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Justadad
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My son's school has a 450th anniversary service at St Paul's Cathedral on 7th March.

 

He gets to play for 20 minutes before the service.

 

The organ is about to be refurbished by our hosts, and I'm told that by 7th March the Swell and South Choir will probably be out of use (but there's a chance they might not be).

 

Here's the specification http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=A00752

 

Given the nature of the event, the location, the instrument and the extent to which it may or may not be available at the time, what might you do for 20 minutes immediately prior to the service?

 

This is just meant as a bit of fun. He has a programme to go with, but that doesn't mean he won't be inspired by your suggestions B)

 

J

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My son's school has a 450th anniversary service at St Paul's Cathedral on 7th March.

 

He gets to play for 20 minutes before the service.

 

The organ is about to be refurbished by our hosts, and I'm told that by 7th March the Swell and South Choir will probably be out of use (but there's a chance they might not be).

 

Here's the specification http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=A00752

 

Given the nature of the event, the location, the instrument and the extent to which it may or may not be available at the time, what might you do for 20 minutes immediately prior to the service?

 

This is just meant as a bit of fun. He has a programme to go with, but that doesn't mean he won't be inspired by your suggestions B)

 

J

 

Some Mendelssohn?

Some Bach or Handel?

Some Blow or Purcell?

 

One tip - he must take someone with him when he goes to rehearse and trust their judgement of how the organ sounds from below. He should use the Dome section along with the Chancel for his louder stuff - it comes across much better downstairs (in the body of the building) than the Chancel section does.

 

Have fun!

P/C.

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My son's school has a 450th anniversary service at St Paul's Cathedral on 7th March.

 

He gets to play for 20 minutes before the service.

 

The organ is about to be refurbished by our hosts, and I'm told that by 7th March the Swell and South Choir will probably be out of use (but there's a chance they might not be).

 

Here's the specification http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=A00752

 

Given the nature of the event, the location, the instrument and the extent to which it may or may not be available at the time, what might you do for 20 minutes immediately prior to the service?

 

This is just meant as a bit of fun. He has a programme to go with, but that doesn't mean he won't be inspired by your suggestions B)

 

J

 

Some Bach is probably a good idea. It would help to know what pieces he plays - at least in the area of preludes and fugues; or perhaps a Mendelssohn sonata. It would also be helpful to have an idea of the length of time which he will be able to practise on the organ beforehand. Given that this is likely not to be generous, something that does not need kaleidoscopic changes of registration is also sensible.

 

Whilst Paul makes a valid point about balance, this is more useful if one is giving a full-length recital and has had one or two evenings in which to prepare. If rehearsal time is limited, my advice is to play safe - restrict oneself to the Chancel Organ (which, for the most part balance can be judged from the console) and choose un-fussy music which will sound effective, but which does not require hours of trying to converse with someone one hundred feet (and twelve seconds) away.

 

Nevertheless, this is a fantastic opportunity. I hope that your son enjoys his experience - I did!

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I've got a friend who sings there at the weekends, who tells me they're very into their early English stuff there on the organ during quiter moments - stuff like Byrd, Gibbons, Blow, Purcell, etc. It comes off very well on that organ, apparently and works well. Perhaps something like that would be a good idea - especially if parts of the organ will be out of action and if practice time is short (which I guess it will be).

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You're right about practice time ... 30 minutes.

 

He's begging for another hour, and some time by the console in a service to see how the organ is used by those who play it regularly.

 

The JSB Dorian Toccata is on the menu at the moment together with Walton's Crown Imperial.

 

I think he'd feel like he'd missed an opportunity if he played Blow, Byrd and Gibbons. It might be terribly appropriate but the thinking is that a congregation of 1,000+ parents (many of whom cannot be expected to have any interest in what's being played anyway) would not even hear it, so he's more inclined to enjoy the experience himself and maybe play something that fuels the anniversary party mood.

 

Best wishes

 

J

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I'd be tempted to play Marsh's Toccata on Pat Le Facteur given that the majority of the assembled will probably be heathens and they need a recognisable tune to carry them along.

 

Failing that, how about a nice dose of Whitlock. An English composer writing for a typically English organ, played on an English instrument in a magnificient English setting. How many more boxes does it need to tick? Juicy.

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When i first played a cathedral evensong a few years back (2 or 3 ;)) i just played what at the time were my top pieces. If you're totally comfortable in the pieces, then you aren't worrying about the notes etc and you can focus on everything else (after all, notes are less than 50% of a piece to me)

 

What did i play? well, as it is stuff i love:

 

Langlais - Ave marias stella

JSB 'St Anne' Fugue (BWV 552)

Parry - Elergy (this is so simple but my is it beautiful)

and because i had ran a bit early, an improvisation on the introit hymn but thats not relevant to you i suppose!

 

 

Though the first is definitly not suited to a 'casual' audience

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Lucky boy! The Bach and the Walton are good choices but will eat up the 20 minutes almost entirely. He can have fun choosing his trumpets in the Walton - if he's entirely unfamiliar with the St Paul's organ it will be quite taxing. Personally, though I love the Dorian, I think he could make a stronger impact with, say the Piece d'Orgue or the Allebreve, and then go for some good, honest stock like the Ireland Alla Marcia, Wesley Choral Song, maybe the Bridge Adagio in E - (use the Solo instead of the Swell if you can't have that) and then the Walton - the Dome tubas and Trompette Militaire will aerate the crowds very nicely - you might find access to the Royal Trumpets denied him. Anyway, I'm sure he'll do the school proud. Am I correct in thinking you were the correspondent after a copy of Langlais' Fete? If so, your son is welcome to my copy - it's always been beyond me and I'll never learn it now. Let me have your details somehow (PM, email??) and I'll try to find it!

All the best,

Martin.

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Guest Barry Williams
You're right about practice time ... 30 minutes.

 

He's begging for another hour, and some time by the console in a service to see how the organ is used by those who play it regularly.

 

The JSB Dorian Toccata is on the menu at the moment together with Walton's Crown Imperial.

 

I think he'd feel like he'd missed an opportunity if he played Blow, Byrd and Gibbons. It might be terribly appropriate but the thinking is that a congregation of 1,000+ parents (many of whom cannot be expected to have any interest in what's being played anyway) would not even hear it, so he's more inclined to enjoy the experience himself and maybe play something that fuels the anniversary party mood.

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

 

If he is playing Walton's Crown Imperial then ensure that the opening chords are two semiquavers, as in the orchestral version and not in an arrangement that makes those notes a quaver. The same edition (Murrill) continues the error throughout the piece.

 

Barry Williams

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Hello Justadad (and indeed everyone else),

 

The Dorian and Crown Imperial should be good selections. I go to St. Paul's School and as a result we have our founder's day service at the Cathedral every year; not once have I been allowed to play at these, even though I know people at Westminster who play at the abbey on a daily basis!

 

He could also possibly include something quieter, to fill in between Bach and Walton: past programmes at St. Paul's School services (played by my organ teacher) have been of this variety (large scale and extrovert, even before the service), although a shorter, quieter work might also fit in to the programme if there's time.

 

Incidentally, our visiting organists are never allowed to use the Dome/West End sections; this may be different for you, but just in case...

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The JSB Dorian Toccata is on the menu at the moment together with Walton's Crown Imperial.

Good choice about the Walton but I don't think I've ever heard that Dorian Toccata.

 

If he is playing Walton's Crown Imperial then ensure that the opening chords are two semiquavers, as in the orchestral version and not in an arrangement that makes those notes a quaver. The same edition (Murrill) continues the error throughout the piece.

Well said, Barry. Also if he is playing the Grand Organ then dare I suggest using either the Dome Tubas or the West Trumpets? I guess I would prefer the Tubas though if the ones in Bristol Cathedral are anything to go by: really is a cracking sound.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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Also if he is playing the Grand Organ then dare I suggest using either the Dome Tubas or the West Trumpets?
The only times I have played at St Paul's the blower switch for the west end Trumpets was kept firmly out of bounds! In any case, wouldn't using them in Crown Imperial would be out of the question on co-ordination grounds? - they are miles away from the rest of the instrument.
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... and then the Walton - the Dome tubas and Trompette Militaire will aerate the crowds very nicely - you might find access to the Royal Trumpets denied him. Anyway, I'm sure he'll do the school proud. ...

Martin.

Yes - the west end Trumpets are unlocked only for the incumbent organists and celebrity recitalists. They even have to be kept silent when H.M. The Queen is processing anywhere near them, since she is not fond of their bright metallic sound - or their great power.... In addition, as VH has observed, there are problems of co-ordination - only surmountable with many hours' practice and a thorough working knowledge of the instrument from the perspective of the player.

 

Nevertheless, I am sure that your son will enjoy the experience. The Chancel Organ alone is such a beautiful instrument that even if he is not allowed to use the Royal Trumpets or has not got time to assess the balance of the Dome sections, it will be no hardship to be limited to the FHW (with Mander additions).

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I guess I would prefer the Tubas though if the ones in Bristol Cathedral are anything to go by: really is a cracking sound.

You've lost me here, there are no Tubas on the Bristol Cathedral organ. There is a single major solo reed, which I believe is original Walker material, and is a fairly fat Tromba. Its an amazing stop that certainly makes a major contribution to the extremely warm and opulent tutti. Quite what it has to do with any tubas at St. Paul's I fail to see.

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You've lost me here, there are no Tubas on the Bristol Cathedral organ. There is a single major solo reed, which I believe is original Walker material, and is a fairly fat Tromba. Its an amazing stop that certainly makes a major contribution to the extremely warm and opulent tutti. Quite what it has to do with any tubas at St. Paul's I fail to see.

I believe the pipes are engraved 'Tuba' - its certainly big enough.

 

 

My son's school has a 450th anniversary service at St Paul's Cathedral on 7th March.

 

He gets to play for 20 minutes before the service.

 

The organ is about to be refurbished by our hosts, and I'm told that by 7th March the Swell and South Choir will probably be out of use (but there's a chance they might not be).

 

Here's the specification http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=A00752

 

Given the nature of the event, the location, the instrument and the extent to which it may or may not be available at the time, what might you do for 20 minutes immediately prior to the service?

 

This is just meant as a bit of fun. He has a programme to go with, but that doesn't mean he won't be inspired by your suggestions :)

 

J

The most important thing is that your son plays stuff he's happy with. I had a glorious hour at St P's late Dec 2005 - key learning point for me was that the chancel organ balanced exactly like our (mid Herts) FW of 1898. If you son would like some time to get some ideas about the balances FW intended please PM me and we'll happily sort something out.

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I have been lucky enough to play at St Pauls a few times both for evensongs and a couple of the Sunday afternoon recitals.

 

I found it a remarkably easy and comfortable organ to play and got used to it very quickly.

 

The best tip I was given was from Andrew Lucas ; if you want to check if the Dome balance against the Chancel, play a chord on each and listen to the reverberation. When the reverberation periods are equal then the choruses are balanced.

 

I used to hear the organ played a lot and many visiting players misjudged the Dome bringing it in with a crash at every climax. I found that if I was going to use it at all in a piece, I coupled the diapason(s) in very early and built it up from there.

 

Also, if playing a chancel plenum in, for example, Bach or Handel, it was helpful to couple in the Dome 8 + 4 principals just to give the sound a degree of projection into the nave.

 

The West End trumpets will definitely be out of bounds.

 

If I was to play Bach before a service, I would go for something broad and with a relatively slow harmonic pulse (the Allabreve or the Fantasia in G have already been suggested) rather than something with too much counterpoint and detail. If the Swell and half the choir are out of action, the Dorian is going to be difficult to manage ; you need two exactly balanced choruses and very precise co - ordination between the two.

 

I think the best tip has been given so far ; just play pieces that are really in your bloodstream, rather than putting pressure on yourself with something new.

 

Whatever your son does, he should have an absolute ball. Playing at St Pauls has, without a doubt, been top of my list of great organ playing experiences.

 

All best,

M

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I believe the pipes are engraved 'Tuba' - its certainly big enough.

 

I did not know this, either. The draw-stop is engraved 'Tromba 8' - so Neil's assumption (not in the BVM sense) is an excusable error.

 

Out of interest, have you been inside the job, or did (do) you work for Mander Organs?

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I did not know this, either. The draw-stop is engraved 'Tromba 8' - so Neil's assumption (not in the BVM sense) is an excusable error.

 

Out of interest, have you been inside the job, or did (do) you work for Mander Organs?

I was told this by Mark Lee when I played there for a week last summer. It does sound very similar to the slightly earlier Tuba at St Matthews Northampton

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  • 1 month later...

The Hampton School Anniversary Service is later today. Lawrence (son) will be playing Acclamations (Langlais) and Crown Imperial (Walton) before the service and Fete (Langlais) after.

 

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions. The congregation will number 2,400 and it was felt that anything quiet would be lost to the chatter.

 

I'd like to record my thanks to:

 

John Pike Mander, who has kindly let me know how the refurbishment has progressed so Lawrence knew what he had to play with/on.

 

Tom Winpenny, Assistant Sub Organist, St Paul's Cathedral who arranged the practice times and left Lawrence, his mum and I in St Paul's, in the dark, on our own on Sunday evening while Lawrence came to terms with the instrument. (It was wonderful being alone in such a place, late at night. A real privilege.)

 

Prof Marie-Louise Langlais who kindly sent L a copy of her copy of Fete, and Martin Cooke (of this parish) who even more kindly donated his original. (As an aside, the piece takes on a whole different character in the vast St Paul's acoustic vis a vis the relatively dry acoustic of the Chapel Royal. I wonder how much it will change with a 2,400 people soaking up the reverberation?)

 

Fingers crossed ;)

 

J

 

My son's school has a 450th anniversary service at St Paul's Cathedral on 7th March.

 

He gets to play for 20 minutes before the service.

 

The organ is about to be refurbished by our hosts, and I'm told that by 7th March the Swell and South Choir will probably be out of use (but there's a chance they might not be).

 

Here's the specification http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=A00752

 

Given the nature of the event, the location, the instrument and the extent to which it may or may not be available at the time, what might you do for 20 minutes immediately prior to the service?

 

This is just meant as a bit of fun. He has a programme to go with, but that doesn't mean he won't be inspired by your suggestions :)

 

J

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The Hampton School Anniversary Service is later today. Lawrence (son) will be playing Acclamations (Langlais) and Crown Imperial (Walton) before the service and Fete (Langlais) after.

 

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions. The congregation will number 2,400 and it was felt that anything quiet would be lost to the chatter.

 

 

... I wonder how much it will change with a 2,400 people soaking up the reverberation?)

 

J

 

Probably very little - I suspect that there will still have been a generous reverberation period at the end of the Walton.

 

I hope that Lawrence enjoyed his experience and that things went well.

 

:unsure:

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The Dorian and Crown Imperial should be good selections. I go to St. Paul's School and as a result we have our founder's day service at the Cathedral every year; not once have I been allowed to play at these, even though I know people at Westminster who play at the abbey on a daily basis!

 

Unfortunately not jonathan! I get max 2/3 services a term and never any practise time... and the organ in the abbey isn't great...

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Hi Sean

 

Thanks for your kind wishes.

 

It went very well. There was indeed a good 10 seconds reverb at the end of the Walton, but the congregation did make a big difference to the acoustic. On Sunday, in an empty cathedral, parts of Fete (especially the main theme) were just walls of sound but the addition of all those bodies dried the acoustic just enough to make everything crisper and distinguishable.

 

J

 

 

Probably very little - I suspect that there will still have been a generous reverberation period at the end of the Walton.

 

I hope that Lawrence enjoyed his experience and that things went well.

 

:unsure:

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