo directly but my allocatiion was used up. The organ sounds very good in the building and is surprisingly versatile with all manual ranks' pipes being enclosed, and comfortable ; as you can see the bench has a backrest which I find to be rather nice! The short compass pedal board restricts the choice of music a little and the Bourdon drawstop needs a very firm pull/push but it's an enjoyable organ to play.
  22. handsoff

    List of beautiful English Organs

    This is a bit off-topic but not, I hope, too far. One of the organs I play on an as required basis for the occasional funeral or carol service is a single manual Holditch., http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D04551. It has a Diacton drawstop which acts on an extra 12 pipes per treble rank and thus extends the range of what is otherwise an Octave coupler. It's very effective and allows a real top-end boost when the church is full. I assume that this is a device found only on Holditch organs ; I have never met it before.
  23. handsoff

    Easy Fanfares?

    When I was learning the organ my teacher was the best source of information about repertoire and tips on technique. He knew where I was in my studies, what I would be able to accomplish at that stage in my career, and be able to suggest new music that would push me without it being too difficult at that point and thus discourage me.
  24. handsoff

    Appointments 2

    There's a chance to hear Christopher play the PPO organ in the Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon on 5 May at 5pm.. Very much looking forward to it! P
  25. handsoff

    Easy Organ Pieces & leading a congregation?

    As organist at a few tiny village churches with single manual organs in the main I can't add anything to the expertise above but would mention that Kevin Mayhew sells a book of hymn tunes transposed down, sometimes a semitone and for some tunes, more. It's very handy until your transposition skills are up to speed.
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