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Winchester Cathedral / Lunchtime Recitals


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I am playing in the Winchester lunchtime series in a couple of weeks and wondered if anyone could point me towards the up to date specification on the internet. So far as I can see, the NPOR specification is rather out of date as it does not include the Nave organ.

 

Staying on this subject, I wonder if there is a thread worth developing here on the questin of cathedral lunchtime recitals.

 

I have played in a number of series over the years and have had a whole range of experiences. Nowadays I am a more or less seasoned performer with, if I may say so, all the right names on my CV. Even so, getting a date at many cathedrals can be exceptionally difficult.

 

It would be probably not be sensible to name individual buildings on this public forum, but suffice to say that at a number of cathedrals, I am given the warmest welcome and made to feel a real guest. A reasonable amount of practice time is offered (and honoured), a token payment towards expenses is made and one is not regarded simply as an unwanted nuisance for a couple of hours. Winchester, incidentally, falls firmly into this category !

 

Other places are very different. At one cathedral, where I have actually played twice before, once at the invitation of the very eminent director of music, my 6 recent e mails to the assistant organist went unreplied. When I pointed out that this was, perhaps, less than courteous, I received a brusque dismissal being told that it was simply not possible to give me a date. I politely requested an explanation to prevent me bothering them unnecessarily in the future. I am still waiting for a reply.

 

In that case, I am pretty sure that the lunchtime recitals were offered simply to the mates of the person concerned who could offer a prestigious date in exchange. I cannot make such an offer, but is that the point ? If that is the case, is it not more courteous simply to say so ?

 

A very well known establishment promised me a date to be agreed in the forthcoming season. I know that a very highly regarded organist had been approached following my enquiry and he gave me a glowing reference. When I kindly reminded them of this 3 months later and suggested we might get our diaries out, I was told vaguely that all dates had gone and if I wanted to be considered in the future, and was very lucky, they might be so good as to consider me.

 

Another cathedral assured me that they had a 3 year waiting list. When I happened to bump into the assistant at a party a few weeks later, on the spot he offered me a date 3 weeks later.

 

At another cathedral, I was booked to give the lunchtime recital. I was telephoned that morning to be told, unfortunately, that the organ (which was in a parlous state) had finally given up the ghost. Many apologies but they would be delighted to offer me a fresh date. Still waiting.

 

Finally, at another cathedral, I turned up at my appointed practice time only to be looked at in amazement by the (non - musical) staff, conducting some other function in the building, that I should be so deranged as to hope / want / expect to practice on the instrument before the concert.

 

If there is one unifying theme I hear it is that cathedral musicians are 'desperately busy'. I am sure they are, but I am tempted to reply that holding down, as I do, a demanding job from Monday to Friday yet still managing to maintain (I hope) a professional standard of playing, I am really quite busy too. Yet when clients write to me in the office I regard myself as having let them down if they do not get a reply the same day, even if that reply is only to say 'thank you for your enquiry - I have not forgotten you and will get back to you as soon as I can'.

 

I am also tempted to go further and point out that if, as I have always thought, music is a supreme gift of God, and if, as I have always thought, christians implicitly owe a ministry of hospitality to their neighbour, what sort of message does this send out to those who volunteer their musical gifts, at no charge, to promote the organ and its music in the cathedral concerned ?

 

Does this ring any bells out there ?

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I am playing in the Winchester lunchtime series in a couple of weeks and wondered if anyone could point me towards the up to date specification on the internet.  So far as I can see, the NPOR specification is rather out of date as it does not include the Nave organ.

 

Staying on this subject, I wonder if there is a thread worth developing here on the questin of cathedral lunchtime recitals.

 

I have played in a number of series over the years and have had a whole range of experiences.  Nowadays I am a more or less seasoned performer with, if I may say so, all the right names on my CV.  Even so, getting a date at many cathedrals can be exceptionally difficult.

 

It would be probably not be sensible to name individual buildings on this public forum, but suffice to say that at a number of cathedrals, I am given the warmest welcome and made to feel a real guest.  A reasonable amount of practice time is offered (and honoured), a token payment towards expenses is made and one is not regarded simply as an unwanted nuisance for a couple of hours.  Winchester, incidentally, falls firmly into this category !

 

Other places are very different.  At one cathedral, where I have actually played twice before, once at the invitation of the very eminent director of music, my 6 recent e mails to the assistant organist went unreplied.  When I pointed out that this was, perhaps,  less than courteous, I received a brusque dismissal being told that it was simply not possible to give me a date.  I politely requested an explanation to prevent me bothering them unnecessarily in the future.  I am still waiting for a reply.

 

In that case, I am pretty sure that the lunchtime recitals were offered simply to the mates of the person concerned who  could offer a prestigious date in exchange.  I cannot make such an offer, but is that the point ?  If that is the case, is it not more courteous simply to say so ?

 

A very well known establishment promised me a date to be agreed in the forthcoming season.  I know that a very highly regarded organist had been approached following my enquiry and he gave me a glowing reference.  When I kindly reminded them of this 3 months later and suggested we might get our diaries out, I was told vaguely that all dates had gone and if I wanted to be considered in the future, and was very lucky,  they might be so good  as to consider me.

 

Another cathedral assured me that they had a 3 year waiting list.  When I happened to bump into the assistant at a party a few weeks later, on the spot he offered me a date 3 weeks later.

 

At another cathedral, I was booked to give the lunchtime recital.  I was telephoned that morning to be told, unfortunately, that the organ (which was in a parlous state) had finally given up the ghost.  Many apologies but they would be delighted to offer me a fresh date.  Still waiting.

 

Finally, at another cathedral, I turned up at my appointed practice time only to be looked at in amazement by the (non - musical) staff, conducting some other function in the building,  that I should be so deranged as to hope / want / expect to practice on the instrument before the concert.

 

If there is one unifying theme I hear it is that cathedral musicians are 'desperately busy'.  I am sure they are, but I am tempted to reply that holding down, as I do, a demanding job from Monday to Friday yet still managing to maintain (I hope) a professional standard of playing, I am really quite busy too.  Yet when clients write to me in the office I regard myself as having let them down if they do not get a reply the same day, even if that reply is only to say 'thank you for your enquiry - I have not forgotten you and will get back to you as soon as I can'.

 

I am also tempted to go further and point out that if, as I have always thought, music is a supreme gift of God, and if, as I have always thought, christians implicitly owe a ministry of hospitality to their neighbour, what sort of message does this send out to those who volunteer their musical gifts, at no charge, to promote the organ and its music in the cathedral concerned ?

 

Does this ring any bells out there ?

 

 

Short answer: Yes.

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Like you, I have given recitals in various cathedrals, including Winchester. The staff there were, as you say, very helpful and appreciative.

 

I have been lucky with the others (although one or two do not even offer expenses), even giving a further recital at a cathedral in the Midlands at short notice to cover for an 'indisposed colleague'.

 

However, I understand that it can be a frustrating experience.

 

Yes, cathedral organists are busy but, as you rightly say, so are most other people. Like you, I try to reply to enquiries as soon as I can, although occasionally someone slips through the net.

 

One of the real problems is that cathedral auxiliary staff do not generally understand the phrase 'Hello, I believe that I have booked some organ practice for the lunch-time recital.' This can apparently be variously translated as:

 

"Oh - you want me to do some hoovering in the Quire".

 

"Take a tea-break? OK, fine - but all the keys to the building come with me."

 

"Organise a noisy tour? Now? No problem."

 

"EH? You want to do WHAT to my daughter?!"

 

At one venue, I had to compete with the resident stone-masons, who were busy rebuilding the North Transept.

 

If you are fortunate, the cathedral will have a policy in place which allows for loud practice to take place from around 08h30 to 10h; after that, practice is still permitted, as long as it is quiet. If you are really fortunate (as I was at two venues), you will have been let into the building one or two night prior to the recital, in order fully to assess balance and registrational effects. In addition, it has usually been a good moment to have a look around the building without an old woman with purple hair and halitosis sneaking up to ask if you would like to see the chantry chapel. (If this happens to you, always say no....)

 

I hope that you will enjoy your experience at Winchester. The audience tends to sit in the Quire (unless things have changed). Full Organ there is fairly unpleasant for extended periods - the 32p reed has been known to cause structural damage.

 

Incidentally, I have sent you a PM. I have a scanned copy of the current specification, which I can supply via e-mail.

 

Best wishes.

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Thank you very much, I would be grateful for the specification.

 

I actually played at Winchester two years ago and, given my remarks above, was delighted to be invited back on the spot.

 

My memory of full organ, in fact, is that it is above all musical and embracing, rather than being unpleasant to listen to, although perhaps that is only the effect upstairs at the console.

 

My only slight gripe is that practice time is very limited, and I have been specifically asked not to play anything that will frighten the horses. It is a shame, when you get the chance to play a fine organ like this, that circumstances confine you to simple repertoire that can be set up quickly ; in reality, all you get is 50 minutes of time to register a programme of the same length - hence the need to see the specification and work out most of the registrations on paper beforehand. Having said that, and further to my comments on the Darwinian Organist, you may not be surprised to learn that my programme is not exactly one lollipop after the other ...

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My memory of full organ, in fact, is that it is above all musical and embracing, rather than being unpleasant to listen to, although perhaps that is only the effect upstairs at the console. 

 

I believe that if you are over fifty-five, have a slight heart complaint and are sitting in the stalls, it is a rather different prospect!

 

 

My only slight gripe is that practice time is very limited, and I have been specifically asked not to play anything that will frighten the horses.  It is a shame, when you get the chance to play a fine organ like this, that circumstances confine you to simple repertoire that can be set up quickly ;  in reality, all you get is 50 minutes of time to register a programme of the same length - hence the need to see the specification and work out most of the registrations on paper beforehand.  Having said that, and further to my comments on the Darwinian Organist, you may not be surprised to learn that my programme is not exactly one lollipop after the other ...

 

Well, I got away with ending my recital by playing the Final from Vierne's 6me Symphonie - they seemed to appreciate that. Mind you, I do not recall seeing any horses there....

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I am playing in the Winchester lunchtime series in a couple of weeks and wondered if anyone could point me towards the up to date specification on the internet.  So far as I can see, the NPOR specification is rather out of date as it does not include the Nave organ.

 

Staying on this subject, I wonder if there is a thread worth developing here on the questin of cathedral lunchtime recitals.

 

I have played in a number of series over the years and have had a whole range of experiences.  Nowadays I am a more or less seasoned performer with, if I may say so, all the right names on my CV.  Even so, getting a date at many cathedrals can be exceptionally difficult.

 

It would be probably not be sensible to name individual buildings on this public forum, but suffice to say that at a number of cathedrals, I am given the warmest welcome and made to feel a real guest.  A reasonable amount of practice time is offered (and honoured), a token payment towards expenses is made and one is not regarded simply as an unwanted nuisance for a couple of hours.  Winchester, incidentally, falls firmly into this category !

 

Other places are very different.  At one cathedral, where I have actually played twice before, once at the invitation of the very eminent director of music, my 6 recent e mails to the assistant organist went unreplied.  When I pointed out that this was, perhaps,  less than courteous, I received a brusque dismissal being told that it was simply not possible to give me a date.  I politely requested an explanation to prevent me bothering them unnecessarily in the future.  I am still waiting for a reply.

 

In that case, I am pretty sure that the lunchtime recitals were offered simply to the mates of the person concerned who  could offer a prestigious date in exchange.  I cannot make such an offer, but is that the point ?  If that is the case, is it not more courteous simply to say so ?

 

A very well known establishment promised me a date to be agreed in the forthcoming season.  I know that a very highly regarded organist had been approached following my enquiry and he gave me a glowing reference.  When I kindly reminded them of this 3 months later and suggested we might get our diaries out, I was told vaguely that all dates had gone and if I wanted to be considered in the future, and was very lucky,  they might be so good  as to consider me.

 

Another cathedral assured me that they had a 3 year waiting list.  When I happened to bump into the assistant at a party a few weeks later, on the spot he offered me a date 3 weeks later.

 

At another cathedral, I was booked to give the lunchtime recital.  I was telephoned that morning to be told, unfortunately, that the organ (which was in a parlous state) had finally given up the ghost.  Many apologies but they would be delighted to offer me a fresh date.  Still waiting.

 

Finally, at another cathedral, I turned up at my appointed practice time only to be looked at in amazement by the (non - musical) staff, conducting some other function in the building,  that I should be so deranged as to hope / want / expect to practice on the instrument before the concert.

 

If there is one unifying theme I hear it is that cathedral musicians are 'desperately busy'.  I am sure they are, but I am tempted to reply that holding down, as I do, a demanding job from Monday to Friday yet still managing to maintain (I hope) a professional standard of playing, I am really quite busy too.  Yet when clients write to me in the office I regard myself as having let them down if they do not get a reply the same day, even if that reply is only to say 'thank you for your enquiry - I have not forgotten you and will get back to you as soon as I can'.

 

I am also tempted to go further and point out that if, as I have always thought, music is a supreme gift of God, and if, as I have always thought, christians implicitly owe a ministry of hospitality to their neighbour, what sort of message does this send out to those who volunteer their musical gifts, at no charge, to promote the organ and its music in the cathedral concerned ?

 

Does this ring any bells out there ?

32 reed is mild in the stalls - it's in the Nave that damage is done! The Nave organ isn't really a Nave organ - it's on the choir side of the screen and can be used as a Positif at mp-mf or as an an extra Gt chorus from f - ff. Very good Cornet V. You can use it pretty freely for Solo playing.

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32 reed is mild in the stalls - it's in the Nave that damage is done! The Nave organ isn't really a Nave organ  - it's on the choir side of the screen and can be used as a Positif at mp-mf or as an an extra Gt chorus from f - ff. Very good Cornet V. You can use it pretty freely for Solo playing.

 

Am I right in remembering that the Choir organ is pretty devastating downstairs, too (deceptively so, I mean)?

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I am playing in the Winchester lunchtime series in a couple of weeks and wondered if anyone could point me towards the up to date specification on the internet.  So far as I can see, the NPOR specification is rather out of date as it does not include the Nave organ.

???

 

This one does. Or has it been modified since then?

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Thank you very much, I would be grateful for the specification.

 

I actually played at Winchester two years ago and, given my remarks above, was delighted to be invited back on the spot.

 

My memory of full organ, in fact, is that it is above all musical and embracing, rather than being unpleasant to listen to, although perhaps that is only the effect upstairs at the console. 

 

My only slight gripe is that practice time is very limited, and I have been specifically asked not to play anything that will frighten the horses.  It is a shame, when you get the chance to play a fine organ like this, that circumstances confine you to simple repertoire that can be set up quickly ;  in reality, all you get is 50 minutes of time to register a programme of the same length - hence the need to see the specification and work out most of the registrations on paper beforehand.  Having said that, and further to my comments on the Darwinian Organist, you may not be surprised to learn that my programme is not exactly one lollipop after the other ...

 

 

I think it is worth you enquiring exactly when your practice could start. I remember the bit about being quiet from 10ish/11ish for tourists and guides, but I think you ought to be able to get in (and onto the organ) a good bit earlier assuming you are able to get there, of course. I've done this gig several times and I'm convinced that I get more (loudish) time than that.

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I think it is worth you enquiring exactly when your practice could start. I remember the bit about being quiet from 10ish/11ish for tourists and guides, but I think you ought to be able to get in (and onto the organ) a good bit earlier assuming you are able to get there, of course.  I've done this gig several times and I'm convinced that I get more (loudish) time than that.

It's a while since I've been there, but I remember the D and C instituting some sort of tradition of quiet in the cathedral in the early morning, which was a bit annoying sometimes ...the building was always open from about 7 or 7.30 am but there are also said services of course.
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Hi

 

The NPOR survey at http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N00289 does include the Nave organ. The survey is dated earlier, but shows the 1997 work (someone obviously forgot to change the date!) The person who commented on this has probably pulled up one of the older surveys.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I don't - so it can't have been all that bad....Just after I left David H had the Swell Violin Diapason tuned sharp - I wouldn't let him do it while I was there....

 

Whyever not? Marvellous idea!

 

I very much enjoyed the "choir tuning book"... whoever instigated that one is MUCH braver than me.

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I don't - so it can't have been all that bad....Just after I left David H had the Swell Violin Diapason tuned sharp - I wouldn't let him do it while I was there....

 

 

 

York Minster - Violin Diapason unaltered, however Diapason Celeste formed from adjacent rank. Most effective too.

 

A

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Whyever not?  Marvellous idea!

 

I very much enjoyed the "choir tuning book"... whoever instigated that one is MUCH braver than me.

 

Probably Robert Quinney. He used to do quite amusing things whilst he was the Organ Scholar at Winchester. Such as the time when I was due to play for an Evensong for a visiting choir and arrived in the loft to find Post-it notes with humorous comments written on them stuck all over the monitor. When the TV was turned on, it becamme immediately apparent that each note was visually aligned with the view down in the Quire, thus corresponding with various members of the choir - and clergy.

 

Enough said.

 

:wub:

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Because as we soon discovered there is then not enough 8 sonority under the Swell upperwork. It was put there for a reason.....

Does anyone agree that the trend for omitting the Swell 8' diapason in modern specifications is regrettable? Surely on a typical English organ performance of Romantic music is severely hampered without one?

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