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Organists' Review


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Guest Lee Blick

I like Choir and Organ very much, I subscribe to it. I like the pictures and the type of articles they have. I would like to get Organists Review too, but it isnt in my local WHSmith.

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I like Choir and Organ very much, I subscribe to it.  I like the pictures and the  type of articles they have.  I would like to get Organists Review too, but it isnt in my local WHSmith.

 

Why not also subscribe to Organists' Review by mail-order?

 

I quite like Choir & Organ, but I am concerned that, for me, there is a little too much emphasis on matters in the US. I think that in the most recent issue, both main organ articles were concerned with instruments in America. Whilst I am interested to learn about organs and music in the US, nevertheless, I think that the balance is often weighted in favour of our transatlantic colleagues.

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I take all 3 magazines and tend to agree with the tenor of most comments concerning them. Choir and Organ is undoubtedly the most professionally produced of the three. The current edition of OR is undoubtedly better than the previous ones under the new regime, but I do not understand this centrefold stuff and an aversion of putting an instrument on the cover. Since OR is only available by subscription, I don't see why they should be afraid of putting people off buying it if they put an organ on the cover, given that it will not be gracing the shelves of newsagents and having to fend for itself against the likes of "Big and Bouncy" and "Fishing for Fun".

 

As for The Organ, I would love to have the opportunity to get my hands on this magazine and kick it into shape. They review organ CDs that were released more than a year ago and their concert reviews section tends to feature whatever event "The Editor" has been to. In the latest issue, only 2 out of the 10 reviews are organ related. When there are more reviews of organ recitals, there can sometimes be a particular focus on those given on the small Father Willis at All Saints, Hastings, which just happens to be 5 minutes down the road from where "The Editor" lives. There also seems to be a fixation about the Buxton Festival, that noted organ Mecca, seemingly because "The Editor" visits it most years. There is a particularly mournful note in the current issue informing readers that "The Editor" will unfortunately not be able to visit the Buxton Festival this year as he will be in Iceland instead. I look forward to reading the article on the organs of Iceland in a forthcoming issue.

 

I believe all 3 magazines are still worth subscribing to, as there are always some interesting articles worth reading. But The Organ really does need to get its act together. It seems rather amateurish and focused on "The Editor", and this isn't helped by the fact that each issue is always published 3 weeks late, eg the current May-July issue arrived the other day, and it it has always been like this!

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... Since OR is only available by subscription, I don't see why they should be afraid of putting people off buying it if they put an organ on the cover, given that it will not be gracing the shelves of newsagents and having to fend for itself against the likes of "Big and Bouncy" and "Fishing for Fun".  ...

 

 

'Big and Bouncy' - my God, does this actually exist?!

 

No, I am not going to mention Jane Parker-Smith.

 

Oh, sorry, it slipped out....

 

:blink:

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  • 1 month later...
As for The Organ, I would love to have the opportunity to get my hands on this magazine and kick it into shape.

 

I believe all 3 magazines are still worth subscribing to, as there are always some interesting articles worth reading. But The Organ really does need to get its act together. It seems rather amateurish and focused on "The Editor", and this isn't helped by the fact that each issue is always published 3 weeks late, eg the current May-July issue arrived the other day, and it it has always been like this!

 

I recently received a reminder to renew my subscription to 'The Organ'. I followed their instructions to renew online and attempted to include my membership number, only to find there were no facilities to do so.

 

Despite two e-mails querying this, I have received no reply.

 

I think this is an opportune time to allow my subscription to lapse unless, of course, they can get their act together!

 

John

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I recently received a reminder to renew my subscription to 'The Organ'.  I followed their instructions to renew online and attempted to include my membership number, only to find there were no facilities to do so.

 

Despite two e-mails querying this, I have received no reply.

 

I think this is an opportune time to allow my subscription to lapse unless, of course, they can get their act together!

 

John

 

This is a shame because in the past the journal was quite authoratative in its content - I have a complete set from its start till it went A5 size and there is some quite pithy research contained there - I quite often refer to articles etc.

 

AJJ

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Too true, poor old soul, he'll have to go. He must have his house painted white and everything squeeky clean, and wear rose tinted specs.

 

R

 

 

I would not know about that but the article in the forthcoming issue on how to teach music to children may provoke some comments from those who have earlier expressed an opinion here.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I recently received a reminder to renew my subscription to 'The Organ'.  I followed their instructions to renew online and attempted to include my membership number, only to find there were no facilities to do so.

 

John

 

How strange - I remewed successfully on-line a few weeks ago.

 

It is possible that their server was experiencing problems and that the correct box/button/whatever simply failed to materialise out of the ether - this has happened to me on a number of occasions. It may be worth trying again on another occasion.

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Having perused the latest issue of Organists' Review, I am personally of the opinion that all is still far from satisfactory. As far as I am concerned, the only thing which the editorial team have got right is to put a nice picture of 'Blomfield's Mantlepiece' on the front. What a shame that there is no acompanying article.

 

To turn to the 'Contents' double-page spread: out of thirteen main articles, four are directly concerned with composers (and why they are even bothering with Caleb Simper is beyond my ability to fathom), two further articles are about organist-composers and there are three articles which deal with certain aspects of organ or choral tuition. Whilst taken separately, each of these articles no doubt has much to commend it, I am concerned that the programme-planning (in which the editorial team appear to favour 'theming') can leave one with an entirely unsatisfactory magazine if one is not greatly concerned with the theme of that issue.

 

I personally feel that it could be considered unwise to group so many similar articles together.

 

Apart from the double-page advertisement for the recent work of Kenneth Jones (pp. 14-15), Paul Hale's brief article regarding instruments with two case-fronts (pp. 44-45) and two further brief articles (Come and buy; pp. 48-49 and Bristol Cathedral organ; p. 56 - and incidentally, since the word 'organ' is used as part of a proper title, my own view is that it too should be accorded an upper-case character 'O' for 'organ') and a two-page review of the dutch tour of the Suffolk Organists' Association (pp.74-75), there is precious little else about the organ as an instrument.

 

How about an article on the recent rebuild at Exeter Cathedral - surely it was comprehensive enough to warrant a couple of pages and some photographs? (A nice colour picture of, for example, the west case from the Nave - or even the South Transept, could look most impressive on the centrefold).

 

Then there are some larger parish church instruments.For example, I do not recall that there has ever been an article on the R&D monster in St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth. Then there is Buckfast Abbey, St. Mary's, Portsea (did you know that there was another rebuild by a lesser-known builder in the early '80s, which seriously compromised the tonal integrity of the Walker organ*?). For that matter, there is the organ of Hereford Cathedral - one picture and a very brief synopsis of the recent work. Then there are Ely, Lichfield, etc. As far as I know, not one of these organs has been the subject of a decent article and some good photographs in any edition of Organists' Review.

 

There are further matters of layout which still concern me (as one who has at least some experience with coomercial graphic design and layout) - the specification 'boxes' are over-fussy. Four (or possibly five†) colours are used: a dull terracotta-red for the header, a pale yellowish-buff for the background, a pale pastel pink for the text boxes and dark brown horizontal boxes for the departmental headers, with the type in the reversed yellowish-buff of the main background. As well as being unnecessarily fussy, it is also less clear than simple black on white (with perhaps one element in a third colour). This would result in improved clarity and a more streamlined appearance. As they stand, I simply find them aesthetically irritating.

 

However, on a more positive note, many aspects of layout are pleasant and work quite well. If only they could get the wretched content right. I would even be prepared to review some of the instruments myself and submit a couple of articles for publishing.

 

Ah well - we can but hope.

 

* Details can be supplied via PM.

 

† It is difficult to be certain whether the text is printed in dark brown or black.

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How about an article on the recent rebuild at Exeter Cathedral - surely it was comprehensive enough to warrant a couple of pages and some photographs? (A nice colour picture of, for example, the west case from the Nave - or even the South Transept, could look most impressive on the centrefold).

 

Then there are some larger parish church instruments.For example, I do not recall that there has ever been an article on the R&D monster in St. Andrew's Church, Plymouth. Then there is Buckfast Abbey, St. Mary's, Portsea (did you know that there was another rebuild by a lesser-known builder in the early '80s, which seriously compromised the tonal integrity of the Walker organ*?). For that matter, there is the organ of Hereford Cathedral - one picture and a very brief synopsis of the recent work. Then there are Ely, Lichfield, etc. As far as I know, not one of these organs has been the subject of a decent article and some good photographs in any edition of Organists' Review.

This is not something unique to the new OR regime. A few years ago following a review of Paul Trepte's splendid Regent Records recording of the re-imagined Ely organ, I had a letter published in the next edition of OR in which I suggested that since the mag had the name 'Review' in its title, part of its remit should surely be to review new and restored instruments. To no avail, however, although this might have had something to do with my letter being overlooked by that below mine, a blazing ripost from Arthur Wills who took the poor reviewer of the Regent Ely CD to task for daring to suggest that Wills 1975 revisions were somewhat eccentric and that the recent Harrison rebuild had rectified much of the damage!

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Sad git that I am, I headed straight for the article about Caleb Simper! When I'm feeling better again I'll tackle the rest. :P

 

But, yes, maybe it has recovered a little bit of its former self. Still don't like the concept of "themed" issues though.

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How strange - I remewed successfully on-line a few weeks ago.

 

It is possible that their server was experiencing problems and that the correct box/button/whatever simply failed to materialise out of the ether - this has happened to me on a number of occasions. It may be worth trying again on another occasion.

 

Sorry, just been on holiday in spain over the last week - Granada, Cordoba, Seville - impressive cases but, sadly, no recitals!

 

Possibly this is what might have happened, but it doesn't explain their ignoring my two e-mails.

 

No, I don't think they deserve my continued patronage!

 

John

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The latest issue of 'The Organ' arrived yesterday, and I have to say that it really isn't bad, with interesting articles on the Klais at Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik and Van den Heuvel at St Eustache, Paris plus other interesting organ related bits and pieces. In comparison, the latest issue of the revamped Organists Review has successive articles on Stanford and Parry, Sir John Stainer, Harold Darke, Henry John Gauntlett, Caleb Simper, Alan Gray and Thomas Attwood Walmisley that remain unread. The only light relief comes from interesting articles by John Norman and Paul Hale and an interview with the always interesting Arthur Wills.

 

Of course, 'The Organ' wouldn't be 'The Organ' if it weren't full of typos and other eccentricities which should have been filleted out at the editing stage. There's a paragraph about a recital Carlo Curley is giving on the refurbished organ at All Saints, Clifton, Bristol on 1 July (when the magazine wasn't published until mid-August) and mention of David Goode's taking no prisoners rendition of the organ solo at the Proms in 2004 in Kodaly's Glagolitic Mass.

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  • 5 weeks later...
Guest Barry Williams
I think John Bertalot's series of choir training 'hints' has had it's time - I find his approach faintly patronising!!

 

AJJ

 

 

John Bertalot's books are excellent, but like almost all other modern books on choir training they omit refence to actual technique. For some reasons, the real skillswere lost about 1958 -1965. Since then there have been few real choirmasters with proper technique, which is a pity.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Barry williams

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John Bertalot's books are excellent, but like almost all other modern books on choir training they omit  refence to actual technique.  For some reasons, the real skillswere lost about 1958 -1965.  Since then there have been few real choirmasters with proper technique, which is a pity.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Barry williams

 

Would you mind amplifying this statement a bit when you have time ? I am not contradicting you: merely indicating I am not entirely clear whether the "missing skills" relate to teaching skills, singing skills or some particular combination of the two.

 

BAC

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John Bertalot's books are excellent, but like almost all other modern books on choir training they omit  refence to actual technique.  For some reasons, the real skillswere lost about 1958 -1965.  Since then there have been few real choirmasters with proper technique, which is a pity.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Barry williams

 

This is certainly not true in the case of David Hill. There are others in similar posts who also have superb skills, including being able successfully to teach vocal technique, etc.

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This is certainly not true in the case of David Hill. There are others in similar posts who also have superb skills, including being able successfully to teach vocal technique, etc.

 

I have also found Michael Brewer quite inspirational - not a 'church musician' as such but that's not such a bad thing! (Incidentally - I know John Bertalot achieves good results too - it's just that his articles - to me anyway - are still more annoying than of much use - perhaps one actually needs to experience the skills in action rather than read about them. I feel that if I were in a choir where the person in charge talked the way he suggests they should I would probably opt out fast.)

 

AJJ

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