Guest Roffensis Posted June 29, 2005 Share Posted June 29, 2005 I wanted to ask other Organists and Choirmasters their opinions on the subject of modern cathedral musical requirements. When you think about it, fifty years ago, the standard cathedral choir was an all male preserve, with the tone "set" or typified by such standards as Ernest Lough. Although hopelessly(?!) outdated it seems, I actually train my all boys choir in that old tradition, with a fair bit of subtle to obvious vibrato , which works well in the very resonant R.C. church where I am. In our major churches it has been slowly replaced by a more reedy and chest like tone. Kings under Willococks and Kings now are two very different sounds. Vocal production and diction are just not the same. In some places, the term used is "continental", even if there is no real choral tradition on the continent(!), which makes us here pretty unique. As a result of this, I feel that girls have become more acceptable, as the divide between voices is not so marked. Try to get a girl to do a Lough, it isn't really going to happen, but boys can be made to sing like girls. Some cathedral choirs actually do. The truth is, I think, that while decades back the differences between boys and girls were very obvious, now they are not. It all comes down to training styles. The same applies to repertoire, and these days the staple diet of Stanford et al has been enhanced by many modern composers. Leighton, Mathias, and so on. Because of these changes, surely the needs of the cathedral organ per se have also changed. As much as I make myself no part of it, I am not blind to change. I can see that the church cannot stay in a given style forever. So what of the organ? are we seriously going to say that the spikey registrations needed for Leighton, and other moderns can be met by a Harrison, for example. What of that chiffy flute needed here and there?. It can be a bit like trying to play Bach on a Hammond, and I suppose this in part is what led to the 60s alterations, typically to our choir organs. It really is an interesting subject when you sit and think about it, and I have to admit in all honesty that I do think it very wrong for all our cathedrals to sport exactly the same sounds, traditions, and yes, organ styles. I feel there is a need for our cathedrals to encompass everything they possibly can. I am happy to keep my choir and organ in a "golden age", and the choir love it. But really, there is also so much room for variety in our country, both in singing styles, and also in organs. From that point of view I have to admit, even reluctantly, that I can see another pendulem swinging. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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