Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Barbara Dennerlein Wants To Perform Pipe-organ


Guest spottedmetal

Recommended Posts

Am I correct in thinking that the score of this splendid work by Berveiller has never been published?

 

 

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

 

 

There's a story behind this, but the trouble is, I cannot remember it!

 

I know that the late Jeanne Demessieux (Sp?) recorded it at Liverpool Met, and I have a copy of the recording. I shall have to dig it out and see what the sleeve notes say.

 

Off the top of my head, I don't think it was ever actually published, but certain people were either handed copies or knew where to find the original. I know of someone who played it at a recital, so I may be wrong.

 

It's one of those pieces which is a bit like the "Scarlet Pimpernel"....we seek it here, we seek it there etc.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 85
  • Created
  • Last Reply
To be fair, I think that we do need to enthuse and excite kids with a love of the organ If we fail to do that our instrument will be dead. I really can't believe that any of us seriously thinks we don't need to inspire this enthusiasm. The issue is how to do it. I doubt that gimicks will do it and I am quite sure that Vierne symphonies will put them off for life.

This strikes me as much more the sort of thing needed - an excellent programme in fact. (I've never come across the Bossi or Bervellier, but I can imagine.)

 

 

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

 

 

You've missed a treat Vox.

 

The Bervellier is quite jazzy and great rhythmic fun, and the Bossi "Giga" just bounces along.

 

The latter was made famous by Virgil Fox, who played it to perfection at Riverside. It does require very nimble fingers; trotting along at quite a rate of knots, with the left hand obliged to pick up the tune just as nimbly as the right.

 

I learned it once, but I haven't tried it for ages. It took a wee while to learn, I can tell you. I think it is now out of print, but I have a copy in my collection.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
I was wondering that too... I vaguely remember John Scott (I think) saying, at a recital, that he'd got it "off the internet".

Any ideas?

Searches in the past haven't thrown anything up.

It's a great piece.

P.

The Berveiller is listed here. I'm currently trying to find out how you buy single pieces.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Why?

 

Why does the organ badly need the younger generation crowd?

 

Will 700 kids, lured to a recital by balloons and other gimmicks, produce:

 

More and better organists?

More and better organ music?

More and better organs?

More and better organ recitals?

 

J

 

 

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

 

 

There are three possible answers to this; unlikely, possible and you never know.

 

It's a bit like asking, 'Why do doctors need patients, and why do patients need doctors?"

 

If people only died, everything dies with them.

 

There is a golden-rule in marketing anything. Out of 100 people, one will show an interest. (That's 1% for the mathematically gifted).

 

Of the 1% who express an interest, only 10% will obtain or buy something, which means that each sale represents a target-market of something like 1,000 people; in other words, around 0.1% of your total target for the mathematically advanced.

 

This means, that out of 700 people, 7 will show an interest, and 0.7 people will become organists.

 

This suggests that organists are not quite complete, but we knew that already.

 

Of course, on the basis that statistics (I can never say that word) are worse than lies, it is quite possible that 700 people will swarm all over the console and become virtuosi of the highest order, but it is more probable that not a single one of them will do anything of the sort.

 

In fact, with a combination of balloons, organs and explosions, it is quite likely that 20% (the timid ones) will never go near an organ again, 20% (the more adventurous) will actively seek one out and 59% will be emotionally scarred for life. The remaining 1% (the 0.7% person), may just as likely become either a high-altitude ballonist or a demolition-contractor; true vocations if ever there were such a thing.

 

My own journey towards the organ was just as strange. The links were an 11-year-old boy in a school uniform, a Leica camera, a roll of Ilford and a organ-playing curate, but without lurid headlines appearing in the newspapers.

 

Any exposure to the organ is worthwhile, or not, as the case may be, but we should never knock people for trying.

 

The simple fact is, we do not know, and neither do you.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear MM

 

Please don't misunderstand me. I should be delighted for 500 or 5,000 people to attend the recital you outlined above or any recitals given of good organ music by good organists on good organs (allowing for a wide range of opinions as to the meaning of 'good'). I just wonder about the consequences of accepting that neither 5,000 not 500 people will come to that recital "so let's add balloons". It seems to me you then risk the possibility that people (of whatever age) attracted by balloons come back for more balloons and the music, and the musician, and the instrument become incidental.

 

I hear what Vox says about the organ dying if we don't get the kids interested but wonder when was the great age when kids were interested and thus kept the organ alive? There may well have been one and, if so, you will know about it. (I remain indebted to you for a previous post pointing out that organs were all the rage in the taverns of ancient Rome (a factor which contributes greatly to the vast canon of ancient Roman organ repertoire being played today)).

 

I think your statistical analysis is arguable. Out of 700 attendees, 7 are interested*. 0.7 starts organ lessons. 0.07 gets to grade 5 and 0.007 to grade 8. 0.0007 ever plays a recital and 0,00007 gets ARCO. If you're lucky. I hesitate to do the maths but I think that would mean 100,000 recitals (attended by 70 million people) to produce 1 part-qualified ARCO. That doesn't seem very efficient to me, nor does it add significantly to what is happening already in terms of making new organists.

 

Of course, if you could put on 100,000 recitals for 70 million people that would save the organ (and the balloon industry!)

 

I just think this subject lends itself to a lot of woolly thinking. Spottedmetal has 700 tickets to sell at his venue and it is only natural that he should want to sell them all. Having a passion for pipe organs is laudable. Having a concern for the preservation of the pipe organ as an instrument is admirable. And, maybe, the performance of transcriptions of Ravel's Bolero by an organist in a sequined bodysuit, accompanied by dancing girls in increasingly little, and balloons, is the way to realise it. I just remain to be convinced.

 

I don't think it's about organists as entertainers, either. But it might be about organists as personalities. A while ago someone posted (in the Celebrity Organist thread) a clip of Rick Wakeman playing a pipe organ. Rick Wakeman is (imo) a great keyboardist, and a fantastic raconteur. He is, indeed, a wonderful entertainer. His pipe organ clip was crushingly dull. Perhaps he should have worn a spangly cape (as he did, routinely, in YES) or maybe he understood that it was never going to look right.

 

So how to popularise the organ? I don't know. But I think it would be better to have organists with engaging personalities appearing on Jonathan Ross, or Top Gear, or Have I Got News For You, than in a country house (with or without balloons).

 

But look on the bright side; I bet there are more organists, more organs and more organ music being played and written than there are bassoonists, bassoons and bassoon music. And there's a thought. "Bassoons and Balloons." That has a certain marketability, don't you think?

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

*This, of course, assumes they are interested in the organ. Six of them might just be interested in the balloons that were laid on to get them interested in the first place. And my money says that if one goes on to become an organist they will have been attracted by the programme and not the gimmicks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest spottedmetal
I just think this subject lends itself to a lot of woolly thinking. Spottedmetal has 700 tickets to sell at his venue and it is only natural that he should want to sell them all.

Dear Justadad

 

No - actually we can only fit in about 70 and possibly 100 if we throw out some tea tables for the day. The 700 place is somewhere else . . . but yes of course it would be wonderful to fill that too! It's also necessary there to prove to the curators of that instrument that it's worth retaining.

 

And, maybe, the performance of transcriptions of Ravel's Bolero by an organist in a sequined bodysuit, accompanied by dancing girls in increasingly little, and balloons, is the way to realise it.

 

:wacko: Aah! WOW! What an idea! Yes - we'll do it! Can anyone find the dancing girls? I know that my dad will come . . . but he'll complain afterwards that they weren't undressed!

 

More seriously, the availability of good and inspiring organs that produce an awe inspiring sound that capture the imagination is another component in the recipe for inspiring young people.

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

 

PS By the way, the 1812 escapade is going to be a celebration of 25 years of restoration and opening to the public . . . so assume that we should be allowed a little frivolity into the bargain? Anyway, the frivolities do appear to have set this continuing discussion off with a bang . . . and that was the idea. Focussing collective minds on the promotion of the organ is so very valuable so I hope everyone will continue and so please keep on throwing rotten tomatoes in my direction. B) My middle son tells me that "if one quotes statistics, 94% of people will beleive them", so it's clearly a good idea to find some more statistics . . .

 

PPS In a vein diametrically opposed to the frivolous, would anyone like to join in with me to get Eric Dalest over to perform and do some masterclasses at another venue or two to make it worthwhile? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psaupv5gd1k

Link to post
Share on other sites

Putting aside the ballooon issue, and incredulous that you do not believe statistics (I still can't say that word), there actually IS evidence that the organ and organist as entertainer has inspired many, and continues to do so.

 

However, I think you have to go to America to find the current evidence.

 

The Americans are quite demonstrative people, who like social things and social events. Go into almost any shopping-mall area of a Sunday, and you will find people skateboarding, doing street theatre, juggling, playing musical instruments and even taking part in some youth jazz event. To a lesser degree, the same thing is found in parts of Europe. (I've been to the Heineken Dance Parade in Rotterdam, and had condoms thrown at me from a float, so I do not feel that I have not lived).

 

The Americans, unlike many of their European counterparts, are not in the least bit stuffy, and if something is worth doing, it is not only worth doing well, it is also worth cheering about. As a consequence, it is remarkably common to find cathedral organists playing theatre organs rather well; sometimes in theatres of course, but also in Pizza Restaurants, on the radio and at private functions in the homes of organ-enthusiasts. A whole new generation, after the war, were inspired by the undoubted quirkiness and genius of George Wright, who did extraordinary things with a Wurlitzer. There just isn't that division between light and classical music in America, though there are still plenty of musical snobs; especially around Boston and Harvard.

 

 

Also in that fair country, the Virgil Fox phenomenon continued until perhaps two years before his death, which must have been around 1980 or so......I forget exactly when. What Virgil Fox did, was to blend showmanship with sometimes extreme virtuosity, quite a lot of amusing patter and a fair degree of musicianship on good days. Others have tried to follow his style, but no-one has ever quite matched it.

 

His following was extraordinary, and really included a huge number of teenage students; many of whom developed a fascination with the instrument and went on to study the organ seriously. Many of his pupils are still around as top recitalists in America.

 

It matters little whether one judges Virgil Fox favourably or unfavourably, because what he did was, (at least to some), quite inspirational and rollicking good fun.

 

Fox was not alone, and he has been followed by others such as Cameron Carpenter (THE most virtuosic organist I've ever heard), and the likes of the popular Argentinian, Hector Olivera, who can play just about anything on virtually any instrument.

I don't know what Hector Olivera is doing at the moment, but I suspect he is still touring the world playing pipe and electronic organ concerts, and packing in the crowds. How many people can play "The flight of the bumblebee" on the pedals, or do a full concert organ/synth transcription of "Rhapsody in blue," "Raiders of the lost ark," and then follow it with Bach or Cesar Franck? Make no mistake, he is absolutely phenomenal as a very broad musician, who knows how to put on a show and entertain people.

 

We are altogether more reticent in the UK, and reticent to a lesser degree in parts of Europe, but in Holland for example, quite a lot of children and especially teenagers actually attend the better recitals. I can tell you, that when I played the organ at Rotterdam Cathedral, I was more or less mobbed by 100+ children, who all respectfully filed up to the console to watch me play, in little groups. They were intrigued by the instrument, and loved the sounds it made. (Who wouldn't?) The Spanish Trumpets fairly slayed them.

 

Now in the UK, we have had the likes of Reginald Dixon, who entertained as only he could entertain. Now that I know better, I realise that he wasn't terribly good, but he had style and personality. However, as a 10-year-old, he was my first introduction to the organ, and I loved what I heard. It was a colourful, fascinating and extremely toe-tapping experience. Since then, I've always had an interest in the theatre-organ, and enjoyed getting to grips with them from time to time. I leave the top level of theatre-organ art to those who are far better at it than I; such as the Lynn Larsens and Simon Gledhills of this world.

 

Coming perhaps more up to date, the organ still features in lighter-style entertainment, and the most obvious example has to be the musical, "The phantom of the opera," by Lloyd-Webber. By necessity, the organ still features in classical-music concerts where the repertoire heard includes choral-music, mass-singing or things like the Saint-Seans or Richard Strauss. In smaller venues, the Handel organ-concertos are frequently heard as part of the whole musical package.

 

The "sound" of the organ is also synthesised in many a pop-record, and I can immediately think of one by George Michael.

 

My fear is, that the organ has become associated with purely churchy type things, funerals and clips of Coronations and Lambeth Conferences, when it does actually enjoy a parallel exposure as a secular instrument.

 

Children are much less bothered about a particular style of music, than they are about the sounds which music makes; which is how it should be. Knowledge starts with the general, and moves to the discernment of the particular in due course. It is therefore entirely natural that there is a natural loss of interest in a majority as time goes on, and as children start to respond to other things. This is why so few people actually do anything to any level of specific competence, but when they do, they are probably born to it. I'm stating the obvious, but in the whole of Italy there was only one Germani, and when thousands of kids a year drive go-karts, there is only one Lewis Hamilton. Talent, by some miraculous process, usually seems to find a way, but it doesn't necessarily start with the most advanced discernment.

 

It is no co-incidence that most good organists are now getting on a bit, and a relatively few younger ones always appear from time to time. I don't know what the average age on the Mander Forum is, but I'd hazard the guess that it is 45+, and others such as Richard McVeigh are very much the up-and-coming youngsters. That's good to see (and hear), BUT the tragic truth is, the breeding ground for organ-talent has been severley compromised by the deliberate destruction of church-music, from whence most organists used to come.

 

At the parish church where I was a young chorister, I think we produced one absolute virtuoso, myself, one fairly good organist who managed the ARCO, and one or two who found their level and became village organists. This was in the space of less than five years, and apart from that, it also produced one remarkable opera-singer, two good choral people and quite a few organ-enthusiasts. That's what I mean by a breeding ground, but it wasn't anything terribly unique or terribly special in those days. If I were to quote Bingley PC, where the late Robert Andrews was organist, that produced three or four very fine assistant organists; one of whom was Charles Macdonald, who went on to become organ-scholar at York Minster in the days of Frank Jackson. Another, who studied at Cambridge, is now a school music inspector, and no mean organist. Yet another, studied with Melville Cook, but went into the family business as owner and Managing Director, and thus never took up music professionally. (He could play Reger nontheless!)

 

There is that old Jesuit saying, which I'm sure someone will recall better than I, to the effect that "Give me a child until the age of 7, and I will show you the man." In other words, if you wish to promote something and inspire people, you have to start when they are relatively young. Wasn't Mozart just 7 when he first toured, and wasn't he only 12 when he played the organ at St.Bavo, Haarlem?

 

I don't see anything inherently evil or dishonest about balloons, transcriptions or entertainment, but naturally, as an organist of some ability, (when I can be bothered to practice), it wouldn't be my first choice for a fun evening out. To children, it may be a fantastic experience.

 

So I come back to my original analysis, that ANY exposure is good, but GOOD exposure is better than any, and it is unfair to knock attempts to bring the instrument to people; especially if it is ANYGOOD.

 

Of course, there are quirky alternatives, like the crazy Czech who made a water-organ using real organ-pipes, a hydraulic pump, a set of valves shaped like a keyboard and a child's blow-up paddling-pool....I kid you not!

 

It's a good job I'm not the creative director of the balloon and organ 1812 Overture experience. I would just have to go for the big finish, with a sing-along version of Boney-M's "Ra, Ra, Rasputin," a strange monk dancing with semi-naked transvestites, before being poisoned with truffles and then shot in the back just before the lights go out.

 

I have this worryingly dark streak within. B)

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, what do we do now in this country and in this age and time, then?

 

 

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

 

 

I'm mighty relieved that no-one has asked how to promote the Bassoon. The organ is a somewhat lesser challenge I suspect.

 

To a degree, the organ is not unlike the harpischord as a specialist instrument with its own repertoire and national traditions. The organ, like that harpsichord, serves a number of functions in music. One moment an accompaniment instrument, the organ also has its own international solo repertoire, as well as concertii written for it. The harpsichord is, by way of comparison, a much lower profile accompaniment instrument, and the solo repertoire tends to demand a more intimate setting than a huge concert hall, church or cathedral.

 

Musically, the organ is to some extent self-promoting, in that it is regularly heard supporting choral events, in some of the great orchestral repertoire (Saint-Saens 'Organ Symphony", the Janacek "Glagolithic Mass", the Poulenc, the Holst "Planet Suite", the Richard Strauss tone-poem, and a whole host of other music such as the Albinoni (sic) "Adagio"), and of course, very frequently on such things as Classic FM during the Christmas season. TV exposure, although limited to things like 'Songs of Praise' and 'The Vicar of Dibley' by and large, does also include 'The Last Night of the Proms" and a chance to hear the magnificent sounds of the Albert Hall organ which our kind hosts so wonderfully restored.

 

So we must never think that the music-loving public are unaware of the organ, because it is part and parcel of everday music-listening, and I suspect that almost all CD collections include at least one piece in which the organ features.

 

That, I suspect is our starting point, or to use a business buzz-word, "the bottom line."

 

Just to re-cap on the 'old days' of parish music, when the churches and hymnody were at the centre of municipal-life, it was religion and hymnody which made people aware of the organ, and gave them the opportunity of approaching the instrument from a young-age. (I can still remember a school Speech Day, when two wonderful things happened. I met Gladys Aylward, of whom the story and film "The inn of the 6th happiness" were created. I also turned the pages for a good organist playing a large Methodist Chapel organ. I was just wowed by the experience; especially since the excellent school choir in which I sang, performed some very good music).

 

With the churches now largely empty, and schools given over to street entertainment and rap, that vital first link has been lost to a considerable extent, but I would suggest that these are really the only things which have been specifically lost; all other types of exposure to the organ still remaining in place.

 

I believe that the trick is to replace what has been lost with the secular equivalent, and to some extent, I've had a go at this.

 

I have organised various events which INCLUDE the organ, but which were never organ recitals. Naturally, choral music has featured in many such events, but I shan't dwell on the obvious, unchanging symbiosis of voices and organ. Instead, I've organised baroque concerts, which have included things like the Corelli Violin and Continuo works, where the organ fulfills the continuo part so beautifully. Other works have included Purcell, for example. I've also featured the organ in orchestral concerts; usually things like the Albinoni (sic), and a few Handel "Organ Concertii" over the years. To this, I add 'Organ and Brass,' which is one of the more stirring sounds in music. For anyone with access to a good collection of percussion instruments, there are all sorts of ways of using these in combination with the organ, and I have a superb LP record of the late E.Power-Biggs doing just that; playing Telemann's "Heroic Music" and various voluntaries by Croft and others. It is the most magical sound, when the organ and tuned percussion instruments join forces. (I reckon I could do small miracles with an organ improvisation, a sanctuary bell, a gong and a wind-chime....we'd by in Susuki or Tokyo in a trice).

 

One concert I organised, which lost money (not a terrible lot), was a specifically programmed link between "organ and strings". I played the BWV565 and pointed out the violinistic style in the programme notes, I played the Albinoni (sic) with orchestra, the Handel Organ Concerto Op4 No4 (my favourite), but also included my own transcription of the C P E Bach "Solfeggio" for Violin and a furious performance of the Schumann 2nd BACH fugue for pedal-piano, which shocked a number of pianists in the audience. Apart from that, the orchestra did Mozart, Haydn and Rossini, if recall correctly.

 

The point is, it drew people in who liked orchestral-music, and rather forced them to listen to some organ-music at the same time.

 

The same can be done with Brass Bands, and interestingly, quite a lot of brass band music is transcribed from the organ. (I heartily recommend members of the forum to get hold of a recording of one of the better bands, such as "Black Dyke", playing the Boellmann "Toccata") It's no co-incidence that quite a number of band-leaders have been very competent organists. I met the late Roy Newsome FRCO a few times, during his days as conductor of "Black Dyke", and the Euphonium supremo and organ-builder, John Clough, many times.

 

I don't know too much about electronic-music and synthesisers, but with imagination, there is no reason why organs and synths shouldn't be able to work together creativily. Even a good electronic-piano would sound quite good in something like the Peeters "Concerto for Organ & Piano"....a fine work, which I suspect very few people have heard).

 

I've also suddenly realised that a well played Harmonica would blend perfectly with the organ, but other than the "Genavive" theme made famous by Larry Adler, I can't really think of any repertoire. Then there's Guitar and Organ, which I think Peter Hurford once explored rather well. Solo Trumpet and organ is a magnificent sound, and there's enough repertoire there, I would have thought.

 

One thing I would love to do is to include in a concert/recital, some of the ravishingly beautiful sacred-songs for Mezzo Soprano and Organ" by Klement Slavicky (Czech Republic). Alas, I do not know where I can obtain the music!

 

Organ-recitals are so easy to organise, and that is the problem. The alternatives are troublesome and sometimes financially risky, but I suspect that with care, anything is possible. It really is what is needed, to include the organ in a wider spectrum of music, and in such a context, good quality solo items will be well received by people, so long as they are not too extended or somehow dominate the proceedings.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
============================

I'm mighty relieved that no-one has asked how to promote the Bassoon. The organ is a somewhat lesser challenge I suspect.

From what I remember of my encounter with Archie Camden in the early 1950s, it is perfectly possible to enthuse young people about the Bassoon, when you get a charismatic player to promote it in schools. That experience should show us that it is the personality of the person who promotes the organ, and their understanding of children, that is the key to success.

JC

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm mighty relieved that no-one has asked how to promote the Bassoon.

I have a pre-war book which is a light-hearted introduction to company management; it is called "How to run a Bassoon Factory". Jolly good it is too.

 

Paul

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Gareth

 

Good question, but ...

 

What's the objective?

 

I've asked this question in different ways but I'm still lacking an answer.

 

"What do we do now in this country and in this age and time in order to ...."

 

Please (anyone) fill in the dots. But please don't fill it in with "Save the organ" because I don't know what that means, and know even less how to measure whether any proportion of such a task might have been achieved.

 

Do we want:

 

More organ students?

More people attending organ recitals of the sort the sort Paul Derrett, Sean Tucker, David Coram, Nigel Allcoat or Stephen Farr might give?

More people attending organ recitals that are accompanied by balloons and other gimmicks?

More organs being preserved?

More organs being built?

More organ CD sales?

Higher remuneration and more respect for church organists?

More new organ repertoire?

More programming of organ music in concerts that are not exclusively organ?

Or what?

 

Unless we quantify where we want to get to, and when, we are most unlikely to get there. If we can quantify it and it's unrealistic then we're just whistling in the wind. If we can quantify it and it is realistic then we can think about strategy and tactics. But if we don't know where we want to be, and when, we'll just meander along and end up where we end up. And that would be fine for many, but ...

 

And in case I'm giving the wrong impression, as father of (and occasional assistant for) a 17 year old ARCO who is just about to end one three year appointment as an organ scholar and start another one I am all in favour of serious organists receiving appropriate regard.

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

Well, what do we do now in this country and in this age and time, then?
Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest spottedmetal

My middle son enjoys making gunpowder whilst the neighbours consider him a little eccentric if not anti-social -

 

Rest of post deleted by moderators for being off-topic.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

Link to post
Share on other sites
My middle son enjoys making gunpowder whilst the neighbours consider him a little eccentric if not anti-social -

 

For avoidance of doubt, in this country the manufacture, storage and sale of gunpowder is governed by the Explosives Act 1875. Anyone manufacturing gunpowder at an "unauthorised place" is guilty of an offence.

 

The rest of this post deleted for being off-topic.

 

Moderator, Mander Organs

Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know what that means either, but I suspect it's outside the scope of this forum.

 

J

 

 

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

 

Why are colourful aspects of life outside the scope of this forum?

 

Music is about life..... a celebration of life and an expression of life. If it isn't, we may as well be dead, which of course many organists are, even when they're alive.

 

I would not regard myself as one of the living-dead, but there are times when I think that I may well as be; especially when no one can be bothered to care enough about almost anything.

 

The only thing I would say about Americans (having shared my life with one for a few years), is that they are interactive people who think positively, even if things sometimes don't work out. They have a great way of encouraging each other, and they tend to hate English-style put-downs.

 

It seems to me, that in asking 'why' we should do something, we are almost apologising for existing in the first place. The only 'why' I would ask, is why we are so dumb as to question what we are, while others may actually be interested. On the basis that Florence Nightingale didn't go onto the battle-fields to inflict pain (though she probably did), we must assume that what we are doing is good, worthy and somehow meaningful. If it's not, what is the point of it?

 

Are there any architects or designers who assume that no-one wants to see what they do?

 

The reason why I like the Carlo Curley story of he and the pop-group at the Albert Hall, is not that he put them down, but that he gave as good as he got. They made a hell of a din, and he did the same on the organ; presumably sharing a moment of humour with people who probably couldn't quite believe it.

 

I'm sorry, but people are noisy, sometimes outrageous, often shallow and usually quite colourful. I'm personally quite happy to be all those things at least some of the time. If I, and others, can balance that with things which are conventional, deep and come across as monochrome, then I am a broader person as a result.

 

Great performers and artists are often great characters; neurotically driven to communicate, entertain and sometimes stir people up. Essentially, they are people who have something to say and something to share, even when they come across as deeply introverted specimens of humanity.

 

I actually quite like the story of S S Wesley, who in the company of John Courage and "Father" Willis, began to play music on the front-door steps because he was on his knees and totally drunk. This was the same man who fell in a river, and asked a passing constable if he could play the organ.

 

God protect us when music has to skulk behind curtains in empty churches, or be so precious that it is kept in special places.

 

If I want that, I would rather go and drink rare wine at the Athenium Club, in the company of poe-faced bishops.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
And in case I'm giving the wrong impression, as father of (and occasional assistant for) a 17 year old ARCO who is just about to end one three year appointment as an organ scholar and start another one I am all in favour of serious organists receiving appropriate regard.

 

 

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

 

Max Reger wasn't a very good organist apparently.

 

He just wrote more organ-music than anyone else who ever lived.

 

Elgar was self-taught and came from the provinces.

 

What is your point?

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Dear Gareth

 

[.......]

 

Do we want:

 

More organ students?

More people attending organ recitals of the sort the sort Paul Derrett, Sean Tucker, David Coram, Nigel Allcoat or Stephen Farr might give?

More people attending organ recitals that are accompanied by balloons and other gimmicks?

More organs being preserved?

More organs being built?

More organ CD sales?

Higher remuneration and more respect for church organists?

More new organ repertoire?

More programming of organ music in concerts that are not exclusively organ?

 

I'd say yes to all of those, but could probably give balloons a miss! :blink:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest spottedmetal
My middle son enjoys making gunpowder whilst the neighbours consider him a little eccentric if not anti-social -

Rest of post deleted by moderators for being off-topic.

Moderator, Mander Organs

 

Dear All

 

I aplogise for enthusiasm leading to apparent incomprehensibility to many, leaving the remaining stub a matter of some intriguing curiosity.

 

An early question in this thread was along the lines of "why do we have to import foreign talent when there is so much home-grown?" The relevance of the text deleted was that in India, America and Spain we see the expression of colour in life, and colour in character whether it be the Valencian mascleta where explosions are orchestrated "much like playing the organ", (see http://www.valenciavalencia.com/culture-gu...orks-fallas.htm ) , the colour adorning Indian places of worship, and the American celebration of the outrageous: organs taken into the desert, organs breathing fire, to the point commercially, of enjoying the multi-decker Wanamaker organ in the shopping centre of Philadelphia.

 

These foreign cultures celebrating life have produced such larger than life characters as Virgil Fox, Carlo Curley and, indeed, the wonderful Rolf Harris who I bumped into last evening who succeeded in popularising a humble electronic organ played with a stylus.

 

On the "Encouraging the Nightclub generation" thread, Nachthorn indesputably concluded:

There is a lot to be said for a player with an approachable personality playing engaging repertoire on a decent organ.
and on this thread, JC referred to "fine, young, home-grown performers" in contrast to "entertainers from overseas".

 

So without disrespect to the performers we know and love from abroad, so much the better if we see a new generation of showmen of the stature of these great men arising from within England to continue championing the pipe organ.

 

The point of my seemingly outrageous exhortations that such players who are entertainers with approachable personalities can include us, indeed be us, is because so often the organ is seen as suffering from "English Reserve".

 

That is a terrible generalisation which possibly needs qualification: a month ago after an excellent performance a super organist with only a small audience*, bowed embarrassedly with little panache doing little to engage with the appreciation of his audience. Regularly hundreds miss his fantastic performances. Fearful of criticism, he won't let people listen to recordings of his performances either. They are lost, and no performances are used to build any enthusiasm for the next.

 

With that performance in mind which is not untypical of many, the spreading of truckloads of enthusiasm, for which I apologise for having much too much, is really a vital ingredient. It is that which has distinguished the performers whose names are familiar to us from foreign cultures undulled by the greyness of UK Health and Safety, and enabled them to engage.

 

Home-grown performers will appear: how lucky the competitants of Lancing College were to receive the adjuducation of John Forster of Christ's Hospital recently when he reminded them that a performance starts at the moment of eye-contact, the moment when the audience first sees the performer, and continues until they cease sight-contact after the aural experience.

 

It is my personal opinion that for the organ and its repertoire to be better appreciated in England, miracles are needed. If one believes in miracles, one will live a miracle and, indeed, we can even make them happen.

 

In the context of the above, were my original text to be restored, it might be understood: I'd hoped as always that it might also inspire.

 

Best wishes,

 

Soottedmetal

 

*PS Of course, it's cosy to play to ourselves and not many more, but in these days of market forces, small audiences don't fund big instruments to be rebuilt, nor be built in the first place.

Link to post
Share on other sites
... a month ago after an excellent performance a super organist with only a small audience, bowed embarrassedly with little panache doing little to engage with the appreciation of his audience.

 

I'm sorry, you've hit my grumpy piston again! Who cares whether he bowed embarrassedly with little panache? Not everyone can be as "in your face" as you seem to want them to be; not everyone can be like you. If it was great music, then the performer will have given something special to that small audience and for me that is quite good enough. As good as going to a tiny restaurant and enjoying wonderful food, personally cooked with a quality that would be lost if it was served to a hundred. Sometimes, small is beautiful and sometimes it is quiet people who achieve the most.

JC

Link to post
Share on other sites
.....As good as going to a tiny restaurant and enjoying wonderful food, personally cooked with a quality that would be lost if it was served to a hundred. Sometimes, small is beautiful and sometimes it is quiet people who achieve the most.

JC

One of the most memorable recitals I've given (from my point of view - perhaps the rest of them were totally forgettable from the point of view of the audience! :blink: ) was to an audience of just two!

 

I gave weekly lunchtime recitals at one of my previous churches. I fondly remember an occasion one January where we suffered deep snow. I made my way to church, with difficulty, and did some practise before the recital was due to begin. I opened the church doors at the normal time and, not surprisingly, nobody was waiting. At two minutes before the recital was due to begin, one of our regulars walked in, and told me about the difficult journey he had made to get into the city centre. I took him into my office and made us both coffee. A couple of minutes later, another regular came in, and joined us for coffee. I tried to persuade them that they didn't want to hear the organ, but they said that they did. So I took them to the console and gave them the recital I had prepared, chatting with them during it and talking about various aspects of the instrument between items, whilst they sat next to me and enjoyed (I hope) what they heard. It was delightfully informal and, from what they said, I think they enjoyed very much the experience of having the organ played just for them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"So without disrespect to the performers we know and love from abroad, so much the better if we see a new generation of showmen of the stature of these great men arising from within England to continue championing the pipe organ."

 

The word "showmen" bothers me as I don't know exactly what you mean by it. Do we not desire musicians first and foremost?

 

 

"That is a terrible generalisation which possibly needs qualification: a month ago after an excellent performance a super organist with only a small audience*, bowed embarrassedly with little panache doing little to engage with the appreciation of his audience. Regularly hundreds miss his fantastic performances. Fearful of criticism, he won't let people listen to recordings of his performances either. They are lost, and no performances are used to build any enthusiasm for the next."

 

Then, by implication, his "excellent performance" alone was insufficient? What else do you expect the man to do?

 

 

"With that performance in mind which is not untypical of many, the spreading of truckloads of enthusiasm, for which I apologise for having much too much, is really a vital ingredient. It is that which has distinguished the performers whose names are familiar to us from foreign cultures undulled by the greyness of UK Health and Safety, and enabled them to engage."

 

I fail to see how Health and Safety legislation has negatively impacted on the enthusiasm displayed at UK organ recitals.

 

 

"It is my personal opinion that for the organ and its repertoire to be better appreciated in England, miracles are needed. If one believes in miracles, one will live a miracle and, indeed, we can even make them happen.

 

In the context of the above, were my original text to be restored, it might be understood: I'd hoped as always that it might also inspire."

 

Is spottedmetal really a pseudonym for Arthur Nobile? :blink:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest spottedmetal
The word "showmen" bothers me as I don't know exactly what you mean by it. Do we not desire musicians first and foremost?

Dear Dulciana

 

Firstly I should apologise for, on other threads, suggesting that organists should not overlook you in accompanying bright 2fts on small organs and that you should not be neglected in being called to provide foundation to the beat frequencies of annoying noisy ranks of close harmonics. :blink: As one of the latter, I'm with you and understand where you are coming from: together perhaps we can excite the ears.

 

We need musicians who are both excellent, as I believe Barbara Dennerlein as an example is, and who inspire. There may be two sorts of inspiration - one to the cognoscenti and one to the not-yet. In choosing to suggest BD, I was looking at pedalwork which is inspiration to us all and especially to those who are being told that Bach was to be played by toes alone. In common with some others, I saw musicianship being brought across a boundary which was capable of inspiring already talented performers afresh, and there was also the element of the contemporary culture which she brings which is capable of inspiring the "I didn't yet know that I was interested in the pipe-organ" brigade.

 

I have not yet seen her performance in the flesh, by John Forster's criterion, of the impact on the eye at first sight before she plays nor on the way in which the memory of her performance is cast in the mind in the visual memory after the sound stops but the image and action persist, until sight contact is lost.

 

These moments are the moments for our showmen, to set the stage for their performances, even to speak and speak confidently, to demonstrate that they are the masters of their instrument and their repertoire to those who are less qualified to judge or understand their performance, and afterwards to draw their own curtain on the performance.

 

Then, by implication, his "excellent performance" alone was insufficient? What else do you expect the man to do?
Yes - excellent performance alone is insufficient to inspire, or perhaps restating this in a more qualified form, to achieve universal inspiration including within those who do not yet know that they have an interest in this form of musical expression.

 

What else do I expect the man to do? Show that he is the King of the King of Instruments. Yes, I agree that the organ can squeal like a frightened rabbit, but it can roar like a lion. This is the drama of the instrument, its fundamental apeal. We're not dealing with a demure harpist or fluatist here. This man has to be the Lion Tamer. Lady lion tamers are all the more exciting (oh dear - :o I can see the whip jokes looming - :D ).

 

To achieve popularity, we have to bring people together and put on a circus, put on a spectacle, set one team against another, a gladiator against a beast. This is a fundamental part of the human psyche, the worship of inescapably huge forces and the courage of those who battle with them, the spectacle of risk and daring. This is the definition of excitement. The character of the player has to match the spirit of the music.

 

This is why vegetarian instruments have their place, but for wider inspiration we need to preserve those instruments with Trombas spiced with harmonics, those Tubas that sound like a battery of hooters and Ophicleides powerful enough to launch the Queen Mary.

 

The musician has to match, perhaps in contrasting quietness, in David and Goliath style, but he has to have the panache of the hero. He has also to know how to accept the wreath of gratitude bestowed upon him after his victory in battle, he has to know how to bow and to show appreciation of his audience's appreciation of him. These are basic tenets of the performing arts, which perhaps hidden behind a console, are darker forms of art to many organists than to musicians like bright violins out there in front, or the Pavarotti centre stage.

 

Perhaps even some are psychologically drawn to the organ because they think they can hide away behind the console without engaging. That barrier has to be overcome in order to win an audience.

 

I fail to see how Health and Safety legislation has negatively impacted on the enthusiasm displayed at UK organ recitals.

 

Unfortunately Health and Safety makes no heroes, only namby-pambies unable to dare to change a light bulb. School children (Times, yesterday) are now being denied the opportunity of testing the risk of falling off a chair. As a society we live in fear, fear of rules, fear of getting sued, fear of losing approval, fear of losing our jobs, taking comfort from enclaves of close concensus: it's dangerous. We lose touch with the real world outside until it's too late. Risk is not allowed, so only the exceptional are heroes. Perhaps we need that sense of danger of participating in the Valencian organistic Mascleta and learning how not to get hurt.

 

It's for this reason that the provision of venues for musicians to try out programmes, try out new things, be adventurous in an atmosphere where risks can be taken before an enthusiastic and uncritical audience is so important. It is at such venues that musicians can acquire the confidence to know that they can achieve and can be the King or Queen of their realm. Many years ago there was a musician colleague of Peter Katin by the name of John Maynard. He became disabled and his ambition was to provide this inspiration, founding a society where young musicians could perform, mainly in those days before benign and adoring old ladies. His disabilities progressed and being unable to speak, handed me his baton which I've valued ever since.

 

It's for this reason that I recognise that Barbara Dennerlien's adventurism in trying to bring new music and new techniques to the organ is potentially usefully encouraged.

 

But as I have been trying to communicate, from what I have seen of many musicians, there is much talent but it's only the outward expression of confidence that is the determining factor between those whose performances are attended by a few and those who bring their followers with them. One of these on the piano is Roman Rudnitsky - he plays with an infectious energetic enthusiasm and engages with his audience, telling them a little about the peices, projecting his command of what he is playing and the audiences that he draws are the proof of the pudding. I know that if I engage him, an audience is guaranteed.

 

The film industry saw the effects of this when their silent heroes turned to talkies, and didn't know how to speak to be loved.

 

For the organ to survive, all organists who can will well do to project their charisma, to project their heroism from the silent into the talkies and even, dare I say it, Technicolor and High Definition. On that why has HDCD failed against Blue Ray? Isn't it that, apart from BR technology having crossed boundaries into games consoles, Blue Ray just simply sounds a good deal more inspiring - a tool for a hero for a start - than a boring fuddy duddy HiDef CD. The organ is the same, and Barbara Dennerlein has crossed the necessary boundaries . . . and is metaphorically turning her whip towards the taming of the pipe organ.

 

I'm sure that we don't need foreign talent, we just need organists, perhaps organists here, to put on their metaphorical suit of shining armour, mount their battle-wise brave steeds, and . . . . GALLOP! Even without a coat of Virgil Fox sequins, to just do it in the mind is good enough as perhaps it can be argued that the Iliad is richer than the Aeneid? In England we are too riddled with inhibitions.

 

Is spottedmetal really a pseudonym for Arthur Nobile? ;)

 

:P No! From the thread, I wasn't sure entirely sure whether the concensus was that he's someone we should be looking to engage?

 

Sadly only my bright Harmonic Flute in the back row and show Diapasons are spotted . . . it would be nice if that Dulciana in the middle row was too! :) How many organists can we get more widely spotted?

 

What's the point? Well . . . only large numbers support large numbers and if we are to see organ building thrive in this country with large numbers of pipes, we need large numbers of people to pay for them.

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

Link to post
Share on other sites
The word "showmen" bothers me as I don't know exactly what you mean by it. Do we not desire musicians first and foremost?

 

Consider the benefits of showmanship. A piece by Eric Thiman followed by card-tricks and rabbits appearing from a top-hat.

A Herbert Howells Psalm Prelude followed by a juggler, juggling organ-pipes.

A Vierne Symphony a la Moulin Rouge, with scantily clad chorus girls.

 

If the RCO could stoop to organ-duets in boxing shorts at the Albert-Hall, we can do something similar.

 

Then, by implication, his "excellent performance" alone was insufficient? What else do you expect the man to do?

 

I expect nothing less than multi-tasking, and the ability to wink and smile at people while playing the Durufle Toccata.

 

I fail to see how Health and Safety legislation has negatively impacted on the enthusiasm displayed at UK organ recitals.

 

Not yet Sir! Not yet, but they have a dossier.

 

Is spottedmetal really a pseudonym for Arthur Nobile? :blink:

 

Leave poor Arty alone.....musical mental-scars heal eventually.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is all getting rather silly.

 

I don't doubt the abilities of Barbara Dennerlein, as well as cross-over artists such as Simon Gledhill and the jazz legend, Harry Stoneham.

 

I suppose our nearest cousins in many ways, are the people of the Netherlands. They tend to be thoughtful and non-demonstrative folk, by and large, and yet at the more important organ-venues, it is not impossible to find 1,000+ people for a major recital.

 

I've only ever seen that once in the UK, at Exeter Cathedral many moons ago. Nevertheless, substantial numbers used to turn out for Dr.Francis Jackson and Dr.Melville Cook 30 years ago.

 

I don't agree that showmanship is the answer, yet that doesn't mean that organists should not engage with their audiences. It always impresses me that Carlo Curley actually wants to meet his audience before and after, and I'm sure that is part of the attraction.

 

What I suspect has to be avoided, is not so much bad organ-music, but tacky showmanship. I would, for instance, absolutely delight in hearing brilliantly performed music such as the "Pink Panther" theme, played on a huge American Wurlitzer in a pizza restaurant in Arizona. That is just fantastic LIVE ENTERTAINMENT American-style, complete with dancing cats and flashing-lights.

 

What I would not appreciate, is Reger with flashing-lights, German sausage and pouting blonds wearing milk-maid costumes. (Reger with a pint of beer may well have a hint of authenticity about it.)

 

It's the difference between the neurotic (and slightly deranged) humour of Mozart, and the enjoyable, but rather silly film, "Amadeus."

 

People often quote Virgil Fox, but he was to music what Bette Midler was to Shakespeare. He was unique, as is Bette Midler, and to even begin to imitate them is to venture into caricature. Virgil Fox also inhabited a very different world to the America of to-day, and his style of showmanship was not something which generally travelled well outside the US. I very much doubt that anyone would be quite so inspired by him, were he to start out to-day, but in his time, he achieved much and brought considerable delight to a great many people.

 

Maybe I didn't sell it very well before, and I shall not go over what I wrote, but I believe that involving the organ in the wider musical world, and building up the sort of camaraderie we once enjoyed in parish churches, is the only sound way of securing a sound future.

 

I don't know, but I may enjoy streamers, balloons, party-hats and cameo performances from comedians and a one-man-band, but I just know that I would be there for the entertainment rather than the music.

 

That wouldn't do the organ or organists any favours, I suspect.

 

If I were to suggest the biggest problem everyone faces to-day, it is the fact that people are encouraged to be spectators in life, and people who spectate want a spectacle. Had the same people been taught to do things and try things, they would have a better understanding and a greater appreciation.

 

Why is football so big in the UK?

 

Isn't it because kids play it from an early age, in the shools and with their friends on any bit of unused space they can find?

 

Married with twelve kids, a mortage and a beer-belly, the same people are at football matches or glued to "Match of the day" every weekend; perhaps dreaming and pretending that they too could be Sir Alex Ferguson or George Best.

 

There was a time when small groups of kids would talk about Germani, Dupre and Thalben-Ball, and some of us have never grown-up enough to stop!

 

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


×
×
  • Create New...