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The Funeral of Baroness Thatcher

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This post is concerned only with the music and I should be grateful if it were not taken off-topic for whatever reasons. Thank you.

 

There is a considerable amount or organ music both before and after the service and the BBC will be broadcasting it on the red button sans commentary.

 

https://www.stpauls.co.uk/documents/news%20stories/btoos.pdf

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This looks to be a good programme - if that is the correct word. I hope that the congregation will sit quietly and listen.

 

How sensible of the BBC to give viewers the option of turning off the commentary. Now we shall not have to endure the commentator talking over the [organ] music - often with irrelevant or unnecessary thoughts. At least the Dimbleby brothers knew when not to speak.

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Good to see rubrics such as "The Organist will play ... ".

 

Infinitely better than, "The organ will now play."

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As there are at least 3 different people playing during the course of the service, presumably they have to put the job title to indicate exactly which one it is!

 

BTW, would any of you experts like to explain why they use multiple players for these things? I'm assuming that any one of them would be perfectly well able to do the lot, so why the musical chairs? Is it just to give the more junior members of staff the experience of the grand state occasion?

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BTW, would any of you experts like to explain why they use multiple players for these things? I'm assuming that any one of them would be perfectly well able to do the lot, so why the musical chairs? Is it just to give the more junior members of staff the experience of the grand state occasion?

 

I'm not an expert and nothing like as skilled as any of them, but I think its quite right that its shared around and certainly that the organ scholar gets experience of playing at such a service - it should be part of the 'scholar' experience.

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BTW, would any of you experts like to explain why they use multiple players for these things? I'm assuming that any one of them would be perfectly well able to do the lot, so why the musical chairs?

 

Why not? If all your organists are competent enough, why not make use of them? If they're not competent enough, they shouldn't be there. And, yes, it won't do Mr Moore's CV any harm.

 

As for the service itself, it is was as neat and efficient as one would have hoped, not least the perfect timing of the exit of the coffin to the Stanford in G Nunc dimittis (or vice versa). I have to say, though, that I failed to recognise any of the hymn tunes from their playovers.

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As there are at least 3 different people playing during the course of the service, presumably they have to put the job title to indicate exactly which one it is!

 

BTW, would any of you experts like to explain why they use multiple players for these things? I'm assuming that any one of them would be perfectly well able to do the lot, so why the musical chairs? Is it just to give the more junior members of staff the experience of the grand state occasion?

 

The 'musical chairs' is nothing new at large events both at St Paul's and at the Abbey, and to be honest, how the musicians organise themselves in their duties on such occasions is their business.

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In the spirit of the day, here's the programme of the lunch-time concert I gave in the Anglican Cathedral, St. John's, Newfoundland today:

 

Prelude & Fugue in C minor BWV 546 - J.S. Bach

Rhosymedre - Vaughan Williams

Psalm Prelude Set 2, No. 1 - Howells

Desseins Eternels - Messiaen

Carillon de Westminster - Vierne

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From a logistical point of view bearing in mind the high international profile of the occasion, would there have been any tuners or organ builders in position in case of a problem?

 

I haven't watched the service yet as the timing coincided with my daily gym and swim session - it's a shame that one can't record a programme broadcast on the red button so I'll have to put up with the commentary...

 

As far the multiple organists question goes, they started playing at 09.30 and it would have a very long session for one person. My back would have given out long before the service had I been expected to play for that length of time; not that I would ever be allowed near the console in St Paul's. Hell would become endothermic before that were to happen.

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From a logistical point of view bearing in mind the high international profile of the occasion, would there have been any tuners or organ builders in position in case of a problem/

 

Yes, there was.

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From a logistical point of view bearing in mind the high international profile of the occasion, would there have been any tuners or organ builders in position in case of a problem?

 

I remember reading a while ago (I think the article referred to the Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer!) an article by Ian Bell describing the preparation of the organ for such occasions - the problems tuning with spotlights positioned near the pipework, etc - and he said that a number of people would be strategically placed in the St. Paul's organ in case of trouble.

 

John Dunbar, Willis's Scottish rep until his retirement, used to say that he had to sit in the old organ at St. Giles, Edinburgh at big services in case of problems. Since he was notorious for smoking in the job and the Royal Pew at St. Giles was just in front of the organ, I often wondered if any royal noses were ever wrinkled in a puzzled manner.

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I haven't watched the service yet as the timing coincided with my daily gym and swim session - it's a shame that one can't record a programme broadcast on the red button so I'll have to put up with the commentary...

 

Channel 301 on Freeview broadcasts Red Button stuff and I was able to record the service on it and avoid the commentary. Sadly the organ music before and after was drowned by other noise.

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Due to a very busy day, I had forgotten when the service was scheduled to take place. However, I did catch part of the (edited) repeat on BBC2, somewhere around 19h46. I though that the organ sounded superb - even in a hymn. It would be interesting to know how many microphones (and of what type) were used specifically to record the organ. (Presumably, there would also have been one or two microphones employed in order to give an acoustic 'context' - if that is the correct term.)

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I remember reading a while ago (I think the article referred to the Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer!) an article by Ian Bell describing the preparation of the organ for such occasions - the problems tuning with spotlights positioned near the pipework, etc - and he said that a number of people would be strategically placed in the St. Paul's organ in case of trouble. ...

 

Well, yes - but surely this would have been only in case of an electrical or mechanical breakdown of some kind. It would be difficult - if not impossible - actually to tune pipes during the service.

 

With regard to the spotlights: as mentioned, I only saw a short part of the repeated service. Whilst I did notice two banks of spotlights in the North and South West Quarter Dome recesses, I forgot to look to see if any were placed in the North and South East Quarter Dome sections. If so, then these would surely have caused some concern for the organ builders - since there is much pipe-work in both quarters. Did anyone notice if this was the case?

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I forgot to look to see if any were placed in the North and South East Quarter Dome sections. If so, then these would surely have caused some concern for the organ builders - since there is much pipe-work in both quarters. Did anyone notice if this was the case?

 

None in the SE quarter dome now. Not for 20 years, I think.

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Channel 301 on Freeview broadcasts Red Button stuff and I was able to record the service on it and avoid the commentary. Sadly the organ music before and after was drowned by other noise.

 

Yes, I did as well. As for the drowned out bits, yes, the BBC don't seem to like organ music, do they? They seem to prefer to hear people talking.

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None in the SE quarter dome now. Not for 20 years, I think.

 

This is true - presumably the second-hand Lewis Diapason chorus was removed at the time of the 1972-77 rebuild.

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Channel 301 on Freeview broadcasts Red Button stuff and I was able to record the service on it and avoid the commentary. Sadly the organ music before and after was drowned by other noise.

 

I was using a Virgin Media vbox. Our Freeview box in the back room has no recorder so I may address that with a Freeview+ in the future. Thank you for the information.

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Not wanting to upset the person but did I spot a female Vicar Choral amongst the gentlemen yesterday?

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I thought this was an excellent service and the music equally so, nicely chosen and performed. I thought the hymn singing sounded very good (in an age when it can certainly be lacklustre), well backed up by the organ which of course is well modelled to accompany on such occasions.

 

Well done to Andrew Carwood, Simon Johnson and all involved.

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Not wanting to upset the person but did I spot a female Vicar Choral amongst the gentlemen yesterday?

 

You did. I gather from another forum that she has been a regular dep for some time.

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There were some Westminster Abbey folk there too. David Martin, who was once my Head Chorister at Belfast Cathedral and is now a Lay Vicar Choral at the Abbey, was spotted in the choir, and Nigel Harris, ex-Dean's Verger at Belfast and now at Westminster, was seen.

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and to be honest, how the musicians organise themselves in their duties on such occasions is their business.

Well, yes. I wasn't implying any criticism, just being curious.

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