Thursday, April 28, 2011

And Speaking of Organs

Alex Ross's latest posting, which explains his Fanfare, brought this to mind, an entry I wrote and did not post a while back:

Dear Audience Members:

You were exactly perfect during the performance itself. I can't complain about that. But I had to restrain myself multiple times to keep from turning around and chatting with you about...er....some of your slightly misinformed statements, as expressed before the concert and during intermission.

I get that you don't care for the organ, but "whiney"? "No better than a glorified harmonica"? I have to wonder if you've heard a good organ well-played, or if you know that French, German, and American organs don't necessarily sound alike, or that a giant 19th c. organ sounds rather different from a small Baroque organ. "I like calliopes better. the sound is clearer." Okay, chacun a son gout and all, but you do realize that a calliope is a glorified steam whistle, right? [I admit that pipe organs work on similar principles: air under pressure is forced through tuned pipes.]

Then there was the bagpipe joke: "I heard the Irish invented the bagpipe and gave it to the Scots, who didn't get the joke." There is still an Irish bagpipe. In fact, there are bagpipes all over Europe, North Africa, the middle east, and as far east as India. Hint: many models were meant to be played outdoors.

It's coincidence that the chorus we were hearing currently performs at Episcopal churches. The group is not affiliated with any religious organization or denomination. A limited number of venues have the right size, configuration, acoustics, and date availability for any particular chorus's performance. Locally, a large number of those churches happen to be Episcopal.

That bit about a very large Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in SF? Maybe you mean Grace, which is Episcopal. The current Catholic cathedral in SF is St. Mary Maytag, so nicknamed because of its resemblance to the central dasher of a washing machine. As far as "what we think of as a cathedral," you probably mean high Gothic style, but what defines a cathedral is that it's the seat of a bishop, not the architectural style.


A Local Blogger

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