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Mander Organs
sbarber49

Leeds Minster

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Yes, sign of the times we live in, just my own personal point of view, its COOL to sing in a choir, BUT not cool to sing in a church choir, there are so many more distractions these days it seems. Regardless of the good work Gareth Malone is doing (like or dislike him) with the formation of "singing groups", although it seems not for anyone under the age of 18 it seems, according to his TV programs :(

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Sad but not necessarily a sign of the times - for instance the music set up at Bath Abbey is thriving - girls and boys front lines, gents etc. and all drawing from local schools. Generally (I know nothing of the Leeds regime) maybe what is on offer and how it is offered is more important to consider - I recently came across a flagging all male set up with a regime a bit like a 1950s independent boys school that was wondering where all the prospective choristers had gone. The trouble was that the inference was that it was the fault of 'the youth of today' along with a lot of 'in my day' speak. The youth of today will 'do' all sorts of music but are also likely to vote with their feet if they do not like what is on offer and how it is being offered. We should also not underestimate their 'musicality' or blame problems on the state of music in schools as seems to be the case on occasions when this topic comes up here and in similar discussion arenas.

 

A

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I agree with everything that AJJ has said! I'm not convinced that is 'a sign of the times' either! I think that you can sell the youth almost anything providing that you do it convincingly, and that they see it as being 'quality' with a certain amount of 'cool'!

 

I don't know the set up at Leeds Minster either but I do know that, across the city, there is a thriving music department in St. Anne's Cathedral where the Office and Mass is sung daily and where they have Junior and Senior girls and boys choirs who sing quality music by themselves and with the choral scholars.

 

Of course the press enjoy this kind of sensationalism. I don't see what is happening at Leeds Minster as being particularly sad. Sometimes it's good to say 'that's enough', stand back, re-evaluate the situation and.reform. It's hard to do it but what comes out of it is often stronger and more successful and, reading the article in the 'Yorkshire Post', that seems what the new Rector is looking for!

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I agree with everything that AJJ has said! I'm not convinced that is 'a sign of the times' either! I think that you can sell the youth almost anything providing that you do it convincingly, and that they see it as being 'quality' with a certain amount of 'cool'!

 

I don't know the set up at Leeds Minster either but I do know that, across the city, there is a thriving music department in St. Anne's Cathedral where the Office and Mass is sung daily and where they have Junior and Senior girls and boys choirs who sing quality music by themselves and with the choral scholars.

 

Of course the press enjoy this kind of sensationalism. I don't see what is happening at Leeds Minster as being particularly sad. Sometimes it's good to say 'that's enough', stand back, re-evaluate the situation and.reform. It's hard to do it but what comes out of it is often stronger and more successful and, reading the article in the 'Yorkshire Post', that seems what the new Rector is looking for!

 

 

I experienced an occasion last night (Sunday) which tends to confirm these remarks. It also seems to me that it's not so much that youngsters don't want to participate in church itself or its musical activities, but they are less likely, I think, to come of their own volition towards a passive church which just sits on its hands in a large posh medieval building (worrying in the meantime more about the roof than anything else), than if that congregation reached out to meet them on their own territory. Incidentally, I'm not implying for a moment that Leeds Minster is like this as I know nothing whatever about them, but many other Anglican churches of my acquaintance are I'm afraid.

 

The occasion was an annual carol service run by the Salvation Army in a large city centre. They had hired a theatre for the occasion, and besides several carols in which the audience participated heartily, there were many others sung by the participants (very well IMHO) to some quite novel arrangements in some cases. The place was packed out. There was a large local junior school choir which did some very creditable two part singing, and youngsters of both genders ranging in age from about ten to teens who played in the excellent brass band as well as taking part in the well-rehearsed tambourine and songster numbers which are the hallmark of the Army.

 

I have to admit to an interest as my one year old grand daughter took part at one point as an Angel. Beyond that I have no background as a Salvationist, but I was mightily impressed by their outreach and commitment to the youth community which enables them to present such events. The collection was not for themselves either but for the local Downs Syndrome Association. This alone marked a difference between their approach and that of so many more conservative congregations.

 

What has this to do with organs? Not much, and of course there wasn't one in that venue, but then this thread is not about the organ. The music was provided by a very good pianist and the band. But the thread is about drawing children into church music activities, in particular singing, and the event showed that the Salvation Army is still as alive and well, and still able to pull them in, as I knew it when I was growing up in the 1960s in Nottingham (where it was invented of course). There aren't many other churches today which can say that about themselves.

 

SL mentioned 'quailty' as a factor important to attracting youngsters. Their musical offerings have always had that - their bands are peerless. How different to the worship bands often seen in other denominations. He also mentioned the importance of being 'cool', and I would say they have that also, as their enthusiasm is irresistably infectious without being trite or tacky. Top marks to them.

 

CEP

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Here is the news of Dr Lindley's retirement from the Minster website. www.leedsminster.org/news/

 

There's nothing on the website about the choir so at the moment we only have the local newspaper as a source so I will take what they say with a large pinch of salt. However recent photos of the choir would suggest that numbers of boys was down to single figures which I can understand would make a maintaining a boys only choir available for every service very difficult. I also find it slightly surprising given the size of the city and the fact that the church also has a school that the choir wouldn't have more boys.

 

The most recent music list (September) would suggest that there is already a girls choir. If the Yorkshire Evening Post are correct and a recruitment drive is to commence then hopefully this would solve their problems.

 

At the risk of stirring up a hornet's nest. I would suggest that, in this day of women priests and bishops, boys choirs are now the last bastion of male-only dominance of church life and that their days may be numbered.

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I am afraid the passing years have made me very cynical. With press releases like these I always tend to look not only at what is said, but also for what is not said. I doubt there is a priest in Christendom who doesn't want his or her choir stalls filled to overflowing, but that does not necessarily mean that the clergy's visions bear any similarity to the musicians'. I do hope that there is an equally strong commitment to preserving the minster's musical tradition along the established lines and that it is not going to succumb to the ever-creeping (and usually ineffective) trend for dumbing down. It would have been nice if the press releases had given some reassurance along these lines. I intend no mischief and I realise that what I would like is of no relevance whatsoever, but I shall be watching with curiosity all the same.

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I see from the Appointments thread that Leeds Cathedral have just appointed a new organist. It was interesting to read on the RCO page that the RC diocese of Leeds has "the largest church music programme in the UK, maintaining 58 choirs with 2500 children meeting weekly". Leeds Cathedrals website boasts that they have "five dedicated choirs".

 

Can Leeds Minster not support a boys section because they are all singing with the Catholics? Or is this a result of differing outreach and recruitment programmes?

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