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Colin Richell
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I always listen to this programme, and last week I was disgusted that having forcibly reduced the length of the programme from 60 minutes to supposedly 30 minutes, 3 minutes of the programme is taken up with the news and to add insult to injury, another minute is spent advertising a forthcoming programme.

So, now we are left with 26 minutes of programme, and no publicity for concerts, other than on the internet.

Obviously Radio 2 regard the organ loving public as minority enthusiasts.

When the length of the programme was reduced I did protest but to no avail.

There may be programmes on Radio 3 for classical music, but I and thousands of people also wish to hear light classical played on a cinema organ, and why not ?

I just think it is disgraceful and is there nothing we can do to change things ?

Colin Richell

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I'm afraid the BBC is a law unto itself. Perhaps if and when the licence fee is reduced or removed, they will have to resort to advertising which may put the ball back in our court.

 

Pigs might fly, though!

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I'm afraid the BBC is a law unto itself. Perhaps if and when the licence fee is reduced or removed, they will have to resort to advertising which may put the ball back in our court.

 

Pigs might fly, though!

 

 

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

 

 

I may raise hackles here, but I disagree that the BBC is a law unto itself.

 

The BBC spend a lot of time on listener/viewer opinion and research, and if programming is to be successful, then it has to reflect public opinion/tastes etc.

 

It is not confined to the BBC; the same being true of "Classic FM."

 

Over the years, the BBC has led the world in terms of drama, comedy, classical music generally, innovative programming, natural history, serious political comment, foreign and world affairs and children's programming. We knock that at our peril, because the BBC is quite unique in being free from commercial pressure, even though it has to be sensitive to other pressures concerned with demand and public preferences.

 

As organists, it is easy to be paranoid, but the problem is not confined to the presentation of organ-music. The harpsichordists would probably tell the same story, and early music is now less in favour than it used to be 30 years ago, when everyone seemed to be aboard a certain bandwagon.

 

My problem with the BBC is one of information. The organ does feature in many programmes; often late at night or in the early hours, and if we cast our minds back to that wonderfully innovative Radio 3 "Bach" series, organ-music was heard a great deal.

 

"The organist entertains" is a weary programme these days, and with a rapidly diminishing listener-base. As someone who thoroughly enjoys music played on electronic and theatre-organ, I despair at some of the rubbish presented as "enetertainment," (usually British), when there are far better examples to be had. I forget the last time we heard the likes of Harry Stoneham and that generation of superb jazz organists, for example, or get to hear the prodigious talent of young Julian Hugget from Germany.

 

I can see the problem the BBC has, because programming specialised music is far from easy; especially when the listener/viewer base is both diminished and rather isolated.

 

However, we all know that many of the major composers were organists, and therein lies a possible way forward.

 

A programme about Bach is obvious enough, but one could include organ music is so many ways, as part of programming which takes a wider perspective.

 

How about "The exponents of Stylus Phantasticus?"

 

How about "The Parisian Improvisers and Impressionists" (Think Satie/Debussy/Vierne etc)

 

How about someone doing something similar to what Sir John Betjamin did, or in a different way, what Geraint Jones did.

 

There's a whole world out there full of fascinating things, and the way it is presented is critical to good programming. It is quite easy to work the organ into that sort of thing, without alienating the wider public.

 

After all, thanks to the BBC, I discovered the extraordinary music of the "Tuvan throat singers," and I don't recall ever reading about that at Uni or in the music history books.

 

So please, rather than knocking the "beeb," perhaps we could suggest innovative and interesting ideas in which the organ could be featured in wider subjects, and which could contribute to telling an interesting story.

 

One thing I would beg the BBC to do, is to present a proper programme about European culture; perhaps in the way that Clarke presented "Civilisation," but featuring music first and foremost; if only because music travels nicely across culturual and national boundaries with some ease.

 

It just requires imagination and programnmers who are capable of thinking outside the box.

 

MM

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I am a great BBC fan, and most of the tv programmes I watch are on their channels (including freeview) because at least you can get away from the never ending commercials, so I am certainly not anti BBC by any means.

All I am saying is people with minority interests should be entitled to have one 1 hour programme. Is that so much to ask ?

The Archers is supposed to be for country folk, and that gets aired 7 days a week.

I do not know how many listeners listen to The Organist Entertains, but it hardly helps to keep changing the broadcasting night(now Thursday rather than Tuesday)

It is suggested that the programme is looking tired, so perhaps Nigel can make some suggestions, although I enjoy every programme, except the ones on those horrible sounding Hammond organs.

I can certainly make contact as suggested, but I am not hopeful.

Colin Richell

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I am a great BBC fan, and most of the tv programmes I watch are on their channels (including freeview) because at least you can get away from the never ending commercials, so I am certainly not anti BBC by any means.

All I am saying is people with minority interests should be entitled to have one 1 hour programme. Is that so much to ask ?

The Archers is supposed to be for country folk, and that gets aired 7 days a week.

I do not know how many listeners listen to The Organist Entertains, but it hardly helps to keep changing the broadcasting night(now Thursday rather than Tuesday)

It is suggested that the programme is looking tired, so perhaps Nigel can make some suggestions, although I enjoy every programme, except the ones on those horrible sounding Hammond organs.

I can certainly make contact as suggested, but I am not hopeful.

Colin Richell

 

 

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

 

 

Well, here are a couiple of real performers for Colin to contemplate; one I'm afraid, playing a Hammond.

 

 

 

 

 

Both incorporate the BWV565.

 

Quite astonishing.

 

MM

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I wonder how harp enthusiasts feel. When was the last time the Beeb broadcast a harp recital? The harp is probably more popular than the organ but seems to have fared worse - unless I've missed some recently. I used to watch for harp music quite keenly and never saw a recital scheduled. It is, I suppose, entirely possible that harpies command higher fees than organists.

 

One of the big changes on Radio 3 in the last half century is the decrease in live or specially recorded performances. When I was young there were far more than now. Over the years tightening budgets have resulted in an increased reliance on CDs. I am sure that this was one of the reasons for the disappearance of the vibrant early music* agenda mentioned by MM (so many performances of which were specially recorded) - though another was a belief that that the general public mostly wanted to hear mainstream repertoire, meaning music from Bach to Wagner or thereabouts.

 

* I am thinking here specifically of pre-Barqoue music. Radio 3 could possibly argue that the Early Music Programme provides more dedicated air time to its subject than earlier regimes did, but when you eliminate the Baroque repertoire it doesn't seem so great to me.

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* I am thinking here specifically of pre-Barqoue music. Radio 3 could possibly argue that the Early Music Programme provides more dedicated air time to its subject than earlier regimes did, but when you eliminate the Baroque repertoire it doesn't seem so great to me.

One of the glories of R3 in the 1970s was David Munrow's daily tea-time "Pied Piper" programme. I learned more about music from this as a young teenager (I'm guessing I heard maybe 200 tweny-minute episodes) than I did from 3 years at Oxford.

 

I don't have the time to be immersed in R3 as I was back then but I remember massive one-off projects, such as Christopher Hogwood's survey of the baroque Trio Sonata. Do they still attempt things like that?

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I remember massive one-off projects, such as Christopher Hogwood's survey of the baroque Trio Sonata. Do they still attempt things like that?

I don't remember that, but if it was massive then I'm guessing it was a major series. The Early Music Programme does focus on specific topics, but in the time available can only really provide an brief overview. I haven't noticed any in-depth explorations of any repertoire. There are occasional days devoted to a particular composer, but of course these are not the same thing.

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I haven't noticed any in-depth explorations of any repertoire.

Older listeners will wistfully remember on BBC Radio 3 such series as the complete organ works of J S Bach (Peter Hurford), and two series by Gillian Weir: the complete organ works of Franck and of Messiaen. All three series were introduced by the two performers themselves.

 

PS Was it on this forum that I saw that Gillian Weir's TV series The King of Instruments is due for imminent release on DVD by Priory Records? I've already ordered my copy. B)

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Older listeners will wistfully remember on BBC Radio 3 such series as the complete organ works of J S Bach (Peter Hurford), and two series by Gillian Weir: the complete organ works of Franck and of Messiaen. All three series were introduced by the two performers themselves.

A complete Franck was also done maybe 10 years ago by David Titterington from St Étienne, Caen.

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One of the glories of R3 in the 1970s was David Munrow's daily tea-time "Pied Piper" programme. I learned more about music from this as a young teenager (I'm guessing I heard maybe 200 tweny-minute episodes) than I did from 3 years at Oxford.

 

I don't have the time to be immersed in R3 as I was back then but I remember massive one-off projects, such as Christopher Hogwood's survey of the baroque Trio Sonata. Do they still attempt things like that?

 

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

 

 

When I first became interested in the organ, I was about 12 years of age. Before my 16th birthday, thanks to radio 3, I had made a virtual (audio) tour of European baroque organs (Geraint Jones), listened to just about every weekly organ-recital from UK venues.....Francis Jackson, Germani, Roy Massey, Thalben-Ball, Alan Wicks etc etc. I had delighted in John Bejamin taking us to hear most of Britain's cathedrals and their music. I had listened to Heiller, Chapuis, Dupre, Ropek, Langlais, Isoir, and organs in all the major European cities, from the Nuremburg organ-festival to Paris, and from Italy and Spain to Vienna.

 

I knew the diferences between Italian, English, German Baroque, German Romantic and old Netherlands instruments.

 

Then followed that peerless David Munrow series, (one or two of which I have on tape and one on LP).

 

That was the most amazing education, and even at the age of 16, I had a very discerning and critical attitude to performances heard, and positively revelled in the music of Reger, Bach and, (at that age), Vierne and Dupre.

 

In addition to weekly organ-recitals on the radio, and the one-off specialised series, there were high-quality broadcasts of choral and organ + programmes, which often included things like the Poulenc and Handel Concertos.

 

It didn't mean that I couldn't listen to "The Beatles" or enjoy the many, many broadcasts of theatre-organs and some of the more talented performers, such as Bryan Rodwell, Ena Baga and Doreen Chadwick.

 

The point is, that the experience was rich and beneficial, with sufficient depth to make such programming educationally priceless. I'm quite sure that others will say the same who can go back that far.

 

The problem with widening the appeal to ALL people is not so much dumbing down as failing to fall below a plateau; beneath which, knowledge is almost useless.

 

That's the problem with ratings, because every person on the planet knows very little about anything at all; myself included, and if asked to comment about "quality" of programming, we possibly aren't in a position to give an informed opinion.

 

MM

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