High esteem for the pipe organ?

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JW
Posts: 851
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:46 am
Location: Kent

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by JW »

The question of payment has been discussed previously so I don't want to taste that particular hot potato again! Some good organists have left the catholic church over the issue!

As far as bad organists are concerned: for many parishes the choice is between a bad organist or no music at all. There just aren't the musicians around - it doesn't matter whether we are talking about organists, guitarists, violinists, flautists, drummers or euponium players. Part of the problem is that there are few musicians able or willing to take on the planning, time and leadership commitments involved.

In the 1970's I was informed that I would be replaced eventually by folk groups - they came and then went. In the 1990's I was asked to step aside to leave space for non-organist musicians to fill the vacuum. It didn't happen and 18 months later I was asked to get involved with the music again.

I can only suggest, justMary, that you try to set up an unpaid band for your parish. Contact a few Catholic music students in your nearest secondary school and see if they are prepared to help - I'm not saying that you will necessarily like the result but it may be worth a go!

Do be gentle with us organists, even the bad ones. We all take a lot of stick for doing a job (usually unpaid) that nobody else wants to do. And yes, the organ should be held in high esteem!
JW

justMary
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:53 pm
Parish / Diocese: Republic of Ireland

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by justMary »

JW wrote:Do be gentle with us organists, even the bad ones. We all take a lot of stick for doing a job (usually unpaid) that nobody else wants to do. And yes, the organ should be held in high esteem!


Ahh, I would always aim to be gentle with musicians. I hold them, yes even the not-so-skilled ones, in great esteem even if I'm not so fond of their instruments, and of some of their attitudes.

Although I personally dislike the organ, I realise that it does "work" in terms of enabling many people to pray/worship. So I can easily enough park my own dislike, some of the time, for the greater good.

These days, when I change parishes, I seek out places where the music programme is participative and inclusive, and ideally includes a variety of instruments. One of my personal principles is to include anyone who wants to be involved - and I work very hard to find ways for people to play together. The other side is, of course, that the involvement needs to be what the parish/congregation needs and the best we can do given the time and skills available. There needs to be a lot of discernment and self-discipline - and sometimes we don't do as well as we'd like to. But I'm firmly convinced that this is a better way to grow a sustainable music programme that survives as people come and go, and which allows for people to participate as and when they're available.

Hare
Posts: 601
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2004 12:12 pm
Parish / Diocese: Home Counties

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Hare »

justMary wrote:
JW wrote:Do be gentle with us organists, even the bad ones. We all take a lot of stick for doing a job (usually unpaid) that nobody else wants to do. And yes, the organ should be held in high esteem!


Ahh, I would always aim to be gentle with musicians. I hold them, yes even the not-so-skilled ones, in great esteem even if I'm not so fond of their instruments, and of some of their attitudes.

Although I personally dislike the organ, I realise that it does "work" in terms of enabling many people to pray/worship. So I can easily enough park my own dislike, some of the time, for the greater good.

These days, when I change parishes, I seek out places where the music programme is participative and inclusive, and ideally includes a variety of instruments. One of my personal principles is to include anyone who wants to be involved - and I work very hard to find ways for people to play together. The other side is, of course, that the involvement needs to be what the parish/congregation needs and the best we can do given the time and skills available. There needs to be a lot of discernment and self-discipline - and sometimes we don't do as well as we'd like to. But I'm firmly convinced that this is a better way to grow a sustainable music programme that survives as people come and go, and which allows for people to participate as and when they're available.


Whilst not wishing to sound conceited, I have been Organist in my parish for nearly 20 years, and more musicians have "gone" than "come" and yet we have sustained - indeed, developed, a good music programme in which the congregation participates and choir and cantors play their part. And no instrument other than the organ has been played for a good 10 years! 8)

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Nick Baty
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Parish / Diocese: Everton, Liverpool
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Nick Baty »

When I first came back to Liverpool, I was asked if I'd help out in one of the city parishes. I said I'd be happy to work anywhere that had a reasonable organist/accompanist – and was directed to a church which didn't even have an instrument – of any kind.
I would kill for an organist of any standard – they're as rare as hens' teeth.
I'd love a guitarist and/or flautist or two.
We can't find either and we just have to make do. And have done for around eight years.

alan29
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Location: Wirral

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by alan29 »

And here's me, an organist spiced into a parish without one. :(

Peter Jones
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Parish / Diocese: Birmingham

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Peter Jones »

I've moved around a bit in my sixty years. Here's a personal survey of organs in churches that have been my home/parish church. I leave it up to readers as to the question posed in the title of this thread.


1950s – electronic – thermionic emission valve oscillators – a ’toaster’
1950s – electronic - thermionic emission valve oscillators – a ’toaster’
1960s – small chapel – no instrument whatsoever
1960s – ex-army hut chapel with American Reed Organ (harmonium)
1960s – new church – new four division (but only two manual console) extension
pipe organ – now unusable as a subsequent p.p. sold off the console and the Choir division. Gt/Sw/Ped pipework still in place but unplayable.
1970s 3 manual Compton of 1934 – 11 ranks extended to 56 stops – now scrapped and replaced by a digital
1970s – American Reed Organ – later replaced, through a parishioner’s and my enthusiasm, by a redundant one manual
1980s college chapel – adequate two-manual tracker with electric extension
pedal division – 19 stops
- seminary chapel – 6 rank extension instrument + independent screaming four rank mixture on the Great (painful)

1990s – quite horrible and old analogue electronic thing
1990s - an old Hammond – with drawbars to select your own harmonics - tonewheel technology
1990s- three manual Conacher/Sheffield rebuilt Compton/ Rushworth & Dreaper – now rebuilt as a large two manual.
- then another quite horrible and old analogue electronic thing – replaced by a digital.

2000s - small two-manual tracker “baroque-ified” in the 1970s – ruined the instrument.
2010s another quite horrible and old/partially non-functioning analogue electronic thing (someone bought it !!) Replaced by second-hand
early digital (now 21 years old)
Any opinions expressed are my own, not those of the Archdiocese of Birmingham Liturgy Commission, Church Music Committee.
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HallamPhil
Posts: 420
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 8:57 pm
Parish / Diocese: St Lawrence Diocese of St Petersburg
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by HallamPhil »

My organist postings have taken me to the following:

1973 St Joseph School, New Malden (Mass Centre) 2man american organ
1974 St Agatha's, Kingston on Thames 2 man Bishop mechanical action
1974 St George's College, Weybridge - Allen 2 man 101 practice organ and later Allen 3-man custom built in chapel
1977 St Boniface German Church, Whitechapel - 2man Seifert & kevalaer (fabulous)
1982 St Edmund's, Lower Edmonton - 2man TC Lewis electro-pneumatic
St Ignatius College, Enfield - 2man Allen 101
1988 St Ignatius, Stamford Hill - 3 man Compton
1994 Corpus Christi, Leeds - 2 man Walker
1995 St Marie Cathedral, Sheffield - 3man TC Lewis mechanical action 1875
2011 Wyvern Toccata III in house (to be installed in cathedral during restoration of Lewis organ

A less turbulent list than the prvious posting!

Peter Jones
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:46 am
Parish / Diocese: Birmingham

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Peter Jones »

Of the 273 churches and chapels of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, less than half possess a pipe organ.
Any opinions expressed are my own, not those of the Archdiocese of Birmingham Liturgy Commission, Church Music Committee.
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HallamPhil
Posts: 420
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 8:57 pm
Parish / Diocese: St Lawrence Diocese of St Petersburg
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by HallamPhil »

... but if you also have organists playing whatever organs you have then the Archdiocese of Birmingham must be close to nirvana!

Peter Jones
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:46 am
Parish / Diocese: Birmingham

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Peter Jones »

HallamPhil wrote:...then the Archdiocese of Birmingham must be close to nirvana!


No, only Clifton, Cardiff, Shrewsbury, Nottingham, Northampton and Portsmouth :)

There even seems to be one small point where Shrewsbury, Nottingham, Birmingham and yes, Hallam coincide. Somewhere in the Peak District National Park? A place known for its high esteem for the pipe organ?
Any opinions expressed are my own, not those of the Archdiocese of Birmingham Liturgy Commission, Church Music Committee.
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Nick Baty
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Nick Baty »

Not to knock the pipe organ in any way, shape or form – just wish I could play without sounding as though I have my feet on the wrong way round! – an increasing amount of our repertoire is for piano. Do many parishes have a decent instrument? We have rather nice Clavinovas in two of our churches. The third has a 3-manual Allen (And a four manual something or other which we can't afford to restore but which is historically important for some reason – although it's too far away to be practical – in an organ gallery, above a public gallery), miles from cantor and choir.

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keitha
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:23 pm

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by keitha »

Following on from the Peter Jones/HallamPhil postings:

Me:

1966-69 - Miller Analogue (hearing the Widor V Toccata at my 1st HC on this got me going!)
1970-74 - Walker Squawker (new church - one-third built 1M unenclosed+Ped;3rks - church seats c1,000!)
1974-2000 - Nicholson 17 Stop 2M+Ped (1966 funded from War Damage Commission)
2000 - back to the Walker on promise of replacement; 2 last minute backouts later and money now spent on other things.

In Coventry - 17 churches:

1 small pipe - 2M+Ped (but baroque only);
3 extensions (1 in need of major work);
3 pipe in need of major work (2 very old; poor quality);
1 2M+Ped digital;
9 analogues (all over 30 years old)

Deduction - few priests, and even fewer lay people have any esteem for the organ (pipe or digital).
Keith Ainsworth

Peter Jones
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Parish / Diocese: Birmingham

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by Peter Jones »

Cost has always seemed to be such an issue. I can think of one major town-centre church in the diocese where a three rank extension instrument was installed in the 1930s - diapason, flute, string - and the fourth rank (trumpet) remains perpetually "prepared for". I suppose it was cheap to build but my goodness me, it's inadequate for purpose. There must be so many similar examples in RC churches throughout the country. Wearing my p.p.'s hat, there's no way I could gather funds to install a good organ in the church here. Built in 1922, a gallery was provided for a pipe organ - and a stained glass window therein has organ pipes outlined in it. Yet no pipe has ever spoken in the gallery and probably never will.
Any opinions expressed are my own, not those of the Archdiocese of Birmingham Liturgy Commission, Church Music Committee.
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alan29
Posts: 1177
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 8:04 pm
Location: Wirral

Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by alan29 »

Its not only the installation cost, its the upkeep.
The last organ I played in a catholic church had an unusable pedal board (each pedal played random clusters of notes) and just about 50% of manual stops ciphering like crazy.
I wouldn't mind but the sacristan who gave me the key to the loft was fulsome in her praise of it.
Sometimes a Clavinova is preferable.

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keitha
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Re: High esteem for the pipe organ?

Post by keitha »

The trouble seems to me to be that English Catholics want (and get) their parishes 'on the cheap' and simply don't donate enough money to maintain the church, let alone the organ in it - particularly in parishes that can easily afford more. Over the last 3 years, our normal Sunday mass attendance is around 700-750, with an offertory of around £70,000 pa (ie just under £2 per head per week). With the gift aid tax refund, a total of £83,000 against regular running costs of £96,500. In corporate terms, this is an annual operating loss (before extraordinary items) of £13,500 per annum, so our cash reserves have dwindled to £11,600 - and we will have to rewire the (huge) Church soon and carry out other major repairs. The point is, however, that this parish is in, comfortably, the wealthiest part of the city (and one of the wealthiest in the archdiocese). Compare that with a friend of mine who is an elder in his local baptist church. Their weekly attendance is less that half of ours. They decided build a whole new wing of meeting rooms along the side of their church at a cost of £340,000. Each adult member of the congregation was told that they had to average £1,000 per year on top of their normal tithing. The work was done, fully funded and paid for in 1 year.

When did we last hear about Canon 222 ("Christ's faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to it those things which are necessary for divine worship, for apostolic and charitable work and for the worthy support of its ministers."). Canon 1263 may also be worth a look!
Keith Ainsworth

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