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Guillou's succession

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At nearly 85 y old, Jean Guillou will be replaced in Saint-Eustache by 3 co-titular organists by the end of March.

 

A first selection took place in january-february with the assistance of a jury gathering both musicians and clergy members.

12 organists have been chosen out of a list of 52 candidates after examination of their cv's!!

 

An oral audition made it possible to select 7 persons:

 

M. Pierre Cambourian
M. Francesco Filidei
M. Ghislain Leroy
M. Hampus Lindwall
M. Baptise-Florian Marle-Ouvrard
M. Thomas Ospital
M. Pierre Queval

 

Final musical examination the 24th of March at the organ (open to public)

 

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Just out of interest, what would the chances be of a first-rate organist from, say, a British cathedral be considered for such a post? This assumes, of course, that he or she had the improvisational skills required for a large RC church and that the technical skills and musicality were on a par with the home-grown organists.

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They would need the improvisational skills of a Martin Baker, and there aren't many like that around....

 

Susan Landale has done pretty well.

 

There was a Georges McMaster who practised as an organist in Paris many years ago. He wrote quite a lot of stuff in the French style, including a Toccata. He committed suicide, though, so perhaps it's not the best idea.

 

My good Francophile friend, John Crothers exchanged life as a language teacher in Co. Antrim and organist at St. Martin's, Belfast for an apartment in Paris, teaching English (mostly to servicemen and diplomats) and playing at one of the Anglican churches. He's having a ball, but I don't think he'd class himself in the running for St-Eustache, etc!

 

Then again, how many French organists could run the music at an English Cathedral? The notice board at e.g. Chartres says

 

Lundi - Messe 1000

Mardi - Messe 1000

Mercredi - Messe 1000

etc.

 

No daily Evensong there, I think.

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Geoffrey Marahall is from the UK and one of the organists at Rennes Cathedral.

 

A

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Geoffrey Marahall is from the UK and one of the organists at Rennes Cathedral.

 

A

 

Geoffrey Marshall - to be strictly accurate.

 

As far as I know, he is (or at least was) the Titulaire of the Grandes Orgues.

 

As David and handsoff imply, it is a rather different skill set which is required for such a post. I am interested to note the absence of certain French names which I might have expected to be considered, though.

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Geoffrey Marshall - to be strictly accurate.

 

As far as I know, he is (or at least was) the Titulaire of the Grandes Orgues

Oops - please excuse the typo! Geoffrey Marshall currently shares duties with Jean-René André and I believe also two other organists. Usually on a Sunday one plays the west end instrument and the other the choir organ behind the high altar. They also have a seemingly healthy choral set up there too. I was lucky enough to spend some time looking at the organs there last summer.

 

A

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Oops - please excuse the typo! Geoffrey Marshall currently shares duties with Jean-René André and I believe also two other organists. Usually on a Sunday one plays the west end instrument and the other the choir organ behind the high altar. They also have a seemingly healthy choral set up there too. I was lucky enough to spend some time looking at the organs there last summer.

 

A

 

Ah - I had understood incorrectly that he was sole Titulaire. Thank you for this, Alastair.

 

I would be interested to hear more of the choir - and your impressions of the organs in the cathedral, please.

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It is interesting to note, however, that two of the applicants on the shortlist are not of French nationality (although have clearly been schooled in the French tradition).

 

Presumably only one of the above will be nominated (alongside Vincent Crosnier / Yanka Hekimova?) - or are they starting afresh with a new group of three titulaires? Indeed, not so long ago it seemed there were about four co-organists in addition to M. Guillou.

 

Whilst salaries of UK cathedral organists are of fairly widespread knowledge, those of their French counterparts seem to remain a mystery. I am yet to discover what kind of remuneration an applicant can expect in the case of positions such as this.

 

VA

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Whilst salaries of UK cathedral organists are of fairly widespread knowledge, those of their French counterparts seem to remain a mystery. I am yet to discover what kind of remuneration an applicant can expect in the case of positions such as this.

 

VA

 

Probably rather low by comparison with English cathedral organists - although, as has been suggested, the work-load is also rather less than would be expected in an English cathedral. For one thing, it is extremely unlikely that ant French titulaire would ever have to take a choir practice, conduct a choir - or, in fact, have anything to do with a choir - unless they chose to run their own choir which simply happened to rehearse in the church at which they were titulaire.

 

Cochereau used to claim that the salary he received from Nôtre-Dame de Paris kept him supplied with Gauloises - but not much else. As far as I understand it, the kudos of being able to put 'Organiste Titulaire, Nôtre0Dame de Paris' (or similar) on one's business card, is considered almost to be sufficient reward in itself. It is generally expected that titulaires of cathedrals, abbeys or other large churches will also have teaching careers, or - like Cochereau - actually hold the post of director of a prestigious conservatoire de musique.

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It is obvious that the salary for such a position is miserable.

Noticeable to see Guillou has been acting as titular organist for free which was not PC's case. The organists have thus to earn their life as teachers in conservatoires at least.

Some remarkable musicians have been set aside by the jury because of their well known conflicts with their clergy!! (e.g. La Trinité....)

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I had an interesting conversation some years ago with the 'titulaire' at a major regional French cathedral (he is no longer in post there) who said that his salary was just enought to pay for the rail fare to and from his home near Paris every Sunday. He earned his main living from conservertoire teaching but the cudos attached to the cathedral post made it worthwhile - most of the time!

 

A

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Slightly off the subject - for which I apologise!

 

I don't go up to Paris very often but, when I do, I usually attend Mass at St. Eustache. I was there a few months ago. There seemed to be quite a few people in the organ loft and the improvisation before Mass began was completely amazing - it was also, I think, at one point, the loudest noise I have ever heard - totally deafening! (A most 'unorganistic' thing to say but I really thought the instrument was going to jump off the back wall!). The voluntary after Mass I didn't recognise but, again, it was very loud, extremely virtuosic ('showy'), and based on very fast, repeated notes with continuous changes of manual and registration. The playing of the orgue du choeur at Mass was excellent and the antiphony between the two organs in Credo III and the Gloria Missa VIII was well timed - clearly both players knew the building and the instruments extremely well!

 

As an aside, I often sit, as a member of the congregation, in one or other French Cathedral (I have four cathedrals within an hour's drive from my home). All of these 'employ' a Titulaire but the quality of improvisation and general playing - (I heard some dismal Buxtehude a fortnight ago!)) varies considerably and doesn't come anywhere near what one hears in quite a number of the Paris churches on a Sunday morning - or, indeed, at any time! The quality of playing of the Orgue du choeur also varies - and, sometimes, it is really dismal!

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I have had the amazing experience of being at Saint Eustache today and hearing all of the candidates - 7 hours of pieces, improvisations and accompaniments on that awesome instrument. Once in a lifetime.

Two co-titulaires announced: Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard and Thomas Ospital.

Huge congratulations to them both! Bravo.

Paul.

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I was also in Paris yesterday - and had lunch not too far away from St Eustache - I wish I had remembered!

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In fact, no real surprise: the 2 best ones have been appointed.

I'm particularly happy for Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard (BFMO) whom I know very well.

Everybody thinks he deserves this appointment: a part being a great improvisor (and composer) he is also a nice open-minded person!

Thomas Ospital has a basque origin, he is with BFMO a former student of Pierre Pincemaille who trained them both at the improvisation school of Saint-Maur des Fossés (Paris' suburbs) some years ago.

 

Do not hesitate to meet them and listen to them when in Paris!!!!!

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In fact, no real surprise: the 2 best ones have been appointed.

I'm particularly happy for Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard (BFMO) whom I know very well.

Everybody thinks he deserves this appointment: a part being a great improvisor (and composer) he is also a nice open-minded person!

Thomas Ospital has a basque origin, he is with BFMO a former student of Pierre Pincemaille who trained them both at the improvisation school of Saint-Maur des Fossés (Paris' suburbs) some years ago.

 

Do not hesitate to meet them and listen to them when in Paris!!!!!

This is great news - I've heard both and their playing is superb. What with the similarly superb team now installed at La Trinité and the interesting liturgical initiatives at Notre Dame, Paris is even more of a draw!

 

A

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Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard still remains titular organist in St Vincent de Paul at Clichy La Garenne (not far away of Paris NW);

His organ ABBEY was built for the 1900 universal exposition and transferred to this church a few time after.

 

Noticeable that for ST Eustache appointment, the jury in charge took 30' to deliberate and to award both of the 2 titulars. As the level between them and the third ranked was to large, decision was taken not to appoint a third organist co-titular.

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Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard still remains titular organist in St Vincent de Paul at Clichy La Garenne (not far away of Paris NW);

His organ ABBEY was built for the 1900 universal exposition and transferred to this church a few time after.

 

Noticeable that for ST Eustache appointment, the jury in charge took 30' to deliberate and to award both of the 2 titulars. As the level between them and the third ranked was to large, decision was taken not to appoint a third organist co-titular.

Sorry: not 30' but only 30 secondes....Quite a difference!!

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A very short abstract of the 6 may 2 new titulars concert with Thomas Ospital playing the end of Ad Nos:

 

 

Great success: more than 1000 people attending and several standing ovations!

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