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More Wedding Fun


Peter Clark
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This post is offered as a public service to the organ playing community.

 

I should have mentionbed this earlier - but yesterday I played the organ for a wedding and the bride had already had the order of service printed before talking to me about the music. Fortunately they were bog-standard hymns, happy-clappy for the most part but playable on the organ. Wagner in, some screechy soprano singing Masagni on the way out. As I said, the music was un this case familiar, but it need not have been that way. Is this a new trend? Has anybody else had fait accomplee service sheets given to them? Shoiuld I have said something? (I didn't partly because I know the bride's father and her sister, and we belong to the same sports and social club where we have the odd pint together.)

 

It says clearly in the leaflet we give out at the beginning of marriage preparation that no music must be chosen until the organist has been consulted.

 

Be warned, folks. Next time it could be you.

 

Peter

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Guest Lee Blick

For weddings/funerals, it wouldn't bother me too much if I was not consulted if the minister had approved of the choices. Any other services, I would expect to be consulted. Not worth getting a head of steam up, imho.

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I don't see the issue here. It's her wedding, why can't she choose her own music? Is your concern that it might have been unsuitable or too difficult to play?

 

 

I'm sorry Mr.B but I side with Peter. Even if all organists had an Olympic Standard instrument and identical libraries/repertoires to draw from, I still think it would be both polite and sensible for a keen bride to check on the availablity/suitability of a particular item.

 

Don't get me wrong, I like to keep everyone happy, but collaboration in advance is very definitely the way to achieve this. I have had this 'It's my wedding and I'll have what I like' speech (only rarely) but it can be very unwelcome/unhelpful. I had, for instance, a bride who insisted that she wanted the complete Toccata and Fugue in D minor (7 minutes) to come in to. I offered to find her another organist.

 

I'm sure I have listed some of the most stupid requests before, but one I managed to turn down amicably was 'I whistle a happy tune' from The King and I. I pointed out to bride and mother that anyone who knew the words would know

1. the song is all about being afraid

2. that the word 'erect' appears very near the beginning. Appropriate for the day, maybe - appropriate for the service, no.

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I am now D of M at a very pleasant church in Lancashire, 5 miles north of Wigan. I have a round trip of 56 miles from where I live. After Blackburn Cathedral and Lancaster Priory, we are the busiest church in the Diocese with approx. 90 in church funerals (not counting direct burials) and approx 40 weddings each year. During my first 12 months in post, I have had at least 18 weddings where the bride/groom didn't bother to consult me about the music.

 

I received a 'phone call 10 days ago from a soloist, at less than a week's notice, asking could she book a rehearsal with me, "anytime after 6.00pm any night this week". This was the first I knew about a soloist. She then informed me that she was singing 5 pieces of music, two before the service and three during the signing of the registers! I expressed my surprise that neither the Rector or myself had been consulted and that neither of us was aware that there was a soloist in the first. Furthermore, I informed her that if she wanted me to make a special journey to come for a midweek rehearsal, I would be charging £24.00 per hour including travel, plus petrol at 40p per mile.

 

These people really take the biscuit.

 

As a result, I am planning to incorporate a music sheet into the "wedding pack" for 2008 weddings (given to prospective brides/grooms at the beginning of each year). This will inform couples that they need to make an appointment to see me in good time, and that service music must be approved by myself before they go to print with the service sheet. I can appreciate that couples want their own choice of music for their ceremony, but ultimately, it is up to us as musicians to ensure that the music is appropriate. At the end of the day, the incumbent has the final say anyway.

 

NS

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I'm sorry Mr.B but I side with Peter. Even if all organists had an Olympic Standard instrument and identical libraries/repertoires to draw from, I still think it would be both polite and sensible for a keen bride to check on the availablity/suitability of a particular item.

 

Don't get me wrong, I like to keep everyone happy, but collaboration in advance is very definitely the way to achieve this. I have had this 'It's my wedding and I'll have what I like' speech (only rarely) but it can be very unwelcome/unhelpful. I had, for instance, a bride who insisted that she wanted the complete Toccata and Fugue in D minor (7 minutes) to come in to. I offered to find her another organist.

 

I'm sure I have listed some of the most stupid requests before, but one I managed to turn down amicably was 'I whistle a happy tune' from The King and I. I pointed out to bride and mother that anyone who knew the words would know

1. the song is all about being afraid

2. that the word 'erect' appears very near the beginning. Appropriate for the day, maybe - appropriate for the service, no.

 

I agree with Paul.

 

Here at the Minster we often get requests for quite difficult music. I have, on at least two occasions, played the wedding procession out to the Prelude and Fugue in B major, by Marcel Dupré. On other occasions, I have played the Final from Widor's Sixième Symphonie. On other occasions, I have played one of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches (possibly number four) - not easy when playing all the pedal semiquavers as arranged in the copy which I possess. I have not yet been asked for the Toccata from the Suite (Op. 5) by Duruflé, but there has been the odd movement from symphonies by Louis Vierne (the Final from number one, for example.)

 

On one occasion I talked a bride out of wanting to enter to Bluebeard's Castle (I think that is the title). I pointed-out that it was an orchestral piece and I did not know of an organ arrangement and that it would cost her a lot of money for me to spend time arranging it myself - unless she wanted to try to locate a copy. I also suggested that it was not perhaps the most suitable piece with which to walk up the aisle. In the end, she entered to the opening section of the first movement from Widor's Sixième Symphonie and went out to the Final from the same symphony. Both she and her husband were delighted - and sent me a thank-you card (with a cheesy picture on the front; one in which it looked as if the photographer had placed a toilet roll centre in front of the lens, then feathered the edges on Photoshop - I am sure that some here have seen the like).

 

For that matter, imagine the fuss if it was the other way around - and the bride wished the officiating priest to preach on the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed - and printed it on the service sheets, but only told the organist....

 

I would not particularly wish to discover (by dint of being given a service sheet hot from the printer's a week before the event) that I am to play a bride out to something really difficult the next Saturday.

 

I have also had the rules changed at the Minster. We no longer allow visiting organists to play for friends' weddings. This summer, we had one who was unable to play remotely accurately and simply could not manage the Minster organ competently. We also had a bride who wished a friend to play, but tried to refuse to pay my 'stand-down' fee. It was pointed-out to her that she would not be allowed to book her car into a garage for repair work, then expect the garage owners to let her brother work on the car, simply using all the facilities of the garage - and not to pay anything.

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I don't see the issue here. It's her wedding, why can't she choose her own music? Is your concern that it might have been unsuitable or too difficult to play?

 

 

My concern was not the suitability as such (although this is a factor - see below) nor the difficulty level - but had I been asked to play Psalm 94 or Ad Nos I might have had second thoughts. My concern was that I might have been presented with an order of service containing music I did not know or at least did not own the score of, and would I have been prepared to spend less than a fortnight learning such? And it may be "her wedding" but it takes place within a liturgical framework where certain things are expected and certain things are certainly not. If a couple wish to marry in church then they should go by the church's rules, and be prepared to be guided by those whose expereince in liturgy and mmusic may exceed their own by many years.

 

Peter

 

PS on PCND's stand-down fee issue, it might be appropriate to ask the bride/groom for her/her boss's phone number so you can phone him/her and ask if you can do the bride/groom's job for a week and get her/his wages! :P

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On one occasion I talked a bride out of wanting to enter to Bluebeard's Castle (I think that is the title). I pointed-out that it was an orchestral piece and I did not know of an organ arrangement and that it would cost her a lot of money for me to spend time arranging it myself - unless she wanted to try to locate a copy. I also suggested that it was not perhaps the most suitable piece with which to walk up the aisle. In the end, she entered to the opening section of the first movement from Widor's Sixième Symphonie and went out to the Final from the same symphony.

I can just imagine her walking into the stern opening chords of Widor VI - an appropriate choice. Well Done!

 

I really cannot imagine the mindset of a bride who wants to enter their wedding to organ music like Bach's Toccata in D minor. I guess "I was Glad" or "My beloved spake" is mighty impressive in somewhere big like Winchester, St Albans or St Pauls when it takes several minutes to process up the aisle but I find it rather OTT in an average parish church...

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Guest Lee Blick
I really cannot imagine the mindset of a bride who wants to enter their wedding to organ music like Bach's Toccata in D minor

 

Me neither, without the obligatory thunderclaps and artificial lightning.

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... PS on PCND's stand-down fee issue, it might be appropriate to ask the bride/groom for her/her boss's phone number so you can phone him/her and ask if you can do the bride/groom's job for a week and get her/his wages! :P

 

This is fine, as long as he is not any of the following:

 

1) A structural engineer. (Maths has always been a problem....)

 

2) A Morris-dancer

 

3) A (male) lap-dancer

 

As for the bride's employment - I am sorry, but I am not wearing a skirt for anyone.

 

:P

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On one occasion I talked a bride out of wanting to enter to Bluebeard's Castle

A great opera (I have 19 recordings of it!), but I find it hard to think of a less appropriate piece to associate with a wedding :P

 

FWIW, it includes the only four bars that Bartók wrote for solo organ.

 

Paul

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A great opera (I have 19 recordings of it!), but I find it hard to think of a less appropriate piece to associate with a wedding :P

 

FWIW, it includes the only four bars that Bartók wrote for solo organ.

 

Paul

It's what is implies about the groom that worries me :P

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I can just imagine her walking into the stern opening chords of Widor VI - an appropriate choice. Well Done!

 

I really cannot imagine the mindset of a bride who wants to enter their wedding to organ music like Bach's Toccata in D minor. I guess "I was Glad" or "My beloved spake" is mighty impressive in somewhere big like Winchester, St Albans or St Pauls when it takes several minutes to process up the aisle but I find it rather OTT in an average parish church...

 

My wife came down the nave of an average parish church to I was glad at our wedding, with me conducting! It worked perfectly, and she "arrived" just as the choir came in. Everybody though it splendid, and not OTT, and the fact that the combined choirs and organist were all friends of ours greatly added to the enjoyment of the occasion.

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Guest Hector5
My then-to-be-wife came down the nave of an average parish church to I was glad at our wedding, with me conducting! It worked perfectly, and she "arrived" just as the choir came in. Everybody though it splendid, and not OTT, and the fact that the combined choirs and organist were all friends of ours greatly added to the enjoyment of the occasion.

 

At our wedding, my wife came into Epthaliamiam by Bax, which is a 5 minute 31 second orgy of unison singing. There is an excellent recording of the Rudolphus Choir (my wife sang with them) singing this piece. It's marvellous fun, and caused our cathedral organist friend (who was playing for the wedding) many, many sleepless nights!!!!!!! The choir had about 4 ARCOs and 2 FRCOs singing (is this possible????) and was about 50-strong. The aisle was very short, and would normally take 30 seconds to walk down. Needless to say my wife-to-be walked in VEEEEEEEEEERY slowly!!!!

 

Ahhh happy days!

 

Hector

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Guest Barry Williams

A fine entrance piece is the Wedding March Mendelssohn wrote for his sister, Fanny, now the opening to his Third Organ Sonata - just right for a majestic bridal procession.

 

The Bridal March from Parry's Birds of Aristophanes goes well on the organ and I have often been asked for the Finales of Vierne One and Six, the latter being the most pagan piece of music I know and great fun, as is Walton's Orb and Sceptre - they always think the opening of that is the start of the Mendelssohn.

 

'Pachelbel's 'Canon' is a very clever pastiche of about 1935, with just one or two 'give aways'. Some good organ arrangments are:

 

- Rene Capdeville - complex but complete, published M. Combre

 

- Jerry Lanning - also has the Gigue which is nice, published by Fentone

 

- S. Drummond Wolff - very effective arrangment, published by Concordia

 

An organ builder's bride came in to Derek Burgeois' Serenade - all of it!

 

I remember one Brown Owl bride who asked for Carillon de Westminster because it was 'Brownie Bells' and a short while after someone wanted Widor's Marche Americane, which is another bit of fun. Other pieces have been the Sinfonia from Bach's Cantata No 29 and Mozart's K 594 - the loud section. This latter piece was for a Freemason's wedding, for obvious reasons.

 

One bride's mother gave the vicar much grief, so he asked me to play Mozart's Musical Joke (which at that time was TV theme music) as she entered the church. The bridegroom saw the joke and had difficulty containing himself.

 

I have seen a bride rush out of the church before the legal bit (they are legally married once they say "I do") and I have seen a challenge at the famous words "If any man know any just cause.....".

 

I once played for a colleague's wedding. She asked if her neighbour could video the ceremony as he was hoping to set up his own wedding video business. I said 'yes' and thought no more about it. Six months later I heard my own playing, now dubbed onto the video of a much younger and slimmer bride, as an advertisement at the local cinema. (I recognised my own playing principally because at that time I played Mendelssohn's Wedding March from the full score and erroneously put a high A natural in the right hand of the opening chord. I now use the C E Willing arrangment which has all the notes, but on three staves.)

 

On the matter of fees, as I do not have a post I simply accept what it offered when I am asked to deputise. It has always been about £20 until about a month ago when I received £125 for playing at a cathedral. The fees quoted above look good. Perhaps I should ask for more in future.

 

Barry Williams

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At our wedding, my wife came into Epthaliamiam by Bax, which is a 5 minute 31 second orgy of unison singing.

Hector

 

 

Ah yes, that's a great piece. I did it with my choir about 10 yeares ago for All Saints Day (it just about fits the sentiments). I also have the recording you wrote about; it has also got that wonderfully smokey Priere a la Vierge by Villott (which we also do now and then).

 

Barry, the Earl of Salisbury's Pavane by Byrd makes an effective entrance piece for the bride, I think. I've used it once or twice.

 

Peter

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Some observations:

 

1. The vicars I have worked for have always been very good at insisting that the bridal party contact me well in advance to discuss music. It has never been a problem on the organ front, but often they need some guidance on choice of music for the choir to sing. Here, I always make a distinction between wallpaper music (the stuff everyone talks through during the signing of the register, doesn't really matter what you sing, I ofetn suggest something we are about to sing on a SUnday, makes for a good run through!) and music they would like to be an integral part of the service, which is a much more rewarding approach. It always seems odd that if a family friend/relative sings during the registers everyone listens, whereas if its me of the choir, then that's an excuse to catch up on the football results.

 

2. Have yet to refuse any piece of music for the before and after. If its something popish, then I insist they get the music for me. Have played everything from Led Zepplin (which the priest Catholic priest refused to allow, so I decorated the melody, a la Buxtehude chorale, he didn't spot it, but the heavy metal brigade did, job done!), Bryan Adams, Carpenters and a lot of rubbish in the middle. As a student I used to strongly discourage the Widor because I hadn't got round to learning it (I used to tell ignorant brides and grooms that the organ wasn't suitable as it needed a specific set of stops and a large pedal board). In the end I had to learn it in two days after stepping in for a friendd at the last minute.

 

3. Fees, well all I can say here is that in the grand scheme of the £15-20k wedding (the current average), £100 does not seem unreasonable in the slightest.

 

4. Barry, were you at the mentioned organ builder's wedding? If it was in 2004, I was also there, and I conducted the choir that day. I had declined to play the organ as we had a baby due that day!

 

5. I had a bride once who requested the Parry bridal march as she was doing Classics at Oxford Uni, I thought it rather good. I've done both Walton marches, though they don't work so well on very small instruments. I'm always dubious about the Arrival of Queen of Sheba to enter to, partly because its hard to find a suitable place to stop, and partly because the Queen of Sheba wasn't a very nice person. Happy to play it at the end though. If brides have specific requests for a piece of proper organ music, am usually happy to learn it, given enough time.

 

6. Have just attended a funeral (yesterday) when the service ended with a Musical Joke, preceded by bugling huntsmen. Rather effective I thought.

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PS

 

7. For my own wedding, my teacher played the Krebs Prel and Fugue in C during the singing of the register. As the console was in full view and the congregation full of non-musicians, they all found it rather educational during the big pedal solo in the prelude. For ineterest, bride came into the opening of the Gigout Grand Choeur and we departed to the Widor.

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Guest Barry Williams

I was best man at the said wedding. My wife wrote the event up in the IBO Newsletter and mentioned the superb choir in glowing terms.

 

One could always suggest that a bride comes in to the Queen of Sheba and out to the Grand March from Aida - in as Queen and out as a Slave!

 

Barry Williams

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  • 1 month later...
One could always suggest that a bride comes in to the Queen of Sheba and out to the Grand March from Aida - in as Queen and out as a Slave!

I distinctly remember many (too many) years ago being engaged to play for a wedding in Dorset where the bride came in to the Grand March. I seem to recall that her name was Aida. By one of those strange coincidences I later ended up getting married in the same church.

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I note these wonderful pieces to play the Bride in with interest. At our church it takes 62 seconds to walk from the entrance door to the chancel steps, and that is going slowly.

 

I have a 3 pm wedding on Saturday and seeing we are coming up to Christmas shall include "Past Three a Clock" if she is late.

 

FF

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