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Playing Too Loud In Sydney?


Guest Patrick Coleman
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Guest Patrick Coleman

Member might find this report from the Sydney Morning Herald interesting - especially those who think some clergy in this part of the world are unreasonable... :rolleyes:

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Interestingly - the church in Bristol where the current (excellent) Sydney DOM was previously incumbent had it's organ rebuilt not that long ago with added 'ammunition' presumably to give it more clout - I would guess not only because of the enthusiastic singing of the very large (and seemingly as evangelical as Sydney Cath.) congregations there but also for the repertoire too. To give them their due though - they manage to maintain all aspects of things with the expected guitars etc. as well as the 'trad.' and it does not seem as if the same attitude prevails there as was reported in the article above from the Dean of Sydney. (I seem to remember that his brother is the Bishop/Archbishop and that some quite choice remarks were made regarding significant points of discussion at the recent Lambeth conference.) Certainly though, Sydney has had it's share of controversy 'musicwise' in the past. This makes quite interesting reading from the former DOM there.

 

AJJ

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"...members of the congregation have complained they cannot hear themselves think."

(Quote from the linked page)

 

This is a splendid case of jesuitism !

Read actually:

 

"....Have complained they could not talk about the Jones with the Smiths" :rolleyes:

 

Draw one Tuba more !

 

Pierre

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"...members of the congregation have complained they cannot hear themselves think."

(Quote from the linked page)

 

This is a splendid case of jesuitism !

Read actually:

 

"....Have complained they could not talk about the Jones with the Smiths" :rolleyes:

 

Draw one Tuba more !

 

Pierre

 

I used to play at the Bristol church from time to time under Ross, a good friend from university. I can happily confirm

(i) the organ was exceedingly loud;

(ii) the church was regularly filled for Sunday services and therefore every decibel from said organ counted;

(iii) the congregation appreciated the eclectic range of music that contributed to the worship.

 

I had hoped the same would be true of his new position - Amen to those tubas Pierre!

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And then, to confuse the issue, this was sent as a letter to the editor of the same newspaper:

 

 

 

Grab a seat - cathedral organ will be flourishing

 

As the chief organ grinder of St Andrew's Cathedral, I was pleasantly surprised to see that our services were front-page news ("Cathedral finds its organ grinding", September 8).

 

But please, let's get some matters straight. On Sunday, for Father's Day, the choir processed out down the main aisle and there were many happy fathers in the large congregation who stayed and listened to the wonderful (and loud!) new cathedral brass ensemble.

 

Music featured included Bach and S. S. Wesley as well as some classic hymns pumped out by the brass, the cathedral choir and the mighty organ.

 

The music here seems to be in full and good voice. My assistant and I always try to lead the congregation as best we can. Sometimes that means playing softer as well as louder. But Sunday's music is always varied, so be early for a seat. The organ will certainly flourish at the end.

 

 

 

 

Oh dear, I guess that one has to keep the boss happy, particularly when criticism is flying.

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"...members of the congregation have complained they cannot hear themselves think."

(Quote from the linked page)

 

This is a splendid case of jesuitism !

 

 

Pierre

 

Or, in this case, Jensenism.

 

O that English (and Australian) worshippers would follow the example of German congregations in appreciating that the concluding voluntary - especially when carefully chosen to complement a particular liturgical theme or season (and announced in the pew sheet) - is part of the service itself and requires them to remain seated until the end.

 

All this is so much more satisfying, musically and spiritually. In most English churches on a Sunday morning the congregation, rather than sitting still for 5 minutes after the service, cannot wait to get to the tea and buns and to resume the all too wordly gossip which began (intrusively) before the service and was inconveniently interrupted by it.

 

Things are a little better at Evensong, however - by its very nature a more contemplative sort of service. Our pew sheet lists the final voluntary with the words "you are invited to stay and listen". You'd be surprised how many do...

 

JS

 

 

 

 

JS

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O that English (and Australian) worshippers would follow the example of German congregations in appreciating that the concluding voluntary - especially when carefully chosen to complement a particular liturgical theme or season (and announced in the pew sheet) - is part of the service itself and requires them to remain seated until the end.

 

I quite agree.

 

When I was in Cologne in August, and waiting near the west door to get into the cathedral following a service, I was very pleased to see that everyone, including the priest, sat in silence and listened to the organ voluntary. No-one moved until it had ended.

 

The nave organ, incidentally, was surprisingly powerful for only 53 stops, even from the west door.

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I was very pleased to see that everyone, including the priest, sat in silence and listened to the organ voluntary.

 

I may have told this story here before. If so, I apologize for repeating myself!

 

A number of years ago I was organist at a church which had a well-known annual fayre. The church had a tradition of having an organ recital at the beginning of the fayre, which was well attended.

 

I was giving the recital, and I heard loud talking. It got louder and louder and was so bad that I had to stop playing and to see what was going on. The audience was looking flabbergasted!

 

It turned out that one of the NSPs had decided to give a guided tour of the church to a group of people! I asked him if he'd noticed that we had a church full of people listening to an organ recital. He said that it sounded very nice, and wouldn't disturb his guided tour too much as long as I didn't play too loudly! He wasn't very pleased when I insisted - forcibly! - that he desisted his wretched guided tour until the end of the recital. :rolleyes:

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O that English (and Australian) worshippers would follow the example of German congregations in appreciating that the concluding voluntary - especially when carefully chosen to complement a particular liturgical theme or season (and announced in the pew sheet) - is part of the service itself and requires them to remain seated until the end.

 

All this is so much more satisfying, musically and spiritually.

Quite. All it requires is a different take on when the service ends. It really is that simple. As the late lamented Wallace Greenslade often said, "It's all in the mind, you know."

 

In most English churches on a Sunday morning the congregation, rather than sitting still for 5 minutes after the service, cannot wait to get to the tea and buns and to resume the all too wordly gossip which began (intrusively) before the service and was inconveniently interrupted by it.

That reminds me of a sermon I heard one Passiontide as a choirboy. Our vicar preached on the text "Could ye not watch with me one brief hour?" and used it to criticise those who were all too eager to rush out of church to attend to their Sunday roasts. Damned good preacher, that chap.

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I can see the other side of the coin, though....

 

To most people, organ voluntaries are quite irrelevant. They have done their worship, sung the last hymn, received the blessing and are ready to depart. I'm sure they'd wonder why they'd have to sit and listen to an instrument to which they'd never normally bother to listen.

 

Whereas most of us probably take care to play pieces which are relevant to the theme of the day, this is totally irrelevant to 99.999999 per cent of those in the congregation. The organ voluntary might be part of our worship, but I can imagine that they would think it wasn't part of theirs!

 

EDIT: Just noticed a bit of dreadful spelling! :rolleyes:

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Well, I could counter that I might wonder why I have to sit and listen to a sermon to which I'd never normally bother to listen. Of course the difference is God's representatives teach people to appreciate the value and place of the sermon, whereas neither they, nor most of the rest of the country, could give a toss about the place and value of classical music. It's a cultural black hole. It's all in the mind, you know...

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Guest Patrick Coleman
And, also, that sermons take place half-way through a service, not after the blessing and dismissal. Mind you, I sometimes wish they'd preach them there instead so I could creep out....!

 

:rolleyes:

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And, also, that sermons take place half-way through a service, not after the blessing and dismissal. Mind you, I sometimes wish they'd preach them there instead so I could creep out....!

 

There's historical precedent, I believe, and it's not altogether an unknown practice in modern times.

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I can see the other side of the coin, though....

 

To most people, organ voluntaries are quite irrelevant. They have done their worship, sung the last hymn, received the blessing and are ready to depart. I'm sure they'd wonder why they'd have to sit and listen to an instrument to which they'd never normally bother to listen.

 

Whereas most of us probably take care to play pieces which are relevant to the theme of the day, this is totally irrelevant to 99.999999 per cent of those in the congregation. The organ voluntary might be part of our worship, but I can imagine that they would think it wasn't part of theres!

 

This can also lead to ever decreasing circles as the organist thinks "Well, if they're not listening, it doesn't matter if I haven't done quite as much work on the end of the piece as I'd intended" Not, though, that I am implying that members of this board do that: They are too professional, but it could happen like this with others.

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This can also lead to ever decreasing circles as the organist thinks "Well, if they're not listening, it doesn't matter if I haven't done quite as much work on the end of the piece as I'd intended".

 

That's very true. On the other hand, I've come across organists who have taken pains to rehearse the voluntary when they might have been better off spending a bit of time on learning the rest of the service music instead.....!

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I used to play at the Bristol church from time to time under Ross, a good friend from university. I can happily confirm

(i) the organ was exceedingly loud;

(ii) the church was regularly filled for Sunday services and therefore every decibel from said organ counted;

(iii) the congregation appreciated the eclectic range of music that contributed to the worship.

 

I had hoped the same would be true of his new position - Amen to those tubas Pierre!

So Mr. Cobb has moved on elsewhere, has he? If so:

 

1. Where has he gone to?

2. Who has taken his place?

 

I remnember Wayne Marshall's recital on the occasion of the re-dedication of the organ in that Bristol church after its rebuild. Superb playing by WM but the last item on the programme was, IIRC, described as "Improvisations on a theme set by the church's organist": the theme turned out to be the music from 'The Flintstones'. WM did it very well and really got quite into it with this part going on for about 20 minutes or so.

 

Dave

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