PipeChat Digest #3282 - Friday, December 6, 2002
 
Awestruck in Atlanta - Peachtree Road U.M.C.
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Re: Microphones for recording organ
  by "Ron Pearcy" <ronniep@clear.net.nz>
Re: Steinmeyer, was translation help
  by "John L. Speller" <jlspeller@mindspring.com>
Re: Awestruck in Atlanta - Peachtree Road U.M.C.
  by "John L. Speller" <jlspeller@mindspring.com>
Re: Steinmeyer
  by "Del Case" <dcase@puc.edu>
Re: Awestruck in Atlanta - Peachtree Road U.M.C.
  by "David Scribner" <david@blackiris.com>
St. Georges Hall Liverpool
  by "R.E. Malone" <remalone@btinternet.com>
Re: Microphones for recording organ
  by "Stan Yoder" <vze2myh5@verizon.net>
 

(back) Subject: Awestruck in Atlanta - Peachtree Road U.M.C. From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 18:13:10 -0500   Inaugural Concert of the New Organ at Peachtree Road U.M.C., Atlanta - November 10, 2002   STANDING IN AWE: There is the kind of awe one feels looking east from the west door of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, or entering St. Peter's in = Rome, or St. John the Divine in New York, or Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, or a number of other architectural wonders of = this world. We all have our lists, and mine now includes Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta. I am not really talking just about the building, although it is impressive and handsome. Not particularly modern = in design, it is an original, with wonderful clean lines. Actually, my awe is for the entire concept, and its execution. How did anyone ever get this done? Nothing has been neglected, everything has been thought through, and the best possible materials and workmanship have been obtained. And now = that it is done, it is a dynamo of a place, as clearly it already was. Almost = any hour of the day or evening, including weekends, walk into this building, ever open, and see people walking purposefully somewhere. They may be part of the staff of 26, or they may be members involved in committees or = groups of various kinds. Closer to our interests, there are several musical organizations. The church choir is large, enthusiastic, volunteer, with a strong core of professionals, and under Scott Atchison, they are equal to any musical task. The years of planning of and for the enormous mechanical action Pipe Organ, and then the actual construction of it, a = labor-intensive project equal to creating a medium sized building in its complexity, was somehow (more-or-less) taken in stride. Take a look at: http://www.mander-organs.com/html/peachtree.html .   It will come as no surprise that this "Little Church That Could" needed to inaugurate this instrument boldly and with great style, introducing also = to many the building itself at the same time. Sunday, November 10th was fixed as the date, and my mind was fixed on it for a long time. I could not have borne being anywhere else - Imagine, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano, the Peachtree Road Chancel Choir under Scott Atchison, with the Choir of St. Philip's Cathedral, Bruce Neswick, Choirmaster, singing everybody's favorite great English anthems beginning with the Parry "I was glad" with the orchestra, and Organ (played by Michael L. Shake, Jr., Peachtree Associate Organist), and then a brand new, commissioned Concerto for Organ, Orchestra and Chorus, by Stephen Paulus, with Organ soloist = Scott Atchison. Peachtree Road UMC seats a bit fewer than 2,000 reasonably well-fed people. By about 30 minutes before touchdown, the ushers were allowing no more people in the building, pointing out the large chapel = where a closed circuit Audio and Visual link was provided. It was determined = that there would be no chairs in the aisles, and no standing room provided. The success of the program required that the acoustical design of the building be allowed to take its place, unsullied, as an important factor in impact and beauty of the music for which so many had worked so hard.   Well, what works for the coronation of a monarch ought to work well for an inauguration of the King of Instruments. If anyone reading this does not know "I was glad" by Sir Hubert Parry, no words from me can quite explain it, so I would urge you to seek it out. It has been well recorded. It was first heard at the 1902 Coronation of King Edward VII, and in 1911, Parry revised the work somewhat, and it was this later version which we heard. This and the five other English choral works we heard were not intended to highlight the Organ. Rather, the Organ was a part of the orchestral = texture, and that to me is a very special effect, one to which I became addicted = from the very first time I heard the Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony. It's an = addiction for the satisfaction of which there are not, unfortunately, many opportunities, so this event took on great meaning for me. The underpinning provided by the powerful, sustained sound of wind-blown pipes transforms = the whole orchestral texture, magnificently in this case. Hearing favorite anthems from the English choral repertory, most of which I have played or conducted, or played AND conducted, in the hands of a sensitive orchestral conductor with a large and splendid merry band, is quite an experience of letting go, that is letting go of how these pieces have always felt to me. This involves matters of tempi, expressive nuance, and other less tangible interpretive matters, and these feelings varied widely from piece to = piece. After the Parry, we heard the Vaughan William "O clap your hands," = followed by the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C of C. V. Stanford, and then two more Coronation anthems of Handel, "Zadok the priest" and "The King shall rejoice." I guess the first time I felt really discomfited was with the Stanford. Having often sung, played, and conducted these splendid = canticles in a liturgical context, with a precise but flexible cathedral choir of = men and boys with years of ensemble experience, I know this music in its = majesty and sustained energy has also a strong rhythmic articulation and bite, and this approach to the music is really not available to a large orchestra = and two large choirs. But, with, of necessity, a changed aesthetic = expectation, I found I warmed to the experience. Maestro Spano clearly responds to vocal/choral stimuli, and I began to respond warmly to that in his = approach to this music. I have never heard these canticles with full orchestral accompaniment, but have been assured that these are Stanford's orchestrations. Unlike in the other English works we heard, Stanford here often provides space for the Organ to be heard clearly on its own before being joined by the large orchestral and choral forces. Not a bad thing, given the nature of the occasion. I think "Zadok" and "The King shall rejoice" suffered somewhat from the approach necessitated by the very = large orchestral forces. Gone was the airy, articulate, clear lightness we associate with these happy pieces. Not to worry. Like Bach, Handel can = lend himself to various approaches and survive. Before intermission, the first half of the program was given a most happy ending. For the 1953 Coronation of the present Queen, Elizabeth II, Vaughan Williams produced his famous setting of The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune, sung by all present on that occasion. We were given the words and very clear direction from the = podium, and managed to do a creditable job in this piece, which sometimes comes to pieces, particularly in the last stanza, which, with its interludes, congregations sometimes find confusing. A word of appreciation is due to Michael L. Shake, Jr., Associate Organist, who was kept busy at the = console for all of the anthems, peering intently at the face and hands of Robert Spano in a small TV screen built into the console, and unerringly = supporting all.   After a brief interval, something completely different, but not totally different for Atlanta! The World Premiere of Stephen Paulus's first Organ Concerto took place in 1992 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, with Norman Mackenzie, Organist, and members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the late Robert Shaw. Possibly many reading this = will have heard a slightly later performance of the work in the same place with the same forces during the 1992 Atlanta Convention of the American Guild = of Organists. And now, ten years later, another world premiere, this time = here at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, again with the Atlanta = Symphony, now under the direction of Robert Spano, and with Scott Atchison as Organ soloist. The 1992 work is for Organ, Strings, and Percussion. The 2002 = work is for Organ, Full Orchestra, and Chorus (last movement only). Michael Barone called the 1992 work "brilliant and engaging," and I will buy those adjectives if they are available, with the addition of "dazzling!" This = work is incredibly rich in orchestral color, in rhythmic excitement, in melodic inventiveness, and in harmonic richness. "Engaging" indeed. I was on the edge of my seat throughout. The first movement is entitled "With Drive and Vigor." Here was dazzling! The second movement is entitled "Delicately," = and therein were moments of wondrous beauty, beginning softly with Organ = alone, joined almost imperceptibly at first by light woodwinds. The third = movement is entitled "Buoyant and Rollicking," and is every bit of both. At the suggestion of Scott Atchison, Organist and Choirmaster at Peachtree Road, the final movement includes a chorus, in this case, two great choirs, = those of Peachtree Road UMC and St. Philip's Cathedral. In Latin, Psalm 150 provided the text. The choirs open the movement almost alone, with only a very gentle Organ accompaniment. Inevitably, tempo and volume increase, as the choirs pass around the words "Omnis spiritus," let everything that has breath (praise the Lord - laudet Dominum). The text "Laudate eum in tympano, in cordis et organo" brings the movement and the work to a = stunning close. The applause was long and loud, with special bursts for soloist = Scott Atchison, Maestro Spano, Stephen Paulus, the great Orchestra, the two choirs, and a special cheer for the Organ.   This wonderful night of music made clear that our world of music has just been enriched threefold, and I and many with me will be forever grateful = to this church and the people who make it go, musically and otherwise, for making possible 1) a superb addition to the repertoire for Organ and Orchestra (and in this case, chorus), always in short supply, 2) a large church (and yes, concert) Pipe Organ that will bring joy to many for years to come, and 3) a wonderful space for worship that can also further the church's mission to the arts in providing a stunning venue for large = musical forces together with a Pipe Organ. And, it is good news that this place = and its people will know exactly how to make the best use of such a facility = for the enlightenment and enrichment of all who care to partake. Come and hear Olivier Latry on Sunday, January 12th, at 8 p.m. All in all, I remain "Awestruck in Atlanta."   Malcolm Wechsler www.mander-organs.com          
(back) Subject: Re: Microphones for recording organ From: "Ron Pearcy" <ronniep@clear.net.nz> Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002 12:18:15 +0000 (GMT)   On 06 Dec, Hugh Drogemuller <hdrogemuller@sympatico.ca> wrote: > Ron Pearcy refers to a Radio Shack mic. I believe this was a Crown > mic but labelled Radio Shack. A look at Crowns site at > http://www.crownaudio.com/mic_htm/pzm.htm might be worthwhile.   Hello Hugh .. .. ..   The PZM mikes sold by Radio Shack were exceptional for their price and in comparison with many other units sold at much higher prices. The recording of the full range of frequencies associated with organ is excellent, especially if one uses 6v camera batteries instead of the usual 1.5v penlight cell. My 1st PZM was bought just before Radio Shack ceased marketing the PZM units. When I ordered my 2nd unit from Radio Shack they sent me the replacement Crown microphone .. I was very disappointed in that the recording results were significantly inferior. The Crown unit looks similar to the PZM, but the performance is unsatisfactory by comparison. However I was able to obtain two other PZM's 2nd hand from my brother in Canada.   Cheers, Ronnie   -- ----- Ronnie Pearcy <ronniep@clear.net.nz> 17 Donegal Crescent, = Greenswood, Greenmeadows, Napier, New Zealand -------  
(back) Subject: Re: Steinmeyer, was translation help From: "John L. Speller" <jlspeller@mindspring.com> Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 17:38:05 -0600   Colin Mitchell wrote:   > By "out of fashion", I meant the whole concept of the organ. EP > = action, a simply HUGE specification, > detached console (with > one attached, mechanical console?).   It is interesting how fashions change, and how they change at slightly different times and places. The Organ Reform Movement began at the end of World War I in Germany, and by World War II had spread to the United States. With the exception of Lady Jeans's house organ it did not spread to England until the 1950's.   The interesting thing is that electro-pneumatic action and huge specifications with detached consoles are now back in fashion again in the United States, where in a sense organbuilders have begun to start over from where they would have been in 1932 if the Great Depression had never happened. Steinmeyer is beginning to go out of fashion again here, not because of a desire for tracker action and classical choruses, but rather because of a desire for more strings and high pressure reeds. That is not to say that there is no longer any place for tracker organs and organs in historical styles; indeed, I think there is. But the general trend is toward a lower proportion of these and a higher proportion of larger symphonic style organs.   This trend is also starting to spread to the U.K., and the statistics of the Institute of British Organ Builders shows that the percentage of tracker organs built in Britain dropped from 94% in 1999 to 86% in 2000 and 81% in 2001 -- showing a gradual trend back towards electric action instruments. (The figure for 2002 is not yet available, but if the same general trend continues the percentage of tracker organs could be down to around 75 or 76% in Britain this year.) It is confidently expected here that the same trend will start to manifest itself even in countries like Holland, Denmark and Germany within the next four or five years.   A particularly interesting phenomenon is manifesting itself in connection with the new organs in the Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. These are both equipped with both tracker and electric action consoles. Almost all the concert organists who have visited both these locations have chosen to use the electric rather than the tracker console.   John Speller  
(back) Subject: Re: Awestruck in Atlanta - Peachtree Road U.M.C. From: "John L. Speller" <jlspeller@mindspring.com> Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:12:52 -0600   Malcolm Wechsler wrote: If anyone reading this does not > know "I was glad" by Sir Hubert Parry, no words from me can quite = explain > it, so I would urge you to seek it out.   Did the choir sing, "Vivat Rex Instrumentum" in the middle? <g>   John speller  
(back) Subject: Re: Steinmeyer From: "Del Case" <dcase@puc.edu> Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 17:19:49 -0700       RonSeverin@aol.com wrote: The so called > Baroque guru's of the 60's to 90's have been roundly denounced as > charlatans.     I am curious about the "charlatans." Certainly such leaders as Larry Phelps, Walter Holtkamp, and Herman Schlicker were anything but charlatans. This is not to say that all of their ideas were good ones, or will last the test of time, but that is also true of E. M. Skinner, G. Donald Harrison, et al.   These people were all personalities with strong ideas and the ability to sell and defend them. I have heard things in the work of all five of the above that I like and that I don't like.   Charlatans? No!   Del W. Case Pacific Union College  
(back) Subject: Re: Awestruck in Atlanta - Peachtree Road U.M.C. From: "David Scribner" <david@blackiris.com> Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2002 18:24:56 -0600   At 6:12 PM -0600 12/06/02, John L. Speller wrote: >Malcolm Wechsler wrote: >If anyone reading this does not >> know "I was glad" by Sir Hubert Parry, no words from me can quite = explain >> it, so I would urge you to seek it out. > >Did the choir sing, "Vivat Rex Instrumentum" in the middle? ><g>   LOLOL!!!!! I was actually wondering the same thing when i read Malcolm's posting.   David  
(back) Subject: St. Georges Hall Liverpool From: "R.E. Malone" <remalone@btinternet.com> Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 00:32:28 -0000       Hello all.   Regarding Bruce's comments on the acoustics of St. Georges Hall.   About 15 years ago the hall was opened up for a recital. It had been closed down after the law courts were rehoused elsewhere. The reason for its downfall was the advanced features which where revolutionary when built.   The hall was originally lit by huge gas chandeliers, the ventilation system installed to handle the fumes used massive stone ducts which ran the full length of the building. These are obviously a major fire hazard. This system was powered by steam engines as were the organ blowers. I wonder if any other large organs require a boilerman to blow the organ?.   To get back to the subject the hall is very beautiful, Mosaic floor Marble columns very deep set windows, A beautiful organ case containing an organ that has seen many changes over the years. All this adds up to impossible acoustics, the concert I heard was the first time and also the last. The hall is long and narrow, I was sat about three quarters back from the organ, Speech over a simple PA was unintelligible, The Organ fine, providing it was played slowly but even then with a registration change from large to small you lost several notes as the preceding ones were still rolling round the back of the hall.   I might suggest to Bruce that you hear more on the recording than a live recital.   Regards Richard (UK)>      
(back) Subject: Re: Microphones for recording organ From: "Stan Yoder" <vze2myh5@verizon.net> Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2002 19:35:25 -0500       Ron Pearcy wrote:   > When I ordered my 2nd unit from Radio Shack they sent me the replacement > Crown microphone .. I was very disappointed in that the recording = results > were significantly inferior. The Crown unit looks similar to the PZM, = but > the performance is unsatisfactory by comparison.   Interesting, since Crown first marketed the PZM and RS licensed theirs = from Crown.   Typically, for good bass response, PZMs need to be mounted on a hard = surface, preferably about 3' square. > Stan Yoder Pittsburgh