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Vox Humana

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I'm curious about how all you peripatetic virtuosi cope. If you are giving a recital on a sizeable three-manual instrument (or larger) which you have never played before, how much practice time do you find is a comfortable minimum? Personally, I'd love to get about four hours, but I count myself very lucky if I get half that. But it occurs to me that, if the recital you're giving is far away from home, your practice is probably going to have to be done on the day and you're not going to want to tire yourself out before-hand.

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I'm curious about how all you peripatetic virtuosi cope. If you are giving a recital on a sizeable three-manual instrument (or larger) which you have never played before, how much practice time do you find is a comfortable minimum? Personally, I'd love to get about four hours, but I count myself very lucky if I get half that. But it occurs to me that, if the recital you're giving is far away from home, your practice is probably going to have to be done on the day and you're not going to want to tire yourself out before-hand.

 

Apologies - I'm not in the peripatetic virtuosi class, but I find three hours is a minimum optimum time. It depends on the organ, of course.

 

It's the time taken up to assess the organ, decide the registrations, write them in - rehearse controlling the organ, listening to the organ and the acoustic - coping with its quirks, uneven actions, unusual piston configurations - that all takes time.

 

Some organs are impossible to balance to your satisfaction - you have to make difficult choices. Other organs and acoustics are very easy, but in my limited experience they're a rare commodity!

 

Playing on a large Dutch organ, with registrants rather than a piston system naturally takes much longer - for me more like 6 or 9 hours because of the time taken with writing in registration, shorter keyboard compasses and the pedal boards, etc. Though doing Elgar's sonata can be fun!

 

But I find less than three for an hour's programme and I'm winging it too much for my own comfort. After practise and travel on the day you don't need more stress but do too much on the day and you risk tiredness at the wrong moment!

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Apologies - I'm not in the peripatetic virtuosi class, but I find three hours is a minimum optimum time. It depends on the organ, of course.

 

 

Pah, if you're not in the peripatetic virtuosi class, what hope for the rest of us mere mortals? Or did you mean that you're just not peripatetic? :D

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I'm curious about how all you peripatetic virtuosi cope. If you are giving a recital on a sizeable three-manual instrument (or larger) which you have never played before, how much practice time do you find is a comfortable minimum? Personally, I'd love to get about four hours, but I count myself very lucky if I get half that. But it occurs to me that, if the recital you're giving is far away from home, your practice is probably going to have to be done on the day and you're not going to want to tire yourself out before-hand.

 

 

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

 

In the days when I could do press-ups on finger-tips, had time to practice much rather than little and when people bothered to attend organ-recitals, I used to do the rounds a bit.

 

I think my next recital is Summer 2007, unless I happen to drop one in at church late summer, when a few of the action adjustments have been carried out after the overhaul.

 

The successes include an interesting range of organs, but astonishingly, one of the very easiest to get to grips with had one of the biggest consoles; namely St.Bride's, Fleet Street. The action was right, there was a time-lag of course, but the organ did all the right things, made more or less the right noises according to my expectations and, above all, the console is so comfortable. Two hours and I was starting to fly the beast with no problems.

 

Hull City Hall was a bit of a pig, because the console remainded tucked under the apron of the organ-case, and in any event, it is like the musical equivalent to "The charge of the light brigade", with canons to the left, canons to the right and all sounding rather distant at the console. Meanwhile, down the hall, people were running for cover! Four hours practise, and I still wasn't at one with the instrument.

 

As Andrew Lucas rightly points out, Dutch organs can be awkward to the unfamiliar, and some downright impossible without a LOT of little helpers to hand, and that makes for a long (but very social) pre-recital get-together, with endless attention to detail and discussions.

 

The Wurlitzer (which was then in the Granada Studios, Manchester) was fun; not least because it could barely be heard at the console! Lightning action responses did nothing to re-assure me, and in the end, I just sang the melodies and hoped that the organ was doing much the same thing!

 

The ultimate nightmare (I've mentioned this previously) was St.Bart's, Armley, when the organ was on the verge of collapse, and when the gas-burner heating had fouled up the instrument with pollution and condensation in equal measure.

Having played the organ numerous times previously, and being quite at home with a Binns console, I didn't hesitate to scribble down Mozart, Bach, Gigout (OMG! That's French isn't it?) and Reger.

 

Silly me!

 

I thought the organist at the time, Arnold Mahon, gave me a bit of a sideways look and raised his eyebrows when he looked at the programme.

 

The upshot of this "experience" was a very messy recital, when my brain simply couldn't fathom out what the action was doing; further compunded by the fact that parts of the organ were speaking at different speeds, with a variance even from bass to treble ends of the keyboards. In fact, it was so bad, I was actually putting extra notes in because my senses indicated that I had missed them at the first attempt, which made for an interesting Mozart K608 and Reger "H G zu L"

 

Although not a recital, in America, I gave an unexpected group of visitors a quick Bach D-minor (sort of Classics for Pleasure) almost before I had chance to try out the huge 4-manual (about 300 stops) console. There were bits of organ oozing out of every crevice of the church, but miraculously, it all went beautifully. I often wonder if it wasn't because I couldn't have cared less whether I played the work or not, and whether they'd actually know if I did anything wrong........I was relaxed and carefree, and in nay event, it had a General Crescendo pedal for the big ending. Did that church shake in the last few bars!

 

Maybe that is the secret; to be relaxed and at peace with events, which is what pre-recital practise-time should be all about, rather than trying to perfect notes.

 

One very seasoned professional organist once said to me, "It's too late to worry about the dots. Just enjoy yourself and communicate."

 

He was right!

 

MM

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Well, after a few years off, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things and hence doing lots of lunchtime do's for nothing. Typically, places seem to allow you about 3-4 hours setting up time, some of which may be restricted volume. Some instruments I find really hard - Christchurch Priory was one, just couldn't find any of the noises I wanted and occasionally ended up doing strange things (like the 4' flute passage at the end of the Durufle Scherzo, where I ended up using the Nazard down a fifth because it was the only thing I could find that didn't cough like mad when used alone). Next up is Truro, then St Stephen Waldbrook, then Grosvenor Chapel, then Sherborne and so on and so on and so on. Dreading it.

 

The biggest difficulty I find is going off and getting distracted improvising my way around the sounds it can make for 3.75 hours leaving 15 minutes to set up the pistons. (Won't be such a problem at Grosvenor.) I've no discipline whatsoever.

 

It's console idiosyncracies that throw me. At Christchurch, there was a Nave to Great, and a Nave Flues On Great. Using one or the other made a huge difference to whether things like the pedal stops would work. I never worked it all out but do remember trying to do a sudden decrescendo and killing the nave, to suddenly find a 16' Diaphone belting away that hadn't been there earlier. Also, the seqencer forgot who I was an hour before the start time. At Wimborne, all the couplers are in their own little line and I could never find Sw-Gt quickly enough. At St Mary's Southampton all the couplers are in the Willis standard tab position, which I found a nightmare, and it's got infinite gradation pedals, which I also found a nightmare. Additionally (and I thought I'd hate this, but I don't), the Sw and Ch stops are all on the left jamb, and Gt and Pedal on the right - not the normal layout, but actually I thought a more logical one - all the meat on one hand, and the veg on the other.

 

Sometimes I just find an instrument that I totally melt into, and I love it when that happens. I remember years ago going on an organists' association wind pressure conference or something at Downside Abbey, just after some work was done (early 90's?) and having an absolute ball playing through Howells PsPr set 1 no 1 hand registering all the way - it just seemed to come so easily to hand. Don't think I've ever seen anything so easy to drive since. Although I'll probably never get to play it properly, I was once allowed a little sit-down for an hour or so at Guildford and found that incredibly versatile and easy to play.

 

I have watched both Andrew Lumsden and Geoffrey Morgan sit down at the Romsey organ (a pig to play until you have lived with it for several months) and hand-register their way through Bridge Adagio in E from memory, both giving utterly faultless performances. Gits.

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At St Mary's Southampton all the couplers are in the Willis standard tab position, which I found a nightmare, and it's got infinite gradation pedals, which I also found a nightmare.  Additionally (and I thought I'd hate this, but I don't), the Sw and Ch stops are all on the left jamb, and Gt and Pedal on the right - not the normal layout, but actually I thought a more logical one - all the meat on one hand, and the veg on the other.

 

 

The tab couplers are a bit of a pain, 'cos there's no logical layout - well, there is logic, but the couplers aren't grouped with the stops which they affect. Most people are used to looking for couplers to "Great" under the great stop jamb, for example. As opposed to traversing left to right through the coupler bank to find the one you want.

 

I'm slowly getting used to them - haven't quite got the swell oct->pedal mastered. (Handy, 'cos there's no 4' pedal reed)

 

The inifite gradation pedals are ace. Since sending one of the gauges off to be refurbed, I've really enjoyed using them blind...

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The successes include an interesting range of organs, but astonishingly, one of the very easiest to get to grips with had one of the biggest consoles; namely St.Bride's, Fleet Street. The action was right, there was a time-lag of course, but the organ did all the right things, made more or less the right noises according to my expectations and, above all, the console is so comfortable. Two hours and I was starting to fly the beast with no problems.
In my student days I was asked to accompany a morning service at St Bride's. I don't remember too much about it, except I got virtually no practice beforehand and, once I'd got used to the whole organ being enclosed, it proved quite easy to handle.
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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

CAUTION: RANT ALERT!

Self-indulgent and tedious account coming up:

[it starts gently.]

 

If there is a choice, I greatly prefer an evening 'lock-in' to all other kinds of rehearsing and (particularly) registering. It still doesn't seem to occur to bystanders/bookstall operatives/vergers that in order to display an organ properly one needs to use the actual sounds in the rehearsal too!

 

For me, the grimmest ever (in this country) was when I was just finishing as a student in London and for some reason there was an art exhibition set up in the south transept at Southwark Cathedral. Those of you familiar with this instrument will know that the only person in the whole building who cannot hear the instrument properly is the player himsef/herself. People got very shirty with me indeed on this occasion. I'm afraid I responded in kind.

 

The grimmest ever (anywhere) has to be the time I gave a recital in Rheims Cathedral (we are talking of 20 or so years ago). When I arrived to rehearse at about 10am for a lunchtime 'do', I was told that the organist had left town taking with him what they believed was the only key to the large Gonzalez. As time ticked away, searches for a spare key (if they were ever in earnest, which is a good question in itself) proved fruitless. About ten minutes before the published start time (and remember these things can be very flexible indeed in France) someone offered me the key to the Choir organ. This was quite a worrying prospect, since its case (around 20' tall) both above and behind the player, leaned into the cathedral at an angle of no more than 85 degrees! Not holding out my hopes for much, I was not surprised when the first note I played (bottom C on the pedals) went down and stayed down. I think the rest of the programme ended up being for manuals only.

 

Seriously, for a lunchtime 'do' I usually arrange to get to the church at 10am. Over the years there have been some very fraught days when nobody has arrived to unlock. I suppose this has happened getting on for a dozen times - all of them famous churches in London. I have arrived to find power cables sawn through, pistons that have stuck on, notes that have cyphered, officials that have said caustic rather than apologetic things despite arriving hours late to let us in. Most times I have a minder and virtually every time we have 'got by'. Even so, quite a few times I have come away from a lunchtime recital vowing never to do it again. I reckon to have given around 400 lunchtime recitals over the last thirty years - at least three of these were done without any rehearsal whatsoever. In one spectacular case, the recital was not even given on the organ it was intended for but in another church down the road where church officials had taken pity on me and my audience. The generous (2nd) church was St.Clement Danes.

 

My first and last Bath Abbey recital for some reason sticks in the memory. For a start, any playing louder than mp had to be over by 11am to make way for the tourist traffic and income to be gained from them. Panic ensued, trying to get everything done from a 9.30 start. Then I found that the music desk was set so far back that even with my glasses I could barely read the scores. Lastly, upon asking whether I might put a few CDs out to sell after the recital I was told that the Abbey would take their percentage cut of any sold. In moderately high dudgeon (I do dudgeon with both natural conviction and style!) I put them back in my box! Who'd do this for even a meagre living? - nobody if they've got any sense.

 

On the other hand you get excellent days too - recently two out of the four cathedrals in the last month have been kindness itself - decent expenses, proper chance to sell CDs, lunch with the cathedral organist beforehand. Oh and the other two - I'm still waiting for cent one from the first where they had (in any case) muddled my date and gave it to someone else too! The second, I had to sell CDs in the foyer (sales not allowed in the cathedral) and despite claiming to have the most extensive recital series in any UK cathedral they still don't offer to help in any way with travel costs. I also had to have a B&B (at my own expense) in order to practice the night before.

All I can say is 'Vive le sport!'

that and I expect that I might have at most another ten years of recitalling in me and I am determined to enjoy the chances I get absolutely regardless!

 

Let's be honest, I really love it when it goes well. I like to see happy people afterwards and I like to play decent music on decent instruments. Each time is a new challenge. Quite deliberately, I choose not to repeat myself for a two-year cycle (apart from Bach items), this keeps things fresh. I don't know how some eminent people manage to stay interested or enthusiastic when they're trying to recreate the same superb performance in so many (sometimes far from ideal) situations. I would rather choose things specifically for one instrument - the task of coming up with a decent programme that sounds fine on a poky little two-decker can be faced and solved if you set your mind to it.

 

Some places I go, I see friendly faces year after year and they often buy CDs too. In a way this is self-fulfilling - if people buy a CD and don't like it, they won't go to other recitals of mine so I'm more-or-less bound only to meet the happier punters. What can you buy these days for about £10 and enjoy time after time? Answer: not much!

 

Following up one or two comments above, I always (or virtually always) take someone I trust with me. Not just to turn pages but to confirm balances while I choose my registrations. I write these on post-it notes, my memory cannot be relied upon at crisis moments. The commonest problem during the actual recital is that I choose the finest sound, mark the piston number on the score with my little bit of sticky paper but occasionally fail to press and hold the setter button. If there's ten spare minutes, these days I tend to run through the pistons once just before the recital.

 

Recently I arrived at a venue (for an evening 'do') to find the organ hopelessly out of tune. I mean the reeds were without exception absolutely 100% teeth-grindingly bad!! It transpired that the builders had been round the same week to sort out an action problem, but because it was during a hot spell they had declined to run over the reeds knowing that they would eventually settle back down. Meantime, what about that poor audience? Anyway, the organist felt the same as me and after I'd gone through my pieces we went through the reeds I could reach. He even remembered this when making out my cheque afterwards. A gentleman. I am extremely plump, not to say obese. When it came to the option of hauling myself up a narrow passageboard and into the Swell I went with discretion and stayed out. We got through most of our evening with Great, Choir and Pedal reeds only. When we came to the flashy French stuff on the programme, we had that unmistakable, 'never been tuned in living memory' tang absolutely waiting to be heard. Didn't exactly make my day, however.

 

Problem consoles? I reckon half the problem (if there is one) is down to my choosing the wrong programme. I remember trying to play Ireland's Capriccio at The Parr Hall Warrington. Everything else on that programme was fine, but I hadn't realised how much hand registration I usually do, and this was torture with a most unorthodox layout. Nowadays, I have a note on some of my index cards to remind me '61 notes needed' or '32 note pedals'; 'Needs general pistons', that sort of thing. If you go with the grain even weird organs aren't that scary.

 

I must tell you, concerning one famous recitalist that we all know - the requirements are set out firmly if you engage them to play for you:

full access to the instrument for the whole of the preceeding day.

A light rehearsal (2 hours or so) on the day itself, a lie down in the afternoon and then a green salad.

Then the recital - looking radiant of course. A lie down with a green salad.....

there's something. Complete access for a whole day? I've never had that, not ever. Not even for a CD when we're paying handsomely for the building.

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CAUTION: RANT ALERT!

Self-indulgent and tedious account coming up:

[it starts gently.]

 

If there is a choice, I greatly prefer an evening 'lock-in' to all other kinds of rehearsing and (particularly) registering.  It still doesn't seem to occur to bystanders/bookstall operatives/vergers that in order to display an organ properly one needs to use the actual sounds in the rehearsal too!

 

For me, the grimmest ever (in this country) was when I was just finishing as a student in London and for some reason there was an art exhibition set up in the south transept at Southwark Cathedral.  Those of you familiar with this instrument will know that the only person in the whole building who cannot hear the instrument properly is the player himsef/herself. People got very shirty with me indeed on this occasion. I'm afraid I responded in kind.

 

The grimmest ever (anywhere) has to be the time I gave a recital in Rheims Cathedral (we are talking of 20 or so years ago). When I arrived to rehearse at about 10am for a lunchtime 'do', I was told that the organist had left town taking with him what they believed was the only key to the large Gonzalez. As time ticked away, searches for a spare key (if they were ever in earnest, which is a good question in itself) proved fruitless. About ten minutes before the published start time (and remember these things can be very flexible indeed in France) someone offered me the key to the Choir organ. This was quite a worrying prospect, since its case (around 20' tall) both above and behind the player, leaned into the cathedral at an angle of no more than 85 degrees!  Not holding out my hopes for much, I was not surprised when the first note I played (bottom C on the pedals) went down and stayed down. I think the rest of the programme ended up being for manuals only.

 

Seriously, for a lunchtime 'do' I usually arrange to get to the church at 10am. Over the years there have been some very fraught days when nobody has arrived to unlock. I suppose this has happened getting on for a dozen times - all of them famous churches in London. I have arrived to find power cables sawn through, pistons that have stuck on, notes that have cyphered, officials that have said caustic rather than apologetic things despite arriving hours late to let us in.  Most times I have a minder and virtually every time we have 'got by'.  Even so, quite a few times I have come away from a lunchtime recital vowing never to do it again.  I reckon to have given around 400 lunchtime recitals over the last thirty years - at least three of these were done without any rehearsal whatsoever. In one spectacular case, the recital was not even given on the organ it was intended for but in another church down the road where church officials had taken pity on me and my audience. The generous (2nd) church was St.Clement Danes.

 

My first and last Bath Abbey recital for some reason sticks in the memory. For a start, any playing louder than mp had to be over by 11am to make way for the tourist traffic and income to be gained from them. Panic ensued, trying to get everything done from a 9.30 start. Then I found that the music desk was set so far back that even with my glasses I could barely read the scores. Lastly, upon asking whether I might put a few CDs out to sell after the recital I was told that the Abbey would take their percentage cut of any sold.  In moderately high dudgeon (I do dudgeon with both natural conviction and style!) I put them back in my box!  Who'd do this for even a meagre living? - nobody if they've got any sense. 

 

On the other hand you get excellent days too - recently two out of the four cathedrals in the last month have been kindness itself - decent expenses, proper chance to sell CDs, lunch with the cathedral organist beforehand. Oh and the other two - I'm still waiting for cent one from the first where they had (in any case) muddled my date and gave it to someone else too! The second, I had to sell CDs in the foyer (sales not allowed in the cathedral) and despite claiming to have the most extensive recital series in any UK cathedral they still don't offer to help in any way with travel costs. I also had to have a B&B (at my own expense) in order to practice the night before.

All I can say is 'Vive le sport!'

that and I expect that I might have at most another ten years of recitalling in me and I am determined to enjoy the chances I get absolutely regardless!

 

Let's be honest, I really love it when it goes well. I like to see happy people afterwards and I like to play decent music on decent instruments.  Each time is a new challenge.  Quite deliberately, I choose not to repeat myself for a two-year cycle (apart from Bach items), this keeps things fresh.  I don't know how some eminent people manage to stay interested or enthusiastic when they're trying to recreate the same superb performance in so many (sometimes far from ideal) situations.  I would rather choose things specifically for one instrument - the task of coming up with a decent programme that sounds fine on a poky little two-decker can be faced and solved if you set your mind to it.

 

Some places I go, I see friendly faces year after year and they often buy CDs too. In a way this is self-fulfilling - if people buy a CD and don't like it, they won't go to other recitals of mine so I'm more-or-less bound only to meet the happier punters.  What can you buy these days for about £10 and enjoy time after time? Answer: not much!

 

Following up one or two comments above, I always (or virtually always) take someone I trust with me.  Not just to turn pages but to confirm balances while I choose my registrations.  I write these on post-it notes, my memory cannot be relied upon at crisis moments.  The commonest problem during the actual recital is that I choose the finest sound, mark the piston number on the score with my little bit of sticky paper but occasionally fail to press and hold the setter button.  If there's ten spare minutes, these days I tend to run through the pistons once just before the recital.

 

Recently I arrived at a venue (for an evening 'do') to find the organ hopelessly out of tune. I mean the reeds were without exception absolutely 100% teeth-grindingly bad!!  It transpired that the builders had been round the same week to sort out an action problem, but because it was during a hot spell they had declined to run over the reeds knowing that they would eventually settle back down.  Meantime, what about that poor audience?  Anyway, the organist felt the same as me and after I'd gone through my pieces we went through the reeds I could reach.  He even remembered this when making out my cheque afterwards. A gentleman. I am extremely plump, not to say obese. When it came to the option of hauling myself up a narrow passageboard and into the Swell I went with discretion and stayed out.  We got through most of our evening with Great, Choir and Pedal reeds only.  When we came to the flashy French stuff on the programme, we had that unmistakable, 'never been tuned in living memory' tang absolutely waiting to be heard.  Didn't exactly make my day, however.

 

Problem consoles?  I reckon half the problem (if there is one) is down to my choosing the wrong programme. I remember trying to play Ireland's Capriccio at The Parr Hall Warrington. Everything else on that programme was fine, but I hadn't realised how much hand registration I usually do, and this was torture with a most unorthodox layout.  Nowadays, I have a note on some of my index cards to remind me '61 notes needed' or '32 note pedals';  'Needs general pistons', that sort of thing.  If you go with the grain even weird organs aren't that scary.

 

I must tell you, concerning one famous recitalist that we all know - the requirements are set out firmly if you engage them to play for you:

full access to the instrument for the whole of the preceeding day.

A light rehearsal (2 hours or so) on the day itself, a lie down in the afternoon and then a green salad.

Then the recital - looking radiant of course.  A lie down with a green salad.....

there's something.  Complete access for a whole day?  I've never had that, not ever. Not even for a CD when we're paying handsomely for the building.

 

What a great read Paul - you should write a book - or one of those 1/4 hour slots on radio 4!!

Thanks

 

AJJ

 

PS We really will try and get to the Bordeaux recital in the summer!

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I must tell you, concerning one famous recitalist that we all know - the requirements are set out firmly if you engage them to play for you:

full access to the instrument for the whole of the preceeding day.

A light rehearsal (2 hours or so) on the day itself, a lie down in the afternoon and then a green salad.

Then the recital - looking radiant of course.  A lie down with a green salad.....

there's something.  Complete access for a whole day?  I've never had that, not ever. Not even for a CD when we're paying handsomely for the building.

I know exactly who you mean! :D

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I remember one recitalist who I had to 'mind' insisted on watching the rugby highlights on TV in the time between rehearsal and recital. He got so engrossed we nearly didn't get to the venue in time. Another had to pop out for a quick smoke between items - he is very well know!

 

AJJ

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Its not 'Arty' is it?

I've just stumbled across some fruity allegations about dear Arty. Try Googling for 'kasparek nobile'.

 

"The guards were there because the church provided them for Nobile for more than a month, after a parishioner saw him leaving a video store that advertises XXX-rated materials and hired detectives to follow him."

 

:lol:

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If it's the same person, then they used to do the same thing when teaching at Oundle, with the result that an hour's session was reduced to about 20 minutes, mostly of snide remarks.

 

Sorry - 'not sure - I was never up to Oundle.

 

AJJ

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I'm curious about how all you peripatetic virtuosi cope. If you are giving a recital on a sizeable three-manual instrument (or larger) which you have never played before, how much practice time do you find is a comfortable minimum? Personally, I'd love to get about four hours, but I count myself very lucky if I get half that. But it occurs to me that, if the recital you're giving is far away from home, your practice is probably going to have to be done on the day and you're not going to want to tire yourself out before-hand.

Fairly peripatetic, but most definitely not a virtuoso.... for what it's worth, the absolute ideal for me is the evening before in a quiet building, with a couple of hours or so on the day to check registration changes, plus a bit of slow practice on 8' flutes - I try not to play the whole prgramme through (knackering, and if I can't play it the night before then one morning won't make any difference). You really need somewhere to stay for that though, otherwise you risk ending up in the pub...If I'm doing something particularly hard (Riff-Raff or similar) I always make a separate trip at my own expense to work at that in advance. A couple of big concert halls allow a whole day, or even two, in advance, which is bliss. Sometimes you end up having to do it all on the day but this is not ideal. I sometimes find that the first day you play an organ it is disastrous - had one of those in Denmark last year, and had a sleepless night over it - but the next day you have somehow 'learnt' the feel of the organ and it feels comfortable. That scenario, as much as the business of registration etc, is the thing which I find always merits the extra time. Here we give recitalists the night before, plus the day itself from 10-4, during which time they can play as loud as they like (within reasonable limits) - that may be unusual but then the D and C here like music. Westminster Cathedral, by the way, is among the most terrifying organs to play - it's very loud (even the strings are fortissimo at the console), you sit right underneath it, the touch is simultaneously light and deep with almost no resistance, and the pedal board is strangely placed. Sunday pm recitalists only get a couple of hours to prepare and then straight in cold - not easy....
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Fairly peripatetic, but most definitely not a virtuoso.... for what it's worth, the absolute ideal for me is the evening before in a quiet building, with a couple of hours or so on the day to check registration changes, plus a bit of slow practice on 8' flutes - I try not to play the whole prgramme through (knackering, and if I can't play it the night before then one morning won't make any difference). You really need somewhere to stay for that though, otherwise you risk ending up in the pub...If I'm doing something particularly hard (Riff-Raff or similar) I always make a separate trip at my own expense to work at that in advance. A couple of big concert halls allow a whole day, or even two, in advance, which is bliss. Sometimes you end up having to do it all on the day but this is not ideal. I sometimes find that the first day you play an organ it is disastrous - had one of those in Denmark last year, and had a sleepless night over it - but the next day you have somehow 'learnt' the feel of the organ and it feels comfortable. That scenario, as much as the business of registration etc, is the thing which I find always merits the extra time. Here we give recitalists the night before, plus the day itself from 10-4, during which time they can play as loud as they like (within reasonable limits) - that may be unusual but then the D and C here like music. Westminster Cathedral, by the way, is among the most terrifying organs to play - it's very loud (even the strings are fortissimo at the console), you sit right underneath it, the touch is simultaneously light and deep with almost no resistance, and the pedal board is strangely placed. Sunday pm recitalists only get a couple of hours to prepare and then straight in cold - not easy....

 

Stephen - I totally agree (except for Denmark and Westminster Cathedral, neither of which I have experienced). Incidentally, I am certainly not a virtuoso - but I do give occasional organ recitals here and there, so I do not know if my reply counts!

 

I have also had one or two similar experiences to Paul Derrett - hanging around outside a church (usually in the City of London) waiting for a verger to appear with a key.

 

I was once playing a lunch-time recital in a large parish church which was concurrently venue to an art exhibition. Since the building was still open to visitors (and the sidesmen were presumably asleep), people were walking around quietly - except for two women, both of whom had failed to notice the large posters by the door advertising an organ recital 'THIS LUNCH-TIME' - and the approximately two hundred and fifty quiet souls seated in the Nave.

 

I believe that it was during a quiet movement from Widor IV that the silly cow came up to the console (with her back to the Nave) and announced, in a voice reminiscent of hysterical gravel "Oh Glad! Look - here is the organ-player. Hello. Are you doin' a bit of practice, then?"

 

I could post my reply, I suppose. However, I doubt that working-out an approximation will tax anyone reading this.

 

Stupid woman.... (Oh - but surely this is tautology?)

 

:lol:

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I'm curious about how all you peripatetic virtuosi cope. If you are giving a recital on a sizeable three-manual instrument (or larger) which you have never played before, how much practice time do you find is a comfortable minimum? Personally, I'd love to get about four hours, but I count myself very lucky if I get half that. But it occurs to me that, if the recital you're giving is far away from home, your practice is probably going to have to be done on the day and you're not going to want to tire yourself out before-hand.

 

I don't suppose that I really belong to the real addressees either, but I have experienced a number of them, including Gillian Weir and Simon Preston, from whom I adopted the rule " at least 1 hour for every 10 minutes of the programme". I regard this as professional. I want 9 hours of practice before a full length recital. I also expect it of those whom I invite to play here, so we pay a decent fee ( not less than 500 Euros) and two nights accomodation; the recitals are Fridays at 8.30 pm, and the cathedral is available for practice Thursday evening from 6.30 until Friday 10 am, without a break if necessary (no curfews here), and again on Friday from 3 pm; no further tours are scheduled from this time, although the cathedral is open until 6. Absolute quiet from 6 till 7.30, and then there might even be time for that green salad.

 

On the downside, we do rather hope that the organist will have a glass of wine with the groundlings in the Cloisters afterwards. It can get late.

 

Cheers

Barry

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I don't suppose that I really belong to the real addressees either, but I have experienced a number of them, including Gillian Weir and Simon Preston, from whom I adopted the rule " at least 1 hour for every 10 minutes of the programme".
Let's get this straight: anyone who can play anything by Dupré of Duruflé is a virtuoso in my books! :D Having had my conscience pricked by another thread, I've been bashing away at the Dupré G minor. My toaster is gathering quite a collection of black marks round the bottom of the woodwork where I've been kicking it. Hard. :lol:

 

Years ago Radio Times printed an article about either DGW or SP - memory's vague again - in which whoever it was reckoned it took a good four hours to get to know an organ properly. 1 hour per 10 minutes of programme sounds a lot more rigorous and a good rule of thumb. If only I were in their class!

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