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Who did you study with...re-visited

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As part of my job, from time to time, I play for visiting choirs in various cathedrals and greater churches. One such occasion was a visit to Wells Cathedral, where I was not allowed to play on anything other than the Swell flutes (box tightly closed), until the choir entered the cathedral stalls for the final rehearsal, prior to Evensong. This meant that assessing balance and selecting appropriate timbres had to be done 'on the hoof' and largely by drawing on knowledge of other Harrison instruments.(In addition, I was not permitted the use of any of the piston channels - so I had to use what was already set and hope for the best.) Personally, I think that I would find this type of thing rather less acceptable than the situation which I described at Wimborne, particularly since we were providing the cathedral with a free Evensong, of a good standard of singing. It was even harder to understand the vergers' attitudes, since they had apparently been throwing pews around the Nave for an hour or so, making a huge din.

 

I don't remember being placed under any such restrictions when I last accompanied a service at Wells, but it was in the distant past ( around twenty five years ago I would guess ) and times change! I certainly was able to use all of the instrument and prepare registrations accordingly, including the closing voluntary ( which may have been the Mulet Carillion - Sortie, although my memory could be wrong about that ). In my defence my preparation was done quite early in the day and the cathedral wasn't busy, although on the other hand I'd hate to consider the possibility that the situation you found yourself in was the result of my visit!

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Thankyou for the invitation. I am glad to read that you have taken on board my suggestion of hosting visitors at quieter times.

 

Whilst the invitation was meant genuinely, you (and Colin) appear to have completely mis-read (or chosen to ignore) my earlier post.

 

I quote:

 

'Secondly, you suggest that I make the instrument available 'after hours'. Whilst I have, on occasion been happy to do this when asked, on the particular occasion of the American gentleman's visit, as stated, I was unable to be there. I can hardly expect a colleague to make a special trip (of nearly thirty miles), in order to let in a visiting organist who simply wants to play the organ, then wait there for an hour or so, in order to let him out. (The stipulations of our insurance company would preclude the loaning of a key to the building, to a non-staff member.)

 

In addition, you seem to imply that I should like nothing better than to give up my free time of an evening, in order to hang around in the Minster, whilst a visitor blasts away for an hour or so on our chamade. Aside from the fact that, during school terms I work for around seventy hours a week (with no day off), I am usually working each evening - often until around 21:00 or even 22:00 - and then in school the next morning at around 07:40. Frankly, I find your attitude rather insulting.'

 

Blackadder, if you were doing your best to maintain this kind of work schedule, would you do what you are apparently demanding that I should do?

 

Colin - I did not 'fall on my own sword' - my later post was intended to mean that, despite the rudeness of this particular contributor, I would still make him welcome if he wished to play the Minster organ.

 

I do not regard this as falling on my own sword.

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I don't remember being placed under any such restrictions when I last accompanied a service at Wells, but it was in the distant past ( around twenty five years ago I would guess ) and times change! I certainly was able to use all of the instrument and prepare registrations accordingly, including the closing voluntary ( which may have been the Mulet Carillion - Sortie, although my memory could be wrong about that ). In my defence my preparation was done quite early in the day and the cathedral wasn't busy, although on the other hand I'd hate to consider the possibility that the situation you found yourself in was the result of my visit!

 

Well, possibly - however, the situation was exactly as I described it.

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Blackadder, if you were doing your best to maintain this kind of work schedule, would you do what you are apparently demanding that I should do

It's simple to manage: politely inform organists requesting to play the instrument that your work schedule precludes meeting them until (date and time of your choosing and at your convenience). BTW you are not alone, most of us work very hard.

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At the risk of experiencing the wrath!

 

................ a sense of humour failure - possibly

 

................. and an over inflated view of their own self importance!

 

Sorry if that reads a little brutally - but, on this subject certainly, I think that some members of the board need to grow up!!

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- but, on this subject certainly, I think that some members of the board need to grow up!!

 

Isn't it actually a grip on reality that is lacking?

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Isn't it actually a grip on reality that is lacking?

 

Absolutely.

 

Unfortunately, since Blackadder appears to have, as SL states, an over-inflated view of his own self importance, I shall not bother to dignify his last condescending post with a response.

 

It occurs to me that, in addition to organists either demanding or expecting to be able to indulge themselves in large quantities of organ tone, there may well be others in the building who may wish to pray quietly, meditate or simply soak up the atmosphere of the building, in relative peace and quiet.

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It occurs to me that, in addition to organists either demanding or expecting to be able to indulge themselves in large quantities of organ tone, there may well be others in the building who may wish to pray quietly, meditate or simply soak up the atmosphere of the building, in relative peace and quiet.

 

She won't thank me for mentioning this (though I don't think she looks in here any more), but I am reminded of the time when Churchmouse's husband came to entertain us all on the Foghorn a couple of years ago. While he was practising on the morning before the event, a noticeboard was erected in the church saying something like, "If you wish to pray, please ask the organist to stop playing." I wish I had asked Churchmouse for a copy of her photo!

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She won't thank me for mentioning this (though I don't think she looks in here any more), but I am reminded of the time when Churchmouse's husband came to entertain us all on the Foghorn a couple of years ago. While he was practising on the morning before the event, a noticeboard was erected in the church saying something like, "If you wish to pray, please ask the organist to stop playing." I wish I had asked Churchmouse for a copy of her photo!

 

I recall JB telling me of the time that a certain lady recitalist was practising in this church some years ago. Even he grumbled that she played almost entirely on the full organ, 'adding the Tuba and octave couplers for variety'. On this instrument, the noise would have been overwhelming. Nice quiet stops on the Swell and Solo , though.

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Absolutely.

 

Unfortunately, since Blackadder appears to have, as SL states, an over-inflated view of his own self importance

 

I never said this!!

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I recall JB telling me of the time that a certain lady recitalist was practising in this church some years ago. Even he grumbled that she played almost entirely on the full organ, 'adding the Tuba and octave couplers for variety'. On this instrument, the noise would have been overwhelming. Nice quiet stops on the Swell and Solo , though.

 

Indeed it would. I well remember another recitalist who played a programme largely of French music and nearly all of it involving full organ at some point. The Great Tromba chorus obliterates everything else (hence my epithet), so you can probably imagine the degree of tonal variety we "enjoyed" at this event. You are quite right about the Swell and Solo though. Every individual stop on this organ is actually of very fine quality and well regulated. As I have mentioned many times before, it is the overall tonal concept - the English equivalent of a Sauer or Walcker without the upperwork - that compromises this organ.

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I'm feeling guilty about contributing to the apparently boundless expansion of this topic's thread, but as I haven't yet been ticked off about it by the moderators, I'll carry on (encouraged by the fact I'm obviously not alone).

 

In a previous post (#70) David Drinkell referred to the Cocker Tuba Tune by saying:

 

" ... including that awkward bit in the middle ... "

 

(Sorry, but I couldn't get the auto quote facility to work for some reason, so have had to do it the low-tech way).

 

Might I ask him, as one whose judgement I am coming to respect, what he thinks about this "awkward bit" musically? Although I can play the thing tolerably well in terms of getting the notes right, I've never wanted to perform it as I find the effect of continuous thick chords on Tuba alone most unpleasant.

 

Yet it must be me who's wrong I suppose, as it's popularity remains reasonably high.

 

CEP

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Hi

 

That depends on the Tuba Colin! (And probably the building acoustics as well). It used to be in my repertoire - I had the music for years, and eventually learned it for a recital. It went well - but the printed programme had "Tuber Tune"!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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That depends on the Tuba Colin!

 

 

That's true of course Tony. (And, magically, the auto-quote facility is working again now).

 

I must admit that my view expressed in # 89 was perhaps formed at an over-impressionable age by my music master at school, who had somewhat monochrome views on most aspects of life. He was once giving me an impromptu lesson on the Binns at the Nottingham Albert Hall, and on seeing me get the Cocker out of my music case he said "oh don't bother with that rubbish, try this one", whereupon he produced Whitlock's Paean (number five of his Five Short Pieces) and proceeded to play it. Ever since, like him, I have preferred it, though as I said, I was probably of somewhat immature taste then. These early experiences from strong-minded pedagogues do tend to stick with one though, don't they! And in those days, most music masters seemed to play the organ. He was mainly qualified in modern languages though, but also had ARCO and other similar post-nominals and had gravitated to music. And a qualified hockey referee - many teachers then were almost polymaths, it now seems to me. But I digress.

 

Happy days, and how lucky we were.

 

CEP

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I shall not bother to dignify his last condescending post with a response.

 

Thankyou!

 

It occurs to me that, in addition to organists either demanding or expecting to be able to indulge themselves in large quantities of organ tone, there may well be others in the building who may wish to pray quietly, meditate or simply soak up the atmosphere of the building, in relative peace and quiet.

Once again, I an glad to see that you have taken my advice and are now following the good practice of most Cathedrals an Churches in hosting visiting organists outside of public visiting hours. I am sure those.who are permitted to play your organ will be pleased, and I will contact you by PM to make arrangements for my own visit.

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Once again, I an glad to see that you have taken my advice and are now following the good practice of most Cathedrals an Churches in hosting visiting organists outside of public visiting hours. I am sure those.who are permitted to play your organ will be pleased, and I will contact you by PM to make arrangements for my own visit.

 

Without wishing to prolong this absurd tangent, as it happens, I have not 'taken your advice'. I have already done this on several previous occasions, for a number of other organists - all of whom were most grateful for the opportunity. I have received your PM and, notwithstanding your attitude, I shall look at the Minster diary next Monday, and see if it is free one evening next week; at which point I will contact you by PM.

 

For the record, I know of a number of cathedrals at which it is either extremely difficult or simply not permitted for anyone other than the resident musicians or recitalists to gain access to the cathedral organ once the building is closed.

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...Might I ask him, as one whose judgement I am coming to respect, what he thinks about this "awkward bit" musically? Although I can play the thing tolerably well in terms of getting the notes right, I've never wanted to perform it as I find the effect of continuous thick chords on Tuba alone most unpleasant. ...

 

CEP

 

It does not have to be played on a Tuba - a reed chorus, perhaps on an open soundboard would be equally (if not more) effective. Played on the G.O. reeds at Salisbury, it would sound quite impressive, for example.

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I can quite understand the reasoning behind organ playing visits / practice being limited to certain hours in our cathedrals / busier churches -for all the reasons noted above already, so I shan't repeat what others have already said. In any event, there are often so many beautiful quieter combinations which can be enjoyed without being obtrusive to those who wish to pray, conduct tours, etc. Although I haven't played that many major instruments in the UK (having spent a great deal of my life abroad), I could cite Buckfast Abbey as an example of an organ I have played where this is the case, which has a vast variety of softer tonal colours. I was unable to explore them all within the time available, but found it more satisfying than blasting away on the full organ for the entire visit (although the tutti at Buckfast is pretty thrilling).

As for my 'own' instrument, I am lucky that I am presently DOM of a fairly rural parish church which doesn't get many visitors at all and has little going on during opening hours - so there is no issue of disturbing anyone. Although it is not an instrument of any great repute, I leave the console unlocked for anyone who may wish to play it (anyone passing through East Sussex is most welcome!).

Finally - Cocker Tuba Tune. I've never stuck at this one long enough to learn it all the way through, and don't currently have a Tuba or equivalent at my disposal to really bring it off well. However, as Simon Johnson mentions on his narration of this piece on the St. Paul's DVD, keeping the body compact and relaxed makes it a great deal easier. There is another section of this piece which stumps me, but being on holiday without a score and at risk of going off-topic, I shall save it for later (perhaps a separate thread for awkward 'hit brick wall' sections of pieces to exchange advice?).

 

Best regards to all

VA.

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... Although I haven't played that many major instruments in the UK (having spent a great deal of my life abroad), I could cite Buckfast Abbey as an example of an organ I have played where this is the case, which has a vast variety of softer tonal colours. I was unable to explore them all within the time available, but found it more satisfying than blasting away on the full organ for the entire visit (although the tutti at Buckfast is pretty thrilling). ...

 

 

VA.

 

 

This is (or was) indeed a beautiful instrument. The Echo Organ in particular, contained some enthralling stops of ethereal beauty. The excellent acoustic ambiance of this glorious building also added to the effect. It seems tragic that this instrument is now apparently dismantled and may not be re-instated.

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It seems tragic that this instrument is now apparently dismantled and may not be re-instated.

 

Oh it is certainly dismantled: I have seen this for myself. Rumours continue to abound about what is going to happen.* From the little I gleaned when I was there a couple of months ago, they still had not decided where to put the pipe organ and it may well be another two years at least before the abbey has one again. They seem in no hurry, but 2018 sees the abbey's 1,000th anniversary, so I would imagine they will be wanting a pipe organ up and blowing in time for that.

 

* One rumour doing the rounds is that Downes disowned the Buckfast organ in his autobiography. Is this correct?

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I noticed on a recent YouTube video that an electronic was being used. What a great shame that it may not be reinstated. It seemed in fairly fine condition when I played it (circa 2008).

EDIT: Just seen post by Vox Humana - sounds like there is hope then! I wonder where in the building they would move it to.

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Gentlemen, I assume it is all men, but ladies are included, if there are any on this thread.

 

May I remind you of two things which I would be obliged if you would bear in mind when posting on the Mander Organs diesscussion board.

 

Firstly, we do not tolerate any sort of even mildly personal criticism or attack. We (you) are expected to have informed and gentle debate and shew every respect for each other. This is not The Moral Maze!

 

Secondly, this thread has developed into something which has nothing to do with its original subject. Please stay on topic.

 

I will not tolerate anything which contravenes these basic standards and if it continues, I will start to delete posts. What is more, running this discussion board is not my main job, which takes up enough of my time as it is. If running and moderating this discussion board starts to take up too much of my time, I will close it down.

 

John

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... * One rumour doing the rounds is that Downes disowned the Buckfast organ in his autobiography. Is this correct?

 

No - although he does admit that, largely due to the excellent acoustic properties of the abbey, the instrument 'came off' much better than it should have done.

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