Christmas Concerts, and more than you really wanted to know about organs!

Christmas Song Recital – Revisited

Last Friday Ruth Kerr and I gave the first iteration of our Christmas recital, and it went very well with an audience of 35 – many of whom were Ruth’s singing pupils or singers in one of her choirs (she conducts both Paddock Singers and Brighton Chamber Choir ). We are repeating it this Friday 18 December at 6pm (last week it was finished by 7.10pm) and we’ve still got 5 tickets available (£10 each) so if any of my readers (in particular) fancy booking one, please email me quickly As I said in my last post, our programme will include some Christmas carols, well-known Christmas soprano solos including Adolph Adam: O holy night; piano duets including Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, and even a surprise bass soloist!! It’s a really varied and entertaining programme and it’s at St Anne’s Church in Lewes.

Christmas with the Lewes Singers – and live audience!

Sunday 20 December. 7.30pm at St Thomas a Beckett, Cliffe High Street BN7 2AH

Again tickets are £10 and there are currently 16 still to sell. Eleven of our normally somewhat larger group have rehearsed twice since I last posted. On Saturday (just gone) we rehearsed at St Thomas Church and it was so exciting. As it says in our programme ‘in a year that has hit choral singing hard, I think it’s fair to say we’ll never again take for granted the pleasures of singing and performing’. There were whoops of joy from one of our two basses when we ran through Victoria O magnum mysterium for the first time – ‘that’s the first piece of polyphony I’ve sung since March!’ Our programme includes Once in Royal David’s city; Ding dong, merrily on high; Have yourself a merry little Christmas; and carols by John Rutter; Elizabeth Poston; Kenneth Leighton and several others.

Kenneth Leighton: The Christ-child lay

We think it’s the only live choral Christmas concert in Lewes this year, and it now seems pretty likely that Lewes will still be in Tier 2 on Sunday, so it WILL go ahead. Yippee!

Organ at St Michael’s

Please don’t worry if this doesn’t interest you at all, but I’ve been fascinated by the re-build of the organ at St Michael’s. Last week I went in and found pipes all over the place.

Congregation – Please don’t sit here!

And here is John Davey doing the hoovering up in the loft.

He’s crouched where the Great and Display pipes would normally be, and he’s in front of the Swell box (which you can see is in the Closed position).

Next, here are some of the boards which the pipes stand on.

Lesson: Pipes come in two types: Flue pipes and Reed pipes.

These are Flue pipes. I suppose they’re a bit like a Recorder. The wind comes into the foot at the bottom and travels up to the mouth (half way up these particular pipes)The length of the foot is irrelevant to the pitch, but above the mouth the length determines the pitch, the longer the pipe above the mouth – the lower the pitch. Most pipes on the organ, including the Diapasons and Flute stops, are Flue pipes.

Then there are the Reed pipes – there are 5 reed stops on the organ at St Michael’s; a Trumpet on both manuals; an Oboe on the Swell manual, and a 16 foot Trombone and 8 foot Clarion on the Pedal organ. As the name suggests, each note has a reed which determines the pitch. As you will see in the following video, the reed is encased in a metal cover. Above that compartment is a long tube, looking very like a flue pipe, but the length is only approximate because the tube is merely a resonator, amplifying the sound of the reed (which otherwise might resemble a dying duck).

So, at no extra expense, here is organ builder John Davey showing you the inner workings of a reed pipe.

And finally, here are some resonators detached from the reed base. Notice these resonators don’t have a mouth unlike the flue pipes.

We anticipate that the work will be complete a few days before Christmas, and I will be playing the organ on Christmas morning at our 10.30am service (you’re welcome to come along). My friend, Briony Lambert will be singing some traditional Christmas carols on behalf of the congregation as well as the Gloria in excelsis deo by Josef Rheinberger. Like many other churches in Lewes, we have decided against having a Midnight Mass this year.

This will be my last blog of the year. Nick’s New year’s resolution: Keep the blog going. I wish you all a very happy Christmas, and I think we all desperately hope for a better 2021.

with best wishes

Nick (and Robin says ‘Hi’)

1 Comment

  1. Very interested in the organ…. anyone interested in a full size organ pedal board completely free?

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