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Liverpool Cathedral / Ian Tracey

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I came across the following on the Lay Clerk's discussion group this morning............................interesting! This was posted by Peter Bates, one of the Cathedral lay-clerks, so is sure to be reasonably accurate!

 

NS

 

 

 

"Advance information that the Director of Music post at Liverpool

Cathedral is to be advertised in the near future. The DoM will "assume

all responsibility for direction of the Cathedral's music programme

... Chapter seek to appoint a choral specialist."

 

Professor Ian Tracey is to take up an appointment as "Organist Titulaire".

 

Until the post is formally advertised, requests for more information

should be made to Canon Anthony Hawley, Acting Dean.

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Guest Lee Blick

I think this is a good idea to separate the two roles. By appointing a choral specialist and havingt the organis being able to concentrate on the accompanimental/performance side of things yet working jointly as a team can only mean raising the standards in many places.

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I agree completely.

 

During his time at Liverpool, Noel Rawsthorne was "Cathedral Organist" at Liverpool, and Ronald Woan, the Choirmaster. This changed when Ron Woan retired and Ian Tracey was made Organist and Master of the Choristers or whatever it's called at Liverpool.

 

NS

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Not sure what is happening here !! IT already is de facto organist and Ian Wells does the lions share of choral conducting. It may well be that they are seeking to raise the choral singing to a new level. When I went to an Evensong in May, the level of singing was no more than adequate and the discipline within the choir was poor. IT must be the Cathedral's longest serving employee. They may wish to recast the Music Dept without the influence of such a big personality.

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Guest Barry Williams
Not sure what is happening here !! IT already is de facto organist and Ian Wells does the lions share of choral conducting. It may well be that they are seeking to raise the choral singing to a new level. When I went to an Evensong in May, the level of singing was no more than adequate and the discipline within the choir was poor. IT must be the Cathedral's longest serving employee. They may wish to recast the Music Dept without the influence of such a big personality.

 

Another explanation is that Professor Tracey may simply wish to return to the organ loft, leaving the hassle of admininstration, children and parents, etc to others.

 

Barry Williams

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Another explanation is that Professor Tracey may simply wish to return to the organ loft, leaving the hassle of admininstration, children and parents, etc to others.

 

Barry Williams

 

Something that I would welcome. He is a first rate organist, and the combination of him and that instrument are unique - yet there are all too few recordings available, and much suitable repertoire awaiting. And I suspect that of all organs, that beast in particular demands a full time and experienced player.

 

JJK

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Guest Barry Oakley
Another explanation is that Professor Tracey may simply wish to return to the organ loft, leaving the hassle of admininstration, children and parents, etc to others.

 

Barry Williams

 

This is a plausible explanation, Barry, but if IT permanently heads for the organ loft what would be Ian Well's role if he is displaced in favour a new DOM who would concentrate on choral perfection? Could this be an enactment of what took place at Lincoln a few years back? It's an interesting one, given that IT's other commitments also include choral direction elsewhere. Is someone likely to be struck off the payroll, I wonder?

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This is a plausible explanation, Barry, but if IT permanently heads for the organ loft what would be Ian Well's role if he is displaced in favour a new DOM who would concentrate on choral perfection? Could this be an enactment of what took place at Lincoln a few years back? It's an interesting one, given that IT's other commitments also include choral direction elsewhere. Is someone likely to be struck off the payroll, I wonder?

 

 

Liverpool does have a girls' choir as well as a boys' choir, so it may be that things are re-organised a little. Having heard both the boys and the girls in the Christmas recital there last year, the girls were outstanding but the boys didn't seem as good as they used to be. There is plenty of work in the music department at Liverpool. The music staff do an incredible job, given the fact that there isn't a choir school. The boys are ferried in by buses and minibuses and are all voluntary. There is also evidence that great strides are being made at the cathedral generally to "market" the building in many ways, with a new visitor attraction, restaurant etc. It maybe that the new "management" want to take music there a stage further and input more in the way of finance to develop things even more.

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Should the news about Liverpool Cathedral turn out to be accurate, then it is a most interesting development. Back in the days when both of Liverpool's cathedrals had split posts, it was seen as an unusual and (by some) unnecessary arrangement. But while I don't disagree that separate appointments as organist and DOM is a perfectly good way of running a cathedral music department, and one that seems to be becoming quite fashionable, surely it is not necessarily any better than having one person do both jobs. There seems to be a feeling around that cathedral organists should stick to playing the organ and let the professionals -- i.e. choral specialists -- run the choirs. Odd, but I always thought that cathedral organists were choral specialists. At any rate, the wording for the Liverpool job ad as given earlier in this thread, that the chapter wishes to appoint a choral specialist, could be considered rather insulting to the current jobholder given what has been achieved at Liverpool since he took over.

I suspect that what really lies behind the revival of the split-post arrangement is that cathedrals are now being run as businesses by administrators, and the burden of administration on cathedral musicians is becoming too much for one person to oversee alongside everything else. I'd be interested to learn whether that's the case at Liverpool, which, as someone else has said, seems to be in the process of reinventing itself more as a business venue than a place of worship (perhaps as a refectory with cathedral attachment). What cathedral musician would really want all the hassle?

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Guest Lee Blick
that the chapter wishes to appoint a choral specialist, could be considered rather insulting to the current jobholder given what has been achieved at Liverpool since he took over.

 

Personally, I don't see why it should be insulting to the current jobholder. Perhaps the wording should be 'dedicated choral specialist'. Perhaps Mr Tracey feels that he would rather concentrate on the organ playing side of things.

 

As to Cathedral organists automatically being choral specialists, this may be the case in the past, but as most things, times and circumstances change and perhaps organists coming through are seeking to concentrate on recital playing as well as organ accompaniment. I suppose if you are look at the disappearing choral scene within the parish churches perhaps there are less opportunitiies for organists to develop choral training skills to a decent enough level, early enough in their organ playing life.

 

As a parish organist, I used to enjoy choral direction in my teens and twenties but by the time I left the CofE and religion altogether a couple of years ago now, I had become thoroughly despondent and disillusioned having to deal with choral forces. If I ever bothered to go back to playing in churches I would not want to have to run a choir again, although i have lots of experience in training them. It is just not worth the flippin' hassle.

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I'd be interested to learn whether that's the case at Liverpool, which, as someone else has said, seems to be in the process of reinventing itself more as a business venue than a place of worship (perhaps as a refectory with cathedral attachment). What cathedral musician would really want all the hassle?

 

Perhaps Cathedrals have no option these days than to use the buildings for other purposes. French cathedrals (sometimes organs too!) are maintained by the state. It is a sad state of affairs when UK cathedrals have to turn to gimmicks and expensive admission charges to bring in the income because the state refuses to fund these magnificent edifices which contribute greatly to the tourism in the UK.

 

NS

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Perhaps Cathedrals have no option these days than to use the buildings for other purposes. French cathedrals (sometimes organs too!) are maintained by the state. It is a sad state of affairs when UK cathedrals have to turn to gimmicks and expensive admission charges to bring in the income because the state refuses to fund these magnificent edifices which contribute greatly to the tourism in the UK.

 

NS

 

Many of the more provincial French cathedrals (and the organs in them) also seem decidedly more down at heal than most of those in the UK.

 

AJJ

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Guest Barry Williams
Many of the more provincial French cathedrals (and the organs in them) also seem decidedly more down at heal than most of those in the UK.

 

AJJ

 

 

A few centuries ago cathedrals were used for all kinds of purposes unconnected with worship. The history books disclose many secular uses in days of yore.

 

The current trend for appointing vocal specialists may reflect the fact that not all the best organists also have equivalent singing and choir training skills. Indeed, in a very candid interview, one leading church music director has admitted to not having had much formal choir training tuition and to learning on the job when the boss was away. (BBC Singers magazine.)

 

I suspect that many organists and choirmasters are thoroughly fed up with the current liturgical style and the weight of admininstrative duties, not to mention the hassle of dealing with demanding parents. As I have written before, there is no shortage of organists, merely a shortage of those who wish to work for the church.

 

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Lee Blick
It is a sad state of affairs when UK cathedrals have to turn to gimmicks and expensive admission charges to bring in the income because the state refuses to fund these magnificent edifices which contribute greatly to the tourism in the UK

 

I would disagree that something like a 'refectory' is a a gimmick. If properly managed it can become a useful focal point giving a sense of community and evidence of Christian hospitality. The Church of England can no longer rely on service collections and bequests, it has to get with the times and come up with imaginative ways to make money to survive.

 

As to governmental funding, there is a price to pay. Governmental interference. I think there is enough already, so do we need more of it in our churches and cathedrals? Governmental handouts. No thanks!

 

These cathedrals are already benefitting from the tourist industry. It is up to these places to reiieve these tourists of their cash. I mean, it is not as if the church hasn't been the masters of this before. Many cathedrals in history were founded by money from displaying bones of dead saints, supposed healing shrines, which presumably came with selling of trinkets and souveniers and all sort of goodies.

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Having sat in on a recording of the Ally Pally organ, I was totally memorised by Ian Tracey's abilities as a recitalist, and I hope that he will continue in some capacity at Liverpool.

He, has I believe also been instrumental in appointing David Wells to maintain the organ and what a great job they have done.!

Colin Richell.

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Guest drd
... there is no shortage of organists, merely a shortage of those who wish to work for the church.

 

 

Barry Williams

 

Absolutely.

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Having sat in on a recording of the Ally Pally organ, I was totally memorised by Ian Tracey's abilities as a recitalist, and I hope that he will continue in some capacity at Liverpool.

He, has I believe also been instrumental in appointing David Wells to maintain the organ and what a great job they have done.!

Colin Richell.

 

You can believe it if you like but it's not true and I think we generally prefer fact : David Wells took over the care of the organ at Liverpool from Harrison & Harrison in 1978, during the reign of Noel Rawsthorne - IanT had nothing to do with it.

 

I sometimes held keys for David for the mammoth tuning job on a more-or-less monthly basis - reeds for days!

 

As to doing a great job - absolutely. :wacko:

 

David Wyld.

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Guest Barry Williams

Indeed, David Wells' association with the organ at Liverpool Cathedral goes back a long way and long before Professor Tracey was in post.

 

Although David was appointed by the Dean and Chapter in 1981, he had looked after the organ whilst in the employment of Harrison & Harrison Ltd and Henry Willis & Sons Ltd before that. (See Elvin's 'Pipes & Actions' page 303.) He has known the organ in a professional capacity for just over forty-eight years - since April 1959! Is this a record?

 

Barry Williams

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Thank you Barry for explaining that David Wells was responsible for the organ prior to the appointment of Ian Tracey. I was obviously misinformed that other organ builders were anxious to take over the contract, but that Ian was adamant that David Wells should be retained.

It would be nice to hear from David Wells,about his involvement with the organ, but he obviously is too busy to take time to contribute to the Mander site!.

Colin Richell.

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Reported on the Lay Clerk's discussion group " today....................................

 

Apparently, Ian Wells (Assistant at Liverpool) "has also resigned"

 

 

Interesting.

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Guest Barry Oakley
Reported on the Lay Clerk's discussion group " today....................................

 

Apparently, Ian Wells (Assistant at Liverpool) "has also resigned"

Interesting.

 

 

"Also." Then who else has resigned at Liverpool?

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Guest Barry Oakley
Reported on the Lay Clerk's discussion group " today....................................

 

Apparently, Ian Wells (Assistant at Liverpool) "has also resigned"

Interesting.

 

 

"Also." Then who else has resigned at Liverpool?

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I wonder whether the style "organist titulaire" means that IT's position will henceforth be similar to Colin Walsh's at Lincoln (which is what, exactly?)

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Having just returned from a recital at Liverpool, I was told by someone in "the know" that Ian T has resigned and his new position will be an honorary one. Chapter are hoping to appoint successor/s to start in January. From the sound of it, Liverpool hasn't been a very happy place over the last couple of years - sounds like typical Anglican politics.

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