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Mander Organs

Here We Go Again!


Guest Cynic

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Re BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong broadcasts

 

The title of this topic from the past is a negative one whereas the link to this press release which I picked up from another group possibly turns it into a positive one!

 

In summary Choral Evensong returns in September to Wednesdays with a repeat on Sundays. Not sure about the benefits they mention of Listen Again - I can never get the quality to make it worthwhle.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressrele.../evensong.shtml

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Guest Barry Williams
I agree - perhaps a sign of the BBC responding to its subscribers?

 

 

If the BBC were to arrange its religious 'services' according to the wishes of its correspondents, then things would be very different. It still suffers from the ordained PC influence, though it is not difficult to find out the extent and nature of the requests sent in. The 'Beeb is quite good about disclosing these things.

 

An example of such matters is the grossly distorted words on Songs of Praise. The problem is not so much the alterations, (though that is an issue,) but how very badly they are done.

 

Yet again, this is clerically driven liturgical 'fashion'.

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Patrick Coleman
If the BBC were to arrange its religious 'services' according to the wishes of its correspondents, then things would be very different. It still suffers from the ordained PC influence, though it is not difficult to find out the extent and nature of the requests sent in. The 'Beeb is quite good about disclosing these things.

 

An example of such matters is the grossly distorted words on Songs of Praise. The problem is not so much the alterations, (though that is an issue,) but how very badly they are done.

 

Yet again, this is clerically driven liturgical 'fashion'.

 

Barry Williams

 

I can agree with some of the points made here - but can we stop the clergy bashing please.

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I agree - perhaps a sign of the BBC responding to its subscribers?

 

 

I'm glad that things have turned out as they have. It would be nice to think that the BBC decided to rearrange its operation as a positive response to its customer base. I hate to be cynical, but I think it much more likely that what happened was that the live broadcast on a Sunday afternoon made for more work all round.

 

Let's be charitable and think of the cathedral end of things first - choirs turned out to be more tired and the BBC ended up obliged to broadcast a sermon (wanted or otherwise!). From the BBC point of view - they had to employ production staff on a more expensive day and in many venues rush round like mad things with considerably less time to set up in, because even small cathedrals don't like having to reorganize their normal Sunday worship to allow for 'guest' technicians. This argument doesn't apply in the same way to Songs of Praise which is/was very rarely broadcast live.

 

A further thought: It has been rumoured elsewhere that part of the point of moving to Sundays for live broadcasts was that some great white chiefs at the BBC fondly imagined that they would be able to get in (very cheaply) at Parish Churches occasionally - cheaply because 'amateur' choirs don't need paying in the same way. The smaller than imagined pool of talent available, plus the inevitable backlash from listeners if things didn't go well may have made them think again!

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Guest Barry Williams
I can agree with some of the points made here - but can we stop the clergy bashing please.

 

No-one should be exempt from criticism of shoddy work merely because of their occupation.

 

The facts seem to be agreed, thus Res Ipsa Loquitur.

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Patrick Coleman
No-one should be exempt from criticism of shoddy work merely because of their occupation.

 

The facts seem to be agreed, thus Res Ipsa Loquitur.

 

Barry Williams

  1. What facts are agreed? Arguments have been brought to suggest the prevailing line taken by the BBC. These have been largely accepted - yet they remain opinions, not established facts (though I am as I said largely in agreement with the opinions)
  2. I did not suggest that anyone should be exempt from criticism. Before you criticise, however, you should establish the facts of the matter. In this case, you should establish that it is the clerical influence that leads to the allegedly lamentable position of the BBC. You have not done this. It may well be that the malign influence in the BBC is lay led: hence my request to pack in the clergy bashing.
  3. I've been privy to many discussions where organists (or lawyers) in general have been blamed for some unfortunate situation. Your sweeping statement could apply to these unfair generalisations too.

In the light of the above, I'll ask again: leave off indiscriminate banging on about clergy.

 

If you have justified points to make about individuals, of course they should not be beyond criticism. Yet there are many of us who are working hard to support the best of our worship, and attempting in the face of scepticism and fashion to revive the place of the organ and choral worship in our churches.

 

If only one of us reads such sniping at 'clerical' influence, unfounded in factual assertion, or suggestions that avoiding ordination is a recipe for avoiding arrogance, and says 'OK to hell with the lot of you' then you will have lost both a friend and another bulwark against the swelling sea of mediocrity. Is that what you really want?

 

Having risen magnificently to the bait, I shall now descend (yet again) from the pulpit. :blink:

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Oh dear! The privilege of having a pulpit - that the laity can never have!

 

Barry Williams

 

You seem to think you have a pretty good one here. And like some who occupy the pseudo-pulpits of the media and elsewhere you have descended to the one line put-down instead of entering into a debate.

 

For the record, my only criterion for a successful sermon is one that makes people think. In this case I have clearly failed. :blink:

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Guest Barry Williams

Thank you for your reply. As I have indicated elsewhere on this Board, this is mainly about organs and we can all get way off the subject, me included. I do not have a pulpit; only my (legal) lectern, from which I shall now descend!

 

A reply in depth on the effect that liturgical reform has had on church music would be out of place here, though I would be pleased to discuss it with you. It remains a matter of concern that there are many who are put off by the 'PC' approach to music worship. There are also many organists who choose not to take posts because of the current style of worship. That is not to say it is wrong, merely that the musicans do not wish to do what their (potential) employers require. It is clear from your earlier post that you are not one of these, but regrettably, you are in a minority. On that I am sure we are in total agreement.

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Thank you for your reply. As I have indicated elsewhere on this Board, this is mainly about organs and we can all get way off the subject, me included. I do not have a pulpit; only my (legal) lectern, from which I shall now descend!

 

A reply in depth on the effect that liturgical reform has had on church music would be out of place here, though I would be pleased to discuss it with you. It remains a matter of concern that there are many who are put off by the 'PC' approach to music worship. There are also many organists who choose not to take posts because of the current style of worship. That is not to say it is wrong, merely that the musicans do not wish to do what their (potential) employers require. It is clear from your earlier post that you are not one of these, but regrettably, you are in a minority. On that I am sure we are in total agreement.

 

Barry Williams

 

And we have now indeed discussed it using the electric voice telegraph and with considerable warmth and almost complete agreement! :blink:

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Guest Barry Williams
And we have now indeed discussed it using the electric voice telegraph and with considerable warmth and almost complete agreement! :blink:

 

Yes and gladly so!

 

However, it needs to be recorded here that Father Coleman has doubled the size of his congregation in eighteen months. He has made a point of offering fine liturgy and fine music. Now I really can say 'Res Ipsa Loquitur'!!!! (Let the thing speak for itself.)

 

Barry Williams

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Yes and gladly so!

 

However, it needs to be recorded here that Father Coleman has doubled the size of his congregation in eighteen months. He has made a point of offering fine liturgy and fine music. Now I really can say 'Res Ipsa Loquitur'!!!! (Let the thing speak for itself.)

 

Barry Williams

 

Barry is very kind, and yes, fine liturgy and music are explicitly part of this church's plan for mission. In the interests of accuracy and modesty I should add that the growth recorded is 50% over 18 months, though another 50% is planned for over the next 18 months, and I fimrly believe this will happen.

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Barry is very kind, and yes, fine liturgy and music are explicitly part of this church's plan for mission. In the interests of accuracy and modesty I should add that the growth recorded is 50% over 18 months, though another 50% is planned for over the next 18 months, and I fimrly believe this will happen.

I only wish that more parish clergy had Fr Patrick's determination and perceptive skills. Parishes with a good standard of liturgy and music should be the norm, not the exception, and while the Anglican church here generally still seems to be heading down the slippery slope of '70s folk music and hand clapping, there are signs that the Roman Catholic church in America is starting to experience a revival of good liturgy and art music driven, it would seem, as much by younger people as by anyone. I hope this is a sign of things to come in the Anglican church, probably in about, oh, twenty years or so...

 

While I sympathise with Barry's view that a great deal of the cultural loss is driven by clergy, I have met a number of clergy who would like something better than worship songs but aren't able to discern the way forward, particularly when encumbered with aging congregations with fond memories of folk music past, a lack of good trained musicians willing to work for the church (and peanuts), and a general tide of inclusive, PC multi-culturalism heading in the opposite direction. Having seen plenty of books written for clergy by clergy detailing successful church 'renewals', perhaps it's time for Fr. Patrick and others to tell the story of the part that liturgy and music has to play in the success that their churches have experienced.

 

The Choral Evensong broadcasts, I think, have a significant part to play in showing the world how important good liturgy and music is, and thank God they're returning to the Wednesday broadcasts! (I'm also thankful that two of this board's most august members avoided a written skirmish by judicious application of the transmitting wired phonograph!)

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Guest Stanley Monkhouse

Thank you nachthorn. Clergy bashing is not always merited. I'm soon to take over the charge of two parishes, and I earnestly wish to have good liturgy and good music. But the concerns you have raised are very real, as I have tried to say elsewhere on these boards. In the country areas, resources are limited - more so, in my experience, than in towns and properous suburbs where the pool of people and money tends to be greater. I will do all I can to encourage the musicians in the churches I 'inherit', and encourage the congregations. I'll be glad of advice, and will have no hesitation in asking for it. 'Cynic', in a personal email, has already been supportive and helpful.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Thank you nachthorn. Clergy bashing is not always merited. I'm soon to take over the charge of two parishes, and I earnestly wish to have good liturgy and good music. But the concerns you have raised are very real, as I have tried to say elsewhere on these boards. In the country areas, resources are limited - more so, in my experience, than in towns and properous suburbs where the pool of people and money tends to be greater. I will do all I can to encourage the musicians in the churches I 'inherit', and encourage the congregations. I'll be glad of advice, and will have no hesitation in asking for it. 'Cynic', in a personal email, has already been supportive and helpful.

 

Very good luck to you in your new parishes. Paul (and Serena) will be very helpful.

 

This is not a country parish, and it is anything but prosperous. Most valley parishes seem to have settled for the mediocre or are trying to encourage bands and worship groups, believing with some justification that it is very hard to develop/redevelop/continue a choral tradition without (a money and (b middle class educated families in the background. We are trying to buck the trend here, with some encouraging success (so far!)

 

If I can be of any help, by PM or otherwise, please let me know.

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Thank you nachthorn. Clergy bashing is not always merited. I'm soon to take over the charge of two parishes, and I earnestly wish to have good liturgy and good music. But the concerns you have raised are very real, as I have tried to say elsewhere on these boards. In the country areas, resources are limited - more so, in my experience, than in towns and properous suburbs where the pool of people and money tends to be greater. I will do all I can to encourage the musicians in the churches I 'inherit', and encourage the congregations. I'll be glad of advice, and will have no hesitation in asking for it. 'Cynic', in a personal email, has already been supportive and helpful.

 

Hi

 

I pray that your new ministry will be blessed.

 

I must agree with Patrick though, resources are very limited in some urban areas as well - there are 2 churches in my immediate locality where organs aren't used because of the lack of an organist (and lack of money/no tradition of paying), and several others that are struggling.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Returning to the original discussion of the BBC's attitude to both choral music and organ music, I wonder how many of you heard BWV 565 (Ton Koopman - much too fast for my taste) played on R3 just after 7am today. In a blatant piece of anti-organ rhetoric, the female announcer said "of course that piece was first made popular by Stokowski's orchestral arrangement which featured in Disney's Fantasia". (MY expletive deleted!!). Just to ensure there was a balance, after one piece of orchestral music we were treated to yet more piano music - just how much of this stuff can R3 bring out, there's been so many Beethoven Sonatas played recently I sometimes wonder how many he wrote.

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Then there was the Early Music Show on Saturday, a (very) imaginary day in the life of Louis XIV. At some point in Louis's morning we duly reached the chapel. The presenter waxed lyrical about the lovely organ case and then, "Ooh look! What are these stepped seats on either side of the organ ?" "For musicians, " was the reply. Ignoring the begged question of exactly how the organist should be classified and neatly sidestepping the whole issue of his instrument, we promptly diverted to a grand motet. My hopes revived slightly at the mention of a high mass later in the day, but no, it was clear that the organ was to be regarded as belonging amongst those aspects of Louis's daily habits that it would be too impolite to mention.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I emailed the Controller of Radio 3 last week asking if there was a deliberate policy of ignoring organ music on his station. The reply, from the Managing Editor of R3 is pasted below. It skates nicely over my main point, which is why won't they broadcast substantial works for the organ, such as, say, a complete Vierne or Widor symphony? The Breakast Show under Rob Cowan, does play a small amount of organ music, but usually Bach (not that there's anything wrong with Bach) or something else of a similar nature. This programme though is not the forum for a large scale work. It's more akin to Classic fm where one gets a tantalising little snatch but nothing more substantive because the audience is likely either to be in the car or dashing about feeding cats and children, so want only relatively short pieces.

 

Thank you for your comments on organ music. Given the amount of space available in listing magazines, that is not really the most effective way to find organ music on Radio 3. However, I think that - as you have noticed in in the mornings -organ music does occur on a regular basis. As with every musical genre, it is always a matter of balance, and therefore your email is valuable in making us discuss this once again. You can influence the situation yourself, by getting touch with our breakfast programme, as well as Radio 3 requests. I also believe that you might be pleased when some of our future plans are make public in the next month.

 

Thank you for your interest in Radio 3, and do continue to let us know your opinions.

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An interesting reply from the R3 man, however I notice he refers to a "matter of balance". My immediate reaction to that is therefore why so much piano music, hardly balancd there. It seems that every time I switch on, particularly the morning programme or the 6pm - 7pm programme yet more piano music, and often a lengthy piece. I'm afraid it's put me off listening to the piano. There was an interesting comment by a musician on R3 a few weeks ago who said that she couldn't understand why so much music which is obviously written for the harpsichord is played on the piano (and she could have added, broadcast on R3). Some of you may have heard recently where all the 48 were played in order, one per day, they were nearly all on the piano, it was a relief when they used a harpsichord, and even one, a Reger arrangement, on the organ, which caused all sorts of meaningless spluttering and comment by the announcer.

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An interesting reply from the R3 man, however I notice he refers to a "matter of balance". My immediate reaction to that is therefore why so much piano music, hardly balancd there.

Oh I don't know. The beautiful thing about replies like this is that they can mean whatever you want them to mean - or nothing. Loads of people play the piano, or have tried to at some time or another. In comparison hardly anyone these days plays the organ. Therefore, the Beeb broadcasts loads of piano music and hardly any organ music. Hey presto, balance!

 

There was an interesting comment by a musician on R3 a few weeks ago who said that she couldn't understand why so much music which is obviously written for the harpsichord is played on the piano (and she could have added, broadcast on R3).

Absolutely. It's the old argument about arrangements again - transferring pieces to a medium for which they were never intended.

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Did anyone listen to the short discussion on the Choir on Radio 3 regarding singing of psalms? The program included a short discussion by Aled Jones, Jeremy Summerly and Sarah Baldock including several examples to illustrate points made. It can be heard on Listen Again (until this coming Sunday)http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/mainframe.shtml and click through to Radio 3 and The Choir, about 20 minutes in with specific reference to Anglican pointing and chants and reference to colouring of text with organ accompaniment 36 minutes into the broadcast. This included technical references to Full Swell and 32' reeds!

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