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IS THE DEATH OF THE  ORGAN PRELUDE UPON US? - March 2020 The American Organist

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  • #16
    Does anybody know if that synagogue happens to be Temple Emanu-El on Park Avenue?
    Organs I play regularly:
    -Estey Opus 3103, II/8 (1938)
    -Schantz Opus 2145/2224, IV/86 (1998-2002)

    For a list of other organs I've played, see my bio.

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    • #17
      Interesting to notice that this thread was active just about exactly a year ago, when many of us were about to have, or had already had, the last in-person worship service, or at least the very last "normal" worship service for a very long time. My church is still not meeting, subsisting on a weekly video sermon or devotional. So I've not had to even think about issues such as the prelude in a coon's age.

      Now that hope is being held out for a return to "normalcy" (whatever that is) in the not-too-distant future, it's time to start thinking of how church may be the same or different, better or not, once we return to regular meetings.

      I for one intend to be more "intentional" about everything. Having had a year or so to ponder things, I've determined to be more prepared, to make more detailed plans for each service, to make my organ music more engaging, to establish certain protocols that I've been slack about. Specifically, as I mentioned way up there, having a consistent organ prelude that follows a consistent pattern.

      I guess over the years I've become a bit lackadaisical about the prelude, and also rather "busy" in the pre-service minutes -- last minute negotiating with choir members over the introit and the processional, even making last-minute changes in the service (which should of course have been nailed down long before).

      So my plan is to have a truly interesting medley of the day's hymns, complete with some improvisation, some fetching use of solo stops or chimes or whatever, and time it so that I can rise to a crescendo at the precise starting time of the service, when the lay leader will open with a word of welcome. During that welcome time, I'll have to beat a hasty retreat to the narthex where I can join the choir for the introit and processional. It will be a bit tricky, but I'll make it happen and it won't be a problem.

      Better get crackin' on some planning and practicing!

      John
      ----------
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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      • #18
        jbird604 - You are right, we have had time to view things through a different lens and there will be some changes when we return.

        PRELUDE - I still play a prelude on ZOOM for my congregation every week. My microphone is not that close to the instrument I'm using at home, so it really only picks up the tune between other people's words. I play for five minutes until start time. When I start and stop, people receive the signal - either 'we're getting closer to start time' or 'it IS start time.'

        Because the quality is still quite poor, I just do variations on the hymn of the day. Yes, we only do one hymn now. Then again, our service was shortened from about 70 minutes to 30.

        POSTLUDE - I tried a postlude for a while, but in the Zoom context, it was rather pointless.

        ANTHEM? - In place of an anthem, I pre-record an instrumental improvisation/arrangement and play it after the sermon. After all the words, the non-verbal moment has proven good for people. I often introduce the music with something like "As we take a moment to consider all that we've heard and experienced so far this morning, I'll play another verse of our hymn." This piece usually lasts 2 to 3 minutes.

        FELLOWSHIP - For those who suggested that all fellowship be held in check until after the service, just try to hold them back the first Sunday your congregation can worship together! When we get that far, I'll probably plan to do 1- or 2-minute preludes. In all honesty, they want to visit with people that they haven't been this close to in ages. The reality is that they have desired and enjoyed this even before the pandemic, but some pretend that congregants can withhold their friendly enthusiasm for each other until coffee hour after the service.

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        • #19
          A few years ago, the Rector of our church, in cahoots with our Minister of Music determined to push for the very lovely and thematic organ preludes and postludes get listened to respectfully, or at least not everyone who didn't want to listen should be quiet. He went to the vestry and asked them to set the example - stay and listen, not talk, and ask anyone who wanted to talk to them to please wait. We have 12 vestry and 2 wardens, so that's a fair number of people - enough to set the tone - and it worked.

          Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_2850.JPG Views:	0 Size:	34.7 KB ID:	762978

          Last edited by lizny; 03-22-2021, 08:16 AM.
          Home Organ: VPO Home-Brewed from a former Klann pipe organ console

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          • #20
            We no longer have organ preludes - I wasn't told why. No matter - I have taken an indefinite break from the worship team. The only thing I could have done was to chord some string synth sounds for the praise choruses. They can find a lot of people to do that and that's not what I want to be doing.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by sandstone42 View Post
              We no longer have organ preludes - I wasn't told why. No matter - I have taken an indefinite break from the worship team. The only thing I could have done was to chord some string synth sounds for the praise choruses. They can find a lot of people to do that and that's not what I want to be doing.
              No doubt we'll soon be hearing from many church musicians as services re-start and things get changed or not. Wouldn't it be awesome to hear that churches all over the country realized that they've been shooting themselves in the foot by trashing the organ, the hymns, and the choir? And that they were bringing it all back immediately? I think I'll go to sleep and try to have a dream like that.
              John
              ----------
              *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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              • #22
                I know that the congregants in my church, and the Music Ministry, are eager to resume full activity of all the music teams. During the COVID shutdown, the church has been doing services via the Internet (3 methods) and the music team has been working hard to provide good support for those services. I even chided them when they were cutting off the Postlude at the end of the service, and they began including it all the way to the end. For a couple of months, there has been limited congregation attendance at the services, so things are beginning to come back to normal. The Choir had a recording session a couple of weeks ago to prepare Easter music, so we're not expected to be in full regalia by then, anyway. (We record many small groups twice--once for voice and again for video--and it all gets pliced together into a big production. It's amazing what can be done these days!)

                Here's an example (@11:17 in the service): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrMbqVW_vHU

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                • #23
                  Here's the prelude solution I've seen at the last two churches I've attended. The service starts with the announcements which, by the end of them, even the most determined talkers have shut up. THEN there is a short prelude to start the service.
                  Ed Kennedy
                  Current Organ - Conn 645 Theater

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                  • #24
                    It just depends SO much on a given church's attitude toward and concept of the prelude. IF a church (and the clergy and other leadership) really believe that a brief time of congregational reflection is important to them (which is what SHOULD happen during prelude music), then the prelude will likely remain a useful and well-respected part of the service. But, OTOH, if the attitude of the church and its leadership is that the service doesn't "really" start until after the prelude (with some specific event, such as an opening prayer or call to worship or whatever), then the prelude is probably only going to be considered elevator music and will not receive the full attention of the people, no matter how much preparation has gone into it.

                    Each of us simply must work within the framework of the worship service structure and concepts of our own church. To fight for silence during the prelude in a church where there is a long-standing practice of that being meet-and-greet and visit-with-friends time is a struggle you aren't going to win, and you'll only wind up frustrated and unhappy, and possibly make some people mad at you.

                    So go with the flow. If the congregation isn't going to pay any attention to your prelude, don't put a lot of stock in it. Give them the elevator music that they want and reserve your well-rehearsed pieces for some portion of the service where they WILL be appreciated. In some churches, good music will be appreciated as communion is served, and there may well be plenty of time for a very nice piece at that point. If so, provide one. Whatever you do, make it a happy experience for yourself and for the people!


                    John
                    ----------
                    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

                    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      It's also worth considering how people listen to live music outside of church.

                      If they're used to going to concerts where everyone sits quietly and listens intently, they're likely to do the same in church.
                      If they're used to going to concerts in settings where some listen intently while others visit with their neighbors and still others sing along, they're also likely to do the same in church.

                      This tends to indicate a classical /non-classical music split, but not necessarily.

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                      • jbird604
                        jbird604 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I've even had folks sing along with an elaborate hymn arrangement (not meant to accompany singing). They will be perplexed of course when the piece goes way off the familiar melody line, intersperses other material, drastically re-harmonizes, etc., but at least that lets me know they were paying attention and enjoying it!

                      • davidecasteel
                        davidecasteel commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Too many people today are used to hearing "canned" music and not in the presence of live musicians, so they feel entitled to talk (loudly) during the performance, even when it's a live one. It is inexcusable and definitely the mark of poor breeding. The exception is musicians in a party atmosphere (or a bar), but I don't go to any of those.

                    • #26
                      Normally I only get to play a very short prelude as the bells are too noisy. However they're not allowed to ring at the moment (the ringing chamber is too small) so I can play as long as I like. We had Bach's "O Mensh bewein" which gave me pleasure, if no-one else!

                      As the congregation is currently supposed to disperse quickly after the service I play a short postlude (1 - 2 minutes) and the clergy and congregation sit and listen to it. Normally they don't.. The downside is that I'm now restricted to very short pieces.

                      Sunday will mark the 1st anniversary of online services (we are keeping them going until at least Pentecost). We have recorded a year's worth of anthems and hymns so I think we'll only record new things occasionally now, which will make life easier for the choir and, especially, me.

                      Do the congregation listen to the prelude? I shouldn't think so but they're reasonably quiet (a small village congregation). Quite a few comments about how nice it was to have the music last Sunday as we came back into church for a service.

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