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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

November 27, 2010

The Anytoun Old Kirk emails (3)

evelyn @ 3:00 pm


Evelyn to Andrew Sunday 23 July


Yes, I know you’re still on holiday, but must write this as it happens.

Phoned George, who was very nice. He phoned back with a list of 5 hymns, none of which I knew. They were all of Stage 3 standard, but that’s a good challenge, and of course I had several days to work on them. [Stage 3 in the SCOTS syllabus contains the most difficult hymns]

Arrived this morning to find SIX hymns on the board. Keith said the minister had decided to throw in another one, which had had to be fixed on with blu-tak. And what was it? Thornbury – another Stage 3! I knew the tune vaguely, but I had never played it before. [I know a lot of you will say, for heaven’s sake, can’t she play Thornbury? But remember I would have been sight-reading, with busking not allowed because of the choir parts. And at the same time coping with an unfamiliar organ and acoustic].

What would I have advised a SCOTS candidate in this situation? Politely tell the minister you haven’t had enough notice. I put this to Keith, but learned that George always arrives at the last minute. ‘We could phone him’ he said. ‘Good idea,’ said I, ‘have you got his number with you?’ ‘Oh. No.’ ‘Neither have I’.

The upshot was, I decided to apply the laws of hands-on harmony [a SCOTS training exercise, not really meant for this sort of situation], and took a hatchet to Thornbury. There was really only one bit in the middle that didn’t fall easily, and I simplified the pedal line and despatched a few passing notes. This was done on YOUR copy of CH3 – sorry! – but it was in pencil and I’ll rub it out next week.

It actually came off reasonably well – I never know how obvious my doctoring of hymns is to a well-informed C of S congregation. There was a little bit of excitement at the very end of the service, immediately after the Amen, when two people in the choir suddenly got up and dashed to the back of the church, and all the congregation turned round to look at the door. I thought it might be vandals, or at the very least that Carlos had put in an appearance, but I heard afterwards that a lady had fainted in the heat and the people who had rushed down were a doctor and a nurse. She recovered quickly and was OK.

Afterwards, I spoke for the first time to George, who true to form had arrived a minute or so before the start of the service. He was very pleasant, but I did mention that his extra hymn had been a bit disconcerting. However, he said he thought my playing was ‘flawless’ (oh yeah!), and I wasn’t going to start an argument, so I left it at that. He’s a bit of a smooth-talker, in my opinion, although I know you think he’s great.

Next week is full of mystery. NOBODY knows Leonard, not even Keith. Watch this space …

Hope the holiday is going well.

Best wishes


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