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MusingMuso

The Darwinian Organist?

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Small but perfectly formed with a lovely case at the west end.

I once had a girlfriend like that.

 

Once heard Guillou in recital there. Played Bach audaciously fast !

Yes. Guillou's Bach is, shall we say, "individual". I'm tempted to say he plays it like a pianist, only more so.

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I think it was MM above who suggested that churchgoing abroad is much better than over here. Unless you're thinking of Africa or the USA, I would not count on this being the case - even then, keen organists are not that pentiful. I think this is one of those 'grass is always greener' moments.

 

 

The places abroad where we have all seen massive numbers: bear in mind that these are major regional centres and most have the sense to concentrate their concerts into Festivals or summer months. In some of these places, organ music 'out in the towns and villages' is pretty thin on the ground.

 

 

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

 

Well, maybe this is true of Western Europe, but I'm reliably informed that church is still a big thing in places like Poland and Slovakia; possibly Hungary as well. I think, at the last count when I checked it out, 90% of Poles go regularly to mass.

 

In Holland, there are recitals every single day throughout summer, with numerous other events during the "off season".

 

I've been to some very well attended concerts in a few quite remote places, but of course, it is the big events, the big competitions and the more important venues which attract the biggest numbers.

 

Something I do find amazing, is the fact that the Prague Organ Festival runs for TWO WEEKS and is booked out three years in advance. I think the same may well be true for the Olomouc Organ Festival, and possibly the Brno Festival.....all in a small country the size of Scotland!!

 

MM

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I very strongly disagree with you there.  I was recently forced to stand up and talk to an audience (by Geoffrey Morgan) and I found they absolutely love it.  On the whole we are not talking to organ (or even music) buffs; we are talking to people coming to be entertained.  A few minutes spent giving a bit of context, telling them what to look out for (in musical or organ terms), explaining why you've put two pieces together in a programme etc is time well spent and I am now a 100% convert.  It has been said on here before that there are some players (GM included) whose introductions to the music are often just as enjoyable as the music itself.

 

As for screens, I don't see the point in doing without, where the console is remote.  You don't watch F1 racing in plan view from a helicopter; the cameras are right in the thick of the action, where you can almost smell the oil and burning rubber.  The feat of playing the organ is one which is scarcely less exciting and amazing to a lot of punters, especially if it's a very physical piece.  There are lots of discussions about playing "popular" music & transcriptions to get people interested - why not play "proper" music in a non-stuffy, entertaining and involving way, and see if THAT works for our dwindling audiences?

 

A case in point was the opening recital at Bridlington Priory this year, Thomas Trotter gave very informed talk with demonstations of the various stops which I thought went down well especially for those "non organist" and visitors

Peter

 

The reason I don't often go to concerts is that I am sick of a besuited player coming on, bowing solemnly, and then going off upstairs to play Reger for 45 minutes.  The most enjoyable concert I have been to in the last two years was Geoffrey Morgan "opening" a small amateur-built 2 manual in a tiny village church (as a favour for a friend); the music and the organ were in a way irrelevant, but the experience of being entertained and involved was one that will stay with me.  I have almost never been to a choral or orchestral concert where the conductor didn't say a few words of introduction to the piece.  I recently watched spell-bound as Ralph Allwood introduced an Arvo Part mag and nunc to a lunchtime audience of tourists in a way that they knew what to expect and how to enjoy it - which he followed by herding all the audience into the first few rows, re-forming the choir in a big circle around them for Spem in Alium - what an experience.  Is that showing off or is it really fantastic showmanship?

 

I don't think either of your points have as much to do with performer's ego, showing off or even just simple organ anorakking as you suggest.  I think that, on the whole, anything that can be done to encourage and invite the audience be a part of the action is to be widely applauded, and is quite possibly where the Carlo Curleys and Wayne Marshalls of this world are so successful - I think their choice of music is in many ways entirely a sideline issue.

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It will be interesting to see how many people turn up to the recital at Halifax PC on Saturday (9 September). The programme is:

  • Bach Passacaglia
  • Franck B Minor Chorale
  • Durufle Suite op. 5

Now, there's a recital programme that takes no prisoners! It's the sort of programme that would tempt me into a 200 mile round trip to attend.

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Guest Andrew Butler

A piece I have seen programmed several times recently, but never heard, is Karl Jenkins' "Trumpeting Organ Morgan". Sounds fun - is it? :rolleyes:

 

PS - I can work out it's inspiration - that rather "backwards" village in Wales I presume!

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
A piece I have seen programmed several times recently, but never heard, is Karl Jenkins' "Trumpeting Organ Morgan".  Sounds fun - is it?  :lol:

 

PS - I can work out it's inspiration - that rather "backwards" village in Wales I presume!

 

 

 

Yes. Great fun!

 

It's not so peculiar that you cannot offer it to an audience in church but pretty near the borderline IMHO. Needs a respectable sized instrument and a pretty prompt action.

It's possible that Huw Tregelles Williams might have recorded it, it was written for him.

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A piece I have seen programmed several times recently, but never heard, is Karl Jenkins' "Trumpeting Organ Morgan".  Sounds fun - is it?

I think this very much depends on how you react to minimalistic music. I react adversely. I can understand why Paul finds it fun: it's jiggy and none too taxing on the brain - and that's about all you can say for it. Like most minimalistic music, it just consists of a couple of neat ideas which are repeated ad nauseam, the subtle variations introduced into them hardly comprising genuine musical interest. Having said that, it's not entirely devoid of progression and is far less terminal than some Gorecki I've heard. I still find it pretty vacuous though. Audiences might enjoy it.

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A piece I have seen programmed several times recently, but never heard, is Karl Jenkins' "Trumpeting Organ Morgan".  Sounds fun - is it?  :lol:

 

PS - I can work out it's inspiration - that rather "backwards" village in Wales I presume!

 

 

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

 

Well now, see you here.

 

I was talking to my friend Morgan the Organ only yesterday, and he likes to write pieces of music based on Welsh hymn-tunes, which in turn are based on Welsh place-names.

 

"Cwm Rhondda" was wonderful, and his atonal Fantasia on "Aberyswyth" was original at the very least, but his fugal exposition on the lesser known Welsh village of "Gorsafawddachaidraigodanheddogleddollonpenrhynareurdraethceredigion" proved too challenging, even for him.

 

I told him that he couldn't have a musical note for every letter and make a fugue subject out of it, but he wouldn't listen, see.

 

The end result was like listening to great master's "Kontrapunctus" and "The Harmonic Labyrinth" all thrown into the same pot, and that was before the inversion and the final stretto left him floundering.

 

I said to him, "Morgan, this is just silly. What are you trying to be, the Welsh saucepan Bach?"

 

Anyway, I haven't heard from him since shortly after he went to Thailand to visit a pretty young lady he met there, who lives in a tiny village by the name of "Krungthepmahanakornamornratanakosinmahintarayutthayamahadilokphop

nopparatrajathaniburiromudomrajaniwesmahasatharnamornphimarnavatarnsathitsakkatt

iyavisanukamprasit"

 

The last I heard, he was contemplating writing a set of atonal, symphonic variations dedicated to his young lady friend and the village where she and her fellow pupils live, which he said would occupy a great deal of his time.....about 25 years of it to be precise.

 

:P

 

MM

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can understand why Paul finds it fun: it's jiggy and none too taxing on the brain - and that's about all you can say for it.
I've just re-read this and would like to make it clear that this was not intended in any way as a comment on Paul's brain! :lol:

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I've just re-read this and would like to make it clear that this was not intended in any way as a comment on Paul's brain!  :lol:

 

 

I'm not offended. [Assuming I am the Paul you mean.....]

 

We were asked about this piece: I reckoned this was a fair question to reply to since I've learned it in the last two or three years and played it a couple of times now in recitals, most recently less than a month ago when it went down very well with a big audience in France. It wouldn't replace serious music in a programme of mine, but to bring the house down, enjoy a few Trumpets and other ear-tickling fancies and blast a bit on full organ towards the end of an evening, it's a great piece and yes, I stand by 'fun'!

I am neither a card-carrying purist nor a puritan. Should I be?

 

These people who don't like Trumpeting Organ Morgan, where have they heard it performed? I assume that they wouldn't judge a contemporary piece merely from sightreading it through or gazing at the score.

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These people who don't like Trumpeting Organ Morgan, where have they heard it performed?  I assume that they wouldn't judge a contemporary piece merely from sightreading it through or gazing at the score.

 

The words "Karl" and "Jenkins" will be enough for some people to feel they are justified in making a glib value judgement.

 

Reminds me of the old newspaper cartoon series "Lost Consonants" - a caption with a consonant missing illustrating a picture. My favourite was "Andrew Lloyd-Webber writes another hit musical.

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The words "Karl" and "Jenkins" will be enough for some people to feel they are justified in making a glib value judgement.

 

Reminds me of the old newspaper cartoon series "Lost Consonants" - a caption with a consonant missing illustrating a picture.  My favourite was "Andrew Lloyd-Webber writes another hit musical.

 

Well, quite.

 

 

 

I have only heard two or three works by Karl Jenkins; however, words which spring to mind are 'pedestrian', 'tedious' and even 'are we there, yet?'

 

I note that you also dislike music by the slug in flared trousers, David.

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These people who don't like Trumpeting Organ Morgan, where have they heard it performed?  I assume that they wouldn't judge a contemporary piece merely from sightreading it through or gazing at the score.
I've not heard it in recital. I did work at it for a little while before before concluding that exasperated tedium is a terribly cruel way to die. But, like I said, I find minimalism intellectually barren, a cop out. I could of course be missing something somewhere, but I can cope with that.

 

There are, however, far, far worse pieces out there. Anyone hear that Morton Feldman piece while waiting for Latry playing Vierne on Radio 3 last week? If ever there was a musical equivalent of Vogon poetry that was it.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
The words "Karl" and "Jenkins" will be enough for some people to feel they are justified in making a glib value judgement.

 

Reminds me of the old newspaper cartoon series "Lost Consonants" - a caption with a consonant missing illustrating a picture.  My favourite was "Andrew Lloyd-Webber writes another hit musical.

 

 

 

Of course, you're entitled to your opinion.

 

Like you, (if I understand this comment correctly) I agree ALW's output is pretty shallow (though often extremely effective, even if only in a financial and 'stagey' sense) but good works can occasionally emerge from even weak composers. In ALW's case, I can still bear listening to the Variations (on a theme of Paganini) he wrote for Julian and rock ensemble..... I must have heard it a hundred times at school and still come away thinking he'd got something.

 

P.

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Of course, you're entitled to your opinion.

 

Like you, (if I understand this comment correctly) I agree ALW's output is pretty shallow (though often extremely effective, even if only in a financial and 'stagey' sense) but good works can occasionally emerge from even weak composers. In ALW's case, I can still bear listening to the Variations (on a theme of Paganini) he wrote for Julian and rock ensemble..... I must have heard it a hundred times at school and still come away thinking he'd got something.

 

P.

 

 

Mind you, his father (WS L-W) did offer Andrew (and Julian, I believe) a monetary gift * in the event of either being able to write a 'really good tune'. As far as I know, WS never felt that they had attained this feat.

 

Now he was an extremely talented musician. One of the legends which grew up around him concerned the case of him learning, in one week, the Reger Phantasy und Fuge über der namen BACH (excuse my German) - and then performing it from memory at the end of that same week.

 

Now that is talent.

 

 

 

* This at a time when Andrew L-W did not yet own most of the West End - or possess an enormous collection of pre-Raphaelite works of art, or whatever it is he has hanging in his home.

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Mind you, his father (WS L-W) did offer Andrew (and Julian, I believe) a monetary gift * in the event of either being able to write a 'really good tune'. As far as I know, WS never felt that they had attained this feat.

 

Now he was an extremely talented musician. One of the legends which grew up around him concerned the case of him learning, in one week, the Reger Phantasy und Fuge über der namen BACH (excuse my German) - and then performing it from memory at the end of that same week.

 

Now that is talent.

* This at a time when Andrew L-W did not yet own most of the West End - or possess an enormous collection of pre-Raphaelite works of art, or whatever it is he has hanging in his home.

 

 

Come on everyone - Andrew L -W has been highly successful. Be British! lets all get together and try knock him down!!!!

 

FF

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Come on everyone - Andrew L -W has been highly successful. Be British! lets all get together and try knock him down!!!!

 

FF

 

In the present climate, success (with reference to the world of popular music) does not neccesarily mean that the person concerned is either talented or has a high musical ability....

 

:blink:

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Come on everyone - Andrew L -W has been highly successful. Be British! lets all get together and try knock him down!!!!

 

FF

 

 

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

 

The way he looks, I thought he had been!

 

:blink:

 

MM

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I wonder if the reason that many British audiences find (for example) this type of music diffcult to appreciate is that, here our audiences look for a 'good tune' ........... (whereas) ........much of the Eastern Bloc music to which I have bothered to listen appears to be rhythmically driven and, whilst there may be tunes there, they are hard to assimilate, because they appear to me to employ a different melodic shape and 'feel' and often seems to lack that emotive element with which British audiences seem to wish to identify. I suppose that I am saying that, to Western ears, much of this music can sound rather clinical and detached.

 

 

 

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

 

I just remembered something.

 

The following link has a brief extract of a Prelude & Fugue written by Wiedermann, the Prague organist/composer I was rambling on about, who wrote 340 or so works, most of which have never been recorded or published.

 

In the top right hand corner of the Radio Prague article, there is a little loudspeaker symbol, and then a choice of connection speed for the English Broadcast version, which you can hear, without it sounding like a Gypsy wedding testemonial.

 

(I'd better not let a certain person see that, or I'll be hearing nothing but stamping feet and Bohemian swear-words! Either that, or observations such as, "You are more stupid than chicken!") :lol:

 

The longer extract heard at the end, is typical of the absolutely ravishing music he wrote for solo Mezzo Soprano and organ.

 

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/76213

 

Enjoy.

 

MM

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Guest Andrew Butler
Dear pcnd,

Even if you get a Titulaire post in Paris, you may not have to move over there to hold it and still get paid! My wife and I were regaled with two stories very much a propos when we were in Bordeaux this summer.

1. A new Titulaire has been appointed to the no.2 church in Bordeaux after competition (often the system). He intends to remain resident in Paris (many hours of travel away) and he has now announced that he will be available to play three times a year. The rest of the time they all expect they will have to manage somehow without him!

 

Are there any British "Titulaires" in major French churches / cathedrals? I remember seeing an English-sounding name (which I have forgotten) in the RCO yearbook a while back listed as being at Rennes Cathedral...

 

And where are these posts advertised?

 

PS - Does anyone know what "snapback" means? it appears at the end of "quotes" when using that facility.... Just curious!

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PS - Does anyone know what "snapback" means?  it appears at the end of "quotes" when using that facility.... Just curious!

It generates the little arrow on the right of the quote that links back to the original message being quoted.

 

Paul

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Are there any British "Titulaires" in major French churches / cathedrals?  I remember seeing an English-sounding name (which I have forgotten) in the RCO yearbook a while back listed as being at Rennes Cathedral...

 

And where are these posts advertised?

 

PS - Does anyone know what "snapback" means?  it appears at the end of "quotes" when using that facility.... Just curious!

 

Yes, the Titulaire at Rennes Cathedral is English. The present Organist of Exeter Cathedral gave a recital there several years ago and was locked in the building in the evening for a while, inadvertently.

 

Apparently the organ is quite a nice instrument, by Cavaillé-Coll, but has been restored by another builder more recently.

 

I do know of one or two others, but cannot immediately recall them. I think that Susan Landale (I know that she is not British) is, or uesd to be, Titulaire at the American Church, in Paris - but this is not quite what you were asking.

 

I do not know where these posts are advertised - I wish I did!

 

I also know that when Naji Hakim was named to the post at la Trinité (despite being Messiaen's favoured successor) he received hate-mail - largely because, although he has liveed in France since the age of four, he was not born there. In addition, a certain Titulaire (who really should have known better) made very strong representations to the Curé at la Trinité, stating that Hakim should never have even been considered for the post. This I find unbecoming of one in his position - and somewhat intolerant, too.

 

Incidentally, with reference to Paul Derrett's comment regarding an organist who was intending to play but three times each year - at least he got paid.

 

The three Titulaires at Nôtre-Dame de Paris are paid extremely poorly (I do not think that I should say exactly how poorly on an open board) - particularly when it is remembered that they are employed at the national cathedral of France.

 

The only full-time posts in Paris are that of Titulaire of the Orgue-de-Choeur, Nôtre-Dame de Paris (Yves Castagnet) and Titulaire of Nôtre-Dame d'Auteil (Frédéric Blanc - formerly Titulaire of S. Sernin, Toulouse).

 

The assistant at S. Etienne, Caen (Alain Mabit), for example, receives precisely nothing for his services. Fortunately, he happens to have a post at the Conservatoire Nationale, in Paris. His director, (Titulaire at the church), Alain Bouvet also receives no remuneration, although in his case, he happens to have private means - his family own the firm which produce virtually all the door-furniture for French hôtels.

 

My apologies, Andrew - you were not requesting information on French door-furniture....

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Guest Andrew Butler

Interesting - thank you!

 

That explains why I have never been offered a penny (centime rather) for helping out with Masses, weddings and funerals at a small town church in France whilst on holiday there the last 2 years. (The "Titulaire" is a doctor's widow, nearly 90, who has held the post since WWII !) Mmm - her house always smells of furniture polish!

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