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Other Wedding Music


Malcolm Farr
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Hi all

 

I was just wondering what music is currently popular for those quiet interludes in weddings, when sheep might otherwise safely graze. For my part, I must confess that my pastures are totally grazed out, and the sheep are (probably rightly) fearing that I mean them mortal harm. I don't think I could bring myself to play a certain ovine piece (except under great duress) for quite a while.

 

I'm going through something of a Widor phase at the moment, and was thinking of the Andante Cantabile from the 4th Symphonie or the Adagio from the 5th the next time something comes along (and nothing else is insisted upon).

 

Rgds,

MJF

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Guest Barry Oakley

Maybe these two works by the late and gifted Raymond Sunderland, formerly the Organist and Master of Choristers at Bridlington Priory until his sudden death at the console on Christmas Day 1977, are worthy of consideration. They are Bridal Fanfare and March and Ceremonial Fanfare and March. Both amount to around three minutes each, but they are refreshingly stirring stuff which I find more acceptable than the hackneyed Widor Tocatta. I don't know if they were ever published commercially.

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In my experience, the only time there is a quiet interlude in Anglican weddings is when people are supposed to be singing the hymns. Otherwise, there is no such thing. During the signing of the registers, Aunt Florrie is so busy talking to Cousin Bert, who she hasn't seen since Grandma Maud's funeral, and so on and so forth, that whatever I might be doing at the console is quite irrelevant. So I'm terribly unadventurous and usually give them Bach's Wachet auf which is exactly the right length and which some of them might vaguely recognise. If I'm feeling particularly hacked off, I'll give them something that builds up to full organ so that, when it stops, the ensuing sudden silence throws they racket they're making into sharp relief. Very unchristian of me, I know, but then, how many couples are there for Christian reasons? I hate weddings. With a vengeance.

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Last year I had a lovely bride, who asked me to choose something that was "happy and funny" during the signing of the registers. I duly obliged with "Hornpipe Humouresque" (which none of them had heard). It went down a storm, they all listened and even got a good ovation for it. I've had a few more requests for it this year. I've always thought you should play something that shrinks into the background for the signing of the registers but now I think it should be entertaining. This year I'll offer the Cuckoo and the Nightingale as standard fare alongside Hornpipe Humoresque.

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In my experience, the only time there is a quiet interlude in Anglican weddings is when people are supposed to be singing the hymns. Otherwise, there is no such thing. During the signing of the registers, Aunt Florrie is so busy talking to Cousin Bert, who she hasn't seen since Grandma Maud's funeral, and so on and so forth, that whatever I might be doing at the console is quite irrelevant. .....I hate weddings. With a vengeance.

I have a great deal of sympathy with these comments. The noise level before the service starts is often dreadful, people get up and walk around to talk to each other etc.. (It may not help that there's a pub directly opposite the south porch.)

 

Couples come for advice which they then completely ignore and go for the most stupid pieces, unsuitable hymns etc., increasingly with the attitude that they're paying so they can do what they like.

 

In answer to the original question, Yon - Toccatina for flute is one of my stalwarts.

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For processionals, I have occasionally been asked to play the first movement from Widor's 6me Symphonie - not a very cheery piece! I also had to do some instant editing, due to the somewhat flexible time-keeping of the bride. Tsk! Tsk!

 

I have also played the last movement of the same symphony as a recessional - or the Final, from Vierne's 1er Symphonie.

 

On at least two occasions, I have played the happy couple out to the Prelude and Fugue, in B major, of Dupré - once on the not-very-large classical instrument in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Kerk, Forest Hill, S.E. 23.... No - it did not have a Swell box or pistons!

 

I would also agree with the comments made by nfortin.

 

I once played for a wedding in which both bride and groom were members of the Armed Forces. The bride arrived very late - and very drunk. She lurched up the aisle, tripped at the front of the nave and proptly fell into the arms of a surprised (but seemingly grateful) priest. She then burst into hysterical laughter and continued this way for approximately two minutes.

 

The organ was tiny and quite inadequate for the service which it was called upon to perform. (Sorry, it is now 01h32 and it is possible that I could have expressed that a little better....) This made the hymns interesting, since it soon became apparent that alchohol abuse was not confined solely to the bride.

 

It did not help that the priest also had the appearance and smell of one who had recently undergone a failed attempt at suicide by fire. Perhaps the ample but comely figure of the bride provided a pleasant diversion. Certainly by the second hymn, he appeared to be considering committing acts of moral turpitude with her. Meanwhile, the groom was engrossed in his copy of the BCP - no doubt perusing the Table of Kindred and Affinity: "A man may not marry his grandmother..." (He may have been better-off here.)

 

By the time it came to the signing of the registers, I was also considering the possibility of suicide. There were several screaming children - including one wretch who kept heading up the aisle, his beady eyes fixed on the organ. Fortunately, his mother obviously thought that I looked dangerous (she was right) and on each occasion, leapt up to haul him back.

 

I cannot now recall what I played during the signing of the registers. It is entirely possible that this was because the congregation was by now talking so loudly that I was unable to hear what I was playing. Whatever it was, it was long - every possible permutation of poses of family members was attempted by the photographer. I think that even the verger was captured smiling, pen in hand, at one point.

 

Fortunately, the wedding eventually tottered towards the Blessing and I began to play the recessional (The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba....) at which point, the bride tripped again, said "Bugger!" clearly, over the whimperings of the organ and then burst into more gales of laughter. At this, even her mother became embarrassed and tried unobtrusively to calm her down. Whilst her sentiment was laudable, her execution was faulty - for 'mother' had a voice which resembled hysterical gravel and which would have broken glass at forty paces.

 

By now, since I obviously could not beat them, I began to see the funny side of things and barely managed to complete the Handel before sliding into a heap on the pedals.

 

Whilst attempting to drive away from the church car park, I narrowly missed running-over the bride's father. Well, actually, it was a toss-up between him and the annoying child, but in the end discretion triumphed and I merely showered the entire party in a confetti of pink gravel and carbon-monoxide.

 

It's funny you know, but I have never been invited back....

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Hi all

 

I was just wondering what music is currently popular for those quiet interludes in weddings, when sheep might otherwise safely graze.  For my part, I must confess that my pastures are totally grazed out, and the sheep are (probably rightly) fearing that I mean them mortal harm.  I don't think I could bring myself to play a certain ovine piece (except under great duress) for quite a while.

 

I'm going through something of a Widor phase at the moment, and was thinking of the Andante Cantabile from the 4th Symphonie or the Adagio from the 5th the next time something comes along (and nothing else is insisted upon).

 

Rgds,

MJF

 

Why this hostility to sheep ? They are generally remarkably inoffensive creatures and a good deal brighter than we give them credit for ( I was going to say than the average University student these days but that would be a slight exaggeration). However, why not liven up your Bach with references to other tunes with an ovine connection eg, Baa baa black sheep, Mary had a little lamb, The main theme from "Babe" or one of the various French Noels referring to shepherds. Just a thought.

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Why this hostility to sheep ? They are generally remarkably inoffensive creatures and a good deal brighter than we give them credit for ( I was going to say than the average University student these days but that would be a slight exaggeration). However, why not liven up your Bach with references to other tunes with an ovine connection eg, Baa baa black sheep, Mary had a little lamb, The main theme from "Babe" or one of the various French Noels referring to shepherds. Just a thought.

 

====================

 

I'm not hostile to sheep!

 

In fact, I saved the life of a lamb only last spring, when it got stuck in a wire-fence and I cut it free.

 

I wasn't very pleased when "mummy sheep" head-butted me in the process....it hurt!

 

My contribution to the musical themes would be:-

 

"Mares eat oats, and does eat oats, but little lambs eat ivy.

I'd eat ivy too, wouldn't you?"

 

Excuse me, I must go and baste the beast and get the Chianti and mint-sauce ready!!

 

MM

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  • 2 weeks later...
It's just a little hard to swallow when the beast is overcooked.

 

Rgds,

MJF

 

 

It's been amusing reading some of these postings as to what one plays at Weddings. Personally I don't think it will make a blind bit of different simply because of this problem of rowdy Wedding parties. You can't beat a bit of Rheinberger , Vierne and Bach. The trick is to play something loud to start with if there particularly noisy and then come down to something quiet like some of the Henry Smart's Andantes simply gorgeous in a glorious Anglo Catholic Church with a big Acoustic ! If they are evil Wedding party and just extremy rude and vulgar. Then play some evil music by Langlais or big Chords reminiscent of Reger ! They soon get the message ! And if that dosen't work coupled up the Tubas or Chamades with Octaves for the Hymns they will be begging for mercy by the time the Wedding Service is over. With gasps of cursing from those dears oooh that Organist was too loud !

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It's been amusing reading some of these postings as to what one plays at Weddings.  Personally I don't think it will make a blind bit of different simply because of this problem of rowdy Wedding parties.  You can't beat a bit of Rheinberger , Vierne and Bach.  The trick is to play something loud to start with if there particularly noisy and then come down to something quiet like some of the Henry Smart's Andantes simply gorgeous in a glorious Anglo Catholic Church with a big Acoustic !  If they are evil Wedding party and just extremy rude and vulgar.  Then play some evil music by Langlais or big Chords reminiscent of Reger ! They soon get the message ! And if that dosen't work coupled up the Tubas or Chamades with Octaves for the Hymns they will be begging for mercy by the time the Wedding Service is over.  With gasps of cursing from those dears oooh that Organist was too loud !

 

========================

 

 

He he! Been there, done it, wore the T-shirt.

I am always reminded of Carlo Curley, when he dropped in to practice for a "do" at the RAH, and found a rock-band (I think it was "Quo") going hell for leather. Carlo gave a whoop as they finished, and one of them aoplogised for the noise. Carlo went to the organ, switched it on, drew just about everything out and played......

 

The rock-group gaped in disbelief, and Carlo stopped, got off the organ, put his hands on his hips and shouted, "Now THAT'S organ power!"

 

I used to delight in those moments at York Minster, especially at Christmas when the 9 lessons and carols took place, and "Francis" had to stoop to "crowd-control" for the congregational hymns.

 

To stop the un-educated from lingering at the end of "O come all ye faithful," he would give the So-Gt piston a push, right at the end of the last measure of the last verse, with the Tuba Mirbilus drawn.

 

"Wham!"

 

They just stood there in dread-silence, like rabbits caught in the glare of headlights!!

 

Memories......

 

Crowd control is an art.

 

MM

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Langlais or big Chords reminiscent of Reger ! They soon get the message ! And if that dosen't work coupled up the Tubas or Chamades with Octaves for the Hymns they will be begging for mercy by the time the Wedding Service is over.  With gasps of cursing from those dears oooh that Organist was too loud !

 

Hmmm, I played for a friend's wedding last year, on a beautiful 3-manual mechanical Hill. On the morning of the wedding, I got a text message from the bride saying that they now didn't want a CD to go out to, they wanted the ubiquitous Widor ... I managed to scavenge 10 minutes on the organ before the service to practice, at which the vicar marches up, and says

"How lovely to hear the organ instead of a CD. But, don't you think it's too loud?"

me: "No, I don't think so, it's supposed to be loud."

Vicar: "Well, the congregation won't be able to talk over you".

 

At which point I broke his nose. Well, ok, maybe not physically, but the mental image was there.

 

 

Which only made me, of course, draw even more stops (I'd been keeping the great reeds in reserve for the ending) for the whole thing. Bollocks to the congregation TALKING over the organ!

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Bollocks to the congregation TALKING over the organ!

 

I once arrived at a chuch to play for a wedding to be buttonholed by the photographer demanding that I "don't play too loud at the end, 'cos I can't hear myself think if you do". Although I did not speak to the gentleman in question after the service (my cheery wave being greeted with a scowl), I am reasonably confident that the organ (another nice old Hill; N02068 to be precise) being played flat out was sufficiently audible to all concerned.

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Bollocks to the congregation TALKING over the organ!

 

I once arrived at a chuch to play for a wedding to be buttonholed by the photographer demanding that I "don't play too loud at the end, 'cos I can't hear myself think if you do".  Although I did not speak to the gentleman in question after the service (my cheery wave being greeted with a scowl), I am reasonably confident that the organ (another nice old Hill; N02068 to be precise) being played flat out was sufficiently audible to all concerned.

 

I can't believe the attitude of some people towards organ music. Even my parents, for example, just think it's a load of noise. And I've never played them any Messiaen!

 

It's amazing how memory plays tricks - it's only 6 months since I played that Hill I was talking about... Turns out it's tubular pneumatic, not tracker! N01946

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Guest Lee Blick

Why can't the clergy when they interview the prospective couples say "Due care and attention should be made to ensure a reverent and prayerful atmosphere throughout the service." In addition the clergy should add, "The time during the signing of the registers is an invitation for the congregation to hear the organist play some appropriate music (like 'The Lambeth Walk') and to reflect on it...." :)

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While I was practising in the church yesterday afternoon, a big group turned up and started talked loudly in the chancel, directly in front of where I was practising on quiet foundation stops. I felt this was a slightly unwelcome intrusion into my practice period as I was fumbling my way through the fugue to Bach's Passacaglia for the first time and i did not feel particularly inclined to go and speak with these people. I guessed by the number and the way they were talking they were thinking and talking through arrangements for their wedding in - January 2007! We sometimes get these sorts of weddings in this neck of the wood but this sets a new standard for forward planning. You can probably gauge my feelings about these events if I tell you I asked the mother of the bride (who is invariable the driving force behind these events) whether they have yet found a groom the first we met in January.

 

I decided that I wanted a clear church so I switched the temperament on the toaster to "Meantone", selected a very full mixture chorus with all the Tierces I could find and started on an even shakier rendition of Sweelinck's Fantasia chromatica. There were a few bemused comments as they concentrated on the arrangements towards the back of the church and they had left within 5 minutes. :-)

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While I was practising in the church yesterday afternoon, a big group turned up and started talked loudly in the chancel, directly in front of where I was practising on quiet foundation stops. I felt this was a slightly unwelcome intrusion into my practice period as I was fumbling my way through the fugue to Bach's Passacaglia for the first time and i did not feel particularly inclined to go and speak with these people. I guessed by the number and the way they were talking they were thinking and talking through arrangements for their wedding in - January 2007! We sometimes get these sorts of weddings in this neck of the wood but this sets a new standard for forward planning. You can probably gauge my feelings about these events if I tell you I asked the mother of the bride (who is invariable the driving force behind these events) whether they have yet found a groom the first we met in January.

 

I decided that I wanted a clear church so I switched the temperament on the toaster to "Meantone", selected a very full mixture chorus with all the Tierces I could find and started on an even shakier rendition of Sweelinck's Fantasia chromatica. There were a few bemused comments as they concentrated on the arrangements towards the back of the church and they had left within 5 minutes. :-)

 

I use the Janet Graham Toccata for the same purposes...

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I use the Janet Graham Toccata for the same purposes...

 

I am glad to hear that I am not the only person who resorts to such methods - although I must confess that I have never heard of the Janet Graham Toccata - is she any relation to Janet Reger?

 

I have managed to silence an entire church-full of Cubs and Scouts. They were talking loudly before the service. I got up to the organ, sat down and commenced improvising fairly loudly - I added full GO and Positive to full Swell - and a few seconds later, added the tutti (including the chamade and octave couplers). I then performed a 'Cochereau decrescendo' (reduce to Swell strings, GO flute and Pedal 32p (I had to fiddle that one), almost instantly.

 

I was most pleased to note that there was now not a sound from the nave. I looked araound and saw a sea of pale, terror-struck little faces. Some were visibly shaking; and I did not feel guilty for even a second.

 

There were some interesting comments afterwards, though. I would never have believed that a scout-master could swear with such fluency.

 

Was I bothered?

 

:wacko:

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I am glad to hear that I am not the only person who resorts to such methods - although I must confess that I have never heard of the Janet Graham Toccata - is she any relation to Janet Reger?

 

I have managed to silence an entire church-full of Cubs and Scouts. They were talking loudly before the service. I got up to the organ, sat down and commenced improvising fairly loudly - I added full GO and Positive to full Swell - and a few seconds later, added the tutti (including the chamade and octave couplers). I then performed a 'Cochereau decrescendo' (reduce to Swell strings, GO flute and Pedal 32p (I had to fiddle that one), almost instantly.

 

I was most pleased to note that there was now not a sound from the nave. I looked araound and saw a sea of pale, terror-struck little faces. Some were visibly shaking; and I did not feel guilty for even a second.

 

There were some interesting comments afterwards, though. I would never have believed that a scout-master could swear with such fluency.

 

Was I bothered?

 

:wacko:

The smiley says no. Janet Graham is a GREAT piece - Kevin Bowyer has recorded it and the two companion pieces). But be warned - it won't cheer anyone up...

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