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I've just seen this...

 

The service list for King's states that "during January and February the organ will be undergoing repair, and the solid-state piston action will be upgraded". This means nearly two months of mainly earlier music, either unaccompanied or with the chamber organ, including Byrd's entire Great Service.

 

...on a BBC messageboard. It may save someone an "on-spec" journey if the organ is the main focus of the visit.

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I've just seen this...

 

The service list for King's states that "during January and February the organ will be undergoing repair, and the solid-state piston action will be upgraded". This means nearly two months of mainly earlier music, either unaccompanied or with the chamber organ, including Byrd's entire Great Service.

 

...on a BBC messageboard. It may save someone an "on-spec" journey if the organ is the main focus of the visit.

 

On the Harrison and Harrison website it states "We are overhauling the keyboards, installing stepper pistons, and repairing and strengthening some of the west front pipes. The work will be carried out early in 2009." All routine housekeeping it seems to me.

 

http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/plans.html

 

Charles

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On the Harrison and Harrison website it states "We are overhauling the keyboards, installing stepper pistons, and repairing and strengthening some of the west front pipes. The work will be carried out early in 2009." All routine housekeeping it seems to me.

 

http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/plans.html

 

Charles

 

Go down the road to St.John's. Better choir, more telling accoustic. Yes, I'm biased.

 

P

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Go down the road to St.John's. Better choir.

 

What do fellow forum members think of the Christmas choral offerings from Kings, namely the live radio 3 broadcast and the pre-recorded BBC2 programme?

The top line seems to have developed a pronounced vibrato; particularly evident amongst the various treble soloists, and a much more open sound than in previous years. Not something I would normally associate with Kings.

 

This reminded me of Christopher Robinson's excellent CD series of various UK composers on the Naxos label, some of which benefit from very expressive top lines with accomplished treble soloists.

 

DT

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Guest Echo Gamba
What do fellow forum members think of the Christmas choral offerings from Kings, namely the live radio 3 broadcast and the pre-recorded BBC2 programme?

The top line seems to have developed a pronounced vibrato; particularly evident amongst the various treble soloists, and a much more open sound than in previous years. Not something I would normally associate with Kings.

 

This reminded me of Christopher Robinson's excellent CD series of various UK composers on the Naxos label, some of which benefit from very expressive top lines with accomplished treble soloists.

 

DT

 

It may have been the effect of a more "open" sound, but I felt that the boys were right at their limit in the Praetorius arrangement of 'In Dulci Jubilo"

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Not strictly answering the question, but IMHO the Chaplain's reading of "Journey of the Magi" on BBC2 was well-nigh perfect - every word given it's proper weight, no false emphases, no distractions. Just like good choral singing!

 

Ian

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Guest Echo Gamba
Not strictly answering the question, but IMHO the Chaplain's reading of "Journey of the Magi" on BBC2 was well-nigh perfect - every word given it's proper weight, no false emphases, no distractions. Just like good choral singing!

 

Ian

 

And I thought the boy reading Genesis on the radio was exemplary.

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Anyone know the name of the Bob Chilcott carol they did this year (not sure whether it was on the radio or TV), very attractive!

The Shepherd's Carol (OUP) was performed in Carol's from Kings on BBC2 last Christmas Eve.

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Slightly off topic, but as someone with a brother (52) who is a CF sufferer, I was delighted to see that "A Boy Called Alex" was amongst the choral scholars in evidence at the 9 lessons & carols.

 

The broadcast itself seems a bit of a farce. I found myself being impressed by the whole choir's ability to start unaccompanied carols without any given chord, but then frequently being reminded that the service is effectively fake by the pecularliarly changing lighting conditions in the chapel. How are you even supposed to believe its live when there is light streaming through the chapel windows at a time when, given the time of year, it should be pitch black outside?

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Slightly off topic, but as someone with a brother (52) who is a CF sufferer, I was delighted to see that "A Boy Called Alex" was amongst the choral scholars in evidence at the 9 lessons & carols.

 

The broadcast itself seems a bit of a farce. I found myself being impressed by the whole choir's ability to start unaccompanied carols without any given chord, but then frequently being reminded that the service is effectively fake by the pecularliarly changing lighting conditions in the chapel. How are you even supposed to believe its live when there is light streaming through the chapel windows at a time when, given the time of year, it should be pitch black outside?

Are you supposed to believe that it's live? Says who?

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Are you supposed to believe that it's live? Says who?

 

Hi

 

The radio broadcast on Christmas eve is live - I doubt if the TV version ever has been - it's quite common to see the TV vans around Kings in late November/early December recording the service. I guess that the crew payments needed for a full TV outside broadcast on Christmas eve would be prohibitive - and the timing probably doesn't suit the TV scheduler's ideas of what they should be showing.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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How are you even supposed to believe its live when there is light streaming through the chapel windows at a time when, given the time of year, it should be pitch black outside?

Neither the BBC nor King's College has ever advertised Carols from King's as a live broadcast. The Order of Service for the annual Festival of Lessons & Carols (available online) states in the introduction, "In recent years it has become the practice to broadcast a recording of the service on Christmas Day on Radio Three, and since 1963 a shorter service has been filmed [my italics] periodically for television."

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I found myself being impressed by the whole choir's ability to start unaccompanied carols without any given chord

 

One of the lay clerks who has perfect pitch hums a tonic quietly.

This is common practice in the higher echelons of the cathedral music world.

 

DT

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Neither the BBC nor King's College has ever advertised Carols from King's as a live broadcast. The Order of Service for the annual Festival of Lessons & Carols (available online) states in the introduction, "In recent years it has become the practice to broadcast a recording of the service on Christmas Day on Radio Three, and since 1963 a shorter service has been filmed [my italics] periodically for television."

I wasn't trying to sugest any great cover-up or conspiracy, but nevertheless I'm sure that many people believe they're watching a live broadcast from Kings College Chapell and that they're witnessing this amazing thing where the soloist for the 1st verse of Once in Royal only gets the nod just before the broadcast begins. It does seem to me that there's at least an element of sham in this if its recorded and God knows how many retakes may have been filmed.

 

I'm not a regluar viewer of this, but I did watch both last year (ie. Christmas 07) and this year (ie. Christmas 08) and was surprised at what, from memory, seemed to overlap or re-occur from one year to the next. This year overall I was not particularly impressed.

 

At the risk of scandal, I thought it amusing that whilst last year one of the main cameramen obviously thought one of the boys to be particularly photogenic, shall we say, this year it was one of the choral scholars.

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I'm sure that many people believe ... that they're witnessing this amazing thing where the soloist for the 1st verse of Once in Royal only gets the nod just before the broadcast begins.

Have you any reason for thinking that he doesn't? Sir David Willcocks always used to choose the boy soloist at the last minute for the live radio broadcast at least. He would try out three or four boys, but would not nominate the soloist beforehand because the boy's parents would then inevitably tell all his aunts, uncles, cousins, and other friends-and-relations that little Johnny would be singing the solo and this might make the boy nervous when otherwise he would take it all in his stride. For this reason, Sir David would almost certainly have taken exactly the same line for the pre-recorded TV services as well (though the latter were not regular in his day). I may be wrong, but I had understood that the practice still continues.

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I may be wrong, but I had understood that the practice still continues.

It probably does, but knowing its all been recorded months before this doesn't seem quite the same context as would be a live broadcast. After all if the chosen boy were to fluff it they can just do a retake.

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I am open to correction on this but a friend who has recent connections with Kings tells me that whereas the "famous" Christmas Eve service is intended for the people of the city of Cambridge (what Gregory Dix might have called the plebs sancti Dei if you want to be snobbish) and hence the "queue to get in" system, the televised service, which I gather is recorded quite close to Christmas, is intended more as a college/university service with a more esoteric congregation.

 

Clearly there are cuts and pastes done in the televised service, however. A few years ago there was one part of the service (I think just one carol) where Stephen Cleobury was not wearing a hood, which he was for the rest of the service!

 

I know it is fashionable in some circles to try to knock Willcocks off his pedestal but I for one think the standard of the choir's performance is not what it was; it doesn't thrill like it used to. That said, whether you prefer the sound encouraged by Willcocks, Cleobury or even George Malcolm at Westminster is a matter of personal taste and the subject of endless argument. No doubt Cleobury was influenced by the legacy of George Malcolm when he was at Westmisnter himself as well as by that of his own mentor, George Guest.

 

Malcolm

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I know it is fashionable in some circles to try to knock Willcocks off his pedestal but I for one think the standard of the choir's performance is not what it was; it doesn't thrill like it used to. That said, whether you prefer the sound encouraged by Willcocks, Cleobury or even George Malcolm at Westminster is a matter of personal taste and the subject of endless argument. No doubt Cleobury was influenced by the legacy of George Malcolm when he was at Westmisnter himself as well as by that of his own mentor, George Guest.

 

Malcolm

 

Mention of Willocks prompts me to ask if anyone has read his recently issued biography - A Life in Music: Conversations with Sir David Willcocks and Friends by William Owen (OUP).

 

The conversation format, though obviously edited and polished, works well and gives a fascinating insight into musical practice and personalities of a bygone age. It is a highly readable and informative account of DW's remarkable achievements in a wide range of musical activity - player, conductor, composer, arranger, administrator to name but a few. The qualities of the man himself also come through in the sort of modest, unassuming way you would expect.

 

JS

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That said, whether you prefer the sound encouraged by Willcocks, Cleobury or even George Malcolm at Westminster is a matter of personal taste and the subject of endless argument. No doubt Cleobury was influenced by the legacy of George Malcolm when he was at Westmisnter himself as well as by that of his own mentor, George Guest.

I believe the Cleobury brothers were both choristers at Worcester Cathedral, is anyone aware who would have been DOM at that time, would Willcocks himself still have been at Worcester at that time, or was it perhaps Christopher Robinson?

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Mention of Willocks prompts me to ask if anyone has read his recently issued biography - A Life in Music: Conversations with Sir David Willcocks and Friends by William Owen (OUP).

 

The conversation format, though obviously edited and polished, works well and gives a fascinating insight into musical practice and personalities of a bygone age. It is a highly readable and informative account of DW's remarkable achievements in a wide range of musical activity - player, conductor, composer, arranger, administrator to name but a few. The qualities of the man himself also come through in the sort of modest, unassuming way you would expect.

 

JS

 

Yes, I'm reading it at the moment (having been given it for Christmas by my daughter). I agree with you entirely. It is required reading for anyone who has any interest in King's as it was under Willcocks and, indeed, cathedral music in the twentieth century.

 

I also agree with Malcolm. King's was at its peak under Willcocks. Whether you like his sound or not (I do, but I am also an enormous fan of Hill's recordings at Westminster Cathedral), the singing was never as meticulous before and has never been since. It is still an absolutely first rate choir, of course, but it is now just one among many and not necessarily the best.

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At the risk of scandal, I thought it amusing that whilst last year one of the main cameramen obviously thought one of the boys to be particularly photogenic, shall we say, this year it was one of the choral scholars.

 

Hello,

 

Others have had a poke at your insinuations of sham with some good arguments. Whether the thing happens in July or December is of no matter to me; when the red light goes on, the atmosphere and pressure and desire to get it right are exactly the same. It strikes me there's quite enough pressure around Christmas as it is, and perhaps the opportunity for a 'dry run' a few days or weeks ahead under a real high-pressure scenario might do more for the overall quality rather than less.

 

Let's not get into a debate about whether Willcocks was better... There are always better choirs in the world at any given moment than King's (I have a fondness for John's under Guest and New College, as it happens) but one thing King's can do is consistency. It matters very much that it continues this way, arguably more than the music itself.

 

I did want to express a little surprise at your last paragraph however. A cameraman who routinely failed to point his equipment at things which were nice to look at would get the sack. Where the object of filming is a choir of boys and twentysomethings, that seems a perfectly reasonable target to me. To suggest unnatural thoughts on the part of the camera operator is a bit unnecessary to say the least, and one might even think reveals more about the person making the statement than its intended target.

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I did want to express a little surprise at your last paragraph however. A cameraman who routinely failed to point his equipment at things which were nice to look at would get the sack. Where the object of filming is a choir of boys and twentysomethings, that seems a perfectly reasonable target to me. To suggest unnatural thoughts on the part of the camera operator is a bit unnecessary to say the least, and one might even think reveals more about the person making the statement than its intended target.

Having witnessed, from the control room, the recording of a tv programme in a BBC studio I can say that it is probable that the camera crew point their cameras where they are told by the director. And even if the director says, during filming, "Camera 4 - tight shot on the pretty redhead in the second row", it is purely for identification purposes.

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