PipeChat Digest #992 - Sunday, July 18, 1999
 
The Worcester Post-Convention Crawl
  by <ManderUSA@aol.com>
Re: Article: "How guitars beat out the organ"
  by <JKVDP@aol.com>
 


(back) Subject: The Worcester Post-Convention Crawl From: ManderUSA@aol.com Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 23:50:05 EDT   Dear Lists,   It has been more than two weeks since Judy Ollikkala's Post-Convention = Organ Crawl in Worcester, MA, and I apologize for the delay in writing about it. = It was such an interesting and beautifully-organized affair (and fun as well) =   that I have been antsy about getting out the word about it. Things tend to =   pile up in one's absence, and I am only just beginning to dig out of all that, so here goes:   Two bus loads of us departed the hotel at 9 a.m. (July 1st), heading first =   for First Church of Christ, Unitarian in Lancaster, MA. This lovely = Charles Bulfinch building was built in 1816, and is a National Historic Landmark. = The fine 1869 William Simmons organ of 18 stops remains more-or-less in its original condition, only a very few minor changes having been made in restoration work by various builders, most recently by the Andover Organ Company in 1963. It's a gem, and as was fitting, we heard a really fine = and interesting recital played by William Ness, who had also prepared a very handsome printed program for the event, including an excellent drawing of this fine building. The program:   Two Schumann Sketches for Pedal Piano, Opus 56 1. Nicht schnell und sehr markiert 4. Allegretto Vesper Voluntaries, Opus 14 by Edward Elgar 1. Introduction-Adagio 5. Poco lento Suite on the 3rd Tone - Guilain Basse de Trompette Concerto in A Minor - Vivaldi/Bach Allegro Prelude on Materna - Clifford Demarest We all sang Hymn 129 from the Pilgrim Hymnal, "It came upon the midnight clear," the text by Edmund H. Sears, pastor of this congregation from 1840-1847. As we left the church, all in the Christmas spirit, one of the church = members obligingly rang for us the still clear and beautiful 1822 Revere Bell.   Next, a short ride to the 1837 First Parish Unitarian/Universalist Church, =   Fitchburg, MA, with its opus 721 intact 1928 Skinner organ. Here, resident =   organist Renea Waligora gave us a thorough demonstration of the = instrument, with the following program:   Largo, from the Dvorak "New World" Symphony. The Yon Humoresque (L'Organo Primitivo) Mendelssohn Second Sonata We sang "Praise the source of faith and learning," to a William Albright = tune Fountain Reverie, by Percy Fletcher Carillon de Westminster, Vierne   Renea's husband, Robin Dinda, joined his wife in one of his "ragtime" compositions for four hands, Charlie Dog Blues. The last one of these I = heard at some convention or other was one in honor of their cat. After all of = this, the church provided us all with an excellent lunch downstairs.   Back on the busses then, for the one hour ride to the French-Canadian = church, Paroisse Notre Dame, Southbridge, MA, a 1916 building which has to be seen = to be believed! In the extensive literature with which Judy provided us for = this day, a fascinating note about this building says: "This church was built after the Principles of Saint Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, after =   the conclusion of the Council of Trent (1545-1563). He recommended that churches be built on a slight elevation, with steps leading up to the main =   entrance, so that it may dominate its surroundings. . . . . He also recommended that the windows be filled with white glass in order to = properly light the interior, a sharp contrast to the Gothic churches with their colored stained glass and dark interiors." The architect of the church was =   from Montreal. There were 7,000 parishioners, most of whom had migrated = from French Canada in the 1830s. Quoting again, "The church was built of = surplus marble, quarried in Lee, MA, to be used for tombstones by the government = for casualties of the Spanish-American War. The pastor purchased the large = amount of miscalculated leftover marble, some inscribed as tombstones, which was = cut into oversized bricks covering the thick brick walls, with a Spanish tile roof instead of slate. The tower is 210 feet from the ground, and has 30 = inch walls." But it is the interior that really takes the breath away. Here = again, lazily quoting: "The interior is highly decorated in a Rococo style, with stucco sculptures, columns, and pilasters fashioned by Italian artisans brought from Rome. The style is a complex of Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic. Roman artist Gonippo Raggi designed the interior and painted the Stations of the Cross and ceiling works, totaling 32 murals. . . The = flooring is white marble mosaic." There are three large Meneely bells in the tower. =   The organ, with totally French console nomenclature, is a tremendously = broad and rich 1916 Casavant, typical of the period, and unaltered, with immense =   power and beauty. The resonant acoustic of the large building matches it well. Erik Johnson, Titulaire, and Peter Krasinski, gave us a good demonstration of the instrument.   Half an hour on the bus brought us back to Worcester, but also half a = century along in Pipe Organ history!! Wow! At St. Peter's Church, we enter the = land of Casavant under the tonal direction of Larry Phelps. The 1967 = three-manual instrument was conceived as a "free-standing instrument of the French = Classic tradition for the rear balcony of the church. . . . under 2 1/2 inches of wind pressure. The opening recital was played by Marie-Claire Alain, 8 October, 1967." Well, the contrast was not quite as shocking as I feared = it might be. There is much that is beautiful on this organ, and its soul was well explored by teacher and pupil team, Stephen Roberts and Fred Teardo. Stephen began with a lovely and lively performance of the Ernst/Bach G = Major Concerto (BWV 592), a wonderful dancing work that I don't believe is = played nearly as much as the other Bach concerto transcriptions. Then, Fred = Teardo, who, as a just-graduated high school senior, will go off to Eastman in the =   fall with a large and varied repertoire, played a really thoughtful and convincing performance of the beautiful "Ecce lignum crucis" (Meditation) = of his teacher's teacher, Anton Heiller, a work I did not know. Finally, = Stephen almost brought down the whole organic house of cards. This probably Schwimmer-winded, and certainly Mixture driven instrument was not really = up to the cataclismic moments of the Reger Fantaisie and Fugue in D Minor, = Opus 135b. The performance was a triumph over one of those pieces about which = it is often said that it would have been easier to print it on black paper, = with the few white bits filled in! Talk about virtuosity!! Toward the end, the organ was gasping for air. The pitch was dropping, and the 17 ranks of mixture (not counting several Cornets) as opposed to the 4 ranks found on = the last instrument we had heard, were shaking like leaves with the = unsteadiness of what wind remained. Stephen received a well-deserved ovation. He was perhaps gasping for air as well!   Our last stop seemed a bit bittersweet to me, being a reminder of a lot of =   things, the first being that there was an era in which the organ somehow meant enough to be part of the life of an art museum. The lovely Worcester =   Art Museum got its probably rather later in the day than did other such institutions. This work of 1942 (Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1036) was typical of =   its period, and different from organs found in other art museums around = the country, which were products of an earlier era, by and large. This three-manual, 23-stop instrument is entirely unenclosed, including the four-stop division entitled "Recit." The one manual reed is a Cromorne on that Recit. There are, however, three pedal reeds. The organ sits above = the ceiling of the central court, not visible, but sounding remarkably close = and clear, and also rather warmer and broader than the stoplist would lead one = to expect. The console, once at balcony level, is now on the main floor. The organ was dedicated by Joseph Bonnet in 1942. Another thing that this all reminds me of was the day when these art museum organs were actually heard =   regularly. Bill Czelusniak, who spoke about this instrument which he = lovingly maintains against all odds, reminded us how long it had been since the last time it had been played. I have forgotten the number, but it was a very = long time, and a lot of extra work went into tuning and mechanical work just to =   get it more-or-less o.k. for our visit. I say more-or-less, as the instrument's placement in the ceiling and the great heat found there, = makes stable tuning impossible. Like the municipal organs Will Scarboro is carefully documenting, the museum organ is something of an anachronism, sadly. It is sad to think that the Worcester instrument will probably now = be packed away for another year or years. Peter Krasinski demonstrated the instrument with music appropriate to its style.   And that was the end of a splendid day. Many cheers for Judy Ollikkala, = who made arrangements at all the churches, organized the very comfortable bus transportation (which she had co-organized all week), found excellent = players to demonstrate instruments, arranged for lunch for us all, and provided us =   with good printed material about each stop along the way. Like the = convention it followed, this Worcester Organ Crawl was a first class event all the = way.   Malcolm Wechsler Mander Organs, Ltd. - U. S. A. www.mander-organs.com  
(back) Subject: Re: Article: "How guitars beat out the organ" From: JKVDP@aol.com Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 00:24:52 EDT   In a message dated 99-07-17 13:56:47 EDT, ScottFop@aol.com writes:   << Obviously, whoever the idiot is that wrote THAT article was having a = bad acid trip or something similar when oit was wrotten. How SAD............... = >>   Actually the article's title is more shocking than it's contents. Rather, = the author, who teaches at Notre Dame, presents a brief history of popular = music in the church with examples of some modern results. He even notes the Hymnological concerns of Eric Routley, Carl Daw, and Fred Kaan. He is = broad in his coverage ranging from Taize to CCLI. There are some cutting = comments from the author on Politically Correct text alterations. An adjoining = article explores the commercial aspects of the CCM movement.   There is also in the same issue an article on traditional hymnody by = someone who dearly loves the great hymns of the church.   To crown it all, Christianity Today's Executive Editor introduces the articles by noting the church music efforts of some of his staff and adds that he too is the organist and choir director of his rather traditional church where not only classic hymns are used but even the occasional Gregorian Chant!   Christianity Today is available at most public libraries. Church musicians =   would probably do well to read this as it will be discussed in the more Biblically oriented churches. Jerry in Seattle