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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

March 10, 2010

Bridal chit-chat (5) The wedding with 31 organists

evelyn @ 4:06 pm

Me (agitatedly): … but you can’t possibly be getting married on that date!

Groom (patiently): I assure you I am, and I‘m asking if you’ll play the organ for us. What’s the problem?

Me (in horror): I’ve booked the church for the whole day for a SCOTS training course!

The groom was polite but very definite. He had booked the church well ahead of us and all the wedding arrangements were made. I took his phone number and said I’d get back to him.

SCOTS is the Scottish Churches Organist Training Scheme (more details for those interested are in the ‘About’ section on the right of this page) and at that time I was on the committee. We had organised a number of training days, but had never experienced a major clash like this.

First, I checked with the church and found that a simple error on their part had caused the double booking, and the wedding definitely had priority. They were very sorry. Apart from grinding my teeth, there was nothing I could do there. Then I went into a huddle with the rest of the committee. Already more than 20 people had booked, and our leaders were two former cathedral organists. This particular show had to go on.

Looking again at the situation, we realised it wasn’t that bad. The wedding was in the early afternoon, so we could have the church all morning and in the late afternoon as well. And the church hall and piano were available to us for the rest of the time. But then someone – it might even have been me, I can’t remember – had the brilliant idea of incorporating the wedding into the training day. We decided to make the main theme of the day ‘Playing for Weddings’. Our leaders were up for this, and cheerfully agreed to put the theory they taught in the morning into practice in the afternoon.

The couple were then offered the free services of two cathedral organists for their wedding, if they would be happy for all our course participants to sit at the back of the church, complete with name badges, to observe the proceedings. They were delighted; it would certainly be a wedding with a difference.

And it was. The voluntaries were of course spectacular, while the accompaniment of the hymns showed more than any amount of lecturing how to get the best singing out of a small congregation (swelled by our trainees, of course). But the main tour de force was undoubtedly an extended and imaginative improvisation, needed because the register-signing appeared to be going on for ever. We had great difficulty refraining from giving our leader a round of applause as he finished, exhausted.

And here are the happy couple with all their organists:

Organists2_60_2

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