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What Future Is There For The Iao And Local Associations?

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I would hoope that opinions expressed here are honest and truthful and that those who post them should be willing to stand by them - or don't post!

Well I was willing to stand by mine, but was asked specifically to alter or remove them. I guess I could have refused to do this, but its a very difficult situation to be put in.

 

David

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I would hoope that opinions expressed here are honest and truthful and that those who post them should be willing to stand by them - or don't post!

 

It may be an obvious thing to say but this is a public forum, rather like "letters to the editor" which anyone may well take up: why fear it?

 

F-W.

 

I'm not sure it is a 'public forum'. After all, we all have some anonymity (spell?) here which we wouldn't have in a 'letters to the editor'. Most of the nationals don't publish anon letters, unless there is a specific reason to do so.

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Yes, but some of us actually post our names, whereas others choose not to, and I think this is where David has had the problem.

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Guest Barry Williams
I'm not sure it is a 'public forum'. After all, we all have some anonymity (spell?) here which we wouldn't have in a 'letters to the editor'. Most of the nationals don't publish anon letters, unless there is a specific reason to do so.

 

Please be assured that this is a very public forum. It can be read by anyone and, apparently, is. I have had my postings quoted in various places - not always as accurately as I would wish. Some members have had their postings sent to others, when, despite a pseudonym, the identity has been clear from the facts reported.

 

It is preferrable for all identities to be public. There is no objection to expressing strong views, provided it is done with courtesy and accuracy as to the facts. But please be very careful, it is apparent that far more people read this forum than subscribe to it.

 

Barry Williams

 

PS I gather that Robert Leach and I are on Radio 4 'You and Yours' this morning, sometime between 12.03 and 12.57 pm, about the Tribunal decision, etc.

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I'm sorry to hear that David's local association has treated him in this way. If they are that defensive about their failings, then David is well out of it!

Sounds like David was the only person in the Association who actually cared about anything!

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But please be very careful, it is apparent that far more people read this forum than subscribe to it.

I think the safest working assumption is that every British organist worth his salt passes this way from time to time - even if they only stumble across the forum while visiting other parts of the site. There are no doubt one or two who do not engage much with IT, but even then I imagine that word gets around.

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I'm sorry to hear that David's local association has treated him in this way. If they are that defensive about their failings, then David is well out of it!

Sounds like David was the only person in the Association who actually cared about anything!

I believe the OA in question is the Gloucestershire Organists Association. I'm not now, and have never been, an officer of the association but would like to leap to their defence. GOA present a very active programme of events and members are regularly kept in touch with everything going on locally by the excellent secretary. We have a number of eminent organists in the association, including I believe one international recitalist frequently mentioned if not to say hero worshipped on this board, and I would suggest that the last sentence quoted above is both ridiculous and offensive.

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Let's not prolong this, because I'm just going to get into more trouble! My overiding view is that members should be entitled to their opinions expressed here or otherwise, and should not fear being 'silenced', and that Associations and other organisations should not see this as 'going behind their backs'. Discussion here is like everyday discussion. A question or point arises, and it is discussed, as one would do meeting people walking down the street.

 

David

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Let's not prolong this, because I'm just going to get into more trouble. My overiding view is that members should be entitled to their opinions expressed here or otherwise, and should not fear being 'silenced'.

 

David

Then speak out, David. We live in a democracy - of sorts! - after all. :angry:

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Then speak out, David. We live in a democracy - of sorts! - after all. :angry:

Well, I guess I'm no longer a member so they can't really do anything!

 

Speaking not just about our Association but others too, the main concern seems to be that they want to attract new members, particularly young members. This is right, and of course without new members the Associations will die out eventually.

 

The problem as I see it, is that young members are not going to want to join an organisation which does little to provide for them. Now when I was encouraged to join, there was someone who organised events specifically for 'young organists' which were under-18's, and it was very successful. There were a number of recitals, outings and workshops which were very welcome. In my original postings, I congratulated the Association on this area (though I think this was somehow missed....).

 

After they reach 18, we then hit a problem. I think it would be fair to say that the gap then between the majority (but not all) of the members and what I would consider to be my age group, is quite wide. As I've always made it clear in my correspondance, I am in a minority, and therefore if the events they provide for members are what the majority of members want, then why should they change? They certainly shouldn't change just because the events are not my thing. I guess the question remains as to what we do want. I don't know really. Certainly the 'young organists' events were very welcome and well attended, and therefore carrying these on beyond 18 would have been very valuable. Sadly it seems that once we reach 18, we are then expected to fit in with the programme organised for (I think it would be fair to say) older members. Sadly, slide shows and talks (of course that's not all they do) are not really my cup of tea. They are obviously what the majority of members enjoy so why should that change?

 

What this all boils down to is the perenial question of what to do to attract young members? Quite honestly, I don't have the answer to that, but I'm certainly not prepared to just be pushed aside, talked down to and basically told to keep quiet just because I'm young.

 

Oh dear....another can of worms!

 

David

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Whilst I don't necessarily want to resurrect this thread, I would like to point out that anyone who has made comments here about their local association, should consider those comments carefully, and decide whether or not they should be removed.

 

The comments I made have been printed and raised at our association's AGM, and following a letter sent to me, I have had little option but to resign my membership with immediate effect.

 

I only post this as a warning to others.

 

David

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

If your local association is a registered charity, you have every option open to you, including non-resignation. The trick is to resign, then still turn up for all the meetings. They hate that, but can't do anything about it.

 

My own local association tried to discriminate against one member, on the grounds of sexuality. Most of the people involved are either dead or senile, but at the time, they were acting illegally, and could have lost the association the charitable status it enjoyed.

 

Anyway, there was a terrible row and something of a riot when I shouted at the AGM and called the President a "bloody liar."

(He visibly shot backwards about a metre!)

 

If you're going to go, make sure you do it in style. They didn't like it when I wrote to every member at my own expense, and set out the facts.

 

I'm sure that some associations are operating in the 21st century, but sadly, (judging by what I've seen), most of them are still operating in the 19th century, as if they were members of some exclusive, secret society.

 

Publish and be damned! :angry:

 

 

MM

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Well, I guess I'm no longer a member so they can't really do anything!

 

Speaking not just about our Association but others too, the main concern seems to be that they want to attract new members, particularly young members. This is right, and of course without new members the Associations will die out eventually.

 

The problem as I see it, is that young members are not going to want to join an organisation which does little to provide for them. Now when I was encouraged to join, there was someone who organised events specifically for 'young organists' which were under-18's, and it was very successful. There were a number of recitals, outings and workshops which were very welcome. In my original postings, I congratulated the Association on this area (though I think this was somehow missed....).

 

After they reach 18, we then hit a problem. I think it would be fair to say that the gap then between the majority (but not all) of the members and what I would consider to be my age group, is quite wide. As I've always made it clear in my correspondance, I am in a minority, and therefore if the events they provide for members are what the majority of members want, then why should they change? They certainly shouldn't change just because the events are not my thing. I guess the question remains as to what we do want. I don't know really. Certainly the 'young organists' events were very welcome and well attended, and therefore carrying these on beyond 18 would have been very valuable. Sadly it seems that once we reach 18, we are then expected to fit in with the programme organised for (I think it would be fair to say) older members. Sadly, slide shows and talks (of course that's not all they do) are not really my cup of tea. They are obviously what the majority of members enjoy so why should that change?

 

What this all boils down to is the perenial question of what to do to attract young members? Quite honestly, I don't have the answer to that, but I'm certainly not prepared to just be pushed aside, talked down to and basically told to keep quiet just because I'm young.

 

Oh dear....another can of worms!

 

David

 

Hi

 

More accurately the problem that many established organisations (including churches) have - how to satisfy & care for the existing membership whilst also attracting new members - and even more of an issue if there is a wide age or culture gap.

 

Maybe you should suggest some suitable activities. It's easy to complain - perhaps not so easy to be pro-active. (and anyway, there might be some ideas I can nick for my stint as President of the Bradford Association in 2009-10)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I believe the OA in question is the Gloucestershire Organists Association. I'm not now, and have never been, an officer of the association but would like to leap to their defence. GOA present a very active programme of events and members are regularly kept in touch with everything going on locally by the excellent secretary. We have a number of eminent organists in the association, including I believe one international recitalist frequently mentioned if not to say hero worshipped on this board, and I would suggest that the last sentence quoted above is both ridiculous and offensive.

 

 

I don't give a tinker's cuss about how many "eminent recitalists" there may be in any particular association, or how many events and blah, blah, blah. What I do know is that if a member of any organisation feels the need to resign over something, then there has been a breakdown in communication somewhere, and the association and its officers have a responsibility to put things right, if at all possible.

 

As far as I can fathom, most organist associations aren't exactly flush with members either, and, frankly I'm not surprised!

 

BTW, It was certainly not my intention to be either ridiculous or offensive, Neil.

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I don't give a tinker's cuss about how many "eminent recitalists" there may be in any particular association, or how many events and blah, blah, blah. What I do know is that if a member of any organisation feels the need to resign over something, then there has been a breakdown in communication somewhere, and the association and its officers have a responsibility to put things right, if at all possible.

 

As far as I can fathom, most organist associations aren't exactly flush with members either, and, frankly I'm not surprised!

 

BTW, It was certainly not my intention to be either ridiculous or offensive, Neil.

I agree with most of your comments above. My reference to "eminent recitalists" was to counter your suggestion that no members of the association other than David Barton care about anything. I still maintain, whether intentional or not, that this is a ridiculous statement to have made. The GOA has a large membership and should, by most standards, be considered to be a thriving organisation. The membership is very diverse, from student members, village organists through to a number of cathedral, abbey organists and international recitalists. I'm sorry that David has fallen out with the powers that be, but that is no reason to denigrate the remaining members.

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I agree with most of your comments above. My reference to "eminent recitalists" was to counter your suggestion that no members of the association other than David Barton care about anything. I still maintain, whether intentional or not, that this is a ridiculous statement to have made. The GOA has a large membership and should, by most standards, be considered to be a thriving organisation. The membership is very diverse, from student members, village organists through to a number of cathedral, abbey organists and international recitalists. I'm sorry that David has fallen out with the powers that be, but that is no reason to denigrate the remaining members.

 

I only wish that our association had such a diverse and active membership!

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Hi

 

More accurately the problem that many established organisations (including churches) have - how to satisfy & care for the existing membership whilst also attracting new members - and even more of an issue if there is a wide age or culture gap.

 

Maybe you should suggest some suitable activities. It's easy to complain - perhaps not so easy to be pro-active. (and anyway, there might be some ideas I can nick for my stint as President of the Bradford Association in 2009-10)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

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

 

 

I know a supplier of "worry beads" if this would help.

 

:o

 

MM

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I'm sorry that David has fallen out with the powers that be, but that is no reason to denigrate the remaining members.

 

Did he fall out with them? I thought that he merely expressed his opinions in a publicly-available forum. It would appear that they don't like anyone with an opinion - especially if it isn't like their own - how unusual!! :o

 

DW

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Guest spottedmetal
I think all you would need to say is that if you won the lottery, you would invest in a Mander Organ.

I very likely would - mind you, I'd need a second barn to put it in.

That sounds fun - what's the instrument like in the first barn?

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

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What this all boils down to is the perenial question of what to do to attract young members? Quite honestly, I don't have the answer to that, but I'm certainly not prepared to just be pushed aside, talked down to and basically told to keep quiet just because I'm young.

A few months ago, as a committee member of my local association, I spent time putting together a document detailing what I thought were the group's strengths and weaknesses, and some suggested short- to medium-term plans for the future, plus some sketches of longer-term plans. I was ambitious, but no more ambitious than was both practical and necessary for the 'advancement' of the organ as a musical instrument in our region, something which I believe was part of said association's aims. I was also polite and constructive without missing the point. I did this to open a few people's eyes, spark sensible debate and to generally stir the stagnant waters.

 

Well, with a couple of very honourable exceptions, the committee did an excellent impression of being slapped with a wet fish. Needless to say it was a total waste of effort, but I wasn't prepared for just how defensive certain people in 'positions of power' within these groups can be. I know exactly what David means by being pushed aside and talked down to, just because you're young, but isn't not just about that - it's about the status quo and the maintenance thereof.

 

I no longer belong to the association, mostly for entirely innocent reasons - I spend most of my week in another part of the country now - but had I remained, I would be torn between leaving through despair, and staying and persevering to improve things.

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Guest Cynic
That sounds fun - what's the instrument like in the first barn?

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

 

 

Do you want the rose-tinted or realistic answer?

 

Realistically, I have the most interesting bits of at least eight organs piled up in varying states of disarray. I have a mostly complete three-manual section of the eventual 124 stop scheme playable, good enough for practice purposes. The whole scheme will (DV) be playable from the five-manual J.W.Walker console which was built in 1948 for Tewkesbury Abbey.

 

Long Term with rose-tints (!) I have more pipework than St.Paul's and an enormous variety of it. I have several Billy Jones reeds, a positif-style department voiced by Henry Willis IV (and he knew/knows more than virtually anyone has ever given him credit for) I have a swell organ designed by Herbert Sumsion and built by R&D during one of their few good periods and two complete choruses by Nicholson and Lord - fine period stuff. I have full length 16' reeds of at least 5 kinds including a Willis 3 Waldhorn and a large Trombone with wooden resonators by Bishop & Son c.1900. I have a couple of baroque reeds and orchestral reeds of unusual shapes and even more unusual tone. Oddities to be used include a 16' Diaphone (HN&:lol:. I have pairs of celestes of every kind, ranging from powerful stair-rods down to FHWillis-style Salicional and Celeste. There are Flute Celestes, of course. I have every kind of mutation and every kind of flue pipe, rarities include a Willis III Flute Triangulaire and a Snetzler Chimney Flute. I have a Compton 32' polyphone, just no clue how to get the best out of it when the time comes to install it somewhere!

 

The snag is, every time I wish to do some work I have to clear a space in which to do it! The organ is (even in this embryonic stage) too useful to take out of service. From now on, three manuals and pedals will have to remain playable simply so that I can service my recital bookings.

 

You know that old insult

'You must have a rich fantasy life!'

well, organ-wise, that's me.....just that this fairly ridiculous fantasy is taking shape. There's only one worry - viz. will some of the stops I liked best in its last home be too loud here? I have a much better building for sound than I did before, and gut instinct tells me that at least one of my unenclosed divisions may need 'special treatment', as in Ralph Downes' effort at Buckfast Abbey where according to his (wonderful) book, it proved necessary for a solid wall to be built inside the organ in order to stop one division from being deafeningly loud in the church!

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a positif-style department voiced by Henry Willis IV (and he knew/knows more than virtually anyone has ever given him credit for)

 

Hear hear! One of the organs at which I preside has a gorgeous 1967 Willis IV Positif. It is a department of great beauty and utility.

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Guest drd

Hmm, I've been watching this developing correspondence with great interest - having been a member of several organists' associations as I've moved around the country.

 

Coincidentally, I have just had a slight contretemps with the one of which I am currently a member, with the result that I have resigned from the committee. To be fair, the reason for resignation was not only the issue at dispute, but also that I was finding it very difficult to devote what I thought was a reasonable amount of time to committee projects, owing to the number of other activities with which I'm involved.

 

Nevertheless, the triggering issue was connected with the society's involvement in promoting non-organ related activities. Whether or not that is justified in this case - I thought it wasn't - the reaction from the society to criticism was such that I felt like walking away entirely. As it is, I think I have reached a position now where I will remain a member (and the society will continue to receive at least my subscription), but have resigned from the committee as above.

 

My surprise was the extent to which criticism seemed so unwelcome as to cause ructions (so, is this indicative of a general reluctance to change?), and my own reaction (is such a niche organisation really worth it?)

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Local Organists' Associations seem to me to be very much like any other organisation run on a voluntary basis by a committee. The one I presently belong to is superb - a nice journal every so often - mail shots with flyers for association and non association events and a regular email system for things going on in a broad area. There are also regular well attended trips out and about including to foreign parts. Organists' Review comes as part of the fee. The committee is ver efficient and there are enough sensible types involved to avoid the sort of inertia that comes from 'professional' committee types. Previous to this I was a committee member (later Secretary) of another neighbouring association which was the antithisis of this. I eventually resigned as on occasions nothing would change some distinctly dinosaur attitiudes present there. I think one has to vote with ones feet so to speak - in the cases mentioned - one is still thriving with many student members while the the could not even fill all its committee places at one point, serves its small membership but does not do much else.

 

AJJ

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Guest drd

Yes, the 'serving its small membership' aspect is the one that seems to have attractions for many associations. What a pity it is to find this to be the case so often in this day and age when the communication means exist, and are now within reach of virtually all, to project and sustain a vibrant perception of activity.

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