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downampney

Sam Wesley

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I am auditioning for music school Saturday coming and was planning to play Sam Wesley's 'Air' and 'Gavotte' as a single item on my programme. Would you say this is appropriate? Could I call it a prelude and variation?

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I would call it 'Air' and 'Gavotte' - because that is what it is! And, you're right, the two pieces fit ideally together.

If I was interviewing you I would ask you something about the music - are you playing the Bonnet arrangement of the 'Gavotte'? - something about Wesley and his place in the musical scene of his time  - perhaps even ask if you had heard any of his other compositions. 

Don't mix him up with other members of  the Wesley family. He's not Samuel Sebastian. I hesitate to point you towards Wikipedia but this page might tell you a little that might help:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Wesley

You didn't say where you were auditioning and for what - which may have a bearing on what they want you to do!

Don't call him Sam!!

All the best!

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Welcome to the forum - stay with us! I agree with S_L on all points. Make sure you know what a Gavotte is, as well. I don't know the Bonnet arrangement of the Gavotte but these pieces were, as I am sure you know, originally written for manuals only. If you are playing an arrangement with pedals,  I suppose that's fine, but when talking about the music it would be sensible to say that you know they were written for manuals only and say how you come to be playing a version for pedals. As it happens, I use both partly because my 'with pedals' version is a very ancient copy handed down to me by an old friend and I always think of him when I play from that copy. You may not know that there was a lot of this sort of thing going on in the 1940's and 50's. Organists then played lots of arrangements of music by people like John Stanley, Maurice Greene, William Felton and others, in which there was filling out of the two part original music and, as I say, the addition of a pedal part. Such editions are frowned upon these days but some are very effective. (You might come across Suite in D major by John Stanley arranged by Henry Coleman - it has an unmissable arrangement of a cracking trumpet tune as the final movement)

Your Air and Gavotte comes from 'Twelve Short Pieces' - (there were actually 13) - but I don't think I have ever come across arrangements for manuals and pedals of any of the 13 except nos 8 & 9 - your Air and Gavotte. (I bought my Hinrichsen edition of the Twelve Short Pieces 45 years ago this April - (when I was in Year 11 - or 5th form as we used to call it.)

Anyway, good luck with your audition - and do tell us what else you are playing and how you get on. We're a friendly bunch with a wide range of experience, skill and interest - and that includes a number of very eminent organists indeed. It is always great when they join in a thread as one just has on the York Minster thread. There are few young organists on the forum though and it needs new blood. One young organists joined fairly recently and initiated some really interesting new threads so I am sure I speak for all members in wanting to encourage you to join in. 

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Although it's not relevant to the two pieces concerned, it's worth remarking that one reason for pedal arrangements is the use of notes below bottom C in many English manuals-only works.  In the 12 Pieces, it's just three low As (not in the pieces mentioned) which are easily circumvented, but a piece like SS Wesley's Choral Song cannot be played on a modern organ without appreciable rearrangement; in such cases I prefer to make my own arrangement from the original rather relying on older editions which tend to be more sweeping in their changes.  Curiously, Wesley himself offers a solution in the fugue, but doesn't bother in the first section!

Paul

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Thank you for your replies! I am playing the Bonnet arrangement with pedals, my justification being that since this is an audition I should show my full capabilities. Thank you so much for all this information, I should want to be aware of the history behind what I am presenting. 

I am auditioning for a spot at Memorial University of Newfoundland which since maybe the 90s has not had any organ program to speak of. The repertoire requirements are as follows:

- A prelude and fugue composed before the year 1750 (I have chosen BWV 553).

- Two contrasting selections of the student's own choice (I'm going to do 'Rhosymedre' by Vaughan Williams and the Wesley selections mentioned here).

- Hymntune 'St. Anne'

The university has a lovely Cassavant organ very similar to the one at St. Mary the Virgin in St. John's where I am DM. The pipes are marvellously maintained but the mobile console needs a real overhaul. I have been in to play on it several times now however and we now get along quite well together. They also have a tracker practice organ which I have not yet gotten my hands on.

Up to this point, the bulk of my training has been theological and philosophical although I have worked (albeit as an amateur) as a church musician nearly all my life. I am moving backwards in my education a little here leaving a masters program where I am writing on the interaction of language, music, and meaning in sacred choral music and beginning an undergraduate in the music department. It is very exciting times! I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing but I think it will go alright. Thank you again for the welcome - I am grateful to receive any audition tips any of you may have to offer. 

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12 hours ago, S_L said:

Don't call him Sam!!

That was how he was known to those with whom he was familiar, however.

11 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

Organists then played lots of arrangements of music by people like John Stanley, Maurice Greene, William Felton and others, in which there was filling out of the two part original music and, as I say, the addition of a pedal part.

A lot still do - more's the pity. Goodness knows why. It's not as if the music gains anything from being made to sound Wagnerian.

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18 minutes ago, Vox Humana said:

A lot still do - more's the pity. Goodness knows why. It's not as if the music gains anything from being made to sound Wagnerian.

Yes, me included, but only a very small number which I feel sound very effective. 

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14 hours ago, downampney said:

since this is an audition I should show my full capabilities.

Surely playing a delicate manuals-only piece with the rest of your selection would be showing a wider range of capabilities.  Not all capabilities need to be athletic!

Paul

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