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Friday, November 25th 2005


Stanford meets a Protective Dyke

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Tonight we had a run-through for the Advent Candlelight Service. It seemed to go fairly well. I managed to get through transposing the JSB Wachet Auf  into D with only a few little slips – just as long as I can do it again on Sunday night….In case you are wondering, I transpose it down a semitone in order to prevent the Gentlemen of the Choir bursting major arteries as they strain for top Gs. It is also cheaper on the window insurance.


We had yet another soloist for the Stanford Magnificat - the best, so far. Just hope his voice holds out. He spent most of the time between singing snatches of Stanford coughing violently and hawking phlegm over his neighbour’s cassock. I can only assume he smokes about 500 a day.


The organ behaved itself – apart from the Swell Double Trumpet, the tenor and bass octaves of which were making the most peculiar noises. Upon investigating, I found that virtually all the tuning-slots for the tenor octave had been closed, so I opened them and re-tuned the rank at the reed. This does at least mean that the stop has largely the same timbre throughout its compass. Prior to this, the tenor octave had sounded like it was being strangled – and in another room.


Loads of teaching tomorrow – got pupils doing exams, next week. (Mustn’t forget to tell them each to take a crisp twenty-pound note and a bottle of Bordeaux for the examiner. Alternatively, they could always do some practice and learn the pieces and the scales….)


As you can see, I am having a really exciting time at the moment.


Don’t know what to play before the Advent service – I can’t keep on playing all the Advent pieces from the Orgelbüchlein, the Prelude on Winchester New and the Chorale Prelude on Nun komm by Buxtehude. Perhaps (just for a change) I will improvise. At least the voluntary afterwards has been sorted (Fantasia and Fugue, in G minor – JSB)…. all I have to do is find some time when I can actually get on the organ to practise it. If there are any purists out there who intend to come to the Minster on Sunday night for the service – you will probably not like my registration – I don’t do ‘chaste’ Bach. Whilst I am not planning to use the chamades for the piece, I intend use everything else – except, perhaps, the Céleste.


However, the really important question is: ‘Where do we go afterwards, for a drink?’ Do we go to the White Hart (the ‘official’ Choir pub) with its small but welcoming Lounge Bar or do we go to the Goat and Firkin and try to avoid the darts players and the scantily-clad shivering nymphettes who are busy drinking all the vodka? There is a third possibility: we could go to the home of one of our choirmen and have a huge party and trash the place. Ah! Decisions, decisions. Actually, speaking personally, I can’t say that I fancy the Goat and Firkin – the last time we went there I was accosted by a large aggressive woman sporting a buzz-cut, who was bent on preventing me from visiting the Gents’. It turned out that the toilets had flooded earlier after a badger crawled through the window and promptly died in one of the lavatory pans whilst attempting to assuage its thirst. Whilst I was glad to miss that little scene, I cannot help thinking that the woman was unnecessarily firm and, for that matter, unnecessarily attired in some kind of body-armour.


Oh well, at least I now know what is meant by the phrase ‘Protective Dyke’.

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