Organs We Have Heard on High

To be the organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is sort of like being, well, ranked #1 in every sport played in the US. OK, perhaps only among other organists, but you do earn your keep… [Not for the humor impaired]

And a little organ anatomy lesson from the organist of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Most church organs don’t have the 32′ pipes. It would over-organ the space. Yes, believe me, you can have too much organ in too little space.

Oh, did I mention that I play English Handbells as well as organ? Although I highly doubt I’ll ever be in a bell choir that does this during a worship service:

Have a very Merry Christmas, wherever you are, and may the peace and wonder of the season be yours, whatever faith you follow. “Love and joy be to you/ and to you your wassail too.”

21 thoughts on “Organs We Have Heard on High

  1. I had never heard “Wizards in Winter” until in Wyoming this year, when the classic country station decided to play nothing but holiday music the entire month of December. They played a very intriguing variety also. As my wife said, she had never thought of Jingle Bells as a violent song until she heard Skid Row’s version (actually quite well done, unlike the numerous artists that slaughtered Silent Night).

    • Have you heard Twisted Sister’s “Oh come, all ye faithful”?

      When asked about how the (IIRC head singer?) felt about a Jew doing a Christmas song, dude pointed out that everybody involved in the Christmas Story was Jewish. Excessively so, at times. ^.^

      • I actually heard and saw that video yesterday morning between the time I posted and you posted. And i had heard it on that same radio station. Quite good although the video might be a tad irreverent.

      • I discovered TSO around 2000 when Christmas Eve Sarajevo showed up on mainstream radio. Fell in love with the sound. My boss got me tickets to see them when they came to town the next year.

        If you can, try to get a copy of The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve DVD. It has Christmas Eve Sarajevo as well as a one of my favorites, 5.Christmas Canon.

  2. Hmm.

    I notice he didn’t mention bagpipes in his discussion of what instruments his organ duplicated the range of. I’m wondering about ways to do that.

    And about design of a space where even larger pipes would be appropriate.

    Wizards in Winter is one of my favorites for this season. Along with Christmas at Ground Zero, and Cruxshadows’ Winterborn.

    • When I need a “bagpipe” sound, I would blend a quiet reed with a flute in the pedal for the drone, and something like a Viola de Gamba and soft horn on the melody. If it was a piece that needed a brasher sound, I’d add quints and a tierce or a similar fractional stop. It really depended on the composition and the organ.

  3. Not enough coffee yet.

    My first thought on seeing the subject line was “What Body Organs is she talking about?”. 😉

  4. Ever hear the Methuen instrument in person? (I shouldn’t ask, but: Ever play it?). The hall and organ must be experienced in person.

    The Methuen instrument is recognized as the visual model on which the Tabernacle instrument is based.

    • No, I have never been to that part of the Northeast. I’ve actually played on more different pipe organs in Germany and France than I have in the US! (Went on a Bach instrument tour one year. BYO shoes and sheet music. Great fun if you are an organ nerd.)

      • Put Methuen on your tiny-bucket list. Summer recitals Wednesday nights, casual dress, and bargain priced. The hall and organ were almost lost to fire during WWII.

  5. I had perhaps too much coffee and pain meds, and interpreted the above as a set of bagpipes with a 32 ft pipe for the low drone note. A set of war pipes that size, inflated by two entire clans … earthquake time.

    Wait, never drink eggnog and blog comment.

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