Martin Cooke Posted January 27, 2022 Share Posted January 27, 2022 Just to acknowledge from the start... the idea of this topic comes from a comment on the 'other site' to which I often refer. In a post about Norwich Cathedral organ, one contributor comments that we only get to hear our great organs at services and at half a dozen recitals (if we're lucky) each year. I think this is largely true, though I know that Truro runs an extensive lunch hour recital programme. Why, wonders that same contributor, aren't these instruments played for an hour each day so they can be heard. I am bound to say that I agree, though I don't want to suggest that our cathedral music staff are not busy enough! As we all know, funding for these great places has been severely curtailed because of Covid, so I suspect cathedrals are very keen not to do anything that might affect visitors' enjoyment of their visit, and loud organ playing would make it difficult to hear a tour guide. BUT... isn't there a balance... and that fact that you can barely visit a cathedral outside service time and hear the organ played on more than Swell 1, suggests the balance may be out. (And do read some of the guides for visiting organists available on cathedral websites about guidance for practising at certain times of day. In some places you really cannot go beyond the Lieblich. And, by the way, the instructions about use of the organ for service playing and how certain stops deafen this canon or that virger and can only be heard in the Lady Chapel when the wind is in North-East, etc etc are quite extraordinary! Some organs seem so difficult in terms of balance in the building that they seem hopelessly impractical and almost a complete waste of money! Would you install a pipe organ if you were starting from scratch in some places, one can't help wondering!!) And if the Great and Pedal reeds can only used so sparingly - (and in one cathedral's case, not at all during the first five minutes of any voluntary because the clergy are conversing with the departing congregation) - mightn't they as well be removed altogether at the next rebuild and the instrument re-cast in an altogether more suitable format? (And couldn't the clergy stagger as far as the west end, well away from the organ to say their farewells????!!!) The other thing about hearing cathedral organs is that some cathedrals seem to delight in letting people hear the organ even at services. So, during the week, you perhaps get a minute or two of 'Organist's Creep' beforehand and a minimal voluntary at the end. Again, I have seen instructions that suggest the latter is what is desired so that the voluntary doesn't detract in some way from the nature of the service. Mind you, a BBC Choral Evensong a year or two back seemed madly out of kilter in having the huge Willan Passacaglia piece as the voluntary. What is that, 20 minutes' worth? Anyway, about hearing more from cathedral organs in non service times, what do forumites feel? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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