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When Do You Play It?


Westgate Morris
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When do you begin using an organ that is being installed in a church? The rector wants to show it off as soon as possible. Say we have the 8' Diapason and 4' Principal ready, voiced and playing... wait until the Great is complete?

Would you hold off? Play a suitable manuals only piece for a Postlude?

There is a certain desire to ease this congregation into pipes and prove to them that their comfort with electronic was only because they knew of nothing else.

 

Thoughts.

 

WM

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Quite.

 

I sincerely hope that you would never find here what I came across a few years ago in America. I think I've told this story before. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Three manual Moller of 26 stops with four more prepared for (Sw. Scharf, Sw. Fagotto 16', Ped. Posaune 16' and Ped. Klarine 4' - so the Swell has no Mixture and the Pedal no reeds). Story behind the "prepared for" stops: Moller's installation had fallen behind schedule; the organ had reached its present state, i.e. not quite complete. The church had alread booked someone to give an opening recital. When Moller's heard that the recital was going ahead despite the organ being unfinished their response was, "Then you have accepted the instrument". They deemed their contract fulfilled, went home and refused to do any more work. It was not so very long after this that the firm went bust, which might explain their stance.

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Guest Geoff McMahon

For what it is worth, I am very happy, indeed encourage the use of the organ as soon as anything is ready. When we installed the organ at Magdalen College Oxford, as soon as just the Great Open Diapason was finished, they used the organ for evensong from that day on. The advantage of this was that we had a chance to gauge how the organ was sounding in use which helped us in developing it as the voicing progressed. I have always encouraged that since then as it was so useful. I find it particularly useful when there is a decent resident choir as the choir is usually well balanced to the building and if you then get the organ balancing well to the choir, the chances are it will balance the building as well.

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John thanks! This is the kind of honest, reality based answer that I was looking for. Not that the previous two posts weren't 'honest'.

B)

WM

 

Vox's American experience more or less reflects the strictly legal position here. A company who refused to complete the instrument would be on shaky ground, but if an organ is dedicated or rededicated publically before being examined by the consultant it is de jure approved by the parish - the position is, that the consultant does not actually accept the instrument itself, but recommends that the parish does so. If the consultant finds fault with the work afterwards, the organ builder can in theory refuse to do anything more, though they might be ill-advised to do so.

 

We are not allowing the new organ here to be used publically until the 18th May 2008, when it will be dedicated, although it will be recorded before then. But since there is another organ in the building, we can allow ourselves that luxury.

 

B

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Though presumably this is a matter that can and should be spelt out in detail in the contract? In my own field (IT) a system is frequently brought into use in phases both in terms of areas of functionality and userbase ("a stop at a time?!") and acceptance-with-a-capital-A can be a complex and drawn out process to the point that the final signoff becomes a formality reflecting a reality that may have been in place for some months. This can only be managed if everybody knows upfront what is intended at each point.

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Quite.

 

I sincerely hope that you would never find here what I came across a few years ago in America. I think I've told this story before. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Three manual Moller of 26 stops with four more prepared for (Sw. Scharf, Sw. Fagotto 16', Ped. Posaune 16' and Ped. Klarine 4' - so the Swell has no Mixture and the Pedal no reeds). Story behind the "prepared for" stops: Moller's installation had fallen behind schedule; the organ had reached its present state, i.e. not quite complete. The church had alread booked someone to give an opening recital. When Moller's heard that the recital was going ahead despite the organ being unfinished their response was, "Then you have accepted the instrument". They deemed their contract fulfilled, went home and refused to do any more work. It was not so very long after this that the firm went bust, which might explain their stance.

 

Well frankly, that attitude smacks of arrogance that was not unknown in the company concerned; Moller was in big financial do-dos because in order to win the prestigious contract for rebuilding the world's largest church drawstop organ (First Congregational Church, Los Angeles) they substantially underquoted and the huge cost they therefore incurred made them go bankrupt. Incidentally I've heard the organ and was hardly impressed - it just seemed one of those unnecessary "we have the biggest and are determined to keep that way" projects. It's not overwhelmingly loud despite its stupendous size (I think over 20,000 pipes) so hasn't made it into the Earthquake Zone. And isn't really even a single organ, more like about ten different organs of different styles, neobaroque, Italian, romantic - stuffed into different corners of a not altogether huge church (I'd guess that it isn't that much bigger than say St Bartholomew's Armley size-wise). Controlled by two colossal and identical 5-manual drawstop consoles, one at each end of the church.

 

Controlling such a beast is far from easy - at least with stoptabs you can see what is illuminated but with this it's pretty tough seeing which of the 500-odd knobs are out at any one time. The resident organist made a number of registration errors during his lunchtime recital and afterwards said to me that it wasn't unusual to start playing on a manual and find you'd inadvertently left something in or out that ruined the piece. When organs get so big as to be unplayable I wonder what the point of them is. I mean, I can't reach the fifth manual with enough reach to be able to play and not risk toppling over, I'd be hopeless on the Wanamaker!

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John's approach is really wonderful - showing his mastership... Because many of us know other stories. Have just been told about a dedication of a restored instrument here in the area (not far away from Magdeburg, Barry - you know, some Schnitger pipes in it...), where the reed stops were not playable.

Have read somewhere that the voicers of Fisk attended the dedication concert at Lausanne cathedral to find out in which way they should commence/finish their work (please correct me if it is a bad rumor)...

So this is different of John's attitude, putting into use a part which is quite finished to LEARN how to get the best out of the instrument in the final process, and everybody KNOWS about that aim... At many occasions, things were NOT ready, but the congregations where told that they are...

 

Tomorrow evening, the magnificent Stellwagen organ of St Marien Stralsund will be partly re-dedicated (sorry, no details available, was just a short newspaper announcement, but the title is "Ankunft einer Königin" - Arrival Of A Queen...). They did so in Naumburg, Wenzelskirche, too. But these are really milestones of the arrival of queens, and I know about such moments when larger Ahrend restorations or new builds of foremost contemporary masters are "made available" to a small group of experts or people of the fundraising committee etc.

 

I find it very remarkable (and appropriate!!!), that Barry J.'s new organ is maybe already voiced at 80%, but there are seven months left until inauguration!

 

I would like to see projects, where there is time, space and some spare money for trial and error, for installing test ranks/pipes and returning them to the workshop for redesign or replacement, for inventing new mechanisms, but with enough time to check if they really work...

[well, times may come to make such a thing happen...]

 

Best wishes from the baltic coast

KBK

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"I would like to see projects, where there is time, space and some spare money for trial and error, for installing test ranks/pipes and returning them to the workshop for redesign or replacement, for inventing new mechanisms, but with enough time to check if they really work..."

(Quote)

 

Absolutely ! only that way can a true Masterpiece be obtained.

And with lots of time devoted to on-site voicing.

 

Pierre

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Have read somewhere that the voicers of Fisk attended the dedication concert at Lausanne cathedral to find out in which way they should commence/finish their work (please correct me if it is a bad rumor)...

 

My friends at Fisk have asked me to put the record straight and are interested to know where you read this rumour. This is what they said in response:

"This is not true. There was some final through tuning of mixtures and divisions that was accomplished just prior to the dedication.

The majority of the voicing department was present for the dedicatory events throughout the month of December 2003. They were there only in the capacity of tourists and not working save for packing up equipment for return shipment to Massachusetts. The Executive Vice President and Tonal Director remained in Lausanne through Christmas to tidy up through tuning. The organ was complete tonally and mechanically by late November 2003 and accepted by the cathedral and organ society leadership at that time."

 

Hope this clears up any doubt. ;)

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"Though presumably this is a matter that can and should be spelt out in detail in the contract?"

 

"two colossal and identical 5-manual drawstop consoles, one at each end of the church."

 

"the voicers of Fisk attended the dedication concert at Lausanne cathedral"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YES, this matter has been spelled out in OUR contract. I don't care if there are situations where it cannot be played until the WHOLE organ is complete. Don't want to hear about that.

 

I care only about situations where an instrument has gently been introduced to a congregation bit by bit.

 

A rural congregation used to 30 years of bad electronic organ sound and 6 months of solo piano - will at best be indifferent to the sound of pipes. Some, are vocally against it. (A few who understand, can't wait!) Startling them with a 40 rank instrument, even if played by a master concert organist, on a given Sunday is not human nor wise.

 

Please review John Pike Mandor's response for a wise approach.

 

More thoughts along this line are welcome.

 

NOT! unrelated facts about some five manual and rumors about organ companies spying in Europe. STAY ON TOPIC FOLKS - I really hate this forum for this. I ask a simple question, or look up a topic with the handy search function and have to spend precious time sorting thought a lot of stuff not related to the topic at hand. Simple solution... start your own topic. Check the how-to if you don't know how easy it is to do this. Most of us on here don't even have real names/locations attached to our 'online name' anyways - so if you are trying to show off by appearing intelligent, or projecting yourself into given situations by writing about them, I'm sorry, but I don't care and there are others who share this feeling.

 

.........."Now junior choir, what are the spaces of the treble clef?" she asked. Tom put up his hand, "my dad is getting a boat for his birthday this year." "Very nice Tom, now what are the spaces of the treble clef?"........

 

 

WM

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More thoughts along this line are welcome:

"Now junior choir, what are the spaces of the treble clef?" she asked. Tom put up his hand, "my dad is getting a boat for his birthday this year." "Very nice Tom, now what are the spaces of the treble clef?"

WM

What are the spaces in the treble clef, Westgate? Some of us here can barely read or write.

 

Seriously, what is there to add to your original question, after JPM's helpful and candid response? If you want to set up your own organ-related discussion board no one will stop you. Then you can censor replies to your heart's content. Human conversation drifts around and off topic and cyber discussions tend to be just the same. I suggest you choose whether to chill a little and not get too worried by the asides or stop visiting if it upsets you so much.

 

Cordially,

 

innate

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NOT! unrelated facts about some five manual and rumors about organ companies spying in Europe. STAY ON TOPIC FOLKS - I really hate this forum for this. I ask a simple question, or look up a topic with the handy search function and have to spend precious time sorting thought a lot of stuff not related to the topic at hand. Simple solution... start your own topic. Check the how-to if you don't know how easy it is to do this. Most of us on here don't even have real names/locations attached to our 'online name' anyways - so if you are trying to show off by appearing intelligent, or projecting yourself into given situations by writing about them, I'm sorry, but I don't care and there are others who share this feeling.

 

WM

 

Chill out my friend - life's too short! :)

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I care only about situations where an instrument has gently been introduced to a congregation bit by bit.

Then why didn't you make that clear in your original post?

 

STAY ON TOPIC FOLKS - I really hate this forum for this.

You know how it is here. If you don't like it, go somewhere else, or, since you have been around long enough, PM the people who are likely to be able to answer you in the way you would like. You are perfectly entitled not to like the forum the way it is, but it does not exist solely for your benefit.

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Been off-forum for some time, I want to response to several things here in this thread:

 

First about the Fisk/Lausanne issue:

Sorry if it turned out to blame the Fisk team - this was definitely not my aim, owning a recording of the instrument and, while perhaps having some thoughts about the concept, I appreciate the work done there.

My target where the CUSTOMERS in general. Those who want to get their organ fine AND fast, with priority on "fast"... this is what I have seen many times...

 

Where did I get the information about the dedication concert from? I thought I know the answer - a research in another forum where it should have been content of a posting by somebody who is well-known (also onboard of this community here) for sustantial information proved, that I am wrong. So there is just one other possible source, but it is on paper and takes some more time to be found.

 

We do all rely on second hand information on many occasions, and knowing, that this here is a sensible case, I made the addition "Please correct me if..." -

so you did, and I accept!

My apologies for this statement, which a) was never ment against the builders, but narrow and somehow impossible time schedules by customers, and b ) obviously false regarding Lausanne!

 

About off-topic postings: I think I belong to those who keep the topic quite well, and there WAS a certain message to WM in my posting:

 

If you have a _master_ organbuilder and an instrument, where even one single stop raises the desire to hear the complete thing, than it should be heard in advance! If not,...

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You know how it is here. If you don't like it, go somewhere else, or, since you have been around long enough, PM the people who are likely to be able to answer you in the way you would like. You are perfectly entitled not to like the forum the way it is, but it does not exist solely for your benefit.

 

Thanks for the post Vox, I shall take your tip and resort to PM's in the future.

I just can't stand having my posts hijacked as so much of that goes on in my 'real life.' I made a few contacts on here over the past while and can get along happily with our little emails back and forth. Thanks for helping me out.

 

 

 

WM

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I care only about situations where an instrument has gently been introduced to a congregation bit by bit.

 

A rural congregation used to 30 years of bad electronic organ sound and 6 months of solo piano - will at best be indifferent to the sound of pipes. Some, are vocally against it. (A few who understand, can't wait!) Startling them with a 40 rank instrument, even if played by a master concert organist, on a given Sunday is not human nor wise.

 

WM

 

In which case they must be of a particularly nervous disposition.

 

When we had the organ rebuilt in a church at which I was previously organist, we only used it publicly after it was completed. I had specified new reeds to the Pedal Organ and the G.O., all on 150mm pressure - the Pedal reed was voiced as close to a French Bombarde as the voicer could manage. Whilst some of the congregation were slightly surprised at the volume (few were remotely musical, as far as I am aware), most were thrilled. Having said that, the organ's first Sunday back was Palm Sunday which, being a major festival was quite a big service. There would have been little point in using sections of the instrument as they were completed, since the entire instrument had to be regulated and fine-tuned. There was a small amount of tonal adjustment (for example, regulation) which took place after the organ was brought back into use, but this was limited to two or three of the quieter stops on the Swell Organ.

 

Details of the previous scheme and that which I specified for the rebuild can be found here:

 

Previous scheme: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10021

 

Present scheme: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=E00139

 

I had occasion to play it for a wedding and a Mass during the summer; it is still just as exciting as ever.

 

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In which case they must be of a particularly nervous disposition.

 

When we had the organ rebuilt in a church at which I was previously organist, we only used it publicly after it was completed. I had specified new reeds to the Pedal Organ and the G.O., all on 150mm pressure - the Pedal reed was voiced as close to a French Bombarde as the voicer could manage. Whilst some of the congregation were slightly surprised at the volume (few were remotely musical, as far as I am aware), most were thrilled. Having said that, the organ's first Sunday back was Palm Sunday which, being a major festival was quite a big service. There would have been little point in using sections of the instrument as they were completed, since the entire instrument had to be regulated and fine-tuned. There was a small amount of tonal adjustment (for example, regulation) which took place after the organ was brought back into use, but this was limited to two or three of the quieter stops on the Swell Organ.

 

Details of the previous scheme and that which I specified for the rebuild can be found here:

 

Previous scheme: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10021

 

Present scheme: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=E00139

 

I had occasion to play it for a wedding and a Mass during the summer; it is still just as exciting as ever.

 

 

And very good it sounds too - a while ago - pre 'Mander chat' days I visited with an Organists Association - we combined it with a visit to huge Victorian church with a rehashed Compton (the one with the 5 rnk Cornet derived from one rank and a 32' Bombarde) - both were demonstrated immaculately with improvisations in a very French manner - I suspect by the above contributor! It can't have been very long after the Lance Foy work was done - 'not a builder I have had much experience of but the work here was of a very high standard tonally and generally.

 

AJJ

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And very good it sounds too - a while ago - pre 'Mander chat' days I visited with an Organists Association - we combined it with a visit to huge Victorian church with a rehashed Compton (the one with the 5 rnk Cornet derived from one rank and a 32' Bombarde) - both were demonstrated immaculately with improvisations in a very French manner - I suspect by the above contributor! It can't have been very long after the Lance Foy work was done - 'not a builder I have had much experience of but the work here was of a very high standard tonally and generally.

 

AJJ

 

Thank you for your kind comments, Alastair. I enjoyed the day too!

;)

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