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john carter

Unusual audience member

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At a recital in Zurich Grossmunster today, I was apprehensive when I saw that an audience member was accompanied by his dog.  Gregor Ehrsam, organist of Liebfrauenkirche in Zurich, perfomed an excellent programme of Guilmant and Vierne, that worked remarkably well on the Metzler organ - not the obvious choice of repertoire for that instrument.  Throughout, the dog sat quietly and apparently appreciatively!  

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Two years ago I attended an organ recital at a church in the village of Nava del Rey not far from Valladolid in Spain. The occasion was the inauguration of the newly restored and extremely beautiful baroque organ. The recital was given by Juan de la Rubia, one of Spain's leading organists and organist of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.  The church was full to bursting (I estimate around 1000 people) with Spanish families. There were several babies in prams. They seemed to enjoy the recital greatly and the atmosphere was joyous.

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This seems to be the case on occasions in France too - a recent solo organ recital in Bourges Cathedral attracted a substantial audience.

A

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In reply to Peter Allison, no it wasn't an assistance dog, just an apparently ordinary pet - but obviously one with good taste in music!  It just made me smile that the animal was so calm, even when the horizontal "Spanische Trompet" was sounding at full volume.

The recital was well attended.  Apart from a few of student age, most present were 50 plus. I didn't count, but noticed that women outnumbered men, whereas I tend to notice the opposite at recitals in the UK. 

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At both Passau Cathedral and Cologne Cathedral the buildings were full to bursting when we visited.  Indeed, in the latter venue people were bringing camping chairs to sit in the aisles, there being insufficient places in the pews (or perhaps the pews were considered too uncomfortable!) and, moreover, the programme was largely Messiaen!

Such a shame that the organ appears not to have quite such an ardent following in this country.

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10 hours ago, John Robinson said:

At both Passau Cathedral and Cologne Cathedral the buildings were full to bursting when we visited.  Indeed, in the latter venue people were bringing camping chairs to sit in the aisles, there being insufficient places in the pews (or perhaps the pews were considered too uncomfortable!) and, moreover, the programme was largely Messiaen!

Such a shame that the organ appears not to have quite such an ardent following in this country.

Much agreed, John. I wonder how many will turn up at Hull City Hall this coming Friday and Saturday where there's "OrganFest" compered by BBC news reader Huw Edwards. It features some first-class recitalists - John Scott Whiteley, Darius Battiwalla, Gordon Stewart, Kevin Bowyer etc., etc.  The occasion is part of Hull's UK City of Culture celebrations.

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I had a reply from "churchmouse", on a post I made on FB, the other day, about traveling up to Hexham Abbey.... and she made the very valid comment about the recitalist, taking a strong position about his/hers audience . And of course Advertising is also a massive role to take to. The organ fest in Hull, deserves to be greatly supported, I know, all being well, I shall be attending :-)  But recitals over in the UK, in the main, are not well attended,  apart from so called "celebrity" recitals, Manchester Cathedral, being one, no matter the venue.

I was at a recital a few years ago, and it was on historic style instrument, in  what is reckoned to be England's largest parish church,(think Barry  was there), and the organ was presided over by a well known organist emeritus from York Minster, and it failed to attract more than a few "dyed in the wool," organ "buffs sadly

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Not at a recital, but one Sunday morning - just in the corner of my eye, I was aware of being watched. A mildly disconcerting feeling !

It transpired that "Frank" , a large greyhound, regularly attends church with his owners. His fascination with the organ, or perhaps my playing, quickly waned and he curled up behind the console and snoozed for the rest of the service. 

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A friend of mine, the Vicar of an  ancient Abbey, regularly took his dog to Morning and Evening Prayer. She sat quietly, next to his feet, throughout the office and rarely made a murmur. She regularly was found in church at all kinds of occasions but, surprisingly, didn't go to Mass on Sunday morning!

I was at a wedding of a friend in a rural church in Lincolnshire where the bride was processed down the aisle with the Priest in front of her and his dog, on a lead, by the side of him. This was, I'm told, a common occurrence.

 

 

 

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Many years ago I played at a small village church in rural Dorset and was waiting for the bellringers to finish doing their stuff.  When they finally did, a dog belonging to one of them gave a single bark, whereupon the Rector said "Ah, the hounds of hell".  The congregation including myself couldn't help laughing, so he then said "What a pity I don't get that much reaction from my sermons".

CEP

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One of our local priests has a dog that accompanies hime everywhere, including to services where he sits quietly at the back.

Our church also used to have a cat that particularly enjoyed the organ, often sitting on the organ bench next to the organist as well as exploring inside. On one (in)famous occasion she jumped on to the manuals during the final hymn just after full swell had been engaged.

Capture.JPG

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At one of our cathedrals - Lincoln perhaps? -  I was able to take my dogs (two) round with me when visiting.

Paul

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11 hours ago, Duncan Paulson said:

Our church also used to have a cat that particularly enjoyed the organ, often sitting on the organ bench next to the organist as well as exploring inside. On one (in)famous occasion she jumped on to the manuals during the final hymn just after full swell had been engaged.

Capture.JPG

Cats are wonderful creatures, aren't they?  Much better than dogs.  I can't imagine a dog having the skill to play the organ, on any manual.

Or could they?

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Well, they can accompany themselves on the piano whilst singing:

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9 hours ago, John Robinson said:

Cats are wonderful creatures, aren't they?  Much better than dogs.  I can't imagine a dog having the skill to play the organ, on any manual.

Or could they?

 

 

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Tho' rails aren't much of an obstacle for cats. 

We had one (a cat, not an altar rail) that came to church (but only Welsh services). My father (the priest) turning round from the altar to address the congregation (none of that modern ahistorical nonsense of facing the wrong way to celebrate) was bemused to see the parsonage cat parading along the altar rail.

Still, she had sufficient reverence not to approach any nearer. She played the piano too. But not the organ.

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11 hours ago, John Robinson said:

Cats are wonderful creatures, aren't they?  Much better than dogs.  I can't imagine a dog having the skill to play the organ, on any manual.

Or could they?

 

.............................. and to contemplate playing Messiaen L'Ascension - with the copy closed, on a small (?) two manual with the back to the music - cats must be wonderful creatures indeed!!!

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6 hours ago, S_L said:

 

.............................. and to contemplate playing Messiaen L'Ascension - with the copy closed, on a small (?) two manual with the back to the music - cats must be wonderful creatures indeed!!!

I'm not so sure. The pose being struck by the cat in the photograph looks worryingly similar to one that visits our garden and.... well, you know.:unsure:

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On 9/7/2017 at 19:08, S_L said:

 

.............................. and to contemplate playing Messiaen L'Ascension - with the copy closed, on a small (?) two manual with the back to the music - cats must be wonderful creatures indeed!!!

What cat wouldn't be attracted to the music of Messiaen? All that bird song...

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5 hours ago, Fiffaro said:

What cat wouldn't be attracted to the music of Messiaen? All that bird song...

And the occasional wrong note would probably not be noticed!

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16 hours ago, John Robinson said:

And the occasional wrong note would probably not be noticed!

I suppose that depends on who is listening!!!!!!!

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I saw a dog (accompanied by its owner) at an organ recital recently, who sat very patiently through the entire performance. I think it was at St Giles cathedral in Edinburgh, but can't now remember which of the recitals I've been to this year it was. 

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