Author Topic: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs  (Read 57424 times)

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revtonynewnham

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #60 on: July 22, 2011, 03:54:45 PM »
Hi

The weekly lunchtime organ recital series at Bradford Cathedral (hardly an easy place to get to, and with a local population in the city of probably 30% or more Asian) gains an attendance of 60-100 every week (the excellent buffet lunch at a very reasonable price probably helps - but isn't the total answer).  Last year we filled that same cathedral on a weekday evening in February for a concert by Carlo Curley.  I suspect that Barnicle COmpton isn't looking wide enough.

The COS Wurlitzer a Saltaire doesn't seem to attract more than 100-150 on a Sunday afternoon - and I suspect from a much wider area than the cathedral's lunchtime series.

I enjoy most styles of organ music - even what others might consider boring - that's down to taste again.  I've played a few cinema organs (probably pro-rata a greater percentage of the surviving instruments of that genre than "straight" organs) - including, at one time, a regular gig on the Rye Wurlitzer - so kindly don't tell me that my attitudes are like a brick wall!!!!

Every Blessing

Tony

David Pinnegar

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #61 on: July 22, 2011, 05:28:09 PM »
Hi!

Brilliant grist to the mill and certainly shows James diversity is part of the scene and that in one way or other people like the sound of air emerging from pipes!

One of the most interesting organs in the country must be that of Wimborne Minster of which Cecil Clutton wrote "It is very rare indeed to see a specification of whatever size in which there is nothing to criticise, but this is one. It has a proper balance between classical and romantic; no stop is superfulous or misplaced. All essential balances are present." He adds: "this must be one of the largest surviving collections of British pipework predating Smith and Harris"

It would be great for a documentary to see if one might have a visit with the organ builder to show us an ancient pipe or two and its condition.

On the Great the 2nd Open Diapason, Rohr Flute, Twelfth and Fifteenth together with Positive Principal and 4ft Chimney flute are from 1664!

On the Swell, the Open and Stopped Diapasons, Principal and 4ft Flute are from 1764.

However, how original their sound might be might be another matter - wind pressures in use might have changed in the 19th century and presumably they would have been tuned to Meantone rather than equal temperament.

Best wishes

David P


comptonplus

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #62 on: July 22, 2011, 09:17:29 PM »
I personally think to catch a wider audience, the programme needs to concentrate on ALL aspects of the organ, Cinema/Theatre, Classical/Church.

My personal view, if it concentrates on just one or the other, it's missing out on a GREAT opportunity!

I'm a keen theatre organ fan, and to see it almost being 'dismissed' is a great shame, they are still pipe organs and have a lot to offer, be it in the Blackpool stytle or more orchestral (I am a fan of Blackpool, others may not be, down to your choice!) If you cover everything, then everyone will see some part of the organ scene which MAY appeal to them. If none of it does, well, they shouldn't have bnothered tuning in to see the programme!

If it is to be a TV Documentary, the man in the street will see Church/Classical organ and turn off immediately, but if you see a man in a white suit popping up out of the floor, I think it's more likely he will leave the TV on, even if for a split second to laugh at it! :-)

pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #63 on: July 22, 2011, 10:24:22 PM »
.... I recall PCND saying that he'd heard superb Vierne on a cinema organ and I have to say I'd much rather listen to Vierne or orchestral symphonies in transcription - anyone brave enough to take on the Havergal Brian Gothic?  ;D - than 'Oh I do like the be beside the sea-side' and the rest of the sentimental twaddle that seems to be the stock-in-trade of too many theatre organists. For God's sake we want something with some weight and profundity to dig into intellectually, not just to appeal on a totally superficial level!

Not quite. I was referring to an item which I saw on YouTube, in which Ken Cowan was playing (form memory and in a public concert) Healey Willan's monumental Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue, in E-flat minor. Having said this, I actually only liked it for two reasons: firstly, his performance was excellent - both accurate and thoroughly musical. And secondly - he somehow managed to make whatever Wurlitzer he was using sound like (for want of a more precise description) a cathedral organ. That is, apart from one brief moment in the middle, when it sounded exactly what it was - a theatre organ. Whilst barniclecompton may disagree (which is his privilege), I simply did not like the sound at this point - and cannot see any point in pretending that I did.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 11:20:31 PM by pcnd5584 »
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pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #64 on: July 22, 2011, 10:49:16 PM »
I give in, talkin to classical organists is like talking to a brick wall. I can see why everyone else has given up trying.
When it comes to the proms, I dont know ANYONE who watches them.
As for classical organ.......most people turn off/walk out/dont bother. Truth. If you dont want to beleive, dont.
As for-- but too many are a grating reminder of a bygone era of holidays consisting of walks along seafronts in driving rain and greasy chips and mushy peas. What I would like to hear more of is the theatre organ being treated as what it is - thats what people enjoy, thats what brings crowds. I dont see any symphonic style organists drawing BIG crowds, especially in the UK. The theatre organ is NOT a symphonic instrument.

Firstly, I am happy to say that many people here do watch the Promenade concerts. In addition, our local professional orchestra also performs its own Last Night of the Proms, which is always a sell-out - and hugely enjoyable.

Again, you appear to be making generalisations. I would not personally wish to be so certain that 'everyone' has given up trying to talk to classical organists.

It does seem that you have a somewhat restricted view of what constitutes fun, with regard to organ concerts and recitals. I can assure you that there are, in this part of the country, plenty of organ recitals in which the audience do not stamp, clap in time to the music, sing along, dance or jump around or otherwise take part physically. At the same time, they do not feel cheated that they have not done so - as far as I am aware, neither do they wish to. Nevertheless, they have had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

I hope that you would be encouraged to learn that, a few miles from here, is one of England's 'greater churches'. In this building, every Thursday lunch-time, an organ recital takes place. I have performed there myself, on a number of occasions. Furthermore, there is a regular and loyal following - I beileve that I am correct in stating that last week's audience numbered in excess of one hundred and eighty. This is, in fact, not unusual. The programmes are chosen carefully, both to avoid duplication withina series and in order that there is a reasonable variety of styles. However, the vast majority of the music is, again for want of a better term 'classical' organ music. For example, my own recitals have featured the final movements from Vierne's first and sixth symphonies, the first movement from the Second Symphony for Organ, various preludes (or toccatas) and fugues, by Bach and also a number of shorter pieces in a variety of styles. After each recital, several members of the audience(s) came up to speak, telling me how much they had enjoyed the concert. I say this for no other reason than to attempt to illustrate that, in this part of the country at any rate, 'serious' organ recitals are both appreciated and enjoyed by comparatively healthy (in terms of numbers) audiences.

In your last paragraph, I believe that you are actually superimposing your own views on what others might enjoy. I am pleased to learn that you have experienced theatre organ concerts (which you have evidently enjoyed) and which have drawn crowds. However, to imply that this is the only type of organ concert which is capable of doing so, is certainly not the case in this part of the world.

Incidentally, I would agree with you on one point - the cinema organ is definitely not a symphonic instrument. However, I would view it as an instrument which is orchestral in stlye.

It was heartening to read of Voix Cynique's story regarding the builder who has discovered a great passion for music which, if one were universally to adopt the type of philosophy you appear to recommend, he would have been denied the opportunity of ever hearing. Yet another example, which does illustrate the point that it can be folly to generalise.

The fact is, as the Reverend Newnham has written, there is good and bad in both - and each has a loyal following.

I think there is a danger that you are allowing yourself to be just as blinkered and intolerant in your views as you accuse those who like 'classsical' organ concerts of being.

For the record, as I write this, I am listening to a superb double CD of Oscar Peterson, performing in his inimitable style - for the most part with either a trio or a small band. In my car, currently I have CDs featuring Nickelback, Bob Dylan and Dire Straits. On my iPod Nano I have (amongst a whole host of the most catholic choices one could imagine) Linkin Park, Eminem (sorry, Tony....), Fall Out Boy, Cochereau and some Donald Fagen* (remember Steely Dan?). I am also proud to say that I do not wear slippers, I do not own a cardigan with tortoiseshell buttons - and I do not smoke a briar pipe....



* All of which are given an airing (to my great enjoyment) on a regular basis.


« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 11:36:57 PM by pcnd5584 »
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pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #65 on: July 22, 2011, 10:52:06 PM »

... If it is to be a TV Documentary, the man in the street will see Church/Classical organ and turn off immediately, but if you see a man in a white suit popping up out of the floor, I think it's more likely he will leave the TV on, even if for a split second to laugh at it! :-)

In fact, this was apparently not the case with either The King of Instruments (featuring Gillian Weir) or Howard Goodall's Organ Works.

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comptonplus

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #66 on: July 22, 2011, 11:20:45 PM »
Howard Goodalls Organ Works covered ALL aspects, from the first organs to modern day, including theatre organs (he went to Blackpool Tower and also included information on Hope Jones). It did not conentrate on one person, one organ, one type of music, it covered the lot, and a very good set of programmes it was too!!

comptonplus

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #67 on: July 22, 2011, 11:26:23 PM »
Also, how do you know people didn't switch off their sets anymore than I know they did?? Just a thought. Maybe you have access to information I don't?

Talking to people, the Howard Goodall series seems to have stuck out in people's minds, also a This England programme and Behold the Mighty Wurlitzer which were aired in the 70's.

pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #68 on: July 22, 2011, 11:30:33 PM »
Howard Goodalls Organ Works covered ALL aspects, from the first organs to modern day, including theatre organs (he went to Blackpool Tower and also included information on Hope Jones). It did not conentrate on one person, one organ, one type of music, it covered the lot, and a very good set of programmes it was too!!

For the record, I did not claim that it did concentrate on one person, organ or type of music. My point was that it also included a fair amount of time featuring 'classical' organs.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 11:39:19 PM by pcnd5584 »
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pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #69 on: July 22, 2011, 11:33:22 PM »
Also, how do you know people didn't switch off their sets anymore than I know they did?? Just a thought. Maybe you have access to information I don't?

I simply read a number of reviews (and Letters to the Editor features) in certain well-known periodicals at the time. In addition, I also talked to many friends (not all of whom were particularly musical) about the programme.

For the record, viewing statistics are (or certainly were) available for many types of programmes, if one were to search for them.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 11:39:57 PM by pcnd5584 »
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David Pinnegar

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #70 on: July 22, 2011, 11:40:06 PM »
Hi!

It's great to see such a spirited and lively debate! Interestingly however, the situation in France is particularly different and possibly it depends upon how exciting the instrument is on which concerts are performed. During August recitals at Albi the cathedral is so packed that they have to turn people away at the door. St Maximin recitals are pretty full as also are those at L'Escarene on the salt route up to Italy behind Nice.

And all this with classical music even if it does include Charles-Alexandre Fessy (1804-1856) requiring the tremulant on the 1791 instrument and making it sound like a Wurlitzer . . .

It may be that those who consider that only Wurlitzers draw the crowds might usefully take a peek at what's happening on the Continent, which is very different. To some extent it depends on the charisma of the organist and how well the instrument can aspire to the title of King and to what extent each instrument has a personal following - such as Myrrha Principano at Entrevaux.

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 11:43:03 PM by David Pinnegar »

pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #71 on: July 22, 2011, 11:48:09 PM »
Hi!

It's great to see such a spirited and lively debate! Interestingly however, the situation in France is particularly different and possibly it depends upon how exciting the instrument is on which concerts are performed. During August recitals at Albi the cathedral is so packed that they have to turn people away at the door. St Maximin recitals are pretty full as also are those at L'Escarene on the salt route up to Italy behind Nice.

And all this with classical music even if it does include Charles-Alexandre Fessy (1804-1856) requiring the tremulant on the 1791 instrument and making it sound like a Wurlitzer . . .

It may be that those who consider that only Wurlitzers draw the crowds might usefully take a peek at what's happening on the Continent, which is very different. To some extent it depends on the charisma of the organist and how well the instrument can aspire to the title of King.

Best wishes

David P

Best wishes

David P

Thank you for this, David.

It is indeed good to hear of such things.

A colleague informs me that this happy situation is replicated in parts of Poland and certain Eastern European countries (in which he regularly takes holidays). In Poland, in particualr, he has attended many organ recitals - which often seem to begin quite late in the evenings - in which there has been standing room only*. The music featured was, without exception, 'classical' organ music. (Incidentally, if someone can suggest an inoffensive, non-controversial but succinct alternative term, you can have one of my CDs free - including the postage to anywhere on mainland UK. First acceptable answer only. I cannot afford to give loads of  the things away....) To return to the saga of the Polish organ recitals. My colleague also said that he was often one of the oldest people in attendance (no, he is not particularly old). Apparently, there was a large proportion of teenagers and people who appeared to be in their early to middle twenties.



* He was referring specifically to cathedrals and other large churches, here.

This term is both context-dependent and somewhat volatile. For the purpose of this post, I regard Poland as belonging to Central Southern Europe.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 12:03:36 AM by pcnd5584 »
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pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #72 on: July 22, 2011, 11:57:22 PM »
PCND, I'm listening to that Cowan recording of the Willan as I write. It's difficult to form any impressions, as the 240p Youtube compressed audio has killed whatever reverb the room may have and likely the upper harmonics of the organ, so it all sounds a bit thick and flat, like a recording from a long time ago (coincidentally, it reminds me of Whitlock's recordings of the Parkstone Compton). However, it certainly proves the point that these are capable concert instruments and I would hope that more people play theatre organs 'straight', as it would, I suspect, win the theatre organ more fans from within the sometimes snobbish world of the 'classical' organ, as well as from the wider classical music world.

I take your point about the sound quality. This is, unfortunatley, often the case with YouTube clips. However, I am listening on a Logitech system with a bass bin and separate tweeters and, whilst I would not pretend that this set-up constitutes high fidelity reproduction, it does enhance it somewhat.


If I'm honest, the cinema organ sounds I'm hearing are scarcely any worse than the Father Willis at Ewell with its Vox Humana and tremulant! I think Cowan could have laid off the tinkly percussion, but that's just personal taste. What I'd like to know is where Hope-Jones learned to voice - apparently his Tubas are very much like those of Fr Willis.

Hmmm.... the 'tinkly percussion'. I think that this was the part to which I objected.... also on grounds of taste. *

With regard to Hope-Jones and voicing: it is possible that he sub-contracted much of this to trade (but nevertheless highly skilled) voicers, such as W.C. Jones. This I would need to check.

Some of his Tuba stops may have sounded similar in timbre to those by FHW. However, I am fairly certain that, had it come to fruition, his plan to place a Tuba voiced on 2500mm (or 100" w.g., if you prefer) above the Canons' Stalls at Worcester Cathedral would more closely have resembled the Last Trump.

Thank goodness that one never materialised....



* Perhaps somewhat ironically, I believe that Willan specified this registration in the score at this point.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 01:04:04 AM by pcnd5584 »
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David Pinnegar

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #73 on: July 23, 2011, 12:13:35 AM »
This term is both context-dependent and somewhat volatile. For the purpose of this post, I regard Poland as belonging to Central Southern Europe.[/font]

Um. Yes! Poland Southern? Perhaps south of Hamburg . . .

:-)

comptonplus

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #74 on: July 23, 2011, 12:24:02 AM »
Other countries in Europe seem more willing to embrace other types of music than we do here in the UK! If it doesn't blast your brains out for the vast majority of youngsters and some well into theit 40's and 50's, forget it!

Back to the Howard Goodall bit, I was still at School when that was on and I remember mentioning it to quite a few friends who to the mick, I wonder if they would watch it now, however?

Indeed - times do change. Look at Helen Mirren....
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 08:25:58 AM by pcnd5584 »

pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #75 on: July 23, 2011, 12:47:26 AM »
As for what to call 'classical' music when it's not just classical, I think this is a problem we've been wrestling with for centuries! Um... intellectual? Oh, and note to moderators - DON'T NICK MY IDEA! IT'S MINE AND SO'S THAT CD IF I WIN!  ;D

Hmmm.... Not sure about that one - but it is a fair first try.


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pcnd5584

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #76 on: July 23, 2011, 12:53:19 AM »
This term is both context-dependent and somewhat volatile. For the purpose of this post, I regard Poland as belonging to Central Southern Europe.[/font]

Um. Yes! Poland Southern? Perhaps south of Hamburg . . .

:-)

Gah - I should, of course, have typed 'Northern' - as opposed to 'Southern'. It is probably even mostly north of the Watfod Gap Services....

My excuse is that it is late and I am tired. Even worse, I cannot find where I put the half-finished bag of toffee popcorn from last night. Consequently, you see before you the postings of a distressed and hungry individual.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 12:55:33 AM by pcnd5584 »
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comptonplus

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #77 on: July 23, 2011, 02:15:41 AM »
Other countries in Europe seem more willing to embrace other types of music than we do here in the UK! If it doesn't blast your brains out for the vast majority of youngsters and some well into theit 40's and 50's, forget it!

Back to the Howard Goodall bit, I was still at School when that was on and I remember mentioning it to quite a few friends who to the mick, I wonder if they would watch it now, however?

Indeed - times do change. Look at Helen Mirren....

Not sure I like how admin seem to be able to add into my posts making it liik at first glance that I typed it, I refer to the Helen Mirren bit!

Jonathan Lane

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #78 on: July 23, 2011, 02:27:08 AM »
At the opening of the HNB/Schantz at Melbourne Town Hall by Thomas Heywood, the hall was packed to its 2200ish capacity, with a further 650-odd having to be turned away. That's how popular it was. An awful lot of people I know listen to and watch the Proms - one of them is a proper Saf Lunnun-spoken builder, shaven-headed, five feet wide by seven feet tall and with an accent you could cut through stone with, but nevertheless he watched the entirety of the 1st Night on the television - when a completely ornery builder is raving about Janacek's Glagolitic Mass, you know you're getting somewhere. He has now vowed one way or another to catch every Prom in the season, on the TV, radio and listening back on the iPlayer and is talking about buying tickets for a few next year, bringing his son and wife, even his mates and colleagues (who, as it is, are given regular updates on his meteoric progress on the piano and are often made to listen to him playing in exchange for beers and curries). Just goes to show that dumbing down to appeal to the masses can often backfire.

This is so heartening, and great to see people do respond when dumbing down is avoided!  The thing I see time and again, with children and adults, is that they appreciate good music and reject poor music, in whatever style or genre.

Jonathan

Jonathan Lane

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Re: Documentary researcher seeking people enthusiastic about Pipe Organs
« Reply #79 on: July 23, 2011, 02:31:15 AM »

... If it is to be a TV Documentary, the man in the street will see Church/Classical organ and turn off immediately, but if you see a man in a white suit popping up out of the floor, I think it's more likely he will leave the TV on, even if for a split second to laugh at it! :-)

In fact, this was apparently not the case with either The King of Instruments (featuring Gillian Weir) or Howard Goodall's Organ Works.


There must be some popularity for such programmes, as Priory have now released The King of Instruments on DVD.  Sadly the Howard Goodall Organ Works series do not look like being released in a similar manner, I asked the production company a few years ago, but they said no.  However, if lots of people ask, they may change their mind.

Organ Works was excellent, not only for its content (I particularly liked the Spanish episode), but also for its presenter, Howard engages everyone, whatever age, and convinces them they like whatever he is talking about!

Jonathan

 


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