PipeChat Digest #354 - Friday, May 1, 1998
 
The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction.
  by "Brian Pearson" <bpearson@adelaide.on.net>
Worcester MA Kimball
  by "Judy A. Ollikkala" <71431.2534@compuserve.com>
Re: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction.
  by "Ian B. McLean" <solotibia@enternet.com.au>
Shake & Let's Be Friends
  by "Lewwill" <Lewwill@aol.com>
Re: Talking about Music & the Arts
  by "MW ORGLBAU" <MWORGLBAU@aol.com>
Re: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction.
  by "Doug Gregory" <gregory@acay.com.au>
Re: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction.
  by "Sheridan Mascall" <sheridan.mascall@visionet.com.au>
Re: Content!
  by "Sheridan Mascall" <sheridan.mascall@visionet.com.au>
 


(back) Subject: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction. From: bpearson@adelaide.on.net (Brian Pearson) Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 12:08:27 +0930   Mea Culpa. In my enthusiasm to emphasize how very welcome Lew Williams will be when he returns to Australia, I relayed some information that I had received to the effect that this will occur in September, 1999. I=20 was wrong. Lew will be coming as soon as is practical when the timing of his and TOSA's other concert commitments will allow, but the exact date is still under negotiation.   Now to return to the criticism question which has been exercising our=20 minds of late. At the outset, I must state that I feel strongly that Ian=20 McLean has the best interests of the future of organ music as a respected part of the musical spectrum very much at heart. To meet him face to face is to know that he can be very pleasant company. Further, I have to say that I have agreed with the general thrust of his comments over the years.   The plain fact is that one mediocre or bad performance, one boring programme of esoteric "five finger and two feet" exercises, will turn many of the listeners away from organ music forever. With enough of these, the future of the instrument except for a tiny minority is bleak indeed. That minority will go on congratulating itself on its superior=20 discernment while the instruments that depend on funding by the public at large gradually fall into disrepair and disuse.   Ian is right to be concerned about this, and his experiment in taking two people who are not theatre organ afficionados to the TOSA convention should be seen in that light. At the same time it is pertinent to question his methodology. The publicity officer for a five star hotel just MAY be seen regularly in black tie at symphony and chamber music concerts, and even the occasional organ recital. On the other hand, he may be more interested in mega gigs at the Hindmarsh= Entertainment Centre. In any event, he is one person, and that doesn't a survey make. There were very many people from the general public at the concerts over Easter. Their comments to me as I stood at the head of the stairs with my volunteer usher's torch were universally very=20 enthusiastic.   Then, too, the classical organist critic. Could this be a case of "Those who can, perform - those who can't criticise"? Could this person play an entire concert from memory with so few faults, and have just as large a= repertoire unplayed in reserve? Could this person produce the uncannily= realistic orchestral sounds of "Rhapsody in Blue"? At least three organists of my acquaintance who are very well known in traditional organ music circles were entranced by Lew's brilliance, to say nothing of their enjoyment of other organists' efforts during the convention. One had given a recital to a very conservative organ music society on an= historic mechanical action organ exactly a week before - I read the letter of thanks for this just yesterday. So one "traditional" organist= criticised part of the concert - but others enjoyed that same concert,=20 "faults" and all, immensely.   Ian's failing, as I see it, is that he attempts to counteract the many gushing and uncritical reviews of organ concerts which do no one any service (and of which I may myself be guilty) by being very blunt in his= expression of his often quite valid criticisms. In doing so, he causes needless hurt to the people about whose efforts he writes, and yet his motive is always that the search for the highest possible standards is of paramount importance to the future of the instrument.   As an illustration of how the same concerts which Ian has criticised have affected others, I now quote the views of a fifteen year old lad who travelled 1,500 miles to be there:   Brian,   I read Ian McLean's 'Review' and thought that I should also have my say.   =46irstly, I think that it is unfair for him to make judgments about Chris McPhee's playing when he only saw the second half of the concert. All of his best material was in the first half. Most of what he played in the second half was simply accompaniment for Rosemary Boyle's very commendable singing, and it would have been very difficult indeed to say that he is lacking in style just from hearing this playing.   Lew Williams, throughout the whole concert, had the audience in the palm of his hand. I certainly heard no compaints from people around me, just people staring in awe at the genius seated at the console. The four encores reflected this, so what is to be complained about?   Ian's comments made me realise that he seems to have lost the plot when it comes to the purpose of having Theatre Organs. People come to listen to TO's and to TO conventions to have a good time and meet friends, not to whine about comperes and complain about microphones.   A convention is not the place for the connoisseur who expects the absolute finest in everything. (Not to say that the convention didn't achieve this - it all looked very professional to me!!!).   There is also, of course, the price. For $195, the convention was absolute value for money, always with the best entertainment and good food. I certainly was not bored for one second for the entire convention.   =46or me (and D....), the convention was a dream come true, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I certainly hope to visit Adelaide again soon, and visit all of my friends and also the organs, both of which have changed my attitude toward Theatre Organs - for the absolute better.   Regards, A.......   The reaction of the public? Enough said.   Cheers,=20   Brian.     =20      
(back) Subject: Worcester MA Kimball From: "Judy A. Ollikkala" <71431.2534@compuserve.com> Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 22:47:17 -0400   The following is a Letter to the Editor which I am mailing tonight, the city council has just voted to go ahead with changing the AUD into a juvenile courthouse.   LETTER TO THE EDITOR   WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE   Worcester MA   There is a magnificent intact Kimball concert pipe organ, 4 manual 1933 Opus 7119 with 122 ranks, in   Worcester Massachusetts at the Municipal War Memorial Auditorium in Lincoln Square, now called the   AUD. It is functional and played for graduations, but needs chest restoration and repair work. The   city fathers have plans to convert this great historical World War Memorial building into a juvenile   courthouse. The work is planned to begin this summer. Of great concern to many people on an   international level is the future of this pipe organ, which has never been altered. It was beautifully made at   the time of the great orchestral instruments, and is one of a kind, constructed by the famous Kimball   Organ Company of Chicago. It represents a style of organbuilding and construction that we may never see   again. Awareness of what the changes in this Auditorium will mean should be of concern to veterans,   organlovers (both theatre and classical), concertgoers, and the general public.   The Kimball pipe organ has an Historical Plaque given by the Organ Historical Society in 1983 denoting   its significance and importance. It is priceless today. The Auditorium was built at a cost of 2 million   dollars in 1933 "in memory of those who died in the war". The Art Deco building was designed by   Lucius Biggs of Worcester and Frederic C. Hirons of New York. It is a treasure, along with the organ, and   is known worldwide as an integral part of the city of Worcester. Please, citizens of Worcester and the   area, make your concerns known to the city fathers about the preservation of the building and its pipe   organ. Remember, Mechanics Hall was allowed to become a roller derby rink and a wrestling match   center, and was almost torn down. And other cities such as Sacramento CA, Milwaukee WI, and   Minneapolis MN are RESTORING their great concert halls.   Thank you, Judith Ollikkala, Worcester     e-mail: 71431.2534@compuserve.com   Mail Address: 71 Deerfield St., Worcester MA 01602-4348 Tel. 508-754-7885  
(back) Subject: Re: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction. From: "Ian B. McLean" <solotibia@enternet.com.au> Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 13:57:42 +1000   I simply can't let this one go without comment. What Brian has had to say is EXACTLY the sort of thought through response that I expect to see in return. Ditto for his quoted respondent. So, what I see as my successes, Brian considers a failure in the way I go about this. So, we will have to agree to disagree.   If I make people think, then maybe there is a future and I then certainly feel the effort worthwhile. What is obviously missed is that unless I'm commenting on some self serving situation, my observations, and criticisms of performers is NEVER intended as an attack on the person. Those who respond on that basis I will no longer interact with. However, I suppose that these reactions are little different to a fan club member's reaction. Rational thought is not available!   As for "gushing" reviews, there are plenty of mine about, even this year. Even sold some CD's for the recipients!   The point is that TPO is dying globally, in audience numbers. I want to try and stop this decline. Merely being acclaimed by those who currently attend concerts is not enough. This audience must be kept, and another added simultanesouly. Merely getting ourselves into an interminable endless loop of feeding the current, aging and dying audience (of which at 48 I suppose I am beginning to also qualify for) can only have one outcome.   And, for those of you that are interested, there is a VERY constructive exchange underway with Lew and I. My thanks to Dan (aka 'jazzy Dan') for that. There is no barrage of nastiness there, as I have found with EVERY organist of standing that I have ever taken to task. And, this is regardless of whether we end up agreeing to disagree.   The point is that discussion occurs. People have to think. Positive change is often the outcome. The price? Risk.   Ian McLean  
(back) Subject: Shake & Let's Be Friends From: Lewwill <Lewwill@aol.com> Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 01:35:49 EDT   Dear Listers   Having followed the thread of postings for the last few days, I am a bit appalled to have caused so much frothing on these pages. Let me hopefully draw this to a quick close.   In all fairness to Mr. McLean, he did have some good things to say in his critique, and I am appreciative of those observations. He is obviously an astute listener and knows his stuff. He saw fit to attend a program and call it exactly as he saw it, with no ill will towards anyone. If there was room for improvement, in his opinion, he said so and signed his name. I take this in the spirit intended. We're all here to learn, you know. He and I have corresponded privately and there are no hard feelings at all.   Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write on my behalf; it is much appreciated.   Let's move on.   Lew Williams  
(back) Subject: Re: Talking about Music & the Arts From: MW ORGLBAU <MWORGLBAU@aol.com> Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 02:28:00 EDT   Dear Vernon & List,   Though a bit off-topic, never-the-less a response.   "My 13-yr-old son, the roller hockey nut, is into Metallica and Nirvana, and as long as he turns it down to 300 decibels, I can stand it - sort of like Z Z Top on uppers, if you ask me!"   Stand Metallica? The one heavy metal band that still is getting air play in the late 90's, and that's still around playing and making records (well cd's :-)). I have a feeling that they will be the band that bridges the gap between the heavy metal era of the 80's with the (?) neo-metal era of the next century. Truly they are a landmark group for their style of music, much like Led Zeppelin was in the 70's. A band who's music I enjoy listening to cranked to "11"! Reminds me once again how much I miss the radio station KNAC (the local heavy metal station), which turned to mexican music about 3 years ago.     Michael R. Williamson Williamson-Warne & Associates Hollywood Ca.  
(back) Subject: Re: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction. From: Doug Gregory <gregory@acay.com.au> Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 18:16:03 +1000   Hello Ian,   I have sent this directly to you rather than start up more controversy on the list, but basically I believe that many theatre organists are given standing ovations simply because of their name.   There are not enough people willing to stand up and be counted and willing to critisise when needed.   Peter Held here as I believe you may know was certainly not slow to critisise and upset others on many occasions. In business I must admit that I also do not stand on ceremony and say what I mean. My late mother in England always said to me, say what you mean and mean what you say. I have always followed this course and certainly it does upset people at times, so what. If you believe that your are right, say so.   However I must say this, surely the people who you did take to the concert not being theatre organ fans, the fact that they did not give their O.K. to Lew Williams was bound to happen from the onset. Surely you did not expect them to suddenly become thetare organ fans. The odds where certainly against this and could not be expected to suddenly change.   I am now 62 years of age and my friends both here and the U.K. and this includes my wife detest theatre organ unlike you and I and others. However, having said that they also dislike any organ. My wife much prefares piano but she does go to occasional concerts with me. I should have not said that she detests theatre organ as she does back me in my hobby and she does like the Blackpool sound but the point is that she has been subjected to theatre organ over 37 years and she has never accepted it so there is no way that you could ever hope that the people that you took to see Lew Williams would ever become fans of the theatre organ.   Ian, I am not critisising in fact I agree with a lot of what you said. Lew Williams is a excellant organist but quite frankly there others that I prefare because of theirstyle of playing although they may not be as good a musician as Lew.   Where is the Regent organ these days? We do get some information but not enough.   Best regards,   Doug Gregory   Ian B. McLean wrote:   > I simply can't let this one go without comment. What Brian has had to > say is EXACTLY the sort of thought through response that I expect to see > in return. Ditto for his quoted respondent. So, what I see as my > successes, Brian considers a failure in the way I go about this. So, we > will have to agree to disagree. > > If I make people think, then maybe there is a future and I then > certainly feel the effort worthwhile. What is obviously missed is that > unless I'm commenting on some self serving situation, my observations, > and criticisms of performers is NEVER intended as an attack on the > person. Those who respond on that basis I will no longer interact with. > However, I suppose that these reactions are little different to a fan > club member's reaction. Rational thought is not available! > > As for "gushing" reviews, there are plenty of mine about, even this > year. Even sold some CD's for the recipients! > > The point is that TPO is dying globally, in audience numbers. I want to > try and stop this decline. Merely being acclaimed by those who currently > attend concerts is not enough. This audience must be kept, and another > added simultanesouly. Merely getting ourselves into an interminable > endless loop of feeding the current, aging and dying audience (of which > at 48 I suppose I am beginning to also qualify for) can only have one > outcome. > > And, for those of you that are interested, there is a VERY constructive > exchange underway with Lew and I. My thanks to Dan (aka 'jazzy Dan') for > that. There is no barrage of nastiness there, as I have found with EVERY > organist of standing that I have ever taken to task. And, this is > regardless of whether we end up agreeing to disagree. > > The point is that discussion occurs. People have to think. Positive > change is often the outcome. The price? Risk. > > Ian McLean > > "Pipe Up and Be Heard!" > PipeChat: A discussion List for pipe/digital organs & related topics > HOMEPAGE : http://www.pipechat.org > List: mailto:pipechat@pipechat.org > Administration: mailto:admin@pipechat.org > Subscribe/Unsubscribe: mailto:requests@pipechat.org        
(back) Subject: Re: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction. From: sheridan.mascall@visionet.com.au (Sheridan Mascall) Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 18:24:04 +1000     -----Original Message----- From: Doug Gregory <gregory@acay.com.au> To: PipeChat <pipechat@pipechat.org> Date: Friday, 1 May 1998 17:17 Subject: Re: The Art of Concert Criticism, and a correction.     >Hello Ian, > >I have sent this directly to you rather than start up more controversy on >the list, <snip>   Um, no you haven't :)    
(back) Subject: Re: Content! From: sheridan.mascall@visionet.com.au (Sheridan Mascall) Date: Fri, 1 May 1998 18:39:10 +1000     -----Original Message----- From: Orlando Fiol <fiol@bway.net> To: PipeChat <pipechat@pipechat.org> Date: Friday, 1 May 1998 10:00 Subject: RE: Content!     <What Orlando said > >Regards, >Orlando > Now, see, that's what *I* was trying to say, but was sleep-befuddled at 7 in the morning. Hugs, Orlando!   ~Sheridan~