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The Other Side Of The Pond


parsfan
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I note that one of the most talented of Church musicians, Gordon Stewart, is to take up a post in a US church. He follows other British organists who held cathedral posts such as Graham Elliott and Christopher Brayne.

 

Why do they do it? Is it money? The weather?

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I note that one of the most talented of Church musicians, Gordon Stewart, is to take up a post in a US church. He follows other British organists who held cathedral posts such as Graham Elliott and Christopher Brayne.

 

...........and John Scott at St Thomas, New York, Michael McCarthy at Washington National Cathedral and David Briggs.

 

AJJ

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From what I've seen of the states: plenty of full time jobs with proper pay and conditions, even sometimes in fairly ordinary towns. OK, you will probably have to run three or four choirs plus a handbell choir, but you will probably have a decent-sized organ in good condition. More generally, standards of living seem much higher there than in the UK (at least for the "haves" - you wouldn't want to be a "have not"). If I'd listened to good advice and discovered it when I was younger I'd be off there like a shot.

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I have a friend who gained a post at an important church in Denmark a year or two ago - not somewhere out in the wilds but large parish, good organ, music festival etc. Some years ago there seemed also to be a migration of organists in the direction of Scandinavia (one of my own organ teachers went) - is this still going on in any shape or form? It would also be interesting to know if any organists from abroad were taking up posts over here.

 

AJJ

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OK, you will probably have to run three or four choirs plus a handbell choir,

 

From some of the sites I have looked at three or four choirs might be a conservative estimate. Indeed, one church was in double figures in terms of number of choirs ! However, there is always a decent no of underlings in terms of assistants and choir trainers.

 

How can they do this? The answer must be in the collection plate !!

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From some of the sites I have looked at three or four choirs might be a conservative estimate. Indeed, one church was in double figures in terms of number of choirs ! However, there is always a decent no of underlings in terms of assistants and choir trainers.

 

How can they do this? The answer must be in the collection plate !!

I remember a visit to Dallas with Ch Ch choir - Highland Park Presbyterian - a 5 manual in the chancel and a three manual in the gallery, both very good. The weekly collections apparently exceeded $50K on a regular basis - that's just from passing the plate around, not to mention pledges and gifts and the like.
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I remember a visit to Dallas with Ch Ch choir - Highland Park Presbyterian - a 5 manual in the chancel and a three manual in the gallery, both very good. The weekly collections apparently exceeded $50K on a regular basis - that's just from passing the plate around, not to mention pledges and gifts and the like.

 

 

It _is_ a bit easier to make a living as an organist over here, but I think it's simply because we have a big country and a lot more full-time positions.

 

I have a full-time position, but since I either direct or rehearse with 4 different groups, it leaves very little time for organ practice. The good news is that I can be a musician, and not have to work elsewhere to support myself and my family. Our yearly budget is in excess of $500k, over 1/2 of which accounts for staff salaries and benefits.

 

Competition is pretty fierce, though - there were 40 applicants for the position I currently have, only 2 of the 40 were considered seriously after the initial vetting by the committee. If you are well-rounded as a musician, have good people skills and are willing to be flexible (read: lead the worship band as WELL as the choir without complaining) you can easily rise to the top. It doesn't hurt to be good at self-promotion and such tasks as writing a good CV or resume, as well as being able to write well and think on one's feet while being fired questions by a committee will be helpful as well.

 

My $0.02 from THIS side of the pond

 

Jonathan Orwig

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