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There doesn't seem to be a specific place on this board to post an introduction so I guess it has go here. I've thought for some time about whether or not to post to here as I was not sure whether I would be welcome. I am not a musician in any way, shape or form and as such have nothing of value to contribute - though I do (obviously) have an interest in the subject matter (hence the posting name). I have read the forum periodically for many months and out of that one or two questions have arisen which I'd like to put on here before I go back to lurking. If members are amenable to answering questions from a curious but uninformed non-musician then I'd put the questions on slowly over the coming weeks. If not then I'll simply go back to lurking.

 

The reason I've (temporarily) come out of hiding tonight is because I am actually typing this from a hotel room, out the window of which can be seen the tower of Hereford Cathedral and it is actually partly because of this forum that I am here! Having contemplated saying a brief hello for some time it seemed only appropriate that tonight should be the night - that and the fact that as I do not know anyone within 100 miles I have little else to do with my evening!

 

Reading this forum even for a short while and it is soon clear that the name of Henry Willis looms large in terms of British organ heritage and the Wikipedia article on Hereford Cathedral boldy claims that the Willis organ here is generally considered to be one of the finest examples. Being a Wackypedia article of course that could have been written by anyone but I was fortunate enough that an organ scholar was practicising during my visit so I did have the opportunity to hear the organ play. Besides Hereford my trip this week is also taking me to Gloucester and Worcester Cathedrals, both of which seem to occupy disproportionate amounts of column inches on this board.

 

And just in case anyone is thinking I must be mad to drive right across the country to listen to an organ scholar practice I should just point out that one of my interests is photography and I am primarily here on a photography trip (though I wish I'd known Hereford Cathedral was a building site) but obviously it was a bonus to hear the organ play. I even managed to stay the first 30 mins of a service at Gloucester yesterday so I heard the organ there played properly (it's quite loud!). On to Worcester tomorrow. It was the regular discussion of these cathedrals on here which focussed my attention on the fact that this is a part of the country I've never visited and know little about but which promised rich pickings for Mr Nikon so here I am.

 

As for why a non-musician would be interested in church organs.... well I went to a cathedral school as a child and, although not a cathedral chorister, was in the school's recital choir and always loved the organ in the cathedral (as well as the music we sang). As I grew up all that ceased to have a role in my life but after a difficult couple of years which have seen most of my hopes and dreams destroyed and many of my hobbies no longer possible I have had to take a step back and re-focus. In doing so I have remembered a little of me that I left behind long ago, hence the renewed interest now (which led me to discover these forums last year). As a child I had a cassette (remember them?!) of Nicolas Kynaston playing at the Royal Albert Hall. I listened to it more than everything else I had added together so it was quite fitting that after nearly 18 years without hearing a single note from a cathedral organ it was his recital on the new organ at St Edmondsbury that got it started again and I've since managed to track down MP3's of the Albert Hall recordings.

 

Whether or not anyone follows up on this post, I thank you all for reading.

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As I understand it this forum is not just for organists but for anyone interested in the organ and its music (and many of the organists here also reflect on their other interests, topics as diverse as steam trains and Dr Who!).

 

So a warm welcome and I hope you will gain something from your membership here, and also that you contribute your own thoughts from time to time!

 

Peter

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Greetings and welcome. Please feel free to ask whatever questions you would like to and we'll do our best to answer them.

 

AJS

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Greetings and welcome. Please feel free to ask whatever questions you would like to and we'll do our best to answer them.

 

AJS

 

 

Ditto! Good to have you on board, and interesting to read your comments on what we talk about (and you are right, it does seem that those 3 cathedrals take a disproportionate amount of postings!).

If you liked the sound of the Hereford Willis, then hurry to Salisbury and then down South further to Truro - you won't be disappointed!

 

Best wishes

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... As a child I had a cassette (remember them?!) of Nicolas Kynaston playing at the Royal Albert Hall. I listened to it more than everything else I had added together ...

I do carry that permanently on my MP3 player. It's so great to listen to this maestro's playing -- all the more since the same fire you feel throughout the RAH recordings (Widor VI!!) keeps burning on, as you can hear on his more recent recordings.

 

I can appreciate wholeheartedly that playing of this kind might cause permanent organ addiction!

 

Best,

Friedrich

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There doesn't seem to be a specific place on this board to post an introduction so I guess it has go here.

 

 

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

 

 

Indeed, a very warm welcome to the board, where our interests are nothing short of incredibly wide. I'm quite into photography, and I've had a few shots of motor-sport placed in publications, but it has always been a hobby rather than anything professional.

 

I was trying to cast my mind back about some of the very surprising things to emerge on the board.....organ-building, tuning, various schools of music and performance, teaching, improvisation, photography, recording music, choral interests, historical matters, physics, acoustics, engineering, old trucks/cars/buses/railway engines, (et al)....the list is impressive, and this is what makes this board quite unique in the organ-world.

 

Ask a question about almost anything, and someone will invariably answer it with skill and knowledge.

 

Some of us try to inject a little humour from time to time, but it shiould always be read as amiable and slightly tongue-in-cheek.

 

I'm quite sure that ALL the members will engage with anything which interests you, and as we all know absolutely nothing about most things in the world individually, the great value of this board is that breadth and depth of knowledge which enables us all to learn from each other.

 

MM

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Welcome. I am grateful to you for writing, Anorak, as I too am not possessed of the necessary skills to play the organ although I have had a life-long interest. To the best of my knowledge there are other members of this forum who are not organists, so we are not alone!

 

I look forward to your questions as I am sure they will be of interest to me as well. I may even join in with some of my own!

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Thank you all for the warm welcome. Internet forums are a funny thing and I wasn't quite sure how one in which many / most of the participants are accomplished organists would take to someone without a musical background popping up and asking very basic things. As I mentioned previously I was in the recital choir of a cathedral school and grew up listening to (and singing to) the organ there but for most of my childhood it was the only (cathedral) organ I heard so I had nothing to compare it to (and it rarely gets mentioned on here) so that's where I'd like to start. But I'll come back to that in a new thread in due course.

 

I'll stick to the introduction in this thread and reply to some of the comments made.

 

Firstly to Peter, I can't help much with Dr Who. I have liked my sci-fi in the past but at the moment the only sci-fi I am watching is a rather different program called Fringe. But steam is something I have an interest in. It's not one I follow closely or indulge very often but I have had main line trips behind Duchess of Hamilton, Duchess of Sutherland, Princess Elizabeth and a few others besides over the years, most recently being about 3 years ago.

 

Porthead, I will be adding the occasional question in due course but first I have to say I had a bit of a "should've gone to Specsavers" moment when I read your posting name which I initially read as "pothead". I apologise for the disservice and will understand if you decline to answer my questions on the back of it! :lol:

 

OC - I did like the sound of the Willis in Hereford Cathedral though given that it was just the organ scholar practising I don't have a lot to go on. It was amusing watching fellow visitors poking and prodding the wooden organ pipes in the south quire isle only for the pipes to rumble into life as they did so. Quite a few people dedicated time to trying to determine which pipe was actually sounding, though normally just as they figured it out the stop went in! But visiting other cathedrals any distance from me is off the menu now as I have a series of important projects to get cracking on with at work. That said Norwich, St Edmundsbury and Ely are close enough to travel to at any time and I fairly regularly travel to Kent which takes me very close to Rochester on occasion. However Norwich and Ely don't seem to do recitals (or if they do they are not well advertised) so I'd have to go to a service instead. St Andrew's Hall in Norwich seems to be the only local place doing regular recitals but they are all Monday lunch times which is no use to me!

 

Sprondel, I was very pleased to finally track down those Nicolas Kynaston / RAH pieces in digital format and they sound as good as ever (actually probably better). The opening track on my original cassette was Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D Minor which, incidentally, was also the piece he opened the recital at St Edmundsbury with. Very fitting that I should re-discover an old interest by hearing live the very man play the very piece it all started with.

 

Some of us try to inject a little humour from time to time, but it shiould always be read as amiable and slightly tongue-in-cheek.

I hope porthead agrees. I wonder if I might be forgiven for my tongue-in-cheek comment above more readily if I point out I own a boat (a tenuous maritime link noting the port reference)?

 

As for photography, I didn't claim to be any good and I am certainly not a pro - but I do get an immense amount of satisfaction out of it. However I now have 1238 images of Bristol, Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals (plus surrounding areas) to go through, cull and then process from the raw so it might be some time before I have any finished results from this past week!

 

I did get to hear the organ in Worcester Cathedral today but again an organ scholar practising (very loudly!). Although I managed to make it back later for Evensong it was all unaccompanied today. Nice to hear the choir but I'd have preferred an accompanied service. Nevermind - I came to get photographs and of those I got plenty!

 

Once again, thanks for the warm welcome.

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Welcome. I am grateful to you for writing, Anorak, as I too am not possessed of the necessary skills to play the organ although I have had a life-long interest. To the best of my knowledge there are other members of this forum who are not organists, so we are not alone!

 

I look forward to your questions as I am sure they will be of interest to me as well. I may even join in with some of my own!

Hi John,

 

Apologies for not including you in my previous reply - I actually received a rather long phone call whilst typing my reply which was actually started much earlier this evening and before your reply was on the thread.

 

I am pleased to hear I am not the only non-organist. I guess everyone has their story - in my case whilst I perhaps had a very small amount of talent (or so others have told me) I completely lacked the patience, application and discipline required to do anything with it. I don't know whether any of the organists here would agree but I would imagine having some amount of talent is but a small part with hard work and more hard work probably making up the bulk of what it takes to become a half decent organist (in terms of initial training and learning), differing levels of talent then starting to count a little more once you have the building blocks under your belt.

 

I'd actually be interested to know what some of those who have successfully achieved what I never could think about that?

 

Simon

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You're not compiling a book of images, by any chance?

 

Practising one afternoon, a couple of years ago I paused and heard someone tapping on the vestry window - a man with some seriously nifty camera equipment asked if he could come in and take some pictures. I let him in and locked us both in; I carried on practising and he spent about half an hour taking pictures. He signed the visitors book but now I can't find the entry.

He said he had photogtaphed most of the churches in the area over a few days and was moving on to another area. Thinking about it now, I don't know how he gained access to most of them. It seemed a huge undertaking to me.

 

My husband later remarked that he could either have been an axe murderer or researching entry points; letting him in was probably a silly thing to do.

 

At least you don't need to make an appointment to look inside a cathedral.

 

Good luck with the photography, but I don't suppose this was you,was it?

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Good luck with the photography, but I don't suppose this was you,was it?

It wasn't me I'm afraid. It was something I left behind when I left school and only picked up again last year. I mostly forgot about it in the meantime but an accident a couple of years ago which was nearly the end of me kicked off a difficult couple of years for me and much that I used to do is now beyond me either physically or financially. I needed to fill my life with new things and getting into photography and re-discovering my interest in organs and associated music is part of that.

 

I am impressed by your laid back attitude to having a photographer wandering around while you are practising.

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You're not compiling a book of images, by any chance?

 

Practising one afternoon, a couple of years ago I paused and heard someone tapping on the vestry window - a man with some seriously nifty camera equipment asked if he could come in and take some pictures. I let him in and locked us both in; I carried on practising and he spent about half an hour taking pictures. He signed the visitors book but now I can't find the entry.

He said he had photogtaphed most of the churches in the area over a few days and was moving on to another area. Thinking about it now, I don't know how he gained access to most of them. It seemed a huge undertaking to me.

 

My husband later remarked that he could either have been an axe murderer or researching entry points; letting him in was probably a silly thing to do.

 

At least you don't need to make an appointment to look inside a cathedral.

 

Good luck with the photography, but I don't suppose this was you,was it?

 

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

 

I found myself chuckling at this reply, because it stirred a dim, distant memory of being locked IN a church without a key. The verger having been to the pub, returned to lock the doors without checking if anyone was inside.

 

A small open window, (suitable for sparrows and nesting pigeons), was my only means of communication to the outside world, and like that moment in the film "The fly," I cried pitifully, "Help me!" (Vincent Price did it much better, I have to say).

 

No help came, and after two hours, I worked out plan B.

 

I was 17, small, slender, fit as a lop, a bit of a climber and pot-holer. I looked at the pigeon entrance long and hard before clambering up the stonework like a human lizard, hoisting ,myself up to the open window and slithering through it head first, before somehow turning through 180 degrees and dropping 15ft into the graveyard below. Harry Houdini could not have done it better, I feel sure.

 

Looking bcak, I can see how I managed to traverse the full length of "Thin man pot" in the Yorkshire Dales, which is only for skinny people with a high power-to-weight ratio.

 

MM

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Porthead, I will be adding the occasional question in due course but first I have to say I had a bit of a "should've gone to Specsavers" moment when I read your posting name which I initially read as "pothead". I apologise for the disservice and will understand if you decline to answer my questions on the back of it! :lol:

 

 

I hope porthead agrees. I wonder if I might be forgiven for my tongue-in-cheek comment above more readily if I point out I own a boat (a tenuous maritime link noting the port reference)?

 

Pothead eh? Well if ee's frm down er see, ven I casnt see wot ee's mean.I un't no nowher like a't.

 

Yes, before you ask, there are a number of boats, and nearby, ships moored. I also accept all references to that substance which is red and left on the table.

 

AJS

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Quick stop by this evening to check on things - I was pleased you followed up porthead because (being rather new) I wondered if I had overstepped the mark with my tongue-in-cheek comment and I am glad that appears not to have been so. However I do seem to have caused some upset with the first question thread I posted - which was certainly not my intention and I apologise to our hosts if any upset or embarrassment has been caused to them. Although not specifically stated in the guidelines I can see why the topic in question is avoided and I shall certainly think more carefully in the future.

 

Nevertheless, having my first proper topic locked after a few posts is not exactly an auspicious start. The problem I have is that the main reason I stopped lurking in the first place and registered was because I grew up singing to and listening to one particular cathedral organ and it was that organ which is the origin of my interest and I was interested to hear the views of amateur and professional organists on what they think of it and how it compares to others. But on further reflection the last company to rebuild the organ was our hosts so inviting people to critique it may mean causing further offence. I did not come here to do that so I will refrain from starting that discussion which unfortunately leaves me with no further questions at this time. I would therefore like to re-iterate my thanks to those who gave me the warm welcome and leave it at that.

 

B)

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I would also like to add a 'welcome' to you, OnlyAnAnorak. I hope that you enjoy your time here.

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And another 'Welcome'. I have found the forums a great place for sharing information, particularly for me in tracking down repertoire/music/sellers/ideas for programmes etc. etc.

 

I noticed you are in Norfolk, where I spent a rather good holiday over the Easter period, having never really visited there at all before now.

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Thank you both.

 

I noticed you are in Norfolk, where I spent a rather good holiday over the Easter period, having never really visited there at all before now.

It's a great part of the country for many reasons. Of more interest to most members of this forum though is the (seemingly) disproportionately large organ in Norwich Cathedral - but sadly I have never heard it play so much as a note. However I have just this evening noticed that organ-recitals.com is now showing a series of recitals for it (seems to have been published rather later than most). I must make sure I attend one.

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