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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

August 22, 2014

Bridal chit-chat (16) – technical interference

evelyn @ 10:21 am

Very often enthusiastic amateur technicians in a parish are encouraged to tinker with aged electronic instruments which are well past their sell-by dates. Usually to avoid having to buy a new organ. The church organist will of course be fully instructed in how to manipulate the surgically-altered instrument to get it going on Sundays. Trouble is, visiting organists may not be given this information, and are often totally unaware of what is in store for them.

Perhaps my most shattering experience of this kind was a wedding in a large church with a very old and particularly difficult electronic organ. I had played it before, and had always found it tricky to handle because of its loud, harsh tone and confusing stop and coupler labelling. This time it seemed quiet and subdued, with very little of its usual brashness. I fiddled with the various controls, including the dreadful crescendo pedal, without making much difference at all. What had happened to the thing? Was it finally on its last legs?

This was getting worrying. While the guests were coming in it didn’t matter, but I’d have to get something reasonably strong for the bride’s entrance.

Suddenly a girl stuck her head round the door at the far end of the long gallery and hissed ‘The bride’s ready. Start now’.   I added everything I could, opened all pedals to the fullest and began playing ‘Highland Cathedral’.

The same girl reappeared, very agitated. ‘The bride’s READY! Please start!’

‘I have started!’, I hissed back, ‘I’m doing all I can!’

‘Oh,’ she said, ‘you haven’t got the amplifier on’, and she reached up to the wall beside her and threw a switch which I didn’t know existed. I had everything set at maximum, and the resulting blast just about took the roof off the church.

Needless to say, I haven’t been asked back. And needless to say, that church now heads my ‘never-again’ list.

PS This is a partial re-blog. The original post in 2010 was called Technical Mayhem, but now that I’m organising by subject, I feel this part of it should rightly be in the bridal suite, so to speak.

Oh, and I still haven’t been asked back, not that I would go if I were. The impression I made must have been a really lasting one …

1 Comment »

  1. 😀

    Comment by Ant — August 24, 2014 @ 10:05 am

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