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S_L

Proms 2019

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Lots of really exciting Music at the 'Proms' this year. 

Already mentioned on another thread is the visit of Olivier Latry on 14th of August.

The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig play Bruckner's huge 8th Symphony preceded by Michael Schonheit playing Bach. 

Unaccompanied choral Music features in several Proms and major choral works include Berlioz L'Enfance du Christ, Walton Belshazzar's Feast, Elgar Music Makers, Rachmaninov The Bells and Janacek Glagolitic Mass (with Peter Holder)

And, between the 19th of July, the beginning of the 'Proms' and the 14th of September, when they end, there are 28 Organ Recitals taking place in London.

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12 hours ago, S_L said:

Already mentioned on another thread is the visit of Olivier Latry on 14th of August.

Minor correction to the date. I just checked the Proms website to find out what O.L will be playing and the date is given as 04th August. Looks a good selection of music but I am surprised that, or so it seems, the concert is timed to start at 11am. It also seems that the concert will not be broadcast on Radio 3 but, in case it is, I will have to hope that the volunteer work I do on Sundays does not cause me to miss the concert.

No doubt it will be another fantastic masterclass (for want of a better word) from M. Latry.

Dave

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It's a pity that an organ recital is scheduled at a time when many organists will be in churches playing organs...

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On ‎24‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 10:00, Choir Man said:

It's a pity that an organ recital is scheduled at a time when many organists will be in churches playing organs...

Perhaps this is true - it's certainly bad planning - and they did it last year as well if I remember! - except that the first Sunday of August was always one of the Sunday's I was absent from the organ bench! Perhaps others are too!

The week afterwards, on the 10th, Olivier Latry gives an Organ Recital at Buckfast Abbey performing music by Widor, Schumann & Saint-Saens as well as the Bach Fantasia & Fugue in G minor - after the piano version  by Lizst - ending, of course, with an improvisation.

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In 2019 is it really a problem that one cannot listen to a live broadcast? In my house we have 3 devices capable of recording high quaity digital sound plus 2 others, with simple timers, that can record a very decent analogue broadcast all of which can be connected to a sound system to be replayed at a time convenient to all.

This does not of course address the simple fact that the BBC Proms authorities regard organ music, and the simply amazing instrument available to them in the Albert Hall, with disdain and being of lesser status than the scratching of strings  🤾‍♂️.🏃‍♂️

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But as some people have said.... If it was aimed JUST at organists, they would have trouble filling the building, so aiming it at the general public. Like wise, other forms of ensembles are not catered for, and have as big a following, if not more,,,,, brass bands, or so I am told

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23 hours ago, handsoff said:

This does not of course address the simple fact that the BBC Proms authorities regard organ music, and the simply amazing instrument available to them in the Albert Hall, with disdain and being of lesser status than the scratching of strings  🤾‍♂️.🏃‍♂️

I don't agree - and, speaking as one who has played at the 'Proms', on a number of occasions,  as a 'cellist, I think to use the phrase 'scratching of strings' does you little credit!

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I am one of the people who can’t go to Olivier Latry’s Proms performance at 11 am on Sunday 4th due to church duties, but this is his programme:

            Aram Khachaturian:  Gayane – Sabre Dance (transcr. Kiviniemi)

            Manuel de Falla:  El amor brujo – Ritual fire dance (transcr. Latry)

            Ludwig Van Beethoven:  Adagio in F major (for mechanical clock)

            J S Bach:  Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

            Eugène Gigout:  Air célèbre de la Pentecôte

            Franz Liszt:  Prelude and Fugue on the name BACH (arr. Guillou)

            Charles-Marie Widor:  Bach's Memento – No. 4: Marche du veilleur de nuit

            Camille Saint-Saëns:  Danse macabre (arr. Lemare)

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it will be on "catch up" or another such BBC thing, so can record it at anytime I would have thought

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10 hours ago, Peter Allison said:

it will be on "catch up" or another such BBC thing, so can record it at anytime I would have thought

Yes. There was a time when if you missed something that was it but Isn't it wonderful that, now, if you do miss something on the Radio or TV you can listen or watch it later on at your leisure. 

 

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Perhaps I should not have mentioned (grumbled?) about my church commitment!  The very best hi-fi sound reproduction can never be a substitute for being physically present in the Royal Albert Hall - a venue (and organ) like no other.  I posted the programme details thinking that Olivier Latry’s choice of repertoire would be of interest, and might lead to some discussion about transcriptions and arrangements - I have no problem with either - both terms seem to be interchanged rather loosely.

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On 02/08/2019 at 09:01, Rowland Wateridge said:

Perhaps I should not have mentioned (grumbled?) about my church commitment!  The very best hi-fi sound reproduction can never be a substitute for being physically present in the Royal Albert Hall - a venue (and organ) like no other.  I posted the programme details thinking that Olivier Latry’s choice of repertoire would be of interest, and might lead to some discussion about transcriptions and arrangements - I have no problem with either - both terms seem to be interchanged rather loosely.

People spend thousands on reproduction gear (Hi Fi) and the organ is one of those things that just cannot, cross over well.

There has been one exception tho ( a very personal one) I went to hear an American organist at St Pauls, a few weeks ago, and yes, its a magnificent organ, BUT I preferred the recorded sounds of the late John Scott (and others) when playing on Full Organ, as the "live" sound was just a mush, it may have something to do with the seating, that was under the dome

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On 02/08/2019 at 09:01, Rowland Wateridge said:

Perhaps I should not have mentioned (grumbled?) about my church commitment!  The very best hi-fi sound reproduction can never be a substitute for being physically present in the Royal Albert Hall - a venue (and organ) like no other.  I posted the programme details thinking that Olivier Latry’s choice of repertoire would be of interest, and might lead to some discussion about transcriptions and arrangements - I have no problem with either - both terms seem to be interchanged rather loosely.

I actually find it utterly bizarre that the BBC should have organised this organ recital on a Sunday morning, in the full knowledge that literally thousands of church organists up and down the land would give their eye teeth to attend a recital by Olivier Latry, which they might have done for £5 if they had been free to do so. In view of the recent fire at Notre Dame it is even more reprehensible. I’m afraid, though, that the BBC is an enemy of all things organ and Christian. Any organ recital at the Proms is an extremely rare event, in spite of the fact that they have an enormous and powerful instrument worth millions in situ.

I detest the BBC and all its works. The sooner the licence fee is abolished and replaced with a subscription service the better. I will then spend my £150 on an annual trip to Paris to hear great organs played live by great organists. And for £10 a month I can hear whattever music I want, when I want, with a subscription to Apple Music or the like.

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St Paul’s is a very special case - and a very special place.  I remember John Scott saying (or actually writing) that some visiting organists heeded his advice about playing and registration there, and “some did not”.  Ralph Downes said something similar in ‘Baroque Tricks’ about the RFH organ - even mentioning one very distinguished player as an example!

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2 hours ago, Zimbelstern said:

I actually find it utterly bizarre that the BBC should have organised this organ recital on a Sunday morning, in the full knowledge that literally thousands of church organists up and down the land would give their eye teeth to attend a recital by Olivier Latry, which they might have done for £5 if they had been free to do so. In view of the recent fire at Notre Dame it is even more reprehensible. I’m afraid, though, that the BBC is an enemy of all things organ and Christian. Any organ recital at the Proms is an extremely rare event, in spite of the fact that they have an enormous and powerful instrument worth millions in situ.

I detest the BBC and all its works. The sooner the licence fee is abolished and replaced with a subscription service the better. I will then spend my £150 on an annual trip to Paris to hear great organs played live by great organists. And for £10 a month I can hear whattever music I want, when I want, with a subscription to Apple Music or the like.

I don't disagree with a lot of that! The timing does, at a glance, seem bizarre! However! Even if the Latry concert wasn't on a Sunday morning I doubt whether 'thousands' of organists would have turned up! I'm thinking of a number of recitals I have been to by great players that have been sparsely attended by, for instance, the local organists association or local organists. I organised a recital, years ago, with Francis Jackson and no more than a handful of the local organists turned up. It was embarrassing. As for going to London - depending on where you are travelling from the cost could be astronomical - I read of a guy whose train ticket to 'the smoke' cost him more than a flight to New York! I'm sorry but I don't see organists flocking to the Albert Hall to hear Latry especially when he does seem to be a regular visitor to the country. Are you going to the Saturday concert he is giving at Buckfast the week afterwards? 

The timing of the concert would have been finalised before the fire at Notre Dame so I don't think you can lay that at the door of the BBC.

£150 for a trip to Paris? I'm interested to know where you would be staying and how you would be getting there!! Your £150 wouldn't go far and you might just make it to Gare du Nord!! But I don't disagree about a subscription service - good idea!

I spent time working for the BBC. I do have a certain amount of antipathy towards the organisation, I wouldn't have gone so far as 'detest' though! Anti Christian, certainly anti-Catholic! Anti organ - I'm not sure!

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I won’t comment on the merits, or otherwise, of the BBC, but in my twilight retirement years I go to many organ recitals around the country, and they are mostly well-attended.  In spite of all the doom and gloom about the demise of.the organ, there can never have been so many high-quality recitals on offer.  Inevitably people in a full time job aren’t so lucky, and audience members tend to be of more mature years.  Rail travel can be incredibly cheap if you plan carefully - advance tickets with an annual railcard can regularly be purchased for as little as 30% of the ‘full fare’ - sometimes for even less.  Rail travel in the north of England (which as a Southerner I acknowledge has some of the best organs!), is very much cheaper than in the south.  

Of course advance publicity is crucial.  Amazingly some recitals are still only announced on the previous day.  It can’t be surprising if the audience is small.  Anyone - I would say everyone - should use Steve Smith’s marvellous and free website organrecitals.com both to advertise their recitals and for planning visits to other events.  At today’s date there are 601 organists listed on that site giving recitals at 299 venues.

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1 hour ago, S_L said:

I organised a recital, years ago, with Francis Jackson and no more than a handful of the local organists turned up. It was embarrassing.

We used to have a local businessman who financed a series of organ recitals each year by well-known players on our city centre four-manual. It was hard work drumming up enthusiasm. If the audience numbered 100 we reckoned we'd done well indeed.  Sometimes it was only half that.  Usually not much more than 10% would be organists.

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“A fantastic night for the Brooklyn Diocese: Dedicatory Recital played by Olivier Latry
On October 18, 2013 Olivier Latry played the dedicatory recital after Bishop Nicholas Anthony Di Marzio (The Seventh Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese) blessed the organ. Olivier Latry is the organist at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He is one of the greats of the great organists of our time. This organ recital was attended by over 750 paying people. Some people even flew in from Europe and many came from all over the country. They believed in the parish. Many contributed many times over the years and wanted to be part of this pipe organ’s rebirth. None would miss it for the world.”

 

It can be done!

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Of course it can be done but I'm afraid that, for one reason or another, organists have a bad press in this country.

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Oh it certainly can. Friends of mine who went to a recital at Cologne Cathedral were told, "Get there early and bring cushions in case there are no seats left." This was quite a while ago now, but I've since heard of similar reports from others. 

I think the problem in England is a product of our generally poor attitude as a nation to serious music.  Timothy Day's ""I saw Eternity the Other Night", mentioned by Phoneuma in another thread recently, is quite illuminating on this point..  Previously I had always thought that our tendency to sideline classical music was a recent phenomenon resulting from the growth of the pop music industry, its promotion by the broadcasting media and changes in educational policies that, for different reasons on left and right, see it as an undesirable call on resources. Day's book, on the other hand, shows that the fundamental problem goes way back and has been ingrained for at least a couple of centuries. At any rate, it seems that the early Victorians regarded interest in music as somewhat effeminate, unbefitting a gentleman and unworthy of serious attention - hence the very great difficulty in persuading cathedral clergy c.1840 that the abysmal standards of their choirs ought to be improved.  While music did eventually become a subject fit for the educated genteel, we have never really managed to change the general attitude of disengagement. That old jibe about Britain being 'Das Land ohne Musik'  was really quite justified.

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Yet it is precisely the Proms which present another image of classical music in this country. In 2010 there was an average audience of 4,000 for each of the 76 concerts held in the Albert Hall. Were the BBC to engage an artist such as Olivier Latry at a normal evening Prom start time of 7.30, and publicise the concert appropriately, and then broadcast it on TV, they could do an unparalleled service to the cause of organ music. A source of great mystery to me is why our august organ institutions, to one of which I pay £110 per year in subscriptions, carry so little weight in this regard. I do not blame the concert going community in this country, I blame the classical musical establishment. They seem to have decided that the organ is a rather niche and slightly sinister instrument with unwelcome religious associations, unworthy of comparison with ‘mainstream’ instruments, such as the piano or violin. Other countries have recently invested huge sums in new, state of the art concert halls with massive and extremely expensive organs that inspire and entrall. Perhaps if and when we finally get our new London world class concert hall we will also get an organ which will hold its own with those in Paris and Hamburg.

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I too do not understand why this recital is scheduled for a Sunday morning.  When I was working in London a long time ago now in the early 1990s, I attended many concerts including the Proms (I was fortunate in being able to live in Notting Hill just across the park from the gasworks, to which one could walk after an early dinner and get there in time for the event to begin).  During those years there was always an organ recital, it was scheduled early in the evening (typically 6 pm as I recall) which meant that the main concert could begin afterwards - and I usually stayed for that as well.  The audiences were not huge for the organ events but nevertheless respectable.  The main problem in those days was the somewhat parlous state of the organ.  It is therefore a great pity, now the organ has been so splendidly restored, that it seems to be so relegated in importance relative to other musical events at the Proms.

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1 hour ago, Zimbelstern said:

I do not blame the concert going community in this country, I blame the classical musical establishment. They seem to have decided that the organ is a rather niche and slightly sinister instrument with unwelcome religious associations, unworthy of comparison with ‘mainstream’ instruments, such as the piano or violin.

I don't think it's the religious associations particularly.  Orchestral players are generally quite relaxed about playing Viennese masses in church, for example.  In my experience, players of 'mainstream' instruments simply regard the organ as at best inferior and at worst downright unmusical. The usual objection is to its inexpressiveness -- to the unyielding evenness of its tone and the player's inability to shape phrases with nuances of touch.  Rubato and swell pedals simply don't cut it. Compared to their own instruments, the organ lacks subtlety.  We organists tend to be a bit sensitive about such comments, but it's no good sweeping them under the carpet by pretending that it's just the player's fault.  The fundamental problem is that the organ isn't really a Romantic instrument. It's one that's had Romanticism thrust upon it.  Do early music enthusiasts regard it more sympathetically, I wonder?

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45 minutes ago, Vox Humana said:

......swell pedals simply don't cut it. 

I would contend that, given the right organ and the right acoustic, this is refuted by the first page (notably bars 5 and 11) of the Final of Vierne’s Third Symphony alone. 

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17 minutes ago, Zimbelstern said:

I would contend that, given the right organ and the right acoustic, this is refuted by the first page (notably bars 5 and 11) of the Final of Vierne’s Third Symphony alone. 

I can't really comment on that, I'm afraid.  It's something you will need to ask mainstream players. They are the ones who need convincing. Maybe I've just known the wrong musicians...

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