Author Topic: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs  (Read 39109 times)

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Hi!


I was contacted this morning by a researcher seeking people enthusiastic about the Pipe Organ with the intention of lifting the instrument out of the perception of that boring old thing in the corner  . . . On the spur of the moment I directed him towards various YouTube videos below as well as to Paul Carr. I also feel that Nigel Allcoat would be great and it would be brilliant if he might possibly be encouraged to join this forum . . . Sean Tucker should be another candidate . . .


Please can people add to this? It's probably the one thread on this site that can make the difference in encouraging a wider public perception of why the Organ really is the King of Instruments . . .


I am directing the enquirer to this post, so this really is the place to give details of any instrument or person you feel to be an important landmark . . .


Best wishes


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Quote
[size=1.35em]Matthew Copley talking about reed pipes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6pfY4ZYw1k[/size]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSf7-4t_SWc St Maximin in France unchanged since before the French Revolution
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPGDiA3fidA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bix-_RlXqs Albi Cathedral organ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi2pdYou-Rs French Baroque masterclass - registration inspired by St Maximin - David Goode giving the masterclass - formerly organist of the 3rd largest organ in the world
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHOcCLvUeH4 Young organist John Clark Maxwell, playing with a broken foot
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOyMKVM0tvA Young Ben Scott who is returning to play on 13th August - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0FjU0Iqlhk


These are really examples of the King of Instruments . . . and hopefully might enable people to understand that the Organ is as
captivating as former generations found Steam trains such as the Royal Scotsman and Mallard, Aeroplanes such as the 747 and Concorde etc etc . But many organs are mere Cessnas . . . even they being enjoyable in a different realm.

Were you to be able to film in France then the Academie d'Orgue at St Maximin is between 19 and 29 August.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GyFn7Wmps8 is Jeremy Filsell, organist of the National Cathedral in Washington DC encouraged to play in the style I heard near St Maximin which I introduced to Ben Scott http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAy81I-0O6c through my video at L'Orgue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OARFBig_u9M

Paul Carr is an organist who I believe to be very enthusiastic and Mark Blatchly is often known to play lighter repertoire on the church organ, for instance Eric Coates' London Suite.



Perhaps anyone commissioning a new organ and their builders - such as Cranleigh School . . . or one of the Oxford Colleges with a new organ . . .
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 12:37:41 PM by organforumadmin »

James Dawson

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documentary film - pipe organ enthusiasts (following David's post)
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 02:31:31 PM »
Hello,

I'm researching a film about the joys of the pipe organ and want to enlist your help.

I normally work for the BBC and C4 making factual films for them, but at the moment I'm pursuing a personal project about the organ as I have become fascinated with its mechanics, sound and its players.

In order to overcome what I see as a prejudice among the wider lay community I've come to the conclusion, after talking to organists and organ builders, that I need to focus on a special person. Organs and organ music are often perceived as irrelevant, boring, religious even dull. So I'm looking for a genuine organ eccentric who's passionate love of the instrument and its music will help an audience overcome these preconceptions. Someone who doesn't care about what other people think, but who's love of what they do is so infectious that an audience will willingly be led into this musical world.

if you know someone who might fit this bill I would be grateful if you would drop me a line or ring me. My contact details are dawsonjames1@mac.com or 07970 536676.

Many thanks.

Barrie Davis

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2011, 09:20:53 AM »
Hi

I would suggest Carlo Curley as he embraces the instrument from every aspect and even though some may dislike his approach is very entertaining.
Dr Carol Williams is another, she visits the UK regularly and I am sure she would be happy to be part of this project.

Best wishes

Barrie

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2011, 09:44:21 AM »
This is certainly an intriguing and exciting project! 

I guess I will throw a couple more names into the hat--

Frederick Swann

Hans Ola Ericsson

Roger Sherman

Michael Barone

and most unusually,   Matthew Bellamy-- Yes, that one...

Jean Guillou???

Eric
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« Last Edit: July 12, 2011, 09:46:13 AM by KB7DQH »
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James Dawson

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2011, 02:01:24 PM »
Thank you all for your suggestions. In truth, my instinct is that following international organ recitalists in their work is not the right film to be trying to make.

As I said in the previous post I suspect most people have a latent prejudice against the organ - a secular suspicion.   In order to overcome this prejudice I want find a truly eccentric organist who lives to play, loves what they do beyond all else: someone who's passion will infect an audience and allow them to see and hear the music afresh through their eyes. International recitalists' may very well have this (I am talking to several) but I suspect a film might be stronger if I found a 'diamond in the rough':  a genuine offbeat, eccentric talent who just loves what they do at a local level.

I note what Voix Cynique says about the vast majority of church organs - worrying. Do you have a list of those I should watch out for!

Any suggestions welcome.

Thanks

James

David Pinnegar

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2011, 03:40:02 PM »
Hi!

I hope you might have spoken to Nigel Allcoat. Eric Deleste on this forum is a candidate and perhaps supreme of all Colin Pykett. From the quantity of research into the physics of pipe organs and of simulating them electronically, the depth and width of his knowledge is clear as also is his lifetime obsession that researching it has become. Whereever one looks on any technical subject, one of Colin's articles often surfaces.

An impressive feat he conducted a few years ago was a demonstration of lost pipe organs through electronic simulation (even if a member here wasn't particularly impressed by a mere recording) which was particularly instructive, particularly with respect to the organ builder Hope Jones who has been villified for a whole century.

In truth, however, Dr Carol Williams does lend a flare and a glamour to the scene otherwise dominated by a generation of predominently grey haired men.

Best wishes,

David P
« Last Edit: July 12, 2011, 03:42:25 PM by David Pinnegar »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2011, 02:54:06 AM »
 :o
Quote
What hope is there for getting young fans of Lady Gaga
Quote
in the Town Halls of Sydney

 Funny thing mentioning Lady Gaga and the Sydney Town Hall organ-- as this popped into the inbox sometime yesterday...

http://www.examiner.com/fashion-in-atlanta/lady-gaga-gives-back-to-aussie-fans-who-gave-first-no-1-hit

Quote
Lady Gaga has a very place in her heart for her Australian fans who were the first in the world to reward her with a No.1 hit!

To show them just how much they meant to her, Lady Gaga put every ounce of energy into that “one-off” million dollar show she had promised her loving fans, to reciprocate her love right back to her Aussie monsters at Sydney Town Hall…

The Town Hall venue had been dubbed the Monster Hall, where Lady Gaga even attempted to play the old pipe organ during her charged theatrical performance for the thousand adoring fans and VIPs.

 ???

This... complicates things ::)
 ;D

Eric
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The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2011, 06:55:18 PM »
To be honest, this film would have to avoid the vast majority of church organs. Maybe the odd really notable instrument - like St Ouen, Rouen, which ought to be filmed before it falls unplayable, given its present decline - but otherwise it will have to focus on concert halls and stately homes. Blenheim Palace, anyone?

Not that you are either generalising, or making sweeping statements, here....

I can think of plenty of instruments in either good or even excellent condition in this country - I am assuming that they wish to film instruments here, as opposed to (say) France; it would certainly be cheaper to do so. Commendable though such a project is, I doubt that it will have attracted a fat budget from the programme controllers.

I am happy to post a review which I wrote for a different board (no, not the 'other' one....), detailing suitable instruments on which to record, in the London area, if anyone is interested.


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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2011, 07:44:27 PM »
Quote
One thing the programme MUST avoid in EVERY way is snobbery and things which are seen as "high brow". If the viewer gets a whiff of it, the programme has lost its purpose straight away. It must be fun and entertaining to watch, and at the same time be informative, and show all the areas of the organ equally.
Its got to be something that people havent seen before. Other programmes which have been done about the organ have come across as stodgy, boring etc and havent done any favours. Lets not have this one be the same.

Hear hear! I whole heartedly agree
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pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2011, 10:13:53 PM »
One thing the programme MUST avoid in EVERY way is snobbery and things which are seen as "high brow". If the viewer gets a whiff of it, the programme has lost its purpose straight away. It must be fun and entertaining to watch, and at the same time be informative, and show all the areas of the organ equally.
Its got to be something that people havent seen before. Other programmes which have been done about the organ have come across as stodgy, boring etc and havent done any favours. Lets not have this one be the same.

Well - not all of the other programmes were stodgy or boring. Howard Goodall's Organ Works, shown a few years ago on British network TV was both entertaining and informative. He did a follow-up series on the history of the piano, which I found to be equally good.

There is, of course, also the series currently being issued by Priory: The Grand Organ of (insert name)* Cathedral. To be honest, I think that the interest and accessibility of each is somewhat variable. For the average person, who may have only a peripheral interest in the instrument, some are better than others. The DVD featuring Simon Johnson at  Saint Paul's Cathedral includes a 'tour' around the instrument (in the tonal sense). Unfortunately, he chose to improvise on the theme from Harry Potter - which is, arguably, a little out of the age range of most of those likely to be interested in this DVD. Personally, I would rather he had chosen something different - not necessarily plainsong, but just something not so singularly identifiable. I am sure that there will be others who enjoy it, but I cannot help but think that he has possibly limited his market by using this theme so many times during the course of the DVD.

Then there is the edition from Canterbury Cathedral. Like all the other DVDs, the playing is excellent. However, the repertoire, whilst not being too 'populist', perhaps strays too far the other way. I found some of the pieces a little strange, I must admit.

However, I think that there is definitely value in the series, taken as a whole and, for those who have not yet sampled any of them, I recommend some research, in order to see if any of them may be of interest.



* Around six or seven have been completed and released for sale, to-date; the venues include Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, York Minster, Lincoln Cathedral, King's College Chapel, Cambridge, Saint Paul's Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral and (to be released in a few months) Exeter Cathedral.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 10:18:33 PM by pcnd5584 »
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David Pinnegar

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2011, 10:21:22 PM »
I am assuming that they wish to film instruments here, as opposed to (say) France; it would certainly be cheaper to do so. Commendable though such a project is, I doubt that it will have attracted a fat budget from the programme controllers.

I am happy to post a review which I wrote for a different board (no, not the 'other' one....), detailing suitable instruments on which to record, in the London area, if anyone is interested.[/font]

Hi!

I had a good chat with James a couple of days ago and he does very much appreciate St Maximin, Albi and also the Van den Heuvel instrument at St Eustach. Can any UK organs (and their acoustics) err towards these?

Your list of London area instruments would be a significant resource. .  .  So please . . .

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2011, 01:33:19 PM »
As for Albi, it's so mucked about with... the 1970s rebuild was a disaster. It's not in any way the same as it was after Moucherel rebuilt it all those years ago, the specification doesn't make sense (certain stops plain in the wrong place), some of the voicing is obviously neoclassical and the destruction of the Puget instrument (which was, I am told, of pilgrimage quality, right up there with St Ouen etc) also grates. At least St Maximin is largely as built, has never been romanticised, has never had quality romantic material destroyed, has never had obviously neoclassical-style voicing...


I cannot comment upon the degree of unsubstantial opinionation in other aspects of the post but certainly to my direct experience, St Maximin is indisputably superb but so too is Albi, the philosophy of rebuilding of which was very clear and the firm involved and their voicer, who I know personally, was supremely expert. It is an organ which is a landmark and one that aurally demands attention.


The 1970s rebuild was a tonal triumph and a landmark of its day and certainly not of the nature that the writer above claims. The Moderation team of this forum are frustrated at the continual need for checking the writings of the above contributor.


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pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2011, 01:45:21 PM »
... As for David Pinnegar's suggestion of the van den Heuvel at Saint-Eustache in Paris, I'm not sure. Personally, I find its sound to be excessively gritty and unblending - and I find Guillou's playing and improvisation to be self-indulgent rather than approachable. There's too much of what might be termed gratuitous virtuosity there. His influence shows in the organs he's designed - I can't think of one that I actually like, they all sound too harsh to me. Rather, I would look to Cavaillé-Coll's best - Sacré-Coeur, Saint-Sulpice and Saint-Ouen, Rouen. With respect to PCND, the Notre Dame organ has been so mucked about with that its glories are mostly faded - unless and until it's restored to its original state, it cannot, in my entirely subjective opinion, be considered equal to the other C-Cs I've named (although I know Sacré-Couer isn't exactly original - it's not even in its original home). ...

I shall deal with just one paragraph at present - I am expecting visitors shortly.

S. Eustache: I have, at the kind invitation of M. Guillou, had the privilege of playing this monumental instrument. Personally, I found it to be superb - with a wide palette of tone colours and a thrilling tutti. M. Guillou himself I found generous, charming and extremely approachable. Again, as you have said yourself, it is partly about not expecting an organ to do things it was not designed to do. As long as one approaches this organ in this spirit - and does not expect it to sound like a vintage Cavaillé-Coll, then it is possible to appreciate it for exactly what it is - an exciting, colourful and noble instrument.

Sacré-Coeur, S. Sulpice and S. Ouen, Rouen; I agree that these instruments probably repersent some of the finest achievements of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. However, the first has been modified. It is worth comparing the 1898 stop-list with that following the restoration of 1985. For example, at some point since it was built, the Solo Orgue acquired twelve ranks of mixtures - and the Pedal Orgue additional mutations.

To an extent, I would actually agree with you regarding the instrument in Nôtre-Dame de Paris. However, we would probably disagree regarding the state (or date) to which we should wish this instrument to be restored. Personally, I should like to see it reutrn to its late-nineteen-seventies' incarnation - with one exception: I would retain the new chamade stops which were added in the 1990-92 restoration. I think that it was a great shame that both compound stops on the Récit-Expressif were removed, for example.


« Last Edit: July 16, 2011, 01:51:38 PM by pcnd5584 »
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Jonathan Lane

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2011, 04:16:09 PM »


As I clarified in my later post, my problem is not with the organs at all. One of my all-time favourites is a 1905 Henry Jones (lightly modified by Walker in 1964) of just 13 stops, which sounds glorious in its huge barn of a church. Unfortunately, fill the church with its congregation (and it's packed every Sunday, with people who REALLY sing), and the organ is barely audible, but that's an aside. The chief problem, I feel, is with the public's image of the organ in church as a concept - which is why I feel it's important to emphasise the organ as a secular concert instrument.
Surely this is a reason why the organ in places of worship should be seen more widely, in many places in England, the organ majestically leads the singing on a Sunday, and is a delight to hear, but all most people know about the organ is what they see on 'The Vicar of Dibley' or 'Emmerdale'!

As for David Pinnegar's suggestion of the van den Heuvel at Saint-Eustache in Paris, I'm not sure. Personally, I find its sound to be excessively gritty and unblending - and I find Guillou's playing and improvisation to be self-indulgent rather than approachable. There's too much of what might be termed gratuitous virtuosity there. His influence shows in the organs he's designed - I can't think of one that I actually like, they all sound too harsh to me. Rather, I would look to Cavaillé-Coll's best - Sacré-Coeur, Saint-Sulpice and Saint-Ouen, Rouen. With respect to PCND, the Notre Dame organ has been so mucked about with that its glories are mostly faded - unless and until it's restored to its original state, it cannot, in my entirely subjective opinion, be considered equal to the other C-Cs I've named (although I know Sacré-Couer isn't exactly original - it's not even in its original home).

As for Albi, it's so mucked about with... the 1970s rebuild was a disaster. It's not in any way the same as it was after Moucherel rebuilt it all those years ago, the specification doesn't make sense (certain stops plain in the wrong place), some of the voicing is obviously neoclassical and the destruction of the Puget instrument (which was, I am told, of pilgrimage quality, right up there with St Ouen etc) also grates. At least St Maximin is largely as built, has never been romanticised, has never had quality romantic material destroyed, has never had obviously neoclassical-style voicing...

This is your opinion, and your entitled to it, however, it is subjective.  I love the Rouen instrument, but also Notre Dame, regardless of what has been done over the years.  An organ has to be a living growing instrument, otherwise it ceases to be that, and just a museum piece.  I also thoroughly enjoy the sound of S. Eustace, and as for Guillou's playing, this is something I like!

Jonathan

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2011, 09:15:42 PM »


Your first observation may well be true, but I fear that even the mere sight of an organ in a church might have people reaching for the off button.

However, to fail to attempt to get people to watch it, could be the same as descending to the lowest common denominator of reality shows.


As for the second, of course it is my opinion, and of course, all opinion is entirely subjective. However, I would disagree with your assertion that "an organ has to be a living growing instrument, otherwise it ceases to be that, and just a museum piece" - it's one thing installing a new console, allowing for registration aids to be installed, but it is quite another to take a world-famous instrument, on which one of the great masters has composed some of the most significant works in the repertoire, and completely change the tonal character of the instrument (whether for better or for worse). Admittedly, Vierne himself had some very strange ideas about what should be done to the ND organ, but that doesn't excuse what was done to it long after his death.

But at what point of history should one consider the organ to be correct, that played by Pérotin the Great or that played by Vierne, or indeed Olivier Latry and the other current incumbents. 

What is the purpose of an organ in a church, that is my fundamental question?  The answer has to be to lead and enhance the worship.  If it doesn't develop through time then it ceases to do that, and does become merely a museum piece.

Jonathan

pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2011, 12:12:44 AM »
It would, therefore, appear that the 1981 rebuild was a crime without equal in the organ world: the only others I can think of which come anywhere near are the 1960s rebuild of the Gloucester Cathedral organ and the total revoicing of the Muller organ in the Bavokerk, Haarlem, by Marcussen in the 1950s, who, driven by ideology, zealously removed all nicking from the pipework. It is only in more recent times that scholarship has revealed that this nicking was an original feature of that stupendous, historic instrument and, so, we are deprived of the knowledge of what the organ really sounded like when it sent Leopold Mozart into raptures.

In the interest of accuracy, I should point out that the organ of Gloucester Cathedral was actually rebuilt in 1970-71.

Whilst I am well aware of the controversy which still surrounds the major alteration of this instrument whch took place at this time, I also know it rather well, having been taught on it by David Briggs over a few years. I have also, on several occasions, played it for a number of visiting choirs.

It is easy, with hinsdsight to say that this or that should have been done differently; I myself may have specified a somewhat different stop-list and voicing style. However, to imply that what took place came close to being a 'crime without equal', is both emotive and unhelpful.

For the record, in its previous incarnation, this instrument was neither typically FHW, nor typically Arthur Harrison. Thus there was no particularly compelling reason for preserving the status quo. For example, the G.O. reeds were not Trombe, but a family of Trumpets, speaking on a pressure of 175mm. The Swell Organ was substantially as Willis had left it, in 1898-99. Secondly, the instrument was mechanically unreliable, much of the mechanism being very worn. In addition, the historic case had been quite literally hacked about, not just by FHW, but also by Harrisons, in 1920, when the west face was pushed out unceremoniously, to balance uncomfortably on the parapet of the Pulpitum.

Perhaps at this stage, I should make it clear that I spoke to Ralph Downes at length regarding the Gloucester rebuild. At the time I was writing my degree thesis (in which the organ of Gloucester Cathedral occupied the greater part of a chapter), Downes kindly granted me an interview. We met at the RFH, following one of the 'Wednesdays at 5.55' recitals which were formerly a regular part of the London organ scene. He was extremely courteous and helpful.

Please be in no doubt but that he considered the matter of the Gloucester rebuild long and hard. It was true that he did not like many aspects of the former instrument; however, it was not simply a case of just throwing out the old and replacing all with new. The entire instrument was considered carefully - but, far more than this, the historic cases and their (formerly) speaking pipes, were also given much thought.

Whilst it is easy to point the finger at Downes (for example, for melting down and re-casting many of Cavaillé-Coll's case pipes at Paisley Abbey - in order that the pipe feet lengths should run in inverse proportion to the lengths of the resonators), it is also true that at Gloucester, he showed great respect for the casework and Harris' original 'East' and 'West' Diapasons.

Whether one likes the style of the Gloucester organ or not, it is without question a thoroughly musical instrument. It may be true that the organs at Durham Cathedral or Saint Mary Redcliffe, Bristol will do better justice to Howells or Stanford (although I have played music by both composers at Gloucester quite effectively) - but the inescapable corollary is that the Gloucester organ plays Bach, Buxtehude and even French Romantic music far better than did its predecessor. In fact, there is recorded evidence that many genuine music lovers found the sound of the old organ oppressive and unmusical - particularly when played loudly. I believe it was Norman Sterrett who, writing in The Organ regarding the (then) recent rebuild of the organ of Exeter Cathedral, by Harrisons, described the former instrument in this cathedral - again a mixture of FHW and Arthur Harrison - as often swamping the singers with 'a windy thickness'.

It is worth remembering that these are statements made by people who were actually in these places at these times, and knew these instruments well.

Another consequence of the Gloucester rebuild was a new action, developed for this instrument - electro-mechanical in principle. It eliminated the use of all moving leather parts. I can testify that the rapidity of the response and the rate of repetition was far superior to any other action I had ever played - even prior to Nicholson's restoration.




« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 02:32:55 AM by pcnd5584 »
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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2011, 12:36:31 AM »
What is the purpose of an organ in a church, that is my fundamental question?  The answer has to be to lead and enhance the worship.  If it doesn't develop through time then it ceases to do that, and does become merely a museum piece.

Dear Jonathan

This is a particularly fundamental issue which sometimes one might be excused for not receiving enough attention. Often an instrument that leads a congregation well gets changed simply on the whim of an organist, or in academic places, a fashion of curriculum in playing a different concert or teaching repertoire . . .

The "why" that you identify is the very reason why this forum began with the inclusion of an Atheist's Corner for which it is criticised in some quarters and perhaps instead it should be relabelled "Phiilosophers' Corner" possibly to avoid offending sensibilities. But nevertheless, the why of why we make music and how and why we believe that the organ is a valuable way to do it must go towards the reasons for organs' use and preservation.

I am not always certain that those in the decision making process relating to organs follow a philosophy in decisions relating to music akin to the parallel but better understood world of listed building preservation in which academic principles of good conservation practice are widely known and followed.

Post http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,730.msg3211.html#msg3211 starts a thread upon the subject "Certainty of Place" identifying churches as landmarks and the sound remembered from them as landmarks also within the mind. In historic building and landscape preservation, common phrases are "Power of Place" and "Spirit of Place". To consider an organ, especially in the case of one built for a particular place at the time of building of a place, devoid of carrying the intangible elements of Spirit, Power and in the case of a Church, Certainty, is likely to lead to what future generations might consider to be an inadequate decision. As you say, this does not automatically require stagnation.

Best wishes


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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2011, 12:38:34 AM »
So... Why has no one mentioned the Willis at Royal Albert Hall... or its use by "non-classical" musicians performing in the Hall--  "because it's there" ???  (I presume the reason "Lady Gaga" "attempted" to play the Hill at Sydney Town Hall... was for the same reason...)  She also played a "non-pipe" organ at the last Grammy Awards-- where a "real organist" received-- for the first time-- a Grammy AWARD--http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,478.msg1923.html#msg1923 as opposed to being "nominated"-- like another "popular"  organist alluded to earlier :o

I will have to dig through the some 600+ posts I have made to this forum and see if I have lost somewhere an article written in the British press someplace about the commissioning of new organ works specifically to be performed on the Willis at Royal Albert Hall, to promote the greater utilization of that instrument... (or other "Town Hall" organs) by, the name escapes me...(for obvious reasons :o

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Oh dear, is nothing sacred?

That may be the whole point of the near-complete disappearance of the King of Instruments (real, rather than "emulators"-- much of the "popular" repertoire is accompanied by the nearly ubiquitous "Hammond Sound" :(  from the "modern musical scene" (both "Classical" and "modern popular")  at least until recently...  The UK "popular" band Muse has a song amongst their repertoire seldom performed "live" for want of an appropriate instrument readily available--
the notable exception was their benefit concert performed, you guessed it, at Royal Albert Hall!

This performance is, sadly, to my limited knowledge-- unavailable in a high-quality professional form :(  Someone please correct me if I am wrong :-[ ??? ;)  but over 70 (at last count)
"unprofessional" videos of this event have appeared on Youtube--

Searching "Muse Megalomania Royal Albert Hall Pipe Organ" will give you some idea...

Might it make for an intriguing opening sequence for such a documentary ??? ??? ???

Eric
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« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 02:30:00 AM by KB7DQH »
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

Jonathan Lane

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2011, 12:45:53 AM »

Softly softly catchy monkey... get people interested in the organ as a concert instrument and they may then become interested in it as an ecclesiastical instrument - but too many won't go near a church. I even read recently that something like 80% of professional organists now will no longer play in church - so what are the chances of getting today's yoof interested without showing the organ as a concert instrument?


I teach a nine year old who is fascinated by the organ in church, not from a particularly church family.  Also a number of teenagers.  I don't think it is anything to do with the organ being in church, but the manner in which organists relate to youngsters and others, and the welcome people get when they come into the church building.  Get them into the concert hall and they will stay there and miss a wealth of music for which the organ is best at, i.e. in the liturgy.



At what point in history indeed... difficult to say. However, at Nôtre Dame, the organ exists largely as built by Cavaillé-Coll (whatever the modifications made to it), so that would have to be one of the main candidates for the starting point of a restoration of this historic instrument. In my entirely subjective opinion, the more recent incumbents (from Cochereau on) aren't as significant as Vierne, good as they were and are. With the Pièces en style libre, the Pièces de fantaisie, the six symphonies and the Messe Solonnelle (and that's just for starters), Vierne wrote a vast amount of the present repertoire. Might it be sensible to suggest a compromise of a restoration, with a fully-equipped Skinner-style console, with all the more recent additions available to it and electric action for day-to-day use and the restoration (or construction of a replica) of the Cavaillé-Coll console with Barker lever-assisted tracker action and only the stops Vierne had access to? Such duplicate actions (with two consoles) exist elsewhere (Christchurch Priory among others, although I've heard that the tracker console isn't terribly good to play, with the detached electric console downstairs accounting for about 90% of the organ's use).


I'm not sure I understand your reasoning here.  Surely if these voices are available on the current organ.  It is up to the skill of the organist to select stops that recreate best the Vierne sound, and if the organist is incapable of doing so, having a 'Vierne' console isn't going to make that happen.  A compromise can only ever be that!

Barker lever was only an aid to help the organist play on heavier actions, but the modern electric action has overcome this.  It is a little like buying a beautiful new Aston Martin and insisting it has a starter handle.

As for Christchurch Priory (pcnd knows this organ far better than me), however, a few years ago, on a trip to see the organ in the company of Paul Derrett, Geoffrey Morgan talked about the organ and showed us round.  I played the organ from the detached console but not the mechanical one.  Seeing the position of the attached console was enough to put anyone off, to all intents and purposes being almost in a different room!  I seem to remember Geoffrey saying he didn't like it compared to the Nave console, but my apologies to him if I misunderstood his views!

As for
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What is the purpose of an organ in a church, that is my fundamental question?  The answer has to be to lead and enhance the worship.  If it doesn't develop through time then it ceases to do that, and does become merely a museum piece.

Of course, that is entirely true - but there are enough churches make do with old organs in largely original condition.

But why should we make do?

Jonathan

pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2011, 12:53:27 AM »
... Admittedly, Vierne himself had some very strange ideas about what should be done to the ND organ, but that doesn't excuse what was done to it long after his death.

Certainly one or two were a little unorthodox - and would probably not have been regarded as positive steps today. (Incidentally, have you read Rollin Smith's excellent book on Vierne?)

But at what point of history should one consider the organ to be correct, that played by Pérotin the Great or that played by Vierne, or indeed Olivier Latry and the other current incumbents.

... At what point in history indeed... difficult to say. However, at Nôtre Dame, the organ exists largely as built by Cavaillé-Coll (whatever the modifications made to it), so that would have to be one of the main candidates for the starting point of a restoration of this historic instrument. In my entirely subjective opinion, the more recent incumbents (from Cochereau on) aren't as significant as Vierne, good as they were and are. With the Pièces en style libre, the Pièces de fantaisie, the six symphonies and the Messe Solonnelle (and that's just for starters), Vierne wrote a vast amount of the present repertoire.

The question of to which state a particular instrument (in this case, that at Nôtre-Dame de Paris) should be restored is a valid one. It is, as you say, difficult to decide.

However, I must take issue with you regarding your 'entirely subjective opinion' - Le Comte de Saint-Martin may perhaps not have measured up to the musical stature of Vierne, but this is quite simply not true of Cochereau. One cannot make a meaningful judgement purely in terms of the quantity of compositional output. In fact, not only would such giants of the organ world as Marcel Dupré disagree with you (he proclaimed: 'Pierre Cochereau is a phenomenon without equal in the history of the contemporary organ'), but the clergy and chapter of this great cathedral would also take issue with your dismissive appraisal. It was precisely because they recognised the greatness of Cochereau's musical stature and reputation that they decided, on his death, to return to the pre-revolution custom of there being four Titulaires. They reasoned that there was no single organist in France at that time who was of sufficient calibre to succeed him.


Might it be sensible to suggest a compromise of a restoration, with a fully-equipped Skinner-style console, with all the more recent additions available to it and electric action for day-to-day use and the restoration (or construction of a replica) of the Cavaillé-Coll console with Barker lever-assisted tracker action and only the stops Vierne had access to? Such duplicate actions (with two consoles) exist elsewhere (Christchurch Priory among others, although I've heard that the tracker console isn't terribly good to play, with the detached electric console downstairs accounting for about 90% of the organ's use).

With regard to the organ of Christchurch Priory, although the reasons behind the decision to build two consoles and fit the instrument with two separate actions, it is true that the attached console is somewhat heavy. furthermore, some of the subsequent additions are not available (for obvious reasons) on this console. To exacerbate matters, there is presently no means of observing a conductor from the attached console.

However, with regard to the organ of Nôtre-Dame, I am unconvinced that there is any point whatsoever in providing duplicate consoles and actions - particuarly when both consoles would have to be placed in the west tribune with the organ.


In fact, Cochereau had the original Cavaillé-Coll stops marked with a red dot on his new Anglo-American console. He also had an electrical device which would annul all the extra stops, in order that players could choose either the full range of the instrument, or the Cavaillé-Coll original. And before you reply to the effect that Cochereau had caused several of the original stops to be altered (particularly the G.O. Mixtures), it is worth remembering that Vierne had also authorised substantial modifications - and would have, given time and money, made further alterations, a number of which would have been somewhat less sympathetic than those which Cochereau effected.

I would dare to suggest that the Cochereau-era rebuild at ND was driven more by the two factors of neoclassical ideology and Cochereau's demands for his highly virtuosic, florid improvisations (which I find I tire of quickly) than mere necessity for the job required of the organ. Daniel Roth et al don't exactly seem to struggle down the road at Saint-Sulpice, though no doubt the original console and combination action present quite a challenge to the player. Again, I suspect that the dual-action, dual-console solution proposed above would circumvent any such problems at ND.

In some ways the rebuild of the organ at Nôtre-Dame was a child of its time - although it is worth remembering that in fact, the rebuild was somewhat protracted, alterations being carried-out piecemeal almost up to the year of his death.

However, your subjective comments regarding his improvisations invite qualification. May I state, for the record, as one who knows a thing or two about improvisation, both liturgical and in concert (and I wonder how many of Cochereau's you have actually listened to in depth?) that whilst they were certainly virtuosic, they were not florid, in the sense of merely being 'showy' or 'excessively ornate'. It must be remembered that, as documented by those who knew him well, Cochereau had a mission - to fill the cathedral with people and to present the organ as a living inspiration and aid to their worship. A number of French organists at the time stated that, without Cochereau, they would all still be playing to empty churches.

Also for the record, at S. Sulpice, M. Roth is assisted much of the time (as is his own Titulaire-Ajointe), by two registrants, who rehearse with both organists. Registrations are planned and recorded in an A4 ring-binder. I have been present at rehearsal and therefore am fully aware of how difficult it would be to give a recital (or even play a service) on this magnificent instrument, without the regular services of the registrants. In addition, it should be said that M. Roth's own improvisations are of a somewhat different style to those of Pierre Cochereau.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 01:24:25 AM by pcnd5584 »
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

 


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