Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Christmas Voluntaries


Philip

Recommended Posts

Yes, I know its not Advent just yet, but I spent some time this afternoon mulling over what I might like to play for our big Christmas services and am not feeling particularly inspired, so I thought I would see what fellow contributors are planning to do (if you have planned, yet!).

 

My current thinking is

Carol Service - Guilmant 1 Final (if I can get my fingers round it in time)

Midnight Mass - BWV 729 (most people, including me, want to get home by the time this finishes!)

Christmas morning - not sure, I tend to do a let your hair down job, so I wondered about getting M. Lefebure-Wely's Sortie out of the cupboard again...sorry, everyone!

 

However, I am open to suggestions and am not averse to something else or indeed something new if it is pretty straightforward, but I do like something loud and fairly impressive for these major services. Any suggestions?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Only one to play this year - Lessons & Carols on Christmas Eve. It will be packed and as ever fiendishly devious trying to work out how to achieve all the 'expected' effects on my now nicely restored Victorian 1 man. and ped. So - Balbastre Noels and JSB Orgelbuchlein before and BWV 729 and Robert Gower's arrangement of the Hallelujah Chorus (OUP book of Christmas music) for a change after. I usually try and write something to finish with but this year we're already doing a piece of mine earlier in the service so maybe best leave it at that!

 

A

Link to post
Share on other sites

As you wish to 'let your hair down', and bearing in mind that we have recently lost Carlo Curley, how about one of his favourite recital pieces: Gaston Dethier's 'Christmas'?

 

According to CC, though, it's a bit 'challenging'!

Link to post
Share on other sites

As you wish to 'let your hair down', and bearing in mind that we have recently lost Carlo Curley, how about one of his favourite recital pieces: Gaston Dethier's 'Christmas'?

 

According to CC, though, it's a bit 'challenging'!

 

Thanks, not a piece I knew, but at 15 minutes I think it'd be a bit lengthy for a service voluntary. If I programmed it for Midnight Mass they'd probably be locking me in the church!

 

I've taken the liberty of ordering the Oxford Book of Christmas Organ Music, which should arrive this week and may provide some inspiration. I note that they are shortly to bring out a companion 'Lent and Easter' volume as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've certainly got my work cut out this year, filling in for Christmas services at two other churches besides where I am resident - so I've been thinking about my Christmas voluntary offerings for quite some time now.

 

The Oxford volume has a great range of pieces in it; aside from the traditional offerings, there's some interesting pieces with a more contemporary flavour, including the Rutter Veni Emmanuel Toccata.

 

Banks Music publish a transcription of Anderson's Sleigh Ride - probably not to everyone's taste, but great fun - slightly tricky in places. Another piece which will bring the roof down is Richard Elliott's arrangement of I Saw Three Ships - you can buy this one online to print, so no issue of waiting for the score to arrive.

 

I usually play Vierne's Carillon de Westminster after the Midnight service - it seems to fit the bill. Or you might like to try Carillon Orleanais by Henri Nibelle - always sounds rather 'christmassy' to mine ear.

 

Of course, there are plenty of quieter voluntaries which can be just as effective - but since you specified 'loud and impressive', I'll stick to the above!

 

VA

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

As you wish to 'let your hair down', and bearing in mind that we have recently lost Carlo Curley, how about one of his favourite recital pieces: Gaston Dethier's 'Christmas'?

 

According to CC, though, it's a bit 'challenging'!

 

Certainly is! I've played the last part though as a final voluntary and it works pretty well if you're up for the pedal work.... (p.16 onwards of this edition: http://petrucci.mus....98christmas.pdf)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Certainly is! I've played the last part though as a final voluntary and it works pretty well if you're up for the pedal work.... (p.16 onwards of this edition: http://petrucci.mus....98christmas.pdf)

 

Well done. Carlo would have been proud of you!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I shall be completely unadventurous as usual, because we have carol singing prior to Mass, with bits of organ music. So I'm afraid it's the Bach Sinfonia (Cantata 29) to wake everyone up at the start, then a couple of Noels by Daquin and two of the Bach "In dulci jubilo" CP's.

 

Afterwards, it will be the Widor, for the simple reason that it is a very long Mass and people will be stampeding towards the west door and making a lot of noise. I'll be lucky of half a dozen remain seated to listen, and they always ask for the Widor. I'm happy with that!

 

I don't think Derthier's "Christmas" would work too well on a baroke job, but it could be interesting! :wacko:

 

Actually, the Derthier doesn't look unplayable, but I view it with the same attitude as that hugely long Lemare Improvisation on various sea-songs and military marches....no.1 I think. It's playable, but at 15 pages in length, one wonders why, even if it is quite effective on the right instrument.

 

I hope someone is going to play, somwehere, that lovely "La Nativite" by Langlais, which I would play but for the fact that it doesn't work at all on the organ I play.

 

Best,

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

I shall be completely unadventurous as usual, because we have carol singing prior to Mass, with bits of organ music. So I'm afraid it's the Bach Sinfonia (Cantata 29) to wake everyone up at the start, then a couple of Noels by Daquin and two of the Bach "In dulci jubilo" CP's. ...

 

... I hope someone is going to play, somwehere, that lovely "La Nativite" by Langlais, which I would play but for the fact that it doesn't work at all on the organ I play.

 

Best,

 

MM

 

Some good choices here, MM.

 

Thank you for the reminder regarding the Langlais - I think that I can probably pull it off on my 'own' church instrument. All I have to do is find my copy....

 

This coming Sunday, after the Mass, I shall probably play the De profundis Choral of Bach (Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir BWV 686, from the Clavier-Übung) - with my colleague as the 'troisième main', playing the upper pedal part on the Chamades, Cymbal and Principal, in octaves. (Well, I dislike it played as a double pedal part - I simply do not think that it works like this: either the Chorale tune is too reticent, or the pedal bass part is too loud - and the same tonality as the melody. It would not even work with a Pedal Divide facility, since it would be necessary to adjust the split point whilst playing; at one point, possibly whilst holding notes down, if I recall correctly.)

 

As far as the other services go, after our Nine Lessons and Carols, I intend to play the Fugue from the Chorale Fantasy on 'Wachet auf', by Max Reger. I have been in tonight to run it through (since I have not played it for a couple of years or so). It is a really superb piece and, with some reservations regarding the lack of gravitas on the Pedal Organ, it works quite well on our instrument.

 

After the Messe de Minuit de Noël, my colleague will probably play something (usually Dieu Parmi Nous). On Christmas Day - and providing that I have time to look at it - I may play the Sortie sur 'Adeste Fidelis', improvised at Nötre-Dame de Paris, in 1968, by Pierre Cochereau and transcribed by François Lombard *.It is both exuberant and effective.

 

On a quieter note, prior to the Nine Lessons I might also play the odd Noël by d'Aquin.

 

Oddly enough, a rather French feel to the voluntaries this year....

 

 

 

* With minor corrections which I have made, from the original recording.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies, always interesting to hear what fellow correspondents are playing.

 

I've looked through the Oxford book and will be using a number of the quieter pieces in a mini-recital (well, three identical ones actually!) I'm giving during our Christmas Tree Festival this weekend, including 'Walking in the Air'. If you're wanting proper organ music, stay away!!

 

Guilmant 1 isn't going to work in time, so I've reverted to Andrew Gant's 'Toccata on Mendelssohn' for the Carol Service - its straightforward and quite arresting. I have looked at some of the louder numbers from the Oxford Book and think the Rutter piece on 'God rest ye merry, gentlemen' to be quite good but I haven't got sufficient time to devote to it this year; the Willcocks piece on 'Hark the herald' has an imposing start but the rest is quite repetitive so I don't think I'll bother.

 

The rest as planned above, apart from the chaotic crib service on Christmas Eve afternoon where I need something with volume to even be heard...with no Order of Service printed though I can see how I feel on the day!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Well, after a somewhat unorganised Midnight Mass at the Catholic Basilica (which included three verses of 'O come all ye faithful' being cut out and me not being told until halfway through the last verse, which then meant that all the work I had put in during Monday learning the Willcocks arrangements for the last and penultimate verses was wasted...) I gave them Vierne's 'Carillon de Westminster' during which I greatly enjoyed drowning out all of the talking using full organ in the last couple of pages.

Link to post
Share on other sites

... during which I greatly enjoyed drowning out all of the talking using full organ in the last couple of pages.

 

Well done! Why on earth do people chatter during organ voluntaries? I'm sure that wouldn't happen if it were an orchestra or choir. I suppose many people see the organ as only there to provide background music such as what they hear in a supermarket.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done! Why on earth do people chatter during organ voluntaries? I'm sure that wouldn't happen if it were an orchestra or choir. I suppose many people see the organ as only there to provide background music such as what they hear in a supermarket.

 

 

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

 

 

Christmas Eve is te ONLY time that I start with something 'fff'...always the Bach Sinfonia, which is followed by carols and a few quiter organ pieces.

 

This year I was particularly pleased to get two spontaneous recations. The first came from a young lad about 11 years of age, sitting a few pews back from the organ console. As the last notes of the Sinfonia rattled around in our splendid acoustic, he looked at his mother with a stunned gape, then at me, and said in a rich Yorkshire accent, "Bloomin' eck!"

 

That old Bach can have that sort of impact on a young lad was very gratifying.

 

The second, rather more considered comment, came from a middle-aged couple who aproached the console after mass had ended and I was puttng away the copy of the Widor.

 

"We were in Norwich Cahedral last Sunday, and we just want you to know that your playing was every bit as good as what we heard there."

 

Although you know isn't and wasn't, it's one of those moments when the only response is, "How kind....thank you."

 

I'm not sure whether I prefer the reaction of the stunned or the deluded, but it's nice when there's ANY positive reaction to organ music.

 

Best,

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I can quite match MM's "Bloomin' eck!" compliment, but on Christmas morning I played several suitably jolly voluntaries before the service (French noëls mainly) and had a little girl dancing in the central aisle for some of them. Surprisingly, for my totally uncultured lot, Dieu parmi nous got substantial applause at midnight mass, but not, I suspect, from the wag who described it to my wife as the organ equivalent of a leaf blower!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I kicked off before the Carol Service with BWV 572, although it wasn't anywhere near full organ, just a decent 'plenum'. I can't remember now what followed it! The Andrew Gant piece at the end drew a smattering of applause and several appreciative comments. Why bother learning hard stuff when you can play something so straightforward and effective?! Please note this question is purely rhetorical! For the crib service I again started off loudly, but that one is all about crowd control anyway, with loads of children and families in.

 

Unsurprisingly, my trip round the fairground in Paris with M. Lefebure-Wely on Christmas Morning got some appreciative comments and again some applause.

 

I have to say I really enjoyed the Christmas Services this year, in no small part helped by excellent congregations at all of them.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well done! Why on earth do people chatter during organ voluntaries? I'm sure that wouldn't happen if it were an orchestra or choir. I suppose many people see the organ as only there to provide background music such as what they hear in a supermarket.

 

Exactly. At weddings they'll happily chatter (or worse) while the organ is playing, but the moment some bint in a tight dress gets up and caterwauls into a microphone, out of tune and in a mid-Atlantic accent (without accompaniment, of course), they will whoop, cheer, applaud and go generally ape. I'm only surprised that they're not so ape that they scratch under their armpits.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. At weddings they'll happily chatter (or worse) while the organ is playing, but the moment some bint in a tight dress gets up and caterwauls into a microphone, out of tune and in a mid-Atlantic accent (without accompaniment, of course), they will whoop, cheer, applaud and go generally ape. I'm only surprised that they're not so ape that they scratch under their armpits.

 

I'm not sure the word 'bint' is appropriate - but I know what you mean!!!

 

If you want to see them go 'ape' then perhaps you need to get yourself a tight cassock, a new hair-do and learn to pedal in a pair of heels for next seasons weddings!!!! Or perhaps not!!

 

You're absolutely right - It's annoying, maddening, irritating, infuriating, exasperating, aggravating, frustrating, demeaning, insulting - and I'm not sure why we do it!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. At weddings they'll happily chatter (or worse) while the organ is playing, but the moment some bint in a tight dress gets up and caterwauls into a microphone, out of tune and in a mid-Atlantic accent (without accompaniment, of course), they will whoop, cheer, applaud and go generally ape. I'm only surprised that they're not so ape that they scratch under their armpits.

I tried to "like this" but apparently I've "exceeded my quota of positive votes for today" - which is obviously none.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. At weddings they'll happily chatter (or worse) while the organ is playing, but the moment some bint in a tight dress gets up and caterwauls into a microphone, out of tune and in a mid-Atlantic accent (without accompaniment, of course), they will whoop, cheer, applaud and go generally ape. I'm only surprised that they're not so ape that they scratch under their armpits.

 

:D

 

I, too, tried to 'like' it, but apparently I've had my quota as well despite not using any yet!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. At weddings they'll happily chatter (or worse) while the organ is playing, but the moment some bint in a tight dress gets up and caterwauls into a microphone, out of tune and in a mid-Atlantic accent (without accompaniment, of course), they will whoop, cheer, applaud and go generally ape. I'm only surprised that they're not so ape that they scratch under their armpits.

At weddings around these parts, if one of their number reads a lesson, it's a safe bet that a significant proportion of the congregation audience will 'whoop, cheer, applaud and go generally ape' at its conclusion.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...