Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 11 to 18 of 18

Thread: Next England Vacation about to happen!

  1. #11
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    6,462
    First organ heard! We went to see Southwark Cathedral yesterday morning, just paid a pound for a map and did our own touring. Interesting old church, with more history than I knew about. Not as famous as St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey, but lots of cool connections with famous Londoners. A beautiful place, not astoundingly beautiful like St. Paul's or Yorkminster, but a sweet place in its own right. And there is a church cat!

    The organ was being played while we were there. Staff were setting up for a musical event scheduled for the evening, so perhaps this was a visiting organist there to check out the instrument and get ready to play for the program, or might have been the resident organist just practicing. At any rate, he was running through brief passages of this and that, trying out all manner of stops and combinations, putting it through the paces.

    Here's a link to the organ history:
    https://cathedral.southwark.anglican...-of-the-organ/

    Not knowing any of the history or specs while listening to it, I was very much impressed with the simple beauty of the tone. Just gorgeous, sweet as honey and smooth as silk. And remarkably in tune. Not even "loud" as organs go, but robust and full. According to the story on the above site, it was built by Lewis in 1897, then later altered somewhat before being restored more or less to the original sound, as the church realized the significance of what they had.

    Anyway, it's hard to describe the sound of an organ, but suffice it to say that it was one of the most pleasant sounds I've heard anywhere, if nor as exciting and chest-thumping as the big boys.

    The acoustic setting was probably just right. Not nearly as cavernous a church as St Paul's or Westminster or York, so the organ was far more "intimate" and the sound was not drowned in a sea of sustain and reverb, even when listening from the center of the nave. But the hard stone surfaces and soaring ceiling gave the organ plenty of room in which to bloom.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  2. #12
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    5,973
    Michael is jealous! Just beside himself with envy. Your description almost made my wife cry too.
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  3. #13
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    6,462
    Second organ heard -- the big one at Westminster Abbey, as we attended Evensong there this evening. We were seated in the Quire, of course, though I was surprised to see that there was a very large crowd in the nave as well. We were in the queue outside the front gate about an hour ahead of time, so we were among the first 20 or so in the door, thus getting great seats. Not that all the seats aren't just fine.

    The quire seating filled, and the quire overflow area in the transepts, and perhaps a couple hundred out in the nave too. Testimony to the popularity of Evensong services in the cathedrals!

    The sound of the organ was of course glorious, and seated in the quire it was very clear and immediate. The bloom and ambiance of the nave could be heard as well, but the organ was crisp and clean from our vantage point. it was very easy to sing with it, and everyone seemed to stay on beat with the organist as we sang the hymn.

    I'm beginning to think that English organs are just pretty darn good wherever you find them! I may not have swooned over this one the way I did over the Southwark organ yesterday, but that was only because they were both so totally competent and capable, and I never heard a sound from either one that didn't please my ears. The voluntary at the end was some Vierne thing, quite a quick and agile piece, and the organ was fully up to it, as was the organist.

    We're going to Southwark in the morning for Choral Eucharist, so we should hear plenty of fine organ and choir music. I'd love to go to St. Paul's, but we'll have to miss it this trip, as we're leaving London on Monday morning for Exeter. It's a little disconcerting going to St. Paul's or Westminster for church, as everyone has to pass through security and bags get inspected, and staff seem a little brusque. So I think we'll feel a bit more comfortable at Southwark, where they don't seem to even worry about the possibility of mayhem. (They are also much more tourist-friendly than the big cathedrals -- no charge for admission, and they even let you take pictures if you pay a pound up front.)

    I hope the hymn is a familiar one, though the chances of that are not great, given that I'm not terribly fluent in Anglican hymnody, beyond the standard hymns we share with the Brits. But I hope to hear that organ perform as beautifully when leading hymns as it seemed to do yesterday just noodling around.

    Will have a report afterward...
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  4. #14
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    6,462
    Attended the Choral Eucharist at Southwark Cathedral, and THIS is the church I would probably attend if I lived in London. And if I ever come back, this is probably where I'll want to worship on Sunday.

    To begin with, it was so nice to just walk right in and sit down. I do understand the concerns at the big churches like St. Paul's and Westminster, with all the possibilities of a terrorist attack or other violent act. My defense will be to stay away from places where the fear is so great they have to frisk everybody that comes in the door. So, it was just so lovely and so inviting to have the doors open all around the church where you could come right in and make yourself at home!

    The choir was wonderful. I'm not totally sold on the English choir sound -- the typical ensemble made up of boys and young men, with those little boys voices trained to sing pitches that most female sopranos would find challenging. The sound of a choir like that is just a bit harsh and plain for my ears. Maybe the lack of any vibrato adds to the plainness of it. But the choir at Southwark seemed somewhat less shrill and plain than the Abbey choir we heard last night. Not discounting the Abbey choir, because it's astounding, but I just found the Southwark choir very pleasantly different.

    And the organ was all I'd hoped it would be, and more. It can really roar when it needs to, but it was never overbearing or harsh. Led the hymns very well, and the room ambiance is just right. So the hymns were well sung. I even knew the first one by heart -- "When Morning Gilds the Skies" -- and sang along with gusto. The other hymns were less familiar, and there was no printed tune, so we did our best to pick it out.

    The service was BIG on incense. They censed everything, it seems. And we were seated on the center aisle, so we got a head full of incense when the Gospel was read, and it happened to be right beside our seats. The place got positively smoky by the time communion came around, but it was not oppressive. In fact, I rather enjoyed the subtle scent.

    For the first time in this Baptist boy's life he took communion kneeling at a rail. I held out my cupped hands, as I saw others doing, and the wafer was given to me in my hand. I took it, and then the common cup was presented, and I drank from it. Never did that before. But it was fine, and now I'll not be afraid of doing that, should I take communion elsewhere and see it being done that way. (Real wine too.)

    The processional and recessional were both quite grand and majestic. And the worshipers joined in heartily on the singing, the responses, the prayers, the Creed, and so on.

    So altogether a great worship experience.

    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  5. #15
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    5,973
    John,

    So good to hear your review. I was pronouncing it wrong, and my wife corrected me, saying it is pronounced Suthark. Then she told me she might be wrong. Oh, well.

    Anyway, it's no surprise you liked the service so much. My wife tells me it used to be the "dicey part of town" years ago, but has probably cleaned up since. I'm not so sure what she actually remembers because she was so young when she lived there.

    It is unfortunate there was no bulletin, of sorts, to guide you though the service--the hymn tunes, words, etc. That said, it is nice to have a service where the congregation knows all the tunes and words. This AM the kid in the back forgot to advance the projector slide, and everyone hummed the 2nd phrase to Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. It was actually quite amusing; I saw some hurriedly looking it up in their hymnbooks.

    I think the quality of the boys' choir depends on the director. No vibrato is the order of the day, and for the younger boys to sing those notes and have it sound good, they need to be absolutely on pitch at a time when they're often just developing their sense of pitch. It's a tricky proposition.

    As always, please keep us posted on your travels. Maybe you should start a travel show for PBS on the organs of England!

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  6. #16
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    6,462
    I didn't mean to say that there was no bulletin. Sorry to give that impression. There were just no musical notes for the hymns, only the words. They did strangely force us to go back and forth between two worship guides -- one a general outline of all the services of the season, which also contained the Creed, the set prayers and responses, and the other guide was specific to the day, including the words to the hymns, the day's scripture texts, and a few other things that would vary from week to week.

    Your wife probably remembers correctly. Southwark is in a very old area, a bit run-down, but one that is currently being "up-scaled" in many ways. Looks to be in the midst of a massive urban renewal and gentrification. The shiny new "Shard" tower is just a couple blocks away, and the Burroughs Market across the street is a burgeoning street fair that attracts dozens of food trucks and street vendors every day and has become a magnet for the young upwardly mobile folk who like to buy their food that way and eat it on the street corners.

    I had been saying "SOUTH-WARK" (the way we talk in Arkansas), but I realized everyone was saying "SUTH-erk" with the emphasis on the first syllable and the second one almost inaudible. Another one of those words they just don't pronounce the way it's spelled over here!

    Tomorrow morning we've off to Exeter for a few days. I want to see that grand cathedral, as well as the neighboring Wells cathedral. While in the area, we're going to drink some water from the Chalice Well at Glastonbury. Hoping to get some help with my arthritis!
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  7. #17
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Cape town South Africa
    Posts
    1,588
    John, thanks for your running commentary on your memorable trip. Reading it (and I have read some pieces more than once...) is almost like being there. I particularly liked your description of sharing Communion. In our church we always still have the cup with real wine and of course real bread as well.

    Its good to hear when someone really appreciates the old ways and traditions and the thought stimulated by your descriptions and that caresses my organ-devoted mind is simply that the grand and majestic organ still rules mightily supreme in those old cathedrals and churches. The clammering of cymbals and drums in those sacred places is simply unthinkable!

    Thanks to those who keep these age-old traditions going.

    Enjoy the rest of your journey.

    Nico
    "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

  8. #18
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    6,462
    We took the train to Exeter today, where we'll be now for three days. After getting settled into our room, we got a bite to eat and realized it was just about time for Evensong at the Cathedral, so off we went. Got there an hour early, and they were kind enough to let us wander about while we waited, even though we hadn't paid for admission. I promised that we would come back later in the week and pay for a tour.

    Exeter Cathedral is notable and admirable for their co-ed choir program open equally to both genders. It was delightful and refreshing to hear these lovely mixed voices. Though English cathedral choirs are all of exceedingly high quality, I found the sound of Exeter more ear-pleasing than some, and I think it was at least partly because of the girls.

    There were just over 30 singers in the choir, and I'd guess the youngest child was about seven. The ages went on up through the teens, young adults, and some mature adults as well. Every voice blended perfectly, and we sat just a few feet from the choir.

    The service was certainly one of the best Evensongs I've experienced, both musically and spiritually. It was a smaller crowd that we were with at Westminster Saturday night, and the readers and leaders were close to us, so it seemed more personal and intimate. We had visited briefly with one of the clergy staff before the service, as we asked about where to sit for the service. He was kind and friendly, and made us feel very welcome in the cathedral.

    The organ was nice, though of course we didn't hear it really do what it can do. The young man who was playing (he came down in the middle of the service and played a small portative for some of the choir numbers) seemed highly competent and talented, as you would expect in a cathedral. Not sure if he was the regular organist, he looked pretty young.

    The ambiance of Exeter is good. Probably about the same size as Southwark, not as cavernous as Westminster, but plenty of blooming room and of course nothing but stone surfaces to carry the sound along perfectly.

    Hoping to see Wells Cathedral tomorrow, as we'll have a rental car for the day, and plan to drive up to Glastonbury and Wells for some sightseeing before we spend more time in Exeter proper the following day.
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12

Similar Threads

  1. My summer vacation
    By davidecasteel in forum General Chat
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 08-20-2013, 09:16 AM
  2. I never thought it would happen to me.
    By jus in forum Hammond Organs
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 10-03-2009, 10:35 PM
  3. What will happen???
    By Jessica in forum Classic & Church Pipe Organs
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 07-14-2007, 05:19 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •