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What do you think of this church organist?

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  • What do you think of this church organist?

    The music director at my church has a small youtube channel and I wanted to post a couple of videos to find out what people here think of his playing. The reason I ask is because my opinion of him differs from my family. Some of us think he's very good, some think he's ok and some don't think he's that great.

    So, I'm just curious what your opinion is.

    Here are a couple of his videos:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knR7okfNa7E

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClSWgSg0kq0

  • #2
    What brand of organ is this?

    It sounds like he just plays chords.

    I have heard much worse on an old church Hammond.

    James
    Baldwin Church Organ Model 48C
    Baldwin Spinet 58R
    Lowrey Spinet SCL
    Wurlitzer 4100A
    Crown Pump Organ by Geo. P. Bent, Chicago, Illinois


    Organs I hope to obtain in the future:

    Conn Tube Minuet or Caprice even a transistor Caprice with the color coded tabs
    Gulbransen H3 or G3, or V.
    Wurlitzer 44, 4410, 4420, ES Reed Models, 4300, 4500, Transistor Models

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    • #3
      I think he's cool - sort of a self-contained music department.
      -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Classic, 1899 Kimball mirrored high top
      -- Rodgers W5000, Roland RD300nx, Juno DS-61B and DS-88 - 1975 Conn 643 Theater - 1959 Hammond M3
      -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

      Comment


      • #4
        That is interesting. Yes, he is playing mostly chords, but really those sort of songs ask for that style of accompaniment. Since he is singing the melody, he does not need to lead the congregation ( who seem to be not singing ) with the melody on the organ. He is using the resources of the organ nicely too.

        I don't much like contemporary music like that, no matter if it is on an organ or with a stage band. Those songs always seem to be a performance FOR the congregation, not getting them to participate in the worship. But then, I'm pretty traditional.

        I would say he is a good organist / musician though. He has to be, to make the organ work well enough with songs like that. Good voice too.
        Regards, Larry

        At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
          I think he's cool - sort of a self-contained music department.
          Yeah, our church has gotten really cheap over the years. We used to have an organist and a cantor long time ago, but they changed several years ago to just one person doing both the organ playing and singing. I'm not a big fan of it, but what are you gonna do!

          Originally posted by Larrytow View Post
          Good voice too.
          Interesting that you say that. That's one of the controversies that my family has about him. I think his voice is fine, but my father said he sounds too much like a country singer, lol.

          Comment


          • #6
            Appears to be a Rodgers organ, fairly recent model, perhaps Masterpiece era. The sound on the recordings is surely not very representative of what you hear in the church. An organ that large and of that quality probably has a nice rich tone that is fairly pipe-like. The sound is probably just whatever is being picked up by the small camera he uses to make the recordings.

            As to the musician himself, I think he does a good job of what it is he's doing. He seems to handle the organ very well, adding and taking away stops swiftly and skillfully, getting some nice orchestral effects from it while only using actual organ stops. We all should be as comfortable as he seems to be at the console and with a microphone in front of him too!

            I assume that the church is happy with the "style" of the music and this is what they expect from him. Not being Catholic I'm not familiar with what is being done in the way of hymns today in that type of church, but of course that music might not be called a "hymn" in some other churches. But I enjoyed these two selections more than the typical contemporary songs I hear in Protestant churches, which tend to be much more "rock and roll" or "country" in style. I could probably live with songs like these, though I'd also be hungry for some more authentic traditional hymns as well, and would hope the service was not entirely made up of contemporary songs.

            His talent and singing voice seems quite good to me. He might not fit the definition of a classical musician, and some might nitpick his vocal style, but it seems pleasant enough, and as far as I can tell he plays the songs as well as this type of song can be played on an organ. It's impossible to judge a guy's personality and what kind of rapport he has with the congregation with this kind of video, but he seems to be doing a decent job of leading them in the songs.

            I'm wondering if some of the controversy over the guy might really be over the musical style the church has adopted, if indeed all the music is in this vein and there is no genuine traditional music at all. That might be far more of a problem than just the skills of this musician.
            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


            • #7
              Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
              Appears to be a Rodgers organ, fairly recent model, perhaps Masterpiece era. The sound on the recordings is surely not very representative of what you hear in the church. An organ that large and of that quality probably has a nice rich tone that is fairly pipe-like. The sound is probably just whatever is being picked up by the small camera he uses to make the recordings.
              Oh yeah, in the church, the organ can be quite loud at times. Some people at the church have complained about the loudness and he did mention a couple of months ago that he's going to try to tone it down a bit, but it still is very loud. Some people hate the loudness, but I like it. I appreciate the sound of that beautiful organ!

              I appreciate the way this guy plays and I always scratch my head when people criticize him. Sure, he may not be the best organist out there, but he still plays well. The music director before him was a woman who wasn't as good. She has a harder time doing both the organ playing and singing. She had a better voice, but she messed up on the organ quite a bit. And also, when she played the organ, the sound wasn't nearly as rich as this guy. When this guy came along, I was amazed at the oomph that this guy added to the sound of the organ. And not only that, he seems to easily do both the singing and organ playing without a problem. Seems like it's nothing to him.

              Comment


              • beel m
                beel m commented
                Editing a comment
                He's probably just about right volume-wise. My experience, after almost 50 years of church work, is that usually the folks who complain that the organ is too loud, are people who *do not sing.* I take my RC wife to Saturday night Mass, and find that RC are notorious for this (both not singing and complaining.)

            • #8
              I'm bumping this thread because our church recently had a special concert where they invited a professional organist to play on this EXACT same organ the guy is playing on my videos that I posted on my original post.

              Someone at the church recorded a piece of his performance and posted it on Facebook. And here it is...
              https://www.facebook.com/stsebastian...6630289368022/

              As you can see, this guy knocks that other organist out the window. I attended this concert in person as I was curious and I was WOWed by his performance.

              Comment


              • beel m
                beel m commented
                Editing a comment
                Ah! Mike's an "organist's organist." Top-tier.

              • mrorgan
                mrorgan commented
                Editing a comment
                They just posted another video of him and this one is filmed at the choir loft just like the other videos of the other organist I posted in Post #1. This one is a whopping 50 minutes long, so enjoy!
                https://www.facebook.com/stsebastian...2389833334395/

              • beel m
                beel m commented
                Editing a comment
                Wow. Just wow!

            • #9
              Originally posted by mrorgan View Post
              I'm bumping this thread because our church recently had a special concert where they invited a professional organist to play on this EXACT same organ

              As you can see, this guy knocks that other organist out the window. I attended this concert in person as I was curious and I was WOWed by his performance.
              It is not really a fair comparison in a number of ways. The "professional organist" is indeed very good playing the Bach. The music the other guy is playing is not nearly the quality of Bach though, so it is hard to say how he would do with it. If the "professional organist" had to play and sing those awful CCM songs, it is hard to say how he would do with them too.

              Regards, Larry

              At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

              Comment


              • beel m
                beel m commented
                Editing a comment
                Totally agree

            • #10
              Loud organ? I always ask for clarification - boomy loud? screechy loud? As a starting point, I need to know the kind of loud before I can make any improvement.

              In my parents' church, lots of other organists could go in and blow the resident organist out of the water. But, would any of them commit to playing the organ in that church for free every week, every year? No. There are lots of organists who can play circles around me, but would they agree to live in the community that I live in or be satisfied with the instrument and salary that I have? Probably not.

              So, my parents' church organist and I are in the same situation. Though we have limitations, we are good for our respective congregations. Though there are better organists, none of them would be interested in taking our positions. That doesn't mean that we sit on our backsides and don't strive to do better.

              The same will happen with any form of music leadership or music entertainment.

              As far as comparing the two organists in the videos, it is not fair. Different recording quality, different repertoire, different purpose, different commitment to regular work in that parish - one is the resident whose commitment to the parish involves a whole lot more than pushing keys and singing into a mike, the other is a visitor whose commitment to the parish will probably (but not necessarily) end when they get off the bench..

              Comment


              • #11
                As Larrytow hints, this really points up the difference between "concert" or "recital" playing and the week-to-week service playing that most of us do. The two require different skill sets and different personalities, different philosophies of music. There are folks who easily go back and forth between the two roles, but there are more of us who simply do one or the other.

                Personally, I'm certainly nowhere as good with Bach as the guy in the second video. Wouldn't even attempt to play a complex piece of literature in a service. But then why should I? My task as the church's organist is primarily to accompany hymns and to provide service music for communion and other meditative moments, and sometimes to accompany the choir or a soloist or ensemble.

                There's no time before the service for a prelude, since I'm with the choir, prepping for our introit and processional. Besides, people arrive early at church to visit with friends they haven't seen all week, and loud organ music would just be intrusive. The service itself begins the moment the choir sings the introit from the narthex, and up until then there is lots of beautiful friendly chatter going on that I wouldn't want to put a damper on!

                If it were indeed a qualified recitalist, I "might" want to play a fancy postlude. There's time for it, and anyone who didn't want to hear it could just go on out of the church. But I'm not such a player, so I'm content to reprise the final hymn with some fun improvisations and odd-ball registrations (just because). And I doubt that anyone would like it any better if I played a Toccata and Fugue. In fact, they might wonder what in the world I've been smoking!
                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


                • #12
                  Originally posted by regeron View Post
                  In my parents' church, lots of other organists could go in and blow the resident organist out of the water. But, would any of them commit to playing the organ in that church for free every week, every year? No. There are lots of organists who can play circles around me, but would they agree to live in the community that I live in or be satisfied with the instrument and salary that I have? Probably not.

                  So, my parents' church organist and I are in the same situation. Though we have limitations, we are good for our respective congregations. Though there are better organists, none of them would be interested in taking our positions. That doesn't mean that we sit on our backsides and don't strive to do better.

                  The same will happen with any form of music leadership or music entertainment.

                  As far as comparing the two organists in the videos, it is not fair. Different recording quality, different repertoire, different purpose, different commitment to regular work in that parish - one is the resident whose commitment to the parish involves a whole lot more than pushing keys and singing into a mike, the other is a visitor whose commitment to the parish will probably (but not necessarily) end when they get off the bench..
                  Well back in the 1990s, we used to have an organist that could literally play church hymns very well and play those Bach-like pieces in between masses. He was amazing. But I think there was an incident back in the early 2000s where he got into an argument with one of the priests and walked out in the middle of mass. So, they fired him. Ever since then, the replacement organists that our church has been getting has not been nearly as good. It's sad that this incident happened because he used to be a magnificent organist.

                  Having said that, I think that organist in my original post is still a fine organist and he seems to get the job done in terms of playing all the hymns at mass. Compared to some of the mediocre organists that we had before him, he probably is one of the better organists we've had within the past decade. My only complaint is his voice. As I said previously, his voice is fine, but when comparing him to other cantors at other churches, he's not all that good singing-wise. If only our church would up its budget and get a good cantor, I think our music at our masses would be top notch! Most churches have one organist and one cantor. So I think it's really silly that my church has become so cheap that they only hire one person to do both playing and singing.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by mrorgan View Post
                    I'm bumping this thread because our church recently had a special concert where they invited a professional organist to play on this EXACT same organ the guy is playing on my videos that I posted on my original post.

                    Someone at the church recorded a piece of his performance and posted it on Facebook. And here it is...
                    https://www.facebook.com/stsebastian...6630289368022/

                    As you can see, this guy knocks that other organist out the window. I attended this concert in person as I was curious and I was WOWed by his performance.

                    I posted this in the comments section, but just in case people didn't see it, here's a new video that was posted of this concert. This one is better. It's longer and is filmed directly from the choir loft. There's an intro to the concert so you will have to skip two minutes into the video.

                    https://www.facebook.com/stsebastian...2389833334395/

                    PS - If you skip 35 minutes into the video, you can see the other organist from my first post helping him turn the pages of the music.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      I'm kind of puzzled as to why the sitting organist is being evaluated like this in open forum. I'm not sure I would appreciate being compared to more technically elite musicians. I sure hope that if one of my congregation shares a youtube of my playing, they aren't saying: "what do you think of this guy's playing?" I hope they are saying: "here is our fantastic new organist playing ...". If they can't shop my work around without apology then I would hope they would just not even link to it. That guy got the position by displaying to a Search Committee that he should be there and there isn't much use in second guessing the people who had the power to authorize his employment.

                      Comment


                      • Larrytow
                        Larrytow commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Yes, I agree with you. Lots of people read this forum, even if they never post anything, and he could well be one of them.

                    • #15
                      Going back to the original post and original question, it reminds me of students who ask, "Who is the best ______? ______ or ______?"

                      When I began my new retirement job this year, the students began comparing me with the former music teacher an casting him in an unfavorable light. It was then I shared with them the following verse from the Bible (it's a Catholic school):
                      We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (2 Cor. 10:12)


                      Of course, in context, Paul was talking about those who preach the Gospel, but the principle applies to musicians just as well. My point to the class was that there is no person that is better than another as a musician–each person is just talented differently.

                      In my former occupation, clients would ask me who was the better pianist–me or another client who just became a resident, who played by ear, for example. My response was that the new resident is probably the better musician–when it comes to playing by ear. I can't play anything I hear just by listening. However, when you give me the notes, I was usually the odds-on favorite above the new resident. People are just talented differently. Ask me to sing and play at the same time? Won't happen for any length of time. However, playing a particular piece of music, well that's a piece of cake (sometimes).

                      Leisesturm makes a good point. If we were to compare two well-known performers (i.e. Biggs vs. Fox vs. Carpenter), that's one thing because they are publicly well-known performers. However, making public comparisons of two musicians who have plied their craft to the best of their abilities is probably "not wise." That's just my 2¢ worth. OTOH, the performances have been posted in a public venue, though not by the performers' choice.

                      Michael

                      P.S. Should I move this thread (or posts following Post #8) to a non-public thread like the General Chat Forum?
                      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                      • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

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