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Pierre Lauwers

Which British Organ For Europe?

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I once helped organise an organ-festival and it took 9 months of hard work; that could be a problem for many people.

 

Come, come Jeremy....you need to get on a train!

 

Have you never heard of Hull/Beverley, Manchester,Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham?

 

All the ones you mention are poor-relations by way of comparison to those listed above. The best organs/venues are North of Watford Gap!

 

MM

Hah! Now who's doing the misquoting? Here's what I said:

 

"I do agree that we should have more organ festivals here in the UK. There is Oundle and St Albans, of course, but these are small beer compared to what they do on the continent. What we really need is week-long annual organ festivals in major centres that attract the finest players in the world. In the UK, probably only Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and London have enough quality instruments in a confined area to mount such events."

 

I frequently get on a train and head all points North, South, East and West of the Watford Gap to hear individual organ recitals. The past year or so has seen me taking in organ recitals at Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Manchester, York, Armley, for example.

 

But that is not my point. We need something like a week-long London International Organ Festival with each day consisting of:

 

Various workshops and masterclasses in the mornings and afternoons organised by the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Trinity College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and led by distinguished organists at suitable venues like All Souls, Langham Place, St John's Smith Square, St Giles Cripplegate, City of London School at Blackfriars.

 

A daily choice of 3 of 4 lunchtime recitals at venues like Temple Church, St Lawrence Jewry, St Matthew's Westminster, St John's Smith Square, Dutch Church Austin Friars, St Dominic's Priory Belsize Park, St Helen's Bishopsgate, St James Bermondsey.

 

Choral Evensong at Temple Church, St Paul's Cathedral, All Saints Margaret Street, Westminster Abbey, Southwark Cathedral etc and Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

 

Major evening organ recital by top international recitaltist at venues such as Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Southwark Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral.

 

Something like this is ambitious, but it just needs some organisation. Many of the events already occur separately - lunchtime recitals, choral evensong, celebrity recitals at St Pauls, Southwark, Westminster Abbey etc, but it would all be a matter of bringing it all together as a unified major event.

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Why do you think that less that 10% of the UK population are in church on an average Sunday?
Hi, Tony, and thanks for your observations.

 

I said I wouldn't pass judgement on the rights or wrongs of using a popular style of worship and I won't. However... Why do I think that less than 10% of the UK population are in church on an average Sunday? Well obviously because they don't see the church as an essential part of their lives. Very often they will lump God in with that too, of course, but I'm constantly surprised by the number of people who do admit to believing in a deity, even if they are not sure what form it might take. However I see no evidence that dumbing down the music is filling our churches.

 

Nor am I entirely sure that a popular style of worship draws more people than traditional services either. In my experience, what fills churches is the charisma of the priest, with the standard of musical performance (in whatever style) coming a close second. I suppose it's about getting the place to come alive. And that can be done in a traditional manner as well as a popular one.

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Nor am I entirely sure that a popular style of worship draws more people than traditional services either. In my experience, what fills churches is the charisma of the priest, with the standard of musical performance (in whatever style) coming a close second. I suppose it's about getting the place to come alive. And that can be done in a traditional manner as well as a popular one.

 

Excellent point.

 

More thoughts later - I have to go out, now.

 

However, I still think that we have transgressed from Pierre's original thread....

 

....ever so slightly.

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Here is a proposal for an english-style organ by one of the organistes suppléants at St-Sernin, Toulouse:

 

Pedal

Double Open Bass 32

Open Bass 16

Open Diapason 16

Bourdon 16

Dulciana 16 (Choir)

Violon 16 (Solo)

Principal 8

Stopped Flute 8

Fifteenth 4

Open Flute 4

Mixture IV

Bombarde 32

Trombone 16

Ophicleide 16

Clarion 8

Schalmei 4

 

Choir

Contra Dulciana 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Flute 8

Gedackt Celestes 8

Dulciana 8

Lieblich Flute 4

Gemshorn 4

Nazard 2 2/3

Spitz Flute 2

Tierce 1 3/5

Seventh 1 1/7

Mixture III

Trumpet 8

Clarinet 8

 

Great

Double Open Diap. 16

Open Diapason I 8

Open Diapason II 8

Open Diapason III 8

Clarabella 8

Octave 4

Principal 4

Wald Flute 4

Octave Quint 22/3

Super Octave 2

First Mixture IV

Second Mixture III

Double Trumpet 16

Trumpet 8

Clarion 4

 

Swell

Bourdon 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Salicional 8

Vox angelica 8

Octave Geigen 4

Suabe Flute 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2

Sifflote 1

Mixture IV

Sesquialtera II

Contra Fagott 16

Cornopean 8

Oboe 8

Vox Humana 8

Clarion 4

 

Solo

ViolonBass 16

Harmonic Flute 8

Violoncello 8

Cello Celestes 8

Concert Flute 4

Octave Gamba 4

Hohl Flute 2

String Mixture III

Cor Anglais 16

Orchestral Oboe 8

Corno di Bassetto 8

Orchestral Trumpet 8

French Horn 8

hors boîte : (outside the swellbox)

Tuba Magna 8

Pierre

 

Not bad - I like this one! A little tweaking of the nomenclature here and there and we have a really good scheme.

 

So who did replace M. Frédéric Blanc at S. Sernin, then?

 

On the subject of M. Blanc - he is himself a fine improviser. I believe that he is now Titulaire at N.-D. d'Auteil, Paris - one of only two full-time (i.e. 'paid') organists' posts in Paris. (The other, should you wish to know, is the post of Organiste de l'orgue-de-choeur, N.-D. de Paris. Weird.)

 

Anyway, I digress.

 

Whilst at S. Senin, Toulouse, M. Blanc recorded two or three CDs of his improvisations - including one recorded the night (and early morning) immediately before the wondrous C-C was taken down for its most recent restoration. Both discs which I have contain some excellent examples of the art - I heartily recommend them.

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There are off-topics that tell a lot!

 

MM, do you like it or not, this is a proposal from a potential french buyer,

a consultant working for the french state!

And interested with british organs....

(Mines could sometimes appear even slightly more....Well, radical ;) )

 

Here is Jean-Baptiste Dupont's Website:

http://dupontjb.free.fr/BioEnglish.htm

 

Pierre

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Hi Brian

 

Thanks for your reply. You make some valid points - although I would question the relevance of the Deut. verse you quote. I'm well aware that the issues of decline in church attendance are more complex that my brief outline in my post - but the fact remains that church attendance in America is vastly higher than here - and no-one, to my knowledge, has yet been able to explain why there's such a difference.

 

One point though - at least in some areas of the country, there is a growing desire for churches of different denominations to co-operatte and to work together. This is something that I'm very keen on, and would like to see more of. I'd better stop now - this is an organ list after all!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi, Tony, and thanks for your observations.

 

I said I wouldn't pass judgement on the rights or wrongs of using a popular style of worship and I won't. However... Why do I think that less than 10% of the UK population are in church on an average Sunday? Well obviously because they don't see the church as an essential part of their lives. Very often they will lump God in with that too, of course, but I'm constantly surprised by the number of people who do admit to believing in a deity, even if they are not sure what form it might take. However I see no evidence that dumbing down the music is filling our churches.

 

Nor am I entirely sure that a popular style of worship draws more people than traditional services either. In my experience, what fills churches is the charisma of the priest, with the standard of musical performance (in whatever style) coming a close second. I suppose it's about getting the place to come alive. And that can be done in a traditional manner as well as a popular one.

 

Hi

 

I agree with you - but I would add that churches using "popular" style music often attract people who would not go to a traditional church service, and vice versa. For many of us, there's also a middle ground of "blended worship" - which, at its best, is a combining of elements from many different worship streams.

 

The bottom line is that to be valid, worship must be "in Spirit and in Truth", and if that's the case, the pattern, type of music, etc. is irrelevant.

 

I also find that the attitude of the congregation to incomers has a very significant effect on church growth. If someone comes in, and is ignored - or worse, is pressured to conform, then that church has major problems!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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

 

 

What is it about Tuba Magnas?

 

Most are just overblown, unblending party-horns. Fr.Willis had the right idea....big trumpets in effect, which everyone ruined at later re-builds as at St.George's Hall, Liverpool. Why not big Trumpets like H,N & B installed; courtesy of the Rundle voicing dynasty?

 

 

Surely the point of Tuba Magnas is NOT to blend. They are the ultimate SOLO stop intended to stand apart from everything else and carry a line which is clearly audible even against full organ. This is not the same thing, surely, as a Bombarde Chorus intended to cap full organ ? I do realise that in most British instruments the one stop is frequently used for both functions, and that in some cases attempts have been made to voice the great reed in such a way that it can imitate a solo tuba when played from the choir, but my impression is that this has rarely, if ever, been done successfully. Also some tubas like those at Lincoln seem to have been intended as super great reeds/ a bombarde chorus by the builder.

 

One can argue about timbre - from Wurlitzer English Horn through to the Tuba Mirabilis at York or the Solo Tuba at Hull City Hall and various points in between - and about the utility/versatility of different voicings - but surely in a large scheme with more than one climax reed available it is OK to have one which is not intended to be part of the chorus but only to sing solos ?

 

BAC

 

PS : Is that not the primary purpose of the Mounted Cornet, which might then be seen as the precursor of the tuba ? A dedicated solo stop, not primarily intended for use in chorus ?

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Strictly speaking, the "Tuba Magna" was a Cavaillé-Coll 16' chorus reed

intended for the Swell, and whose first octave was half-lenght.

The purpose was of course to have something less cumbersome.

 

In J-B Dupont's scheme it is evidently an english Tuba that is aimed at,

as Brian Childs describe.

To me this Solo stop, intended to be heard against the full organ, is

vastly superior to any "en chamade" stop.(Save in a spanish organ)

There are of course different kinds of voicing. I prefer the H&H type,

rather closed toned.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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I also find that the attitude of the congregation to incomers has a very significant effect on church growth.  If someone comes in, and is ignored - or worse, is pressured to conform, then that church has major problems!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

I absolutely and completely agree with the first sentence, and the first part of the second. Whilst I also agree that "pressure" from a congregation is most undesirable, I learned in my youth that it was not the done thing to walk into someone else's house and to start re-arranging the furniture to suit your own tastes. I would suggest (with appropriate modifications) the same degree of courtesy should be required of someone who joins a church. Of course suggestions for change should be welcomed by those already there and considered with an open mind but if those already there are happy with the way things are done, then I do not see why there should be any kind of onus on them to change their ways to accommodate the newcomer as opposed to on the newcomer to fit in with what already exists (or take their custom to another establishment which more accords with the way they like things done, if they really cannot fit in). Surely any other approach is a recipe for constant change and too much change is every bit as bad and unsettling as the ossification resulting from no change at all. Indeed, my own experience is that the fact of change is less frequently the problem than the PACE of change : it is the speed with which change is effected that more frequently leads to resentment and arguments. Some changes, of course cannot be phased in. If we were to switch to driving on the right of the road would be an example of one that clearly could not. But in a liturgical context this would rarely be the position. I remain convinced that many examples of conflict in congregations could have been avoided if the advocates of change had been in less of a hurry and had been prepared to put up with the inevitable untidiness accompanying a more protracted period of transition.

 

 

Brian Childs

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Of couse, some muesli eating, sandal wearing, neo-classical baroque organ worshipping people think Tubas are an utter abomination, but I am fascinated by them. A Tuba is not just a Tuba, if you get my drift.

 

I seem to remember reading a review by Stephen Bicknell in Choir and Organ of a disc of Orchestral Transcriptions played by John Scott Whiteley on the York Minster organ in which he singled out the Tuba for particular censure (I think the word 'execrable' might have been mentioned). Of course the Minster Tuba is a famous example, installed by Harrison & Harrison at the behest of Sir Edward Bairstow in 1916-17 and said to be 'en-chamade'. Someone will no doubt be able to confirm this.

 

On the whole, I tend to prefer Willis Tubas such as those at Salisbury, Lincoln or Westminster cathedrals which can add power to the tutti rather than obliterate it. Harrison & Harrison Tubas on the other hand are not really suitable for this purpose. The King's Tuba, a very individual example, is surely more of a French Horn than a bona-fide Tuba, albeit a very fine (and large) French Horn!

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

Ah! The Tuba! What a subject! What a sound!

 

1. My first teacher - a student of Bairstow - said that the huge sounding Tuba at York was sticking into the Nave (but inside the case) to lead (prod?) vast congregations into singing with one voice. Single notes he said, could also bring any brass band into line.

 

2. I always draw attention to students the fact that the Tuba is located on the SOLO manual (normally) - even at the Sacré-Coeur in Paris, where they are chamade 16/8/4 on top of the organ pointing slightly downward (in twilight the view of these extraordinary pipes remind one of a WW2 battleship). Some players feel the need to couple this Uk stop to the Gt to achieve cataclysmic musical (sic) moments. Many a time I have thought that on electric-actioned instruments in the UK a cut-out mechanism could easily be in-built to stop this 'accidental' usage happening. Solo surely means solo or else the dear belov-ed Tuba would be found elsewhere. No way is it a chorus stop and surely it should be used/handled as if it is an unexploded bomb with a dicky ticker.

 

3. On another note (I read), I would really like to have sent new verses which readers consider worth setting to music. I am beginning my Christmas holiday. I have a few tunes floating around and would adore a Yule-tide challenge should any folk have or know of good theological verses. Just a thought.

 

Best wishes and Happy Epiphany!

NJA

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Guest Lee Blick
Of couse, some muesli eating, sandal wearing, neo-classical baroque organ worshipping people

 

:D

 

Yeh, and I can imagine some kinky black booted vampire cape wearing romantic organist working himself up into such a Howells Rhapsody No3 lather, his hands trembling in absolute extacy as he reaches for... the TUBA MAGNA! :o

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...

2. I always draw attention to students the fact that the Tuba is located on the SOLO manual (normally) - even at the Sacré-Coeur in Paris, where they are chamade 16/8/4 on top of the organ pointing slightly downward (in twilight the view of these extraordinary pipes remind one of a WW2 battleship). Some players feel the need to couple this Uk stop to the Gt to achieve cataclysmic musical (sic) moments. Many a time I have thought that on electric-actioned instruments in the UK a cut-out mechanism could easily be in-built to stop this 'accidental' usage happening. Solo surely means solo or else the dear belov-ed Tuba would be found elsewhere. No way is it a chorus stop and surely it should be used/handled as if it is an unexploded bomb with a dicky ticker.

...

 

Here is an idea for organ-builders - make organists provide credit card details before they play, and charge them a fiver every time they draw the Tuba (and lots more if they couple it to the Great!). I attended a recital in Hereford Cathedral last summer where the noted (French) recitalist registered the closing improvisation with the Stop Crescendo pedal, which drew the Tuba with the full organ for the closing finale. A very fine stop, the Tuba completely obliterated the rest of the chorus. A disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable recital.

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A silly question:

 

As Mr Allcoat wisely mentioned, the correct place for the Tuba is the Solo.

Do we really need a coupler from this one to the great?

 

As a collection of solo voice with very differing strenghts, this clavier is

not structural in a romantic organ (from FFF to p divisions).

So...

 

Pierre

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For many of us, there's also a middle ground of "blended worship" - which, at its best, is a combining of elements from many different worship streams.

Tony

 

In my experience, trying to please everyone results in pleasing no-one.

 

Services I have observed which have mixed different styles of worship I have found to be as satisfying as kippers and custard.

 

Personally, I think that this is a commonly held mis-conception in some quarters.

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Strictly speaking, the "Tuba Magna" was a Cavaillé-Coll 16' chorus reed

intended for the Swell, and whose first octave was half-lenght.

The purpose was of course to have something less cumbersome.

 

In J-B Dupont's scheme it is evidently an english Tuba that is aimed at,

as Brian Childs describe.

To me this Solo stop, intended to be heard against the full organ, is

vastly superior to any "en chamade" stop.(Save in a spanish organ)

There are of course different kinds of voicing. I prefer the H&H type,

rather closed toned.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

 

Surely you cannot include C-C chamades in this remark, Pierre?!

 

Those at S. Sernin - and also the chamade Trompette on the fifth clavier at S. Sulpice (unique in all of C-C's instruments) are superb. I find these sounds vastly superior to any British (or US) tuba I have ever heard!

 

I also rate very highly the Boisseau chamades (not including the Regal) at N.-D. de Paris, which were joined by two ranks copied from S. Sernin in the 1990-2 restoration. Although the Boisseau ranks sounded even better in Cochereau's time*, they are still fiery and very exciting.

 

*They were re-winded at the time of the 1992 restoration and are now not quite so stable.

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In my experience, trying to please everyone results in pleasing no-one.

 

Services I have observed which have mixed different styles of worship I have found to be as satisfying as kippers and custard.

 

Personally, I think that this is a commonly held mis-conception in some quarters.

 

Hi

 

It's working well here! (Ask my congregation)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Then I am happy for you.

 

Naturally, I can only comment on what I have observed. Unfortuantely I have only observed the exact opposite!

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As a spanish-trained Cavaillé did well know what you can do with

chamades and what you cannot.

When he used them it was as chorus reeds, never as soloist

like often in modern organs.

So they are no substitute for a Tuba.

 

Pierre

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As a spanish-trained Cavaillé did well know what you can do with

chamades and what you cannot.

When he used them it was as chorus reeds, never as soloist

like often in modern organs.

So they are no substitute for a Tuba.

 

Pierre

 

Certainly - but since a Tuba (to me) sounds hideous when inartistically used as a chorus reed, I would find chamades far more useful. They can also be used as effective solo stops (possibly not for Cocker, I admit) - listen to any Cochereau recording from N.-D after about 1970.

 

Of coures, I accept that it is a question of taste!

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Of coures, I accept that it is a question of taste!

 

Indeed, it is!

To mine there is nothing more crude than a chamade, save in spanish organs

like the splendid Jordi Bosch at Santanyi, Mallorca.

But that organ is a masterpiece from a genius.

Bosch did go up to have L-shaped soundboards to succeed with theses stops.

Who did follow?

I agree the Tuba must be used as it should be: it is definitively not

a chorus reed. Thereupon obtains a wide consensus, isn't it?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Here is an idea for organ-builders - make organists provide credit card details before they play, and charge them a fiver every time they draw the Tuba (and lots more if they couple it to the Great!).  I attended a recital in Hereford Cathedral last summer where the noted (French) recitalist registered the closing improvisation with the Stop Crescendo pedal, which drew the Tuba with the full organ for the closing finale.  A very fine stop, the Tuba completely obliterated the rest of the chorus.  A disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable recital.

Ever since I first heard the 16/8/4 Bombarde reeds Harrisons installed at Westminster Abbey in 1987, I have had a picture in my mind of the Abbey console with these 3 stops encased and under lock and key. Shrinking violets they are not!

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