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churchmouse

Organ Anecdotes For Book Wanted

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I'm sure not all connected with the organ world are that way. :D

 

 

======================

 

Seeing this reply from the much lamented about "camp followers," reminds me of the old days at Holy Trinity, Hull, when the choristers used to have an annual choir-camp during the summer months.

 

The Vicar at the time, in his prayers, said, "Let us pray for all those who are about to enjoy their vacations, and especially for the choir camp."

 

From one of the adult male choristers could be clearly heard a sibilant, "Aw bless! He's praying for us!!!"

 

:angry:

 

 

MM

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======================

 

Seeing this reply from the much lamented about "camp followers," reminds me of the old days at Holy Trinity, Hull, when the choristers used to have an annual choir-camp during the summer months.

 

The Vicar at the time, in his prayers, said, "Let us pray for all those who are about to enjoy their vacations, and especially for the choir camp."

 

From one of the adult male choristers could be clearly heard a sibilant, "Aw bless! He's praying for us!!!"

 

:mellow:

MM

Oh superb! Thanks MM!! Just love it. And the other about Simon as well. Back to book, chaps.

cheers,

Jenny

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As a young apprentice organbuilder (18, I think) I was sent to attend to a cypher on the Dukes Hall organ at the RAM (HN&B, long before the VdH).

 

I duly set to work but was interrupted by a veritable gaint of a man, who enquired if I needed anything. The answer being negative, he made to leave, suggesting that I should stop by his office if there was anything to report. Not knowing where his office might be, I asked, "Whom should I ask for ?"

 

"Arthur Wills," came the terse reply.

 

Doh!

 

 

H

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At the boarding school which I infested as a spotty teenager, it was the custom, each summer, to present a short series of choral and instrumental concerts in the chapel towards the end of the summer term. This particular summer (early fifties) was very hot and even though we were coming up to nine o’clock in the evening, singing was very hard work indeed.

 

We have all taken part in many performances which have either gone up a semitone or so, or down by a similar margin; many pieces will start, for example, in G and end up in A flat, but surely it can’t happen often in Mendelssohn’s “Hear my prayer”.

 

Nevertheless, I bet MM can equal or cap that!

 

DRH

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Apologies to those forum members who are sick and tired of my Sidney Campbell stories, but themythes' post has reminded me of another. Campbell was blessed or cursed (depending on your point of view) with perfect pitch. He could not bear to hear the way the pitch of unaccompanied music tended to meander, whether up or down. Most painful of all to him was the choir's not uncommon tendency to sink while monotoning the Creed after the second canticle. The merest fraction of a tone was enough to cause him anguish. His solution was to draw the Swell Echo Gamba, shut the box and play short "peeps" on the G, A flat, or whatever, above the treble staff. The sound was very discreet, but perfectly audible. I don't know why he insisted on doing it - it used to irritate the lay clerks no end and never seemed to have the required effect - but did it he did, sometimes two or three times a week.

 

A year or two after I had left Windsor the choir broadcast an Evensong on Radio 3 and, sure enough, when they got to the Creed the subtle "peeps" of the Echo Gamba were clearly audible to those with ears to hear!

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Another amusing anecdote flies from out of the organ-chamber!

 

Some years ago, the then organist of St.Bartholomew's, Armley, Tony Norcliffe, arranged to go to France to hear, see and play some of the more famous instruments.

 

On arriving at one particular church, he found the church locked, and set off to find the priest.

 

On finding the cleric, Tony waved the letters he had with him, confirming the appointment, but the priest would have none of it; quite an angry exchange taking place between them. Being stubborn and Gallic, the priest stood his ground, and being a Yorkshireman, Tony was in no moood to accept excuses and denials.

 

Eventually, poor Tony was forced to leave empty-handed, but in a moment of triumph, the priest gave his benediction with a sign of the cross, saying in dreadful English, "Peace on you."

 

Tony looked him in the eye and replied, "Aye, and peace on you father!"

 

:unsure:

 

MM

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sorry - pushed the wrong piston!..........................................

 

I was going to say:

 

I'll be seeing him again very soon and will ask again ( it has been 17 years since the last time, on a train to London to make a recording of him playing all of the Whitlock Sonata at the RAH) if this would add verisimilitude.

[...]

 

DW

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sorry - pushed the wrong piston!..........................................

 

I was going to say:

 

I'll be seeing him again very soon and will ask again ( it has been 17 years since the last time, on a train to London to make a recording of him playing all of the Whitlock Sonata at the RAH) if this would add verisimilitude.

 

There are so many of these stories and so many of them ARE good, but with little basis.

 

DW

 

I would like to know what happened with this interesting recording. It was never brought out as far as I know.

 

Gerco Schaap (NL)

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I'm sure I have mentioed it on these forums before, though perhaps not on this thread so apologies for any inadvertent repeating. I was once asked to play for a wedding at a church where the organ had not been used for some time and was not in the healthiest condition. Indeed, whilst playing over the wedding music to the couple a few days before the Big Day to demonstrate how it would sound, at one point the Great reservoir sprang a leak that resulted in a banshee-like wail from a vibrating flap of errant leather.

 

On the morning of the wedding things were so bad that I had to dispatch a member of the choir off to the local B&Q with a shopping list of emergency repair items, including duck tape and superglue, and as the congregation was gathering I had the unenviable task of crawling around the innards of the organ in my best suit trying to plug air leaks.

 

About five minutes before the bride arrived, the ivory fell off the key of Great Middle C, and faced with the extreme discomfort of playing a keyboard with this crucial ivory missing, I decided to fix it by smearing it liberally with superglue. Bad mistake, as I ended up with half the Great keys, and my ten fingers, covered in superglue, and with the bridal party arriving, there was no time to nip to the washroom and clean up.

 

Amazingly after that, the organ got through the service without a hitch, though I vowed never to play that particular instrument ever again...

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...

 

Tony looked him in the eye and replied, "Aye, and peace on you father!"

 

:unsure:

 

MM

:blink::lol:B) when talking of Yorkshireman and Lancastrians I always think of irresistable forces meeting immovable objects (being married to one I ought to know!! :o

Keep 'em coming boys - the book is rolling along but won't be out in time for this christmas...

Jenny

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Guest Cynic
:unsure::blink::lol: when talking of Yorkshireman and Lancastrians I always think of irresistable forces meeting immovable objects (being married to one I ought to know!! :o

Keep 'em coming boys - the book is rolling along but won't be out in time for this christmas...

Jenny

 

 

I have come upon quite a few Yorkshiremen outside Yorkshire and the prominent ones (like Geoffrey Boycott clones) seem to tally with the saying

'You can alway tell a Yorkshireman, but you can't tell him much!'

Now I'm living here, however, there don't seem to be many around of that kind.

 

I think the county must export its pushy and demanding so and sos. People round here are great.

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Really enjoying following this topic; very entertaining. Any of you contributors ever consider after dinner speaking? (MM?)

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Many years ago my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to take my three-year-old son to a small concert. We sat at the front. As they started singing the first piece the young ladies started to giggle, and then tried harder and harder to suppress their laughter. Then we looked at my son, and saw that he had been making faces at them.

 

Then there was an organ solo. I don't know exactly what happened, or how it was done, but the organist slipped off the bench and his shoe flew into the air. Unfortunately my son couldn't understand why that didn't happen again at every other concert he was taken to afterwards.

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Guest Barry Williams
Really enjoying following this topic; very entertaining. Any of you contributors ever consider after dinner speaking? (MM?)

 

Yes. I have been guest speaker at quite a few organists' association meetings. Despite the wealth of funny stories available, folk seem to prefer something mainly more serious and related to their work, though with a few funnies thrown in. (Wedding stories are always popular!)

 

Organists take their work very seriously, which says a lot for their professionalism.

 

Barry Williams

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I have come upon quite a few Yorkshiremen outside Yorkshire and the prominent ones (like Geoffrey Boycott clones) seem to tally with the saying

'You can alway tell a Yorkshireman, but you can't tell him much!'

Now I'm living here, however, there don't seem to be many around of that kind.

 

I think the county must export its pushy and demanding so and sos. People round here are great.

 

 

===================

 

 

I've only just got around to this.....I must be busy pre-Xmas.

 

It's completely off-topic of course, but it is a fact of business life, that there is a disproportionate number of Yorkshiremen who fill the top jobs in business.

 

I'm not quite sure why, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that they don't mind speaking their mind, and often couldn't care less what people think about them when they do.

 

MM

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Really enjoying following this topic; very entertaining. Any of you contributors ever consider after dinner speaking? (MM?)

 

 

=====================

 

 

I've done a bit here and there.

 

Largely, I have given talks to Organist's Associations on a variety of subjects, and if anyone is interested, I would love to give a talk about Polish/Czech organs and organ-music.

 

It's such an unknown quantity to many organists.

 

As Barry suggests, organists prefer more serious things, and I very much doubt that I could carve a niche as a stand-up organ comedian. One or two anecdotes are usually enough.

 

MM

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As Barry suggests, organists prefer more serious things

Maybe it's something to do with continually having to force weary smiles - or spit venom - at all those prats who imagine they're being terribly clever and original making lewd puns on the word "organ".

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Maybe it's something to do with continually having to force weary smiles - or spit venom - at all those prats who imagine they're being terribly clever and original making lewd puns on the word "organ".

 

 

=======================

 

 

Talk of 'spitting venom' reminded me of another true story, involving myself, which goes like this:-

 

 

 

This happened in a bar in Boston, Massachusetts, when I was chatting to a few musicians over a few too many Tennessee Whiskeys. We had chatted about this and that, and nothing in particular, but on the way back from the bar carrying drinks, I distinctly heard a voice say, “Marilyn Mason is brilliant.”

 

Of course, I couldn’t have agreed more, and turning to the people on the next table, from whence the statement came, I said, “She’s a wonderful musician…..Marilyn Mason.”

 

To be honest, I was a bit puzzled by the way the young guys on the next table dressed; especially since they appeared to appreciate organ-music.

 

I was soon put right, by the young man wearing make-up, with spiked hair, buckled boots and a black leather coat, who leered at me and replied, “Marilyn Manson is a guy…..weirdo!”

 

:D

 

MM

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One of the curious things about the many replies I've had - as well trawling the waters of organist gossip - is that there are not very many Christmas anecdotes of things that went hideously wrong; weddings, funerals, baptisms, ordinations are all there, but Christmas seems to escape the worst horrors of Father Glitch. Or perhaps we are all so exhausted at the end that anything bad is immediately wiped from memory?

 

The closest to a disaster that I have personally seen was while playing the outgoing processional at the midnight service, I watched a rather simple-minded member of the choir about to set fire to the long hair of the alto in front with her candle. :D

 

cheers

churchmouse

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Hi All! A have a funny tale to tell that happened to me at this morning's Sunday Eucharist...

 

Firstly a bit of Background. The church that I was playing at has a choir consisting of 4 old ladies and 2 old men. The organ console sits opposite the choir, which they have to process past at the end of the service.

 

Anyway, It came to the end of the service, and I started playing a nice jubilant improv in the form of a Toccata, with the tune in the pedals. On this particular day I was wearing formal attire but had some of my colourful and patterened Topman socks on.

 

About half a minute goes past and the choir start going past. The last pair to come out are Husband and wife.

 

She stops and says to her Husband "Oooh Ken, Look at his socks!" She then proceeds to pull up my trouser leg while I am playing, and point them out to him!

 

A definate first for me! :D:lol::lol:

 

Kind Regards,

 

Richard

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Not that I tell funny musical stories or anything :angry: but one of the very best I know, which happens to be true, concerns an old, retired Colonel who lived in one of the prettier parts of rural Yorkshire. Not one to ever attend church except on Christmas Day and Harvest Festival, the new vicar happened upon the gentleman while on his visiting rounds.

In his naivety, the new vicar was unaware of the old Colonel’s drinking habits, which included almost anything which would maintain his constant state of inebriation and ensure, in the event of his death, perfect preservation over a considerable period.

“It would be nice to see you in church,” the Vicar said.

 

“I’ll consider it,” the Colonel replied.

 

“We’re short of a reader for one of the lessons this Sunday. How about reading it for us?” The Vicar suggested.

 

“Very well….Sunday morning it is!” The Colonel replied.

 

So it was, that the Colonel presented himself in good time for the Sunday Mattins, but not before he’d filled himself with strong drink and topped up his various hip-flasks for the occasion. As Mattins began, the Colonel secretly sipped away at the hip-flasks, until it was time to read the lesson. Stumbling towards the lectern as best he could, he popped in his monocle and started to read from Daniel 3….the story of “The fiery furnace.”

 

v4 “Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,

v5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

v6 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

v7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

v8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.

v9 They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.

By now struggling to focus, let alone read the words, the old Colonel became ever more incoherent and exasperated, and when faced with the same musical passage once again, he read:-

v10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the……same bloody orchestra…..shall fall down and worship the golden image:

v11 And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (etc)

 

I DON'T THINK HER WAS EVER INVITED TO DO ANYTHING AGAIN!

 

:mellow:

 

MM

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I DON'T THINK HER WAS EVER INVITED TO DO ANYTHING AGAIN!

 

Was s/he a transsexual or something as well?

 

Very funny though, MM!

 

:mellow:

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When I was a very young chorister aged about 9 I sang in the choir of my local church near Stratford-upon-Avon. The organist was a stern old (at least to a 9 year old) lady who only ever played 3 post-service voluntaries in strict rotation and only once, to my knowledge, used the Great open diapason. This was at the end of Onward Christian Soldiers when an Assistant Bishop was present - she must have been trying to impress. Anyway, that's not the story....

 

One Sunday night, about 20 minutes into Evensong, a really horrible smell began to make itself known. There was a bit of giggling and whispers that Miss S..... must have passed wind. After another 10 minutes it was less funny and one little girl ran out of the stalls with a hand over her mouth towards the vestry. As the electric heating pipes got warmer, the smell became so bad that several others left, including at the start of the sermon, Miss S.....

 

It transpired that a member of the choir, :mellow:, yes it was I, had trodden in something unmentionable and canine, and as it warmed up........

 

P

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