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Sunday, November 20th 2005

22:55

Tag soloists and 32ft. reeds

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Interesting Evensong, tonight – we had a relay system between the Head Chorister and one of the other boys during the Magnificat (Stanford, in G). Unfortunately the HC's voice is on the way out – at least, as far as the treble range is concerned. This meant that the likelihood of him producing sustained top Gs was commensurate with me being invited to become the next French Pope. It was somewhat distracting as far as I was concerned. Trying to play the organ part and ignore the fact that the treble solo was coming from two different locations, complete with contrasting vocal timbres (and speeds – the younger soloist obviously had a bus to catch….) proved interesting. Oh well….

 

Hope you all like the new gallery – most of the pictures are OK, but some are a little fuzzy when viewed full-size; but then - so am I. It has to be said that it is quite difficult to obtain a decent picture (or even an indecent one) of the organ console at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The best one I have was only possible by hanging out of the triforium gallery, extending my right arm, guessing and pressing. However, I am relieved that the Verger did not come up and try to hang a flag from my arm. They seem to go in for these (flags, not arms) – there are loads hanging above the stalls, together with a bunch of swords. These would, of course, prove extremely useful of the sermon was (a) long (b) boring or (c) a combination of both.  It was interesting to see the old ‘Willis’ console up close. It now resides on the floor of the North Transept – complete with spelling mistake on the drawstop for the 32ft. reed, which is labelled ‘Contra Posanne 32’. I have to say that I am surprised that one got past FHW. Fortunately, the JWWW version upstairs reads ‘Contra Posaune 32’.

 

Mind you, there are one or two cases of organ stops being named (perhaps unadvisedly) after their benefactors. Take Sherborne Abbey, for instance, with its ‘Contra Batten 32’, after a former gentleman of the choir, now deceased. Still, it could have been worse – he could have been called ‘Bottoms’ or perhaps CENSORED. Well, you get the picture.

 

Personally, I quite like ‘Sackbut’, as at York Minster. But for something really exciting, you just cannot beat a Cavaillé-Coll ‘Contre-Bombarde’.

 

It has to be said that Evensong was rather more restrained than Mass this morning – the last hymn was I the Lord of sea and sky which my boss (possibly unwisely) decided to play on the grand (piano). He (even less-wisely) suggested that I might like to add a few parts on the organ. I responded ‘Oh, so we are going to camp it up, are we?’ ‘Yes’, said my boss, gleefully. ‘Just how camp do you want it?’ I asked….Apparently more camp than a row of pink tents, as the congregation soon discovered. Unfortunately, some of them actually liked it like that…. Hmmmm.

 

See the Bears’ game, last week, men?
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