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Appointments 2


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1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

Aim for a DoM who is a singer/choralist rather than an organist, and then have two organists beneath

Voluntaries apart, the problem with this, for an organist, is that you are always playing someone else's interpretation; you never get a chance to air your own.  Trying to do so when the boss is away might or might not be feasible because you'd be upsetting apple carts.  You really do have to set your own opinions aside.  

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40 minutes ago, Martin Cooke said:

And speaking of pitch pipes (and tuning forks)... it is awfully irritating to see in some of even our most celebrated 'quires and places where they thing', the person intoning the responses using a tuning fork almost incessantly - not just at the beginning of the set, but before each and every intonation, and sometimes holding the wretched thing by their ear and banging it on their head whilst they actually sing!! 

I can imagine that might be the result of not-so-subtle work-place bullying by a DoM.

“I’m not sure you realised, but you managed to end the Second Collect a quarter of a tone sharp this evening.”

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Regarding the role of a DoM, I wonder whether it wouldn’t make more sense to separate the posts of DoM and Assistant from the rôles of organist and choir master. You could appoint one of each, and the most senior would be the Director of Music. 
I don’t know if that would actually work in practice. 
As an aside, are there any cathedrals currently running with only one member of staff (excluding temporary vacancies)? I know until Rachel Mahon’s appointment in 2018, Coventry were without an assistant (though have recently advertised for a replacement following her promotion).

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Presumably there are a vast number of organists who have no interest whatsoever in directing choirs. Why should it be assumed that organists are singers or have knowledge of vocal technique or choir training?  The appointment of a singer as DoM at St Paul's seemed to me to be hugely sensible. 

Did a similar situation exist in Liverpool during the time of Messrs Woan & Rawsthorne?

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7 minutes ago, D Quentin Bellamy said:

Presumably there are a vast number of organists who have no interest whatsoever in directing choirs.

Indeed, there are a vast number of organists whose musical horizons are really rather narrow.

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Looking at the collegiate choirs, I notice the advert for King's (DoM and two organ scholars) stated that the DoM need not be an organist. For New College (Organist, Assistant Organist and two organ scholars) the further particulars make no mention of playing the organ, simply that the Organist has "responsibility for all aspects of the upkeep of the organ".

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, michaelwilson said:

Looking at the collegiate choirs, I notice the advert for King's (DoM and two organ scholars) stated that the DoM need not be an organist.

Many institutions - King’s included - have supporting ‘vocal coaches’.  These can be a valuable addition where the DoM is perhaps a stronger organist than a choir trainer.

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46 minutes ago, Dr Nigel H Day said:

Many institutions - King’s included - have supporting ‘vocal coaches’.  These can be a valuable addition where the DoM is perhaps a stronger organist than a choir trainer.

I don't think that the engagement of a vocal coach/tutor has any bearing on the choir-training strengths of the DoM. I can think of plenty of foundations with fine choirs under excellent directors where a vocal specialist is also part of the music team.

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16 hours ago, D Quentin Bellamy said:

Did a similar situation exist in Liverpool during the time of Messrs Woan & Rawsthorne?

It certainly did at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool. I don't believe that Philip Duffy was an organist but he was the most superb choir trainer and, in those days the Metropolitan Cathedral choir was quite magnificent with a huge and diverse repertoire. His brother, Terence, the Metropolitan Cathedral organist, was a fine player.

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On 17/01/2021 at 16:44, Vox Humana said:

Indeed, there are a vast number of organists whose musical horizons are really rather narrow.

I couldn't agree more!!!!

(continued the next morning!)

I remember an article quite some years ago, written by Lionel Dakers. He had been staying with an organist (?) and, during the stay he had perused his host's CD collection. He found it unusual enough to comment about it. Alongside standard repertoire (all the B's & S's!) there were works by Stockhausen, Boulez as well as Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. Americans were represented by John Cage, Morton Feldman and Lou Harrison (the Piano Concerto - in that wonderful performance by Joanna McGregor). Parry and Stanford were there - but they were not the 'church music' but the symphonies of Stanford and the Concerti of Parry! And so on!

I realised some way through the article that Lionel was writing about me! I didn't think my CD collection, (Yes, I've still got it and have enlarged it since to include works by Michael Finnissy (including a first performance conducted by me!), Paul Patterson, Judith Weir, Diana Burrell, Steve Martland etc.), was particularly worth writing about but Lionel, who was making the point that organists are so often rather insular in their musical tastes, seemingly disagreed!  

Friends, colleagues and acquaintances on here have a huge and wide variety of musical tastes and knowledge. I'm grateful for that because it has pointed me in directions that I might have otherwise missed. But I am sorry to say I think those friends, colleagues and acquaintances are, in my view, very much in the minority as far as the general run of the mill organist is concerned. I knew one guy, I was at University with him, who firmly believed that music stopped in 1750!! He was an extreme exception but he got his degree and is practising his craft!!   

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  • 2 weeks later...

Church Times - today 29/01/21

Director of Music - Wakefield Cathedral

"At Wakefield, we believe that the Anglican choral tradition is a distinctive gift, which the cathedral offers first to God and then to the wider community." 

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4 hours ago, S_L said:

Church Times - today 29/01/21

Director of Music - Wakefield Cathedral

"At Wakefield, we believe that the Anglican choral tradition is a distinctive gift, which the cathedral offers first to God and then to the wider community." 

Well put. An implied rebuke to their neighbours in Sheffield??

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On 29/01/2021 at 12:20, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Ban organum now, before it’s too late!!!!

I presume you wrote this with a grin, but I knew someone who may well have agreed with this! A former history teacher of mine despised church organs and everything that went with them, as they had displaced the village band that often played in west country churches and destroyed an ages-old tradition, as described for example in Under the Greenwood Tree, Hardy being compulsory reading for those of us from the west country.

As an aside, in the recent rather splendid film of Far from the Madding Crowd, I noticed that the church in Casterbridge was rather bigger than I remembered, looking rather similar to Sherston, and appeared to have a nice electric action organ over the west entrance. Impressive, as it was set in the late 1840s - early adopters, clearly ...

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16 hours ago, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

As an aside, in the recent rather splendid film of Far from the Madding Crowd, I noticed that the church in Casterbridge was rather bigger than I remembered, looking rather similar to Sherston, and appeared to have a nice electric action organ over the west entrance. Impressive, as it was set in the late 1840s - early adopters, clearly ...

Some years ago, when I was researching the musical history of the two main pre-War churches in Plymouth, I found that the newer (and lesser) of these churches, the now-ruined Charles' Church, acquired its first organ (a two-manual Bevington with an octave of pedal pipes) in 1846, to replace the cello or gamba (described variously in the accounts as "bass viol" and "violin") that had previously supported the gallery choir.  Prior to that the only interest that the vestry had ever taken in music was to resent the money that they spent on it and, at one point, to advertise for a new choir (reason unknown). The vestry had signalled its willingness to have an organ back in 1828, so long as the parish did not have to pay for either the instrument or the organist's salary, but by 1846 they had agreed to pay for both. After acquiring their brand new organ—and a leading local musician to play it—all the vestry ever did was to resent the money they spent on music, discourage any choir-only items, and moan about the dire standard of the singing. The vicars banged on continually about wanting "good congregational singing", but never had any clue about how to go about achieving it. By the time the church was bombed in 1941 the choir were doing what many parish choirs in the land did at that time: they sang anthems and, once a year, a passiontide cantata (Crucifixion and Olivet to Calvary are both mentioned)—maybe, too, the very occasional Mag and Nunc. Someone who heard them described them to me as being not nearly so good as they thought they were.

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1 hour ago, Vox Humana said:

Someone who heard them described them to me as being not nearly so good as they thought they were.

A common disease amongst church choirs!! 

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Hi

"As an aside, in the recent rather splendid film of Far from the Madding Crowd, I noticed that the church in Casterbridge was rather bigger than I remembered, looking rather similar to Sherston, and appeared to have a nice electric action organ over the west entrance. Impressive, as it was set in the late 1840s - early adopters, clearly ..."

 

Film & TV Drama makers often drop similar clangers, both in respect of churches, such as a Digital Piano sitting in the chancel in an episode of "Father Brown" - set in the 1950's.  Railways are another area where they often get things wrong (BR locomotives in a Victorian era drama) and so on.  I find such gaffes annoying and detract from the film/drama.

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38 minutes ago, Tony Newnham said:

Film & TV Drama makers often drop similar clangers, both in respect of churches, such as a Digital Piano sitting in the chancel in an episode of "Father Brown" - set in the 1950's.  Railways are another area where they often get things wrong (BR locomotives in a Victorian era drama) and so on.  I find such gaffes annoying and detract from the film/drama.

Harpsichord music by Purcell in the soundtrack to Tudor dramas is a fairly regular one.  I was very pleased that the dramatisations of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall novels did largely have suitable period music—though having a votive antiphon by Cornysh during a mass was very naughty. (I know, I need to get out more.)

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23 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Harpsichord music by Purcell in the soundtrack to Tudor dramas is a fairly regular one.  I was very pleased that the dramatisations of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall novels did largely have suitable period music—though having a votive antiphon by Cornysh during a mass was very naughty. (I know, I need to get out more.)

LOL - I remember, years ago, sitting watching 'Becket' - the Richard Burton/Peter O'Toole version. Mary Berry was staying with us. The monks in the film started to sing some plainsong and Dr. Mary almost jumped out of her chair "That wasn't written until about 1250" (or whatever!), she exclaimed. It was an epic moment!

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In one episode of Dad's Army, there's a scene in the church vestry.  On a shelf in the background is a copy of Ancient and Modern Revised - the cherry coloured edition published 1952( approx - it doesn't actually have a date in it).   When I pointed this out whilst watching with my family, they replied that it didn't matter, and that most people (I think they said everyone in the world except me!) wouldn't notice.  That's probably almost

true.  But I found it distracting.  On reflection I realised that the eye for detail and  precision, that is essential for musicians and is normally a valued transferable skill, sometimes needs to be turned off.  But I'm still learning how to do that!!!!   And then there's that seen in "The madness of King George" where he runs up the Geometric Staircase in St Paul's and emerges onto the roof of Hampton Court.......   

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On a slightly different tack, they also seem to get matters of clerical dress wrong pretty frequently.  I’m certain that no C of E bishop would have worn a purple cassock as a dinner guest in the mid-19th century.  Father Brown has been mentioned.  He has done several bizarre things: wearing a surplice (of C of E style) and something like a black stole - much longer than a stole, certainly not a scarf and much narrower, and on another occasion a proper stole over his chasuble.  In the ‘Father Ted’ series (with Irish actors who really ought to have known better), a trio of RC bishops wearing birettas wrongly-orientated!  But all these are nothing compared with the blunders about legal dress and the correct forms of address for judges, but I will spare readers those details.  It used to annoy my late wife when I exploded reacting to these - like Mary Berry in S_L’s post.

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2 hours ago, S_L said:

LOL - I remember, years ago, sitting watching 'Becket' - the Richard Burton/Peter O'Toole version. Mary Berry was staying with us. The monks in the film started to sing some plainsong and Mary almost jumped out of her chair "That wasn't written until about 1250" (or whatever!), she exclaimed. It was an epic moment!

Love it!! 🤣

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  • 2 weeks later...

Church Times - 19/02/21

Director of Music - Bangor Cathdral

 

............................... and there are eight full time posts within the RC Diocese of Leeds

                           a) Four Choral Directors

                           b) Two Keyboard Tutors

                           c) Assistant Director of the Schools Singing Programme

                           d) Assistant Director of the Keyboard Studies Programme

The Leeds posts have been advertised for a couple of weeks - closing date is 22/02/21

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