News Archive: August 2006
This is an archive of news articles from August 2006. Current news articles can be found here and an archive index can be found here. Information in this archive may no longer be valid.
31st August - News from Bologna
Your Web Editor has been away from his computer over the past few weeks, latterly attending the 9th ICMPC conference in Bologna, Italy. The backlog of interesting news items will be dealt with over forthcoming weeks. Pictured right is the organ of the Cattedrale di S.Pietro (click on the image for a larger version). The International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition he was attending included a number of presentations of potential interest to those interested in the organ.
Peter and Lucy Comerford, at the Microcomputer Music Research Unit of Bradford University, have been investigating what makes for musical success or failure in hybrid organs (those with both pipe and digital sound generating components). Perhaps surprisingly, most experimental combinations of pipe and digital stops satisfied the expert listeners. You can read the entire paper here. Bruno Gingras (McGill University) has been examining how organists emphasise particular parts in polyphonic organ music. Pianists are known to emphasise a part by playing it louder and earlier, but organists seemed to use a more detached playing of the emphasised part (in contrast to other legato parts). Read the whole paper here.
Karin Johansson, from Lund University, is exploring organists' improvisation strategies. One point of interest in her talk is that male organists usually prefer to improvise on particular melodic or liturgical themes, whereas female organists prefer a freer style of improvisation. Read the paper here. And in other work, Noola Griffiths and Jane Davidson's work from the University of Sheffield on perceptions of concert musicians based on their dress suggests to your web editor that while large screen display of organists might increase the sense of connection between an audience and an organist, it is likely to reduce their perception of the quality of their playing, particularly if they are dressed inappropriately. Read that paper here.
- 31st August - news round-up
The new Dobson organ in the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, will have possibly its most unusual performance to date when jazz musician Trudy Pitts performs there on September 15th. Read more about Pitts and her plans for the concert here. According to the Yorkshire Post, the Liedse Cantorij from the Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden are looking for a redundant English organ to contrast their 1565 Baroque organ. Perhaps they should check out the IBO redundant organs list!
One intriguing work at the Edinburgh Festival is Matt Stokes' film Cipher, in which a variety of contemporary club music is performed on the pipe organ, specifically that of the Usher Hall. Sadly I haven't seen it so can't comment on how successful it is, either as music or a more general artistic statement. Another film increasing in popularity is Bert Shapiro's The Organistas - find out more here and look out for it at a film festival near you.
St Barnabus Episcopal Church in Kitsap, Washington is gaining a new two manual pipe organ from Bond Organ Builders, Inc. More details with pictures and a specification here.
- 10th August - Another redundant organ export
The organ from Bolton's Somerset Road URC, which closed in 2003, is currently en route to its new owner, a private individual in Melbourne, Australia. David Wells has packed the organ, about which little is known other than its construction c.1870 originally for a mill owner. More details and a small picture (appears to be a small 2 manual with little casework) here.
Readers from outside the UK interested in adopting their own redundant British organ can browse an up to date selection here on the IBO website.
- 9th August - Organ Day in North Staffordshire
Colin Walsh is presenting a North Staffordshire French Organ Music Day on the 4th of November 2006, including a concert at the Victoria Hall in Stoke on Trent, and a lecture and recital at Stoke Minster. Details from 01785 761335, or see our concert diary for the recitals.
- 8th August - Virtual keys for your virtual pipes?
Digital Information Development of Japan have taken the virtualisation of keyboard instruments one step further. If you no longer need real strings in your piano or pipes in your organ, why do you need a complex imitation playing interface? Their recently exhibited mobile phone-sized device projects a virtual keyboard on to any flat surface, and detects where your hands are playing. The current version is limited to two octaves, but larger versions may be developed depending on demand. The device goes on sale in Japan this November for about 75. More information probably here in due course - assuming you read Japanese!
- 7th August - Memorial service for Noel Mander
The memorial service for the late organbuilder Noel Mander will be held at St Giles Cripplegate in London on the 28th of September at 11:00am.
- 5th August - New organ for Jesus College, Cambridge marks changing fashion
Jesus College have recently ordered a new organ from Kuhn of Switzerland. A specification and case drawing are available here. What is most remarkable about it is that, on paper at least, it harks back to the late Victorian English organ, although the new case appears fairly unremarkably contemporary European. Anyone expecting a Cremona, Scharff or Cymbale will be disappointed. The organ runs to 29 speaking stops (plus four transmissions on the pedal), including no less than nine 8' flue stops on its two manuals, although the builders have stopped short of an Open Wood on the pedal!
Kuhn and Jesus College have highlighted a recent trend away from the technical aesthetic of the organ reform movement to a more liturgically inspired concept, even returning to stopnames out of fashion for fifty years. Had a British organbuilder come up with such a specification for an entirely new organ, it might have been dismissed as hopelessly backward-looking. Now that a respected continental builder has made that step, such stoplists will suddenly be contemporary and forward-looking - it would be a cruel irony if the notion in some quarters of continental organbuilding superiority was the only aspect of the organ reform movement to survive.
This increasing acceptability of more traditional English organs may have other advantages, with good redundant instruments no longer seeming so out of step with contemporary practice. The tide is now flowing in the other direction, with an increasing number of English-style organs finding homes in European churches.
With the recent threat to European organbuilding being headed off by the IBO and the British government, circumstances seem favourable to fine British organbuilding getting the resurgence in popularity beyond its borders that it well deserves.
Interested readers can find details of the current organs at Jesus College here.