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The Ubiquitous Organist


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Watching a DVD recently prompted the following speculation: do TV and film producers imagine that every church in Britain and beyond employs an organist to play 24 hours a day non-stop? Practically every scene that takes place in or near a church is accompanied by (usually non-descript sub-Howellsian improvised) organ music. Similarly most scenes that take place in or near monasteries have some ridiculously tuneless chanting going on as if monks had nothing better to do all day but sing "Ah Ah Ah" to each other.

 

Best wishes

 

Peter

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Guest Andrew Butler

Yes - and how many times is the vicar/priest shown conducting the choir?

 

Which reminds me - not long after I started in my present organist/choir director post, my wife and I received an invitation to supper from a member of the congregation. I explained that we could not make the evening suggested as I had Choir Practice. A genuinely surprised reply came back - "Oh, do you go to that? Do you mean you sing as well while you're playing on Sundays?"

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What amuses me is the way that the organ sound eminating from even the smallest village church is always that of a highly competant player on a cathedral quality instrument. Usually a sound rich with added mixtures, and possibly even a continental sound if the background music is baroque.

 

Its just amazing that you never hear anyone struggling through one of the eight short preludes on an ailing squeeze box with nothing above 4'

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What amuses me is the way that the organ sound eminating from even the smallest village church is always that of a highly competant player on a cathedral quality instrument. Usually a sound rich with added mixtures, and possibly even a continental sound if the background music is baroque.

 

Its just amazing that you never hear anyone struggling through one of the eight short preludes on an ailing squeeze box with nothing above 4'

 

I think, for example, that most of the Vicar of Dibley organ music was recorded on the Reiger at Christ Church, Oxford, played by David Goode or Stephen Farr or someone like that. That's why Jim can seemingly play Wachet Auf on the one-maunal instrument.

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ah, well, maybe everybody's got a toaster these days? :o

 

 

Don't recall much organ music in Morse, though.

 

 

Apologies for previous post in error...

 

didn't somebody commit suicide from the top of the St John's College swell box in an episode of Morse ?

 

Gosh, I wonder what gave Colin Dexter that idea?

 

H ;)

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Edit: And, I suppose, the Vicar of Dibley!

 

I don't think the vicar of dibley has a toaster. All that is ever shown of the organ is some pipes with one manual and a pedalboard attached to them.

 

The vicar of dibley organ music was recorded at christ church, in the same whay that the theme tune was recorded by their choir (as with most howard goodall tunes)

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Mention of organs on TV very timely, given both Lichfield and Canterbury featured on terrestrial TV on Sunday. Lots of close ups of Alex Mason's fingerwork at the fine looking console in SoP and the Choir organ case. I'd never realised before that the mouths were gold painted.

 

Then later on way past pumpkin time, the first of a series of programmes about life at Canterbury leading up to Christmas, broadcast on the cultural wasteland that is ITV1. And yet ... and yet, only 10 minutes into the programme we were up in the triforium inside the organ watching the organ tuner do what organ tuners do, and also giving an interview. I had to laugh when the unsighted woman interviewer cheerily said she supposed that after all his hard work leading up to Christmas he would be looking forward to attending the Christmas Eve service to hear the fruits of his labour? Er no, he replied, actually he was an atheist and he and the family would be going abroad for a few weeks! :lol:

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In which case I refer you to the following:

 

Vicar of Dibley

 

between 3:00 and 3:15

 

Although I've never compared stills from the two programmes, I have a sneaking suspicion that the church and organ seen in 'The Vicar of Dibley' are the same church and organ featured in John Thaw's greatest work - 'Goodnight Mr. Tom'. In the latter Thaw's character has a harmonium at home, and also plays the church organ.

 

One that's slipped through the net is Dennis Potter's 'Lipstick on Your Collar' in which Roy Hudd played a cinema organist and part-time sex pest (they'd obviously done their research there...!) with the scenes shot at the State cinema, Grays, Essex which auditorium and organ also appeared fleetingly in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'. The music in the Potter play was dubbed by Nigel Ogden who also provided the hands and feet shots. For once they did match the vision and audio as the recordings were made at Grays, unlike 'The Smallest Show on Earth' where a Compton console is seen but a Hammond is heard.

 

Anyone seen 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes'?

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Although I've never compared stills from the two programmes, I have a sneaking suspicion that the church and organ seen in 'The Vicar of Dibley' are the same church and organ featured in John Thaw's greatest work - 'Goodnight Mr. Tom'. In the latter Thaw's character has a harmonium at home, and also plays the church organ.

 

Indeed it is the same place - a village called Turville just off the M40 in Oxfordshire. Dibley's vicarage was also John Thaw's house in Goodnight Mr Tom (externally of course!)

 

The organ is real... I popped in one Christmas when I was passing - but I couldn't find the key hanging under the bench or in a jam jar on the nearest window! I have a photo somewhere if anyone is interested.

 

Mention of organs on TV very timely, given both Lichfield and Canterbury featured on terrestrial TV on Sunday. Lots of close ups of Alex Mason's fingerwork at the fine looking console in SoP and the Choir organ case. I'd never realised before that the mouths were gold painted.

 

Then later on way past pumpkin time, the first of a series of programmes about life at Canterbury leading up to Christmas, broadcast on the cultural wasteland that is ITV1. And yet ... and yet, only 10 minutes into the programme we were up in the triforium inside the organ watching the organ tuner do what organ tuners do, and also giving an interview. I had to laugh when the unsighted woman interviewer cheerily said she supposed that after all his hard work leading up to Christmas he would be looking forward to attending the Christmas Eve service to hear the fruits of his labour? Er no, he replied, actually he was an atheist and he and the family would be going abroad for a few weeks! :lol:

 

Canterbury was on earlier in the day too... around morning service time which is very useful for most of us... There's an outside chance that me and my choir could feature on it next week as we sing Christmas eve carols with the Archbishop... look out with us in our green cassocks! (We're not the Cathedral choir but a church choir in Canterbury who sing several times a year in the cathedral)

 

Steve

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Guest Andrew Butler

Did anyone see the BBC series "No Bananas" about 10 yrs ago? The organ in the carol service scene was St Michael, Smarden, Kent -

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D04833

 

played on camera by yours truly! (With the "choir" of "extras" apparently singing "Away in a manger" from "The Book Of Common Prayer" !) I don't think the Assistant Producer liked me pointing that out. She said "no-one'll notice!"

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Mind you, Lord Peter Wimsey was shown playing in Gaudy Night. Don't recall much organ music in Morse, though.

 

I was very impressed to see Edward Petherbridge playing what I think was the end of one of the 48 preludes, but not sure what organ it was. Must buy or borrow the DVD sometime.

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For some reason I have it in my head that Winchester recorded the Dibley theme?
No, it was deffo Christ Church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicar_of_Dibley

(see the "Theme Music" section).

 

I can't think why I never noticed, but I have just learnt that Ch Ch also re-recorded Goodall's Ecce homo qui es faba superseding the original version by Southwark Cathedral choir: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Bean. I must dig out my old videos. B)

 

Did anyone see the BBC series "No Bananas" about 10 yrs ago? The organ in the carol service scene was St Michael, Smarden, Kent - played by yours truly! :lol:
I hope you got a decent fee, Andrew!
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Must buy or borrow the DVD sometime.
Yes, we had it out to watch a few months ago. Despite much freeze framing, I couldn't quite manage to convince myself either way as to whether he was actually playing it or not. If not, it was very very well done.
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Morse - there was an org accompanied Faure Req from Exeter (the last episode, I think?)

 

Yes, it was the final episode - 'The Remorseful Day' - and star-studded it was too. The choir was conducted by Barrington Phelong (composer of the Morse theme and incidentals) who called for a break because the organist was "...having trouble with her Diapasons!" The then Exeter organ scholar Richard Hills was in the choir too.

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Guest Andrew Butler
No, it was deffo Christ Church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicar_of_Dibley

(see the "Theme Music" section).

 

I can't think why I never noticed, but I have just learnt that Ch Ch also re-recorded Goodall's Ecce homo qui es faba superseding the original version by Southwark Cathedral choir: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Bean. I must dig out my old videos. :lol:

 

I hope you got a decent fee, Andrew!

 

£60 as I remember, plus lunch, at the same table as Stephanie Beacham and Alison Steadman,and a free haircut - it was set in the 1940's!

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Guest Roffensis
Mention of organs on TV very timely, given both Lichfield and Canterbury featured on terrestrial TV on Sunday. Lots of close ups of Alex Mason's fingerwork at the fine looking console in SoP and the Choir organ case. I'd never realised before that the mouths were gold painted.

 

Then later on way past pumpkin time, the first of a series of programmes about life at Canterbury leading up to Christmas, broadcast on the cultural wasteland that is ITV1. And yet ... and yet, only 10 minutes into the programme we were up in the triforium inside the organ watching the organ tuner do what organ tuners do, and also giving an interview. I had to laugh when the unsighted woman interviewer cheerily said she supposed that after all his hard work leading up to Christmas he would be looking forward to attending the Christmas Eve service to hear the fruits of his labour? Er no, he replied, actually he was an atheist and he and the family would be going abroad for a few weeks! :)

 

 

Yes. And of course they didn't film in the East two bays of the triforium cos there aint any pipes left there to tune!!...... :lol:

 

R

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  • 1 month later...

Some of these recent broadcasts of Songs of Praise have been pretty dull, and yesterday's from Thaxted was luke warm to say the least. However there was one moment of interest for me and that was film of the famous(?) Red Vicar, Conrad Noel at the High Altar. What was the organ music accompanying the film? None other than the Reubke!

 

Such fun, and VERY impressive. (shame about the hymn singing!) :)

 

There are lots of organ pipes in that church, but there was no console shot - perhaps the filthy-dirty keys shown in the previous week's broadcast from St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London, put them off for life. It kind of puts one in mind of a conscientious mother's warning to wear clean underwear lest you should be knocked down by a bus. In this case, dear organist, remember to clean your keys lest the BBC should arrive to record Songs of Praise.

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