Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Prelude & Postlude Problems


Recommended Posts

I use to play a substantial prelude and poslude before and after every church service.

Since last year, the parish team takes praiseworthy initiatives to establish a more convivial and social contact between members of the community.

One of the side effects is that since a few months, there are very animated conversations in the church before and after service.

My problem is that the conversation of the assembly is becoming so loud that it makes it absolutely impossible to me to play in a concentrated manner (the console is near to the altar, close to the audience).

At this moment, I'm feeling that preparing and playing a substantial piece of literature or improvisation is a useless effort which doesn't make sense anymore.

I don't really see a possibility to make a change in this evolution, so I'm considering to set aside the habit of playing a prelude and postlude.

Yesterday, the sound of people talking was so irritantly loud, that I just stopped playing in the middle of p. 3 of Vierne III Final; nobody even noticed.

Do other forum members have similar experiences?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes. At my last church the pre-service atmosphere was like a parrot house. Very occasionally the congregation would listen if I played some really inane piece of "easy listening", but if I tried to set a worshipful atmosphere they weren't interested. Generally the full-volume yakking would go on right up to the moment the service began, when the congregation would suddenly flick the "holy mode" switch. I gave up playing pre-service voluntaries and no one said a thing. Except for the vicar. He would have rather I played in order to encourage a worshipful atmosphere. I was of the opinion that, if that was what he wanted, he should tell the congregation. He didn't. I rather felt the same about concluding voluntaries too, but I didn't go so far as to stop playing those.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the problem is all too common.

 

Our vicar does his best to encourage quiet before the service and at communion (people still go back to their seats and chat after receiving communion!) and will publicly state his disapproval (as he has when the choir anthem has received applause - quite understandably).

 

A lot depends on the position of organ, organist and (post-service) the coffee bar. I'm down one side of the church, so don't tend to get distractions when I play - the speakers for our organ however are on the West Wall, directly above where everyone gathers for coffee. This has two effects - I get admonished for playing too loudly as they can't talk to each other, and I have to play at a reasonable volume to even hear what I'm playing (for instance, if I treat the middle of Widor V as written, Full Swell with box completely shut, it is inaudible at the console - I still do it so I can enjoy the crescendo back to full organ!). In practice we seem to have the balance of the volume of the organ about right so it can go to full organ without upsetting anyone, but it is rare that I play anything which finishes quietly (even in Lent). The other option, of course, would be to play with registrations which are less than authentic, but if I have suitable colours available I like to make use of them. That said, I do have people who offer appreciation for music both before and after the service (the post-service voluntary is printed in the pew sheet - perhaps that might help the OP to get people to take notice?) and enjoy trying to provide a suitable variety and expanding my repertoire while playing all the old favourites (or in August, my less favourite pieces which I reserve for this slightly depressing holiday time - roll on CS Lang!). The vicar does view the post-service chat as important in a Parish Church situation, which I can sympathise with, although it isn't that often that my voluntary lasts longer than five minutes - does there need to be such a rush for the coffee queue?!

 

The best solution where you can play really serious music is where those who want to gossip have somewhere they can disappear to and leave those who want to listen to do so. Cathedrals probably manage this better than most simply because of their layout - I was as Southwell Minster for Evensong on the Feast of Pentecost some weeks back and the Organ Scholar played the Durufle 'Veni Creator' - Prelude, Adagio and Choral Varie. This was a quite wonderful conclusion to the service, and most people who didn't want to stay disappeared pretty quickly, leaving a group of us to enjoy this in peace, including the Rector Chori! If only....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best solution where you can play really serious music is where those who want to gossip have somewhere they can disappear to and leave those who want to listen to do so. Cathedrals probably manage this better than most simply because of their layout

 

 

This happens at Rochester Cathedral, where coffee and tea are served in the crypt after the Communion service. At my last church people used to disappear to the church hall for refreshments. His Nibs changed that when he arrived. :(
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've got past caring, to be honest. I was delighted last Sunday, when everything went unexpectedly quiet during the final voluntary, only to eventually realise that the 80+ year old, stand in priest had rambled on for so long, the mass had dragged out to 90 minutes, and everyone had stampeded out the west door like a herd of wilderbeast.

 

MM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My current congregation are well behaved before, during and the services and we don't have a coffee bar but in a previous life I had problems with chattering in the postlude which led to some acrimonious exchanges. I suggested to the vicar that if he were to announce the name and composer of the piece I planned to play it might stimulate some interest and lead to a quieter audience. This did work to some extent if only because the audience may only then have realised that the organ was being played.

 

My solution now as an older and grumpier man would be to switch off the organ after the final hymn and make my rather obvious exit as the priest processes out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will just repeat a few lines that I posted some while ago:

 

I am fortunate enough to quite frequently worship in other congregations, and I find the chatter before and after the service quite distracting, especially when the organist is annoying the talkers by playing music.

It seems to me that either the organ music is mere entertainment, in which case it has no place in worship, or else it is a part of the worship and deserves to be treated as such. Few people would consider holding private conversations during the prayers, the bible readings or the sermons.

If I were a member of the clergy (and I am sure many people are glad that I am not), I would certainly lay down the law on a lack of reverence in any part of the service.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although this is sightly off-topic (in that it refers primarily to a service at which the organ is not used) it does show that not all congregations everywhere are as discourteous as many unfortunately are, and that they *can* be trained.

At St Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Compline is sung every Sunday at 9:30pm - a tradition that has existed now for over 50 years.

It is sung - mostly to plainsong, and renaissance polyphony - by a group of men in a corner of the dimly-lit nave, and broadcast live, every week, on their local equivalent of Classic FM. There is nothing for the congregation to do, except listen, be "ministered unto", and enjoy.

Two years ago we were privileged to attend this service, and it was a never-to-be-forgotten experience.

We had been told to go early to get a good seat; we arrived at 8:45pm to find the nave rapidly filling up, and crowds gathering outside; the congregation seemed to be predominantly in the teens to 40s age-range.

In the entrance was a simple sign: "Please respect the silence before and after the service". And they did!

What little greeting and conversation there was, was whispered.

 

By contrast, the previous Sunday morning, in a another Episcopal parish not far away, we experienced the exact opposite - a situation just like those described above: immediately after the final blessing, mayhem broke out, and the (very fine) organist might as well not have bothered playing a postlude. Interestingly, the age-range of this congregation was generally much older than that at the Cathedral......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...