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Visiting The Tribune At Notre Dame


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I am planning a weekend visit to Paris for the October half term, and understand that if you are a visiting organist, on making the appropriate enquiry it is possible to be invited to sit in the tribune to watch the organist playing for the mass.

 

Obviously, I would love to do this if possible and wondered whether any board members had made this visit, and could tell me to whom I should direct my enquiry.

 

Any thoughts gratefully received !

 

Many thanks,

Mark

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I am planning a weekend visit to Paris for the October half term, and understand that if you are a visiting organist, on making the appropriate enquiry it is possible to be invited to sit in the tribune to watch the organist playing for the mass.

 

Obviously, I would love to do this if possible and wondered whether any board members had made this visit, and could tell me to whom I should direct my enquiry.

 

Any thoughts gratefully received !

 

Many thanks,

Mark

 

Very often an email to one of the organists will work wonders - I did it this way for S. Sulpice and for other similarly interesting places and have (so far) had nothing but positive responses. Those of us on the 'mass visit' earlier this year did not get up to the console (too many of us) even though amazingly we had the place to ourselves for most of an evening in the company of Philippe Lefebvre - maybe try him via the cathedral website. There are those with contacts on here who can maybe be of more help however.

 

A

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Very often an email to one of the organists will work wonders - I did it this way for S. Sulpice and for other similarly interesting places and have (so far) had nothing but positive responses.

 

Daniel Roth is indeed a most humble and extremely approachable gentleman.

I was discussing French visits with a local organist recently, he was relating how he attended a Sunday Mass at St. Sulpice and waited at by the door to the tribune at the end of the service, as is the tradition there. After introducing himself to DR he was invited up to the console where DR demonstrated various aspects of the organ, then to his surprise DR asked him if he would like to play.

I can't think of many English Cathedrals where this is likely to happen!

 

At Dijon Cathedral there is a notice by the tribune door inviting visiting organist at introduce themselves to the organist 15 minutes before the service, then they will be invited up to the console.

 

Like Alistair, I have always found French organists to be very welcoming and generous, including some prestigious venues.

 

David

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I cannot add anything to what has already been said but you may be interested in an experience I had a long time ago (1982). I was at St Sulpice only a short time before Grunenwald's death and had arranged to visit the tribune, where I found two or three other English visitors. M. Grunenwald was the most charming man and a young teenage organist sat beside him in awe. At the end of the mass he turned to the youngster and said "now you play the Sortie", the expression on the lad's face was a picture. But he did it, very well as I recall, with help with the registration. This is just to illustrate how helpful the organists are. Grunenwald was obviously not well that day although he still played brilliantly, and he was dead within the month. I was very glad to be there that day. A treasured memory.

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Thank you to everyone for their suggestions.

 

Just to conclude the thread, after making my posting yesterday, I pulled up the Notre Dame website and, on the off chance, sent an e - mail asking it if would be possible to visit the Tribune on 1st November.

 

When I arrived at work this morning I switched on my computer to find a personal e - mail from Jean - Pierre Leguay inviting me in the warmest terms to join him that day. I have exchanged a number of e - mails with him this morning confirming details in which he has been the soul of charm. As you can imagine, I am already looking forward to this hugely.

 

Kind regards,

Mark

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it seems that the French organists in charge of "prestigious" organs are very forth coming and genorous. I had a similar experience a few years ago, E-Mailed Daniel Roth, and had a reply from Md Roth, to be waiting at the door to the loft at the west end. The question being, would that happen over here at say Westminster, st. Pauls, Liverpool or any other notable cathedral??

 

Peter

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it seems that the French organists in charge of "prestigious" organs are very forth coming and genorous. I had a similar experience a few years ago, E-Mailed Daniel Roth, and had a reply from Md Roth, to be waiting at the door to the loft at the west end. The question being, would that happen over here at say Westminster, st. Pauls, Liverpool or any other notable cathedral??

 

Peter

 

 

Has anyone tried?

 

A

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I know many years ago <_< my father used to go and sit with conrad Eden, now and again, and in more recent memory, with James Lancelot and Ian Shaw, at Durham

 

Peter

 

It would be really interesting to hear of other people's experiences of visiting organ lofts. As small chorister, I turned up in the St Paul's loft after evensong to turn for Christopher Dearnley one afternoon and found Francis Jackson performing my duty! On another occasion it was David Willcocks - but I guess visitors such as these are one thing and us mortals are quite another!

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I've had the privilege of standing on the balcony at Notre Dame during a service, and would just add that it can get very crowded!

 

On a related note, I don't know if organ scholars are generally more likely than cathedral organists to allow complete strangers to play on their toys, but I still remember, at the tender age of ten, the thrill of being allowed into the organ loft at Chester Cathedral. The organ scholar at the time said to me "I don't think the boss is around, so do you want a little go?" I guess he was referring to Roger Fisher, and I hope I didn't get him into trouble for letting a total novice let rip though I'm sure Roger wouldn't have minded. No matter, I'd recently finished learning by heart the Bach T&F BWV 565 (though as my feet couldn't reach the pedals I'd had to arrange the pedal parts with my left hand). I'm eternally grateful to whoever that organ scholar was, as the privilege of playing the T&F on that cathedral organ was the start of a lifelong journey of awe and wonder at the organ.

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A few years ago we had a week's break in Margate. Jane had been a month or so before, and unknown to me had gone to Catnterbury, asked to see David Flood, and arranged for me to have some time at the cathedral organ. We went to Canterbury on the second or third day of our trip and visited the cathedral. She wandered off saying she needed to make a quick call and I meandered around the building. A few minutes later she appeared with David Flood; he opened the door to the organ loft and took us up. He said he couldn't stay around but trusted me with the instrument, asking only that I remember to close the door after I had finished. I had a wonderful hour or so. A very gracious gesture from a charming man.

 

Peter

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A few years ago we had a week's break in Margate. Jane had been a month or so before, and unknown to me had gone to Catnterbury, asked to see David Flood, and arranged for me to have some time at the cathedral organ. We went to Canterbury on the second or third day of our trip and visited the cathedral. She wandered off saying she needed to make a quick call and I meandered around the building. A few minutes later she appeared with David Flood; he opened the door to the organ loft and took us up. He said he couldn't stay around but trusted me with the instrument, asking only that I remember to close the door after I had finished. I had a wonderful hour or so. A very gracious gesture from a charming man.

 

Peter

 

That's very nice. Many years ago, my father and I called in to see Christchurch Priory. In those days it was the large Compton/Makin instrument and the console had a screen drawn round the playing side which had tighly fixed curtaining. (The screen was on castors so it coudl readily be rolled back.) I was doing my best to peep through a corner of curtain when a very irascible voice came up behind me and said, "What do you want?" I explained that I was trying to see the organ console, whereupon Geoffrey Tristram threw back the screen, switched on and said, "Have a go!"

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Not quite Notre Dame, but a few years ago Mrs H. and I were on holiday in a village in North Devon and attended the morning service. There was a nice bright two manual organ and after the voluntary I wandered up to the console for a look and spoke to the lady organist who asked if I played. I replied with my usual, "I used to do a bit but haven't played regularly for a while now", whereupon she said something along the lines of, "I don't suppose you're free tonight, I've got a family problem and can't make it or find a substitute, so it will be a said evensong."

 

What could one do?! It was just 4 hymns, a psalm or two, accompanied responses and a voluntary at each end, so I stepped in having spent a pleasant hour or so practicing during the afternoon. The earthly reward was from the vicar - a couple of pints and a bag of crisps in the local across the road after the service.

 

Fingers crossed MAB (not that I'd wish JPL to suffer a family crisis!).

 

P

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Not quite Notre Dame, but a few years ago Mrs H. and I were on holiday in a village in North Devon and attended the morning service. There was a nice bright two manual organ and after the voluntary I wandered up to the console for a look and spoke to the lady organist who asked if I played. I replied with my usual, "I used to to a bit but haven't played regularly for a while now", whereupon she said something along the lines of, "I don't suppose you're free tonight, I've got a family problem and can't make it or find a substitute, so it will be a said evensong."

 

What could one do?! It was just 4 hymns, a psalm or two, accompanied responses and a voluntary at each end, so I stepped in having spent a pleasant hour or so practicing during the afternoon. The earthly reward was from the vicar - a couple of pints and a bag of crisps in the local across the road after the service.

 

Fingers crossed MAB (not that I'd wish JPL to suffer a family crisis!).

 

P

 

This kind if thing is not as rare as it might seem, I think. Once when on holiday I went to the local church for Mass and asked afterwards to look at the organ. It wasn't much to write home about but the upshot was that I was aked if I would be here on Saturday and could I possibly play for a wedding!

 

Peter

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Has anyone tried?

 

A

 

Hi

 

A small group of us from the Bradford Organists' association got a look at the console (and blowing plant) and a short demo at Liverpool last year. We'd had a visit to Willis' factory, and one car load decided to go to the Cathedral fro lunch. An enquiry produced one of the organists - who showed us the organ. Sadly, we weren't allowed to play.

 

I've arranged access to other cathedral organs - an e-mail to the organist in advance usually does the trick - the only "failures" so far being Chester (they were too busy at the time) and Lincoln.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I've arranged access to other cathedral organs - an e-mail to the organist in advance usually does the trick - the only "failures" so far being Chester (they were too busy at the time) and Lincoln.

 

I used to learn on the Lincoln organ - in those days David Flood was i/c (see above posting). I seem to remember sometime ago you could play on payment a 'fee' and would also have one of the music staff wiith you - 'not sure if it still applies though.

 

A

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I seem to remember sometime ago you could play on payment a 'fee' and would also have one of the music staff wiith you - 'not sure if it still applies though.

 

A

 

From Lincoln Cathedral Website:

The Cathedral is offering amateur organists the chance to play the 'Father Willis' organ on Monday and Thursday evenings in half term after Evensong.

 

The cost is £50 for half an hour's playing. Players will be supervised by one of the organists, but will be able to play whatever they choose.

 

Anyone interested should apply in writing to Cathedral Fundraising, 4 Priorygate, Lincoln LN2 1PL, telephone 01522 561614 or e-mail fundraising@lincolncathedral.com and we will contact you.

 

This used to be once a week but a waiting list of several months started to build. It would seem it is now twice a week.

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Tony at 0947 - Chester, I wouldn't like to speak on behalf of the staff there, but I believe that the admin staff don't like the organ being played more than necessary during the day because of the large number of visitors wandering around, even the music staff often practice silently or with maybe a flute. In fact if it was left to the MD and AMD (please don't quote me, I'm only guessing, knowing how friendly they are!) I think they'd be delighted. I recall many years ago asking Roger Fisher if a friend of mine could play one evening and he said pick the key up from the assistant and stay as long as you like, this was an evening after the place was closed, of course.

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Tony at 0947 - Chester, I wouldn't like to speak on behalf of the staff there, but I believe that the admin staff don't like the organ being played more than necessary during the day because of the large number of visitors wandering around, even the music staff often practice silently or with maybe a flute. In fact if it was left to the MD and AMD (please don't quote me, I'm only guessing, knowing how friendly they are!) I think they'd be delighted. I recall many years ago asking Roger Fisher if a friend of mine could play one evening and he said pick the key up from the assistant and stay as long as you like, this was an evening after the place was closed, of course.

 

Hi

 

Thanks for this - Lincoln's fundraising offer is too expensive for my budget. Re. Chester I contacted the then organist - the issue was timing, September being the start of the new term, and new organ scholars needed time to get used to the organ. (That was a few years ago - maybe I'll try again sometime if I'm going to be in the area).

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Thank you to everyone for their suggestions.

 

Just to conclude the thread, after making my posting yesterday, I pulled up the Notre Dame website and, on the off chance, sent an e - mail asking it if would be possible to visit the Tribune on 1st November.

 

When I arrived at work this morning I switched on my computer to find a personal e - mail from Jean - Pierre Leguay inviting me in the warmest terms to join him that day. I have exchanged a number of e - mails with him this morning confirming details in which he has been the soul of charm. As you can imagine, I am already looking forward to this hugely.

 

Kind regards,

Mark

 

In general, it's quite easy to visit the parisians tribunes as the titulars are very open minded persons. In addition to St Sulpice already quoted (including not only Roth, but also Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer deputy titular) you may add St Etienne du Mont (Thierry Escaich and Vincent Warnier who are Duruflé's successors) Saint Eustache with Guillou or other ones, Pierre Pincemaille in cathédrale Saint-Denis, François-Henri Houbart in La Madeleine . I would have add Naji Hakim as well, if he had not been fired from La Trinité....

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In general, it's quite easy to visit the parisians tribunes as the titulars are very open minded persons. In addition to St Sulpice already quoted (including not only Roth, but also Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer deputy titular) you may add St Etienne du Mont (Thierry Escaich and Vincent Warnier who are Duruflé's successors) Saint Eustache with Guillou or other ones, Pierre Pincemaille in cathédrale Saint-Denis, François-Henri Houbart in La Madeleine . I would have add Naji Hakim as well, if he had not been fired from La Trinité....

 

Carolyn Schuster Fournier presides over the choir oegan at La Trinité - she can be contacted via her website and is also a very approachable and engaging person. If you want to play at St Louis en l'Ile try contacting Bernard Aubertin the organbuilder - he arranged it for me plus help from our own Mr Allcoat. Its also worth it just for the phonecall with M. Aubertin - positively amazing!

 

A

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I would have add Naji Hakim as well, if he had not been fired from La Trinité....

I'm not sure this is strictly correct - the version I heard, from a source I believe would have good access to the facts was that the decision to leave was Hakim's.

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There is a change-over of Priests at Saint Louis-en-l'Isle and for my recordings there next month it has taken quite a time to pop it in the diary. They normally are most kind and as the church is locked between 12hrs and 15hrs it is often possible (with the right asking) to get locked in. Mondays: the church is closed all day. Beware. However, I brought over the fine young fellow Yannick Merlin and Beatrice last November to play at the Temple Church for The Keyboard Trust. He took over the Tribune from Marie-Bernadette Hakim at Notre-Dame-des-Champs. A glorious Cavaillé-Coll in a matching acoustic. She departed at the same time as her husband did from La Trinité. This was the organ recently featured with her playing on the Radio 3 programme (Vierne) and was incorrectly named by them as just Notre Dame. Perhaps they don't do hyphens. Nevertheless, it is a gem and thankfully a more true example in many ways of the master's Art than the cathedral. He is a most affable person too, and so I am sure would welcome some entente musicale with les musiciens anglais.

All the best,

Nigel

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  • 2 weeks later...
it seems that the French organists in charge of "prestigious" organs are very forth coming and genorous. I had a similar experience a few years ago, E-Mailed Daniel Roth, and had a reply from Md Roth, to be waiting at the door to the loft at the west end. The question being, would that happen over here at say Westminster, st. Pauls, Liverpool or any other notable cathedral??

 

Peter

 

 

 

Ian Tracey at Liverpool Cathedral invited me to sit in the loft during Evensong on several occasions and was extremely welcoming. I know that I am not the only one to be welcomed in this way. On another occasion, I was allowed to spend an hour or two on the instrument along with another organist colleague whilst Ian took the Friday evening practice after Evensong. After practice, Ian treated us to a short demo then treated us to a pint afterwards! - What a way to spend a Friday night!

 

NS

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