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Peter Clark

Courtesy costs nothing

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I was in London at the weekend (and incidentally got to play the new organ in St Etheldreda's Ely Place); there was a concert on Saturday in my own church (St Peter's Cardiff) and wheh I got back and went to play on Tuesday found that my piston settings had been altered. I won't name the organist responsible but his is a well-known name. I know him and I suspect other board members will. Now to me this is a no-no. Or at least he should have taken note of the settings and restored them afterwards. Am I right in this way? I would never dream of doing this in somebody else's church.

 

Another thing - I found out today that Radio 2 are recording in the church this evening. First I have heard about it and once again I feel it would have been polite had whoever is playing the organ to contact me. I ALWAYS approach the resident organist if I am playing in another church.

 

Or am I just a Grumpy Old (well, middle-aged) Man?

 

Peter

 

ps I have now put a notice on the console forbidding changing the piston settings - in BIG LETTERS!

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I was in London at the weekend (and incidentally got to play the new organ in St Etheldreda's Ely Place); there was a concert on Saturday in my own church (St Peter's Cardiff) and wheh I got back and went to play on Tuesday found that my piston settings had been altered. I won't name the organist responsible but his is a well-known name. I know him and I suspect other board members will. Now to me this is a no-no. Or at least he should have taken note of the settings and restored them afterwards. Am I right in this way? I would never dream of doing this in somebody else's church.

 

Another thing - I found out today that Radio 2 are recording in the church this evening. First I have heard about it and once again I feel it would have been polite had whoever is playing the organ to contact me. I ALWAYS approach the resident organist if I am playing in another church.

 

Or am I just a Grumpy Old (well, middle-aged) Man?

 

Peter

 

ps I have now put a notice on the console forbidding changing the piston settings - in BIG LETTERS!

I love it when I arrive to play and the pupils have changed the pistons to the most outlandish things...it is such a pain but adds some mild amusement for them to a mundane morning chapel...

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I was in London at the weekend (and incidentally got to play the new organ in St Etheldreda's Ely Place); there was a concert on Saturday in my own church (St Peter's Cardiff) and wheh I got back and went to play on Tuesday found that my piston settings had been altered. I won't name the organist responsible but his is a well-known name. I know him and I suspect other board members will. Now to me this is a no-no. Or at least he should have taken note of the settings and restored them afterwards. Am I right in this way? I would never dream of doing this in somebody else's church.

 

Another thing - I found out today that Radio 2 are recording in the church this evening. First I have heard about it and once again I feel it would have been polite had whoever is playing the organ to contact me. I ALWAYS approach the resident organist if I am playing in another church.

 

Or am I just a Grumpy Old (well, middle-aged) Man?

 

Peter

 

ps I have now put a notice on the console forbidding changing the piston settings - in BIG LETTERS!

 

Hi

 

I would expect to be able to set pistons how I wanted them if I was playing for a concert - or even a church service (and I have done so). However - except where a piston memory location has been allocated, I would at least leave a note or make sure by some other method that the regular player(s) knew that pistons had been changed.

 

Incidentally - a "what would you do?" question. Several years ago I played for a series of special services in a church in Hastings (every night, Monday to Friday). I had (as asked by the organist) noted the piston settings before changing them. However, the assistant organist (who was a friend) asked me to leave my settings at the end of the week, as she preferred them to the "standard" ones. What would you do?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Incidentally - a "what would you do?" question. Several years ago I played for a series of special services in a church in Hastings (every night, Monday to Friday). I had (as asked by the organist) noted the piston settings before changing them. However, the assistant organist (who was a friend) asked me to leave my settings at the end of the week, as she preferred them to the "standard" ones. What would you do?

That's an easy one, isn't it? Put down mine for the assistant organist, and restore the organist's as promised. One might suggest, then, to leave negotiations with the organist to her. Or to quarrel over the question if and when to acquire a multi-level combination system.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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That's an easy one, isn't it? Put down mine for the assistant organist, and restore the organist's as promised. One might suggest, then, to leave negotiations with the organist to her. Or to quarrel over the question if and when to acquire a multi-level combination system.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

I think the correct answer is, get a multi-channel memory.

 

I'm forever surprised by the weird things that people (including the great and the good) have set to come out on their organs. And when I'm lucky enough to be handed the keys to a Leviathan I'm always glad when I'm told "just use channel 23 however you like"...

 

I suspect however, that most visiting organists, in the context of limited time to prepare before playing, would be only too glad to have a level of memory set for where each piston brings out a little more than the one before. Nice and easy, you can't really go wrong. So I would add to the original poster: if you are fortunate enough to have a multichannel memory on your instrument, it would be courteous to set a channel aside with entirely logical settings just for newcomers, even if you never have cause to use it yourself :-)

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What Peter has described is a terribly annoying habit, and not something I would ever dream of doing when playing on another's instrument.

 

Thankfully, in my own church, each organist has his own channel, and there is a separate channel for visiting organists, so I do not find my combinations have been changed.

 

I've come across some very interesting combinations saved on other organs I've played here on the island - including Voix Celestes and Contra Fagotto - each to their own I suppose!

 

VA

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I have the only key to my piston lock that solves the problem!!!

I would be furious if I arrived to play for a concert and found that the organist had locked the pistons. (Unless, of course, he/she owned the organ personally.)

 

I tell visiting organists to change pistons as they like and not to bother changing them back, as I can do it more quickly. If we had multi-channels I would ask them to leave a note to say exactly what they had changed and would expect them to use just one channel of divisionals.

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Hi

 

I would expect to be able to set pistons how I wanted them if I was playing for a concert - or even a church service (and I have done so). However - except where a piston memory location has been allocated, I would at least leave a note or make sure by some other method that the regular player(s) knew that pistons had been changed.

 

Incidentally - a "what would you do?" question. Several years ago I played for a series of special services in a church in Hastings (every night, Monday to Friday). I had (as asked by the organist) noted the piston settings before changing them. However, the assistant organist (who was a friend) asked me to leave my settings at the end of the week, as she preferred them to the "standard" ones. What would you do?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

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

 

 

Kill her..... hire a boat..... dispose of the corpse. B)

 

MM

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I have the only key to my piston lock that solves the problem!!!

 

 

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

 

 

Why can't we have plastic keys like my Renault Laguna Turbo?

 

I point it at the car, press a button, and not only do the doors open, the seat, door and interior mirrors adjust themselves to my settings if someone else has been driving it.

 

Aren't computers wonderful, until they go wrong?

 

MM

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Guest drd

I have this plague, too.

 

Not only are my piston settings changed at the drop of the hat, by a local organist (of the related church in the benefice) who is highly enough qualified and experienced to know better, but also the entire console is rearranged (i.e. anything movable is moved) and not returned. This latter on the flimsy excuse that he prefers to have nothing cluttering his field of vision. It seems to be some misguided feeling of 'possession' as he has been associated with the instrument and place for many years. (Or do I have a misguided feeling of 'possession' myself?)

 

I respect, as it happens, that view - but still I think, as the resident DofM, other organists are duty bound in honour to return everything to the state in which they found it.

 

As soon as we can get a multi-channel system in, the better.

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At the church where I am one of three organists, all three of us have a key for the setter, and we have two or three channels allocated to us out of the eight. When no key is in the lock then only channel one is operational, either for setting or for using. This system works well; you can use your own channels with confidence and for the element of surprise switch to channel one! When a distinguished visiting organist is doing a recital, or the organ is being used for recording (both rare events) then warning is given that your channels are to be "taken over" and I am happy to reset them afterwards, often taking the opportunity to change them slightly.

 

However, I would always be extremely wary of changing anyone else's piston settings, particularly on an organ where I wasn't a regular organist. I think Peter is right to feel greatly annoyed.

 

By the way, how did you find the new Ely Place instrument, Peter? Not as large as yours, of course, but in a great building. I haven't been there for 25 years.

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I suspect however, that most visiting organists, in the context of limited time to prepare before playing, would be only too glad to have a level of memory set for where each piston brings out a little more than the one before. Nice and easy, you can't really go wrong.

 

Nah. That never works. B) The Swell Oboe never comes on early enough. The Pedal 32’ flue won’t be set on anything. Neither will any Open Wood at any pitch. The Great sub unison won’t come on until after the Mixture and that will always be set to come on before the reeds. Great 16, 8, 4 Fonds won't be found anywhere. Neither will you find the immediately useful ‘extremes’ to hand (e.g. Celestes only; Full Great & Pedal). I could go on…

 

Hold a bring'n'buy. Purchase a multi-channel system. Set your in-house stuff somewhere inaccessible and lock it. Then give carte blanche to the visiting organists with precious little time to spare (assuming you’re told they’re coming!). Then arrive early enough on Sunday morning to wind the stool back down, dispose of the bits of torn post-it notes and select channel 666.

 

Or you could do what the RCO used to do and refuse permission for any pistons to be changed…

 

Oh, and never, ever express bewilderment at colours carelessly left behind by visiting organists. You might just find their Celeste/Fagotto combo suits that tricky couple of bars of Wagner, Lemare or Bovet perfectly :D

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Then arrive early enough on Sunday morning to wind the stool back down, dispose of the bits of torn post-it notes and select channel 666.

 

 

B)

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I find it very annoying, because if I turn up to my regular organ to play for the service, the last thing I want to find is the Tuba set on Choir 1! However, unless expressly offered by the resiedent organist I never change the pistons, and would always register by hand where necessary. Did same on the fine organ at Bridlington Priory the other week for a wedding, with some challenging music, worked well!

 

Jonathan

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By the way, how did you find the new Ely Place instrument, Peter? Not as large as yours, of course, but in a great building. I haven't been there for 25 years.

 

Unfortunately I only had about 10 minutes as there was a baprism following the Mass. The dimensions are much the same as the one I play but the stops arelaid out in a strange (to me at least) way. If I remember correctly the great stops are the highest but split either side of the manuals. The sound isd quite severe from the console but it sounded great in the church. Paul Hale did a report on it in a receny issue of OR.

 

I'll be going down to London again soon when I shall have a midweek visit and hopefully have more time. Watch this space.

 

P

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The Swell Oboe never comes on early enough.

 

Couldn't agree more, at last I've found someone on the same wavelength!

 

Oh, and never, ever express bewilderment at colours carelessly left behind by visiting organists. You might just find their Celeste/Fagotto combo suits that tricky couple of bars of Wagner, Lemare or Bovet perfectly B)

 

And in full agreement here as well. I used to leave a note with numbers of channels that visitors could use at will, and always ahd a good flick through them afterwards. Though I learnt I huge amount from Thomas Trotters opening recital on the instrument I used to play, I learnt just as much afterwards from his piston settings.

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It can be frustrating as a visitor when, even on a multi channel leviathon, no instructions are left as to which channels may be altered. Most cathedrals and major churches have the sense to leave clear instructions on this subject but not all do, with one of the large 4-manuals near to home being a prime example. (In case anyone links this to my earlier post this morning I should make clear that I'm not talking about Worcester here, where the instructions are clear and generous!)

 

On those occasions when I alter pistons on a single-channel system I always note the original settings and restore them before leaving. I assumed everyone did this, it seems only polite.

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Nah. That never works. B) The Swell Oboe never comes on early enough. The Pedal 32’ flue won’t be set on anything. Neither will any Open Wood at any pitch. The Great sub unison won’t come on until after the Mixture and that will always be set to come on before the reeds. Great 16, 8, 4 Fonds won't be found anywhere. Neither will you find the immediately useful ‘extremes’ to hand (e.g. Celestes only; Full Great & Pedal). I could go on…

Ah, but that's the point - the progresssion is entirely predictable.

 

I suppose one of the advantage of toasters with illuminated stoptabs is that you can flip through the pistons and get a sense for what's lying in wait without the thuds that accompany this exercise on systems with actual moving parts.

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Ah, but that's the point - the progresssion is entirely predictable.

 

I suppose one of the advantage of toasters with illuminated stoptabs is that you can flip through the pistons and get a sense for what's lying in wait without the thuds that accompany this exercise on systems with actual moving parts.

 

This has its flaws. I can't be the only one to be idling through pistons during a sermon at a certain west country large church when the Cymbelstern sprung into action!

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Nah. That never works. B) The Swell Oboe never comes on early enough. The Pedal 32’ flue won’t be set on anything. Neither will any Open Wood at any pitch. The Great sub unison won’t come on until after the Mixture and that will always be set to come on before the reeds. Great 16, 8, 4 Fonds won't be found anywhere. Neither will you find the immediately useful ‘extremes’ to hand (e.g. Celestes only; Full Great & Pedal). I could go on…

 

Hold a bring'n'buy. Purchase a multi-channel system. Set your in-house stuff somewhere inaccessible and lock it. Then give carte blanche to the visiting organists with precious little time to spare (assuming you’re told they’re coming!). Then arrive early enough on Sunday morning to wind the stool back down, dispose of the bits of torn post-it notes and select channel 666.

 

Or you could do what the RCO used to do and refuse permission for any pistons to be changed…

 

Oh, and never, ever express bewilderment at colours carelessly left behind by visiting organists. You might just find their Celeste/Fagotto combo suits that tricky couple of bars of Wagner, Lemare or Bovet perfectly :D

Absolutely, Ian. Particularly with regard to your first paragraph.

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This has its flaws. I can't be the only one to be idling through pistons during a sermon at a certain west country large church when the Cymbelstern sprung into action!

Reminds me of the organist who decided to clean the comsole during a sermon - somehow managed to touch the 'full swell' piston while dusting the swell keyboard from top to bottom, glissando style!

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