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Does anyone else have reservations about the change in style and layout of Organists' Review? I realise that some of the editorial team are new, but I must confess that I am not that enamoured of the new look.

 

Colour is not always clearer that monochrome. The review section is less-clear: the colour sub-headings and the underscores are fussy and unnecessary. I do miss the friendly, informative (and substantially larger) review section of the former team. I also miss the specifications which Paul Hale (?) used to include, particularly interesting when relating to reviews of lesser-known instruments.

 

More disturbingly, I have found several of the recent feature articles quite boring - I am not particularly interested in Britten's War Requiem, for example. (I heard it as a student and I am afraid that it did not 'speak' to me.) I find that there is not enough specifically organ-related material to keep me interested.

 

Whilst I am not suggesting that we organists should stay closeted in our own little world, with only a cursory acquaintance with other musical matters in general - if I wish to read about such things, I can do so at school, by perusing a copy of BBC Music Magazine or Classical Music, or a similar organ (pun unintentional).

 

It seeme to me that it is a little like (for example) expecting an orchestral player to be interested in an article on the restoration of the RAH organ - probably the only interest most orchestral players will have in this subject is whether or not they will be heard through the sound (I nearly typed 'noise') of full organ.

 

I like to think that I am not whining simply because they failed to review a copy of my CD - I am not bitter - or twisted....grrrrrrrr. :blink:

 

So, are there any like-minded individuals out there - or am I just a sour-puss? :blink:

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Does anyone else have reservations about the change in style and layout of Organists' Review? I realise that some of the editorial team are new, but I must confess that I am not that enamoured of the new look.

 

The style is beginning to look a little like Choir & Organ and the content somewhat diluted as well. The reviews, on the other hand, seem to be a rather more critical and less platitudinous.

 

My one gripe about the first issue under the new editorship was the absolutely appalling translation of the article on the restored Silbermann in the Catholic Cathedral (Hofkirche) in Dresden - utter gobbledygook in places.

 

To be fair, however, we should perhaps give the team a little while longer to settle in.

 

JS

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

To be fair, however, we should perhaps give the team a little while longer to settle in.

 

(quote)

 

I agree (in principle) with the above.

 

For all that, it seems to me that the new team are going to have to go some to keep up to the standard set previously let alone improve on what they took over. Anything they reject is going to be missed and anything superfluous which they include is going to irritate. At all costs, they must be aware of who exactly reads the magazine - something that 'The Organ' seems to have forgotten somewhat. I refer to endless reviews (by the editor) of live opera performances for instance and/or plugs for friends.

 

What made Paul Hale such a readers' editor is that he is not only kowledgeable, but also still profoundly enthused by his subject as are the rest of us fellow sufferers from what I can only call Organs Disease. Once caught (I am a sufferer since age 8) I am convinced that O.D. can never be cured. I supect that the appointment of a 'professional' editor may make things more convenient for the publishers, but may not suit the needs of the readership quite as well.

 

 

I suggest that we watch and wait and, if necessary, write to the magazine itself. We have had at least one rather fiercely 'educational' issue. Maybe things will settle into a more balanced read. One can only hope.

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To be fair, however, we should perhaps give the team a little while longer to settle in.

 

(quote)

 

I agree (in principle) with the above. 

 

For all that, it seems to me that the new team are going to have to go some to keep up to the standard set previously let alone improve on what they took over.  Anything they reject is going to be missed and anything superfluous which they include is going to irritate. At all costs, they must be aware of who exactly reads the magazine - something that 'The Organ' seems to have forgotten somewhat.  I refer to endless reviews (by the editor) of live opera performances for instance and/or plugs for friends.

 

What made Paul Hale such a readers' editor is that he is not only kowledgeable, but also still profoundly enthused by his subject as are the rest of us fellow sufferers from what I can only call Organs Disease. Once caught (I am a sufferer since age 8) I am convinced that O.D. can never be cured.  I supect that the appointment of a 'professional' editor may make things more convenient for the publishers, but may not suit the needs of the readership quite as well.

I suggest that we watch and wait and, if necessary, write to the magazine itself. We have had at least one rather fiercely 'educational' issue. Maybe things will settle into a more balanced read. One can only hope.

 

I have to admit I've been very disappointed by the new OR. The front covers of the new-look magazine seem to be missing the point (well, for me at least), with no organ having been pictured on either edition. The photography which used to feature on the front page was always one of the most attractive features of the old OR. The interior of Coventry Cathedral and the exterior of the Tower of London are breathtaking of course, but they're not sufficiently interesting for this OD sufferer. Bring back the pipework!

 

I hope the current shift towards a more "weighty" tome is temporary. The new OR feels dry and humourless, and

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To be fair, however, we should perhaps give the team a little while longer to settle in.

 

(quote)

 

I agree (in principle) with the above. 

 

For all that, it seems to me that the new team are going to have to go some to keep up to the standard set previously let alone improve on what they took over.  Anything they reject is going to be missed and anything superfluous which they include is going to irritate. At all costs, they must be aware of who exactly reads the magazine - something that 'The Organ' seems to have forgotten somewhat.  I refer to endless reviews (by the editor) of live opera performances for instance and/or plugs for friends.

 

What made Paul Hale such a readers' editor is that he is not only kowledgeable, but also still profoundly enthused by his subject as are the rest of us fellow sufferers from what I can only call Organs Disease. Once caught (I am a sufferer since age 8) I am convinced that O.D. can never be cured.  I supect that the appointment of a 'professional' editor may make things more convenient for the publishers, but may not suit the needs of the readership quite as well.

I suggest that we watch and wait and, if necessary, write to the magazine itself. We have had at least one rather fiercely 'educational' issue. Maybe things will settle into a more balanced read. One can only hope.

 

(continued) I agree that there is a place for a more academic style, I'm not sure that OR is that place. It's a long time since I studied music as an academic subject, and these days my interest in the subject is mainly confined to playing the organ and learning about its history. The new editorial team seem to be sailing into much deeper waters, and I fear that I'll soon be out of my depth. Come on OR, give us something that will make us smile!

 

Graham

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(continued) I agree that there is a place for a more academic style, I'm not sure that OR is that place. It's a long time since I studied music as an academic subject, and these days my interest in the subject is mainly confined to playing the organ and learning about its history. The new editorial team seem to be sailing into much deeper waters, and I fear that I'll soon be out of my depth. Come on OR, give us something that will make us smile!

 

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

 

I found myself wandering into the grounds of a hospital the other day; the circumstances of which I will avoid mentioning, due to the fact that I would probably be sectioned.

 

However, as I passed all the hospital windows, I saw many glum faces as people lay in bed ill; some in bandages, some in slings and others simply afflicted by the arrows of misfortune.

 

One set of windows revealed especially glum, hopeless stares, and I asked a passing nurse what ward it was.

 

"Oh!" She said, "I shouldn't really tell you this, but that is the ward where the O.D.patients are put."

 

I'd more or less guessed that they were organists before I asked.

 

MM

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''The style is beginning to look a little like Choir & Organ and the content somewhat diluted as well.'' (John Sayer)

 

I don't mind C & O - it does what it aims to do well - as for OR, I'll give it some time but I agree about the Paul Hale style - he certainly knows to do things well what with his musicianship, a valuable depth of organ 'know how' and a sense of enthusiasm for the subject that all of us can identify with. I just hope the seemingly competent and well meaning new 'powers that be' focus on what works, what people seem to want and on not going where other journals already go. Above all not losing the impetus of the previously well constructed journal.

 

AJJ

 

PS The translation from the German of the Dresden article in the 1st 'new edition' was grim - some of the material in 'The Organ' has a similar or sometimes worse feel to it. A while ago a well known female French organist was actually referred to as being male for the duration of a review and chunks of text regularly go I know not where making nonsense of articles.

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I had some reseservations about the old regime at OR and in particular the record review policy.

 

Paul Hale could legitimately enthuse about almost anyone (especially if connected with his beloved New College) when writing under his own name. However, certain pen-names were adopted for critical dissection of lesser mortals. Anyone know what happened to Walter Reeves and Robert Lawrenson for instance ? Anyone ever meet them ? I reckon that photos of all three together would be VERY interesting !

 

On balance though, the old OR was a great read and I studied it from cover to cover as soon as it hit the mat. Michael Bell's choral music reviews were the fruit of a true wordsmith, informative, concise and laced with delightful wit.

 

 

Headcase

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I had some reseservations about the old regime at OR and in particular the record review policy.

 

Paul Hale could legitimately enthuse about almost anyone (especially if connected with his beloved New College) when writing under his own name. However, certain pen-names were adopted for critical dissection of lesser mortals. Anyone know what happened to Walter Reeves and Robert Lawrenson for instance ? Anyone ever meet them ?  I reckon that photos of all three together would be VERY interesting !

 

On balance though, the old OR was a great read and I studied it from cover to cover as soon as it hit the mat.  Michael Bell's choral music reviews were the fruit of a true wordsmith, informative, concise and laced with delightful wit. 

Headcase

 

I think this last paragraph hits the nail on the head - it was a great read, and I would often go back to it days, weeks and even months later. The last two copies have already gone into the recycling bin, and for this at least, my wife sends her warmest thanks to the new team. :P

 

Graham

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Well, I shall probably renew my subscription this time.

 

However, I shall also probably write to the editor and express my concerns. Personally, I think that the editorial team have already taken a seriously wrong turn. It is to be hoped that the situation is not past redemption.

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I would agree with other correspondents that the OR has taken a serious turn for the worse, I've been really disappointed with the last 2 issues.

 

From what I remember being told at school, Organs Disease used to be treated with penicillin.

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I think the Organists' Review has actually improved despite what other people have said. As an undergraduate organ student I have been inspired by the content and the revised style of the new publication. Its layout is more user-friendly, open-minded and approachable. With regard to the review section I have found it more informative better presented with clear miniature photos of each front cover for the cd's.

 

I did find the previous issues very cold and it seemed to stay in a very 'British' and closed frame of mind, which is no good if one is going to talk about performance practise of many different styles and genres of the organ's repertoire.

 

There may still be some work to be done, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and credit goes to the new team who have vision, enthusiasm and style. I look forward to the next issue.......

 

JT

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I think the Organists' Review has actually improved despite what other people have said.  As an undergraduate organ student I have been inspired by the content and the revised style of the new publication.  Its layout is more user-friendly, open-minded and approachable.  With regard to the review section I have found it more informative better presented with clear miniature photos of each front cover for the cd's. 

 

I did find the previous issues very cold and it seemed to stay in a very 'British' and closed frame of mind, which is no good if one is going to talk about performance practise of many different styles and genres of the organ's repertoire. 

 

There may still be some work to be done, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and credit goes to the new team who have vision, enthusiasm and style.  I look forward to the next issue.......

 

JT

 

Sorry - I think we must be talking about two completely different periodicals.

 

I could not disagree with you more!

 

I could also (given time, which I have not got at this moment as I am about to go to work again) find innumerable articles in back-issues of OR which deal with many facets of the organ scene, not just in continental Europe, but in Eastern Bloc countries, the Americas, the Southern Hemisphere, etc.

 

Personally, in a review, I would place a miniature reproduction of the CD covers very low on my list of priorities. I still stand by my comments that the new layout is unnecessarily fussy and badly thought-out. I speak as one who has some experience in commercial graphic design.

 

There seems to be little point in talking about performance practice - a considerable part of the first edition was taken up with a tedious article concerning (as I previously mentioned) Britten's War Requiem - why? If I want to read about that (which I do not!) I can find the information in several other places.

 

You mentioned photographs; why, on the front of a magazine dedicated to the organ do we have a view of part of The Tower of London - apparently taken at twilight? I, too, miss the superb reproductions of new (and older) instruments.

 

Your comment regarding the perceived coldness of the former style I find impossible to reconcile. Paul Hale is more than a very well-informed enthusiast - he is, as far as I am concerned, an evangelist for the instrument.

 

Are you sure that you have not been reading Cosmopolitan, in error?

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I must admit that the arrival on the doormat of OR every 3 months always cheered me up, with the expectation of a few hours happily devouring it from cover to cover. However, the last 2 editions have left me feeling decidedly unsatisfied, with 'nothing' covers that would have looked just at home on the front of Country Life. Maybe the new editor, who is quite open about the fact that she is O.D. free, is afraid her publication might be chosen to lampooned in the missing words round of Have I Got News For You!

 

Perhaps OR would have been better advised to have undergone an evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary one. Themes in a magazine are fine when it is published at least once a month, but in a quarterly you run the risk of alieniating a proportion of your readership if they don't like or have an interest in the history of Coventry and Britten's War Requiem.

 

My subscription is now up for renewal, and I guess I'll just have to swallow my reservations for now, pay up and then see how the next issue turns out in February.

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Blimey, how patronising. Are people not allowed to hold a different opinion to you?

 

 

Of course they are! The point I was making was that I was unable to recognise the former style of Organists' Review from the description given by the correspondent

 

Read the sub-heading of this thread!

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Of course they are! The point I was making was that I was unable to recognise the former style of Organists' Review from the description given by the correspondent

 

Read the sub-heading of this thread!

Seems a strange thing to do IMHO to start a thread looking for opinion and then patronise somebody who doesn't agree with you... Perhaps it's just me... :blink:

 

btw I should 'fess up that I am also a subscriber of Organists Review. I am ambivalent about the restyle but agree you with you insofar I can't work out the new policy on cover photos.. I would like to see John Bertalot's column retired. He seems to say the same thing every month, just in a different way (what he says is interesting, but the nth iteration becomes tiresome in my opinion)

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For me there has been good and bad in the new style.

 

I enjoyed the article about the War Requiem. It happens to cover another area of music that interests me. Strictly speaking, however, it is off topic.

 

CD reviews don't interest me much, thus the large amount of space devoted to them was rather wasted on me.

 

The many articles about British organs and organists under the previous editor had begun to bore me; I would very much appreciate more international coverage, especially of Europe.

 

Not picturing an organ on the cover is a faux pas. For heaven's sake, it's a magazine for organ nerds, and it needs to appeal to us ... err, them.

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I think the Organists' Review has actually improved despite what other people have said.  As an undergraduate organ student I have been inspired by the content and the revised style of the new publication.  Its layout is more user-friendly, open-minded and approachable.  With regard to the review section I have found it more informative better presented with clear miniature photos of each front cover for the cd's. 

 

I did find the previous issues very cold and it seemed to stay in a very 'British' and closed frame of mind, which is no good if one is going to talk about performance practise of many different styles and genres of the organ's repertoire. 

 

There may still be some work to be done, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and credit goes to the new team who have vision, enthusiasm and style.  I look forward to the next issue.......

 

JT

 

I'm sure Jonathan is right, in that the new publication probably does appeal to (and inspires) those in the university/music college/professional musician orbit. But what about the many other organists (the majority perhaps?), who earn their living principally outside the world of music, who have little interest in academic research, and who play simply for the enjoyment it brings them? Surely the new OR should cater for them too? How about a "quarterly organ lesson" in the magazine, rather like those by Anne Marsden Thomas in Church Music Quarterly. Matters of fingering and registration pitched at a level designed to encourage them to play and dig deeper is surely better than simply adopting an editorial stance which may well have the (unintentional) effect of putting them off reading OR altogether. Where are they catered for in the new publication?

 

On digging my November edition out of the recycling bin, I note that it contains an article on baroque articulation, another on articulation and fingering in early music, another on the organ music of Byrd, Gibbons and Tomkins, with yet more advice on fingering, articulation and interpretation. Then I note an interview with Anne Page, followed - immediately - by an interview with David Goode. Interesting enough in their own right, but surely not all in the same edition? Whatever happened to variety? A stodgier diet I cannot imagine.

 

Perhaps those of us disenchanted with the new style could start our own publication? "Not the OR" perhaps...............

 

Graham

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Seems a strange thing to do IMHO to start a thread looking for opinion and then patronise somebody who doesn't agree with you... Perhaps it's just me...  :blink:

 

btw I should 'fess up that I am also a subscriber of Organists Review. I am ambivalent about the restyle but agree you with you insofar I can't work out the new policy on cover photos.. I would like to see John Bertalot's column retired. He seems to say the same thing every month, just in a different way (what he says is interesting, but the nth iteration becomes tiresome in my opinion)

 

It was not so much that I was patronising someone with an alternative point of view - my point was that he seemed to be talking about a completely different magazine.

 

As I mentioned, given time, I know that I can find many articles in back-issues of OR which will contradict the correspondent's statement concerning the insular ('British') nature of the old magazine.

 

I am not objecting to an alternative viewpoint, but to something which I know to be patently untrue.

 

For example: from 2003 No. 3: British Concert Organs, Solo Organ Music of Krebs, E. M. Skinner (USA).

 

2002 No. 1: Mad Dogs....Provence, Manila Bamboo Organ, Fukuyama City, Japan.

 

2001 No. 3: Morristown, New Jersey, Amsterdam 1659 Tabulatuur-Boeck...., St. George's Hall, Liverpool.

 

2001 No. 2: Swedish Rhapsody (Göteborg's new organ), André Isoir, An article on the performance of JSB's organ music.

 

2001 No. 1 Pietermaritzburg City Hall Organ, Historic Organs in Sydney, Performance notes on JSB's O Mensch, bewein...., Haarlem 2000.

 

Just five issues, chosen at random, which help to illustrate my point. I have absolutely no objection with the wish of the correspondent to express an alternative point of view. However, in his post he made comments which I feel are not accurate - and easy to prove so to be.

 

Whilst there was naturally a bias towards the British organ world, there are many articles such as those which I have listed, dealing with instruments in several continents.

 

Of course the correspondent has a right to his opinion - I just felt that some of the points he made were not accurate and therefore, not a true reflection of the nature of the magazine.

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  • 2 months later...

Now that we have a third edition of OR under the new editorial team, I wondered whether people here think matters are finally starting to improve.

 

For myself, I think the February issue was a decided improvement on the previous two issues, although there were a few things which still need more thought on.

 

First and foremost, they still don't get it about the cover. Car magazines will tend to have a picture of a car on the front, railway mags have a train on the front and football mags have the latest overpaid and over here footballer on its cover. And yet OR's new editor seems remarkably coy about putting an organ on the cover, and seems to think the readers will be happy to be fobbed off with a double spread in the centre of the magazine. Just what are they afraid will happen if an organ is put on the front cover of, quelle horreur!, a magazine called Organists Review?

 

The theme this quarter was Mendelssohn, and I found Thomas Schmidt-Beste's article about the composer's interest in the organ, along with the interviews with Jennifer Bate and Margaret Phillips to be of great interest. However, in all there were about 6 articles about Mendelssohn and the organ - too much - with Alan Spedding's article going over much ground already covered by Schmidt-Beste.

 

Otherwise, with the exception of the article about stamps and music, which I personally thought was scraping the barrel somewhat, there was much to enjoy from writers such as John Norman and Nigel Allcoat, to name just two. There does seem to be fewer CD reviews, which is a shame (11 organ, 5 choral over 8 pages). This compares badly with issues under the previous editorial team where, having done a random check, the CD review section routinely filled between 14 and 18 pages. We are fortunate to have so many organ and choir CDs being released by the record companies, and to just cherry pick for review a tiny proportion doesn't help the CD buying public.

 

So my report after 3 issues would be that there are significant signs of improvements, but must do better, including having the conviction to shout from the rooftops that OR is magazine about organs and organists, and to have covers that reflect this reality.

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I'm still very disappointed with it. The whole idea of having a single theme dominate each issue is flawed - if you don't find the chosen theme particularly interesting or exciting the whole issue is a let down.

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Unless things change, and change drastically, I will allow my subscription to lapse. In one fell swoop it has lost everything for which it enjoyed such distinction.

 

Paul Hale created a "Golden Era" for the magazine. It would be hard to imagine a finer journal for professionals and students alike. Every issue seemed to be imbued with an almost rapturous love of the instrument.

 

I am afraid we may have a long wait for the rapture of the moment to return.

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