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Thread: New organ at St George's Anglican Church, Parktown, Johannesburg

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    Default New organ at St George's Anglican Church, Parktown, Johannesburg

    http://www.rieger-orgelbau.com/en/ne...ch-parktown-za

    The official inauguration is coming up on Saturday week, but I understand it was used for the Easter services this past weekend.

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Here's another link on the same site which shows a larger design "photo" of the organ in situ with a list of its specs.
    http://www.rieger-orgelbau.com/en/de...ject/Johannesb
    The 33 registers are subdivided into 10 stops in the Great, 15 in the Swell and 8 stops in the Pedal.

    Do you know who the organist is for the inauguration?
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lunasong View Post
    Here's another link on the same site which shows a larger design "photo" of the organ in situ with a list of its specs.
    http://www.rieger-orgelbau.com/en/de...ject/Johannesb
    The 33 registers are subdivided into 10 stops in the Great, 15 in the Swell and 8 stops in the Pedal.

    Do you know who the organist is for the inauguration?
    No, but as you are interested I will find out. The church is very close to where I live, so I can stick my head in and ask the relevant questions. One of our prominent church musicians was talking about it on the radio one evening while I was driving, so I simply made a note of what he was saying. It is not every year that a city like Johannesburg gets a new organ. In fact we heritage lovers are all lamenting the fact that the City Hall organ was allowed to fall into disrepair and be vandalised, one of several that suffered that fate when Johannesburg CBD declined so terribly in the 80s and 90s. The Methodist Church organ was also lost and the Presbyterian Church organ was preserved only by the quick action of a musical incumbent who SOLD it before it could be damaged, much to the horror of his people.

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    Senior Member Lunasong's Avatar
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    Yes, those big downtown churches which installed the large organs 75-100 years ago now can't afford to stay open, and the large churches in the suburbs use video screens and praise bands. The movie theatres which used organs have mostly been torn down. Your post prompted me to google the history of organs in churches and theatres in my own city. Fascinating and sad...

    An organ is an expensive and complicated instrument and it's so easy to let the upkeep slide until one just can't afford to keep it operable anymore.

    I am continually amazed at the variety and fullness of sound that can be produced by a magnificent organ and a competent organist
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Beautiful instrument ... anxious to hear it if any sound clips become available.

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Beautiful instrument ... anxious to hear it if any sound clips become available.
    I will make a point of asking. Not everyone is as technically challenged as I am.

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    This is the press release I received today -

    Easter Sunday saw the dedication of a new pipe organ at St George’s Anglican Church in Parktown, which will be used for services as well as for a series of concerts featuring internationally acclaimed organists.

    On Sunday, 8 April, the Bishop of Johannesburg, the Right Reverend Brian Germond, blessed the organ – the first new organ of its calibre to be installed in a Johannesburg Anglican church in around 70 years.

    The church’s previous organ was supplied in 1925 by Cooper, Gill and Tomkins, and comprised 10 stops and 581 pipes. The new state-of-the-art instrument, made by Rieger Orgelbau, consists of 33 stops and 1,984 pipes – ensuring a majestic sound with the ability to achieve a varied palette of tonal colours that will provide superb accompaniment to the 24-strong choir, as well as make it possible to perform a wide variety of classical organ repertoire at St George’s.

    While the new organ is undoubtedly a beautiful musical instrument, says Sidney Place, diocesan organ advisor, there were challenges that had to be overcome in its installation. It weighs 8.5 tons so additional steel columns had to be installed in the crypt to transfer the weight to the new foundations that were cast under its floor. A new three-phase blower had to be installed and ducts built to carry the pressurised wind up to the pipes above. Furthermore, the layout had to be adapted to fit almost 2,000 pipes into the same space that had previously accommodated less than a third of that number.

    Rieger Orgelbau crafted every bit of the console from scratch, and the organ was assembled on site and adjusted to operate smoothly by organ builders Matthias Dobler, Andreas Aschl, Johannes Simma and Andreea Mustaret. Voicers Michel Garnier and Christian Metzler then added the finishing touches to each and every pipe to ensure an exceptional blend of sound throughout the church.

    Following the Rieger pipe organ’s dedication during St George’s Easter Sunday service, the church will host a series of organ recitals by a selection of the world’s leading concert organists. The inaugural concert, on 21 April, is already sold out and will feature organist Wim Viljoen and violinist Zanta Hofmeyr playing a new work by Richard Pantcheff which these same artists first performed in Pretoria in September 2010, and which received its UK premiere in London last December.

    Thereafter, between May 2012 and February 2013, the church will present a series of recitals featuring four international organists – who will each give two performances.

    On 27 and 28 May, Gordon Stewart – a world-class organist who performs regularly at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral – will play a blend of lighter pieces alongside more “serious” repertoire. John Scott, regarded as one of the top 10 organists in the world who has been awarded the Lieutenant of the Victorian Order accolade by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the royal household, will bring his “Rolls Royce-quality” music to the church on 13 and 15 August.

    On 15 and 16 November Olivier Latry, the in-demand “rock star” of the organ world and the chief organist at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, will bring his magnetic performance style to Johannesburg. The concert series wraps up in February 2013 with young American organist Nathan Laube, who plays a wide variety of dazzling music and is the ideal role model for young South Africans intending to take up the organ as an instrument.

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    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    My goodness, what a beauty! And here I am freaking out about which new amp to get.

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    Default Organist is Wim Viljoen, who will play with violinist Zanta Hofmeyr

    The inaugural recital is sold out, but look out for upcoming recitals in May Peter Black on 6 May at 5.20pm, Gordon Stewart later in the month, Joh Scott in August, Olivier Latry in November and Nathan Laube in February 2013.

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    The new organ at St George's Parktown has been blessed and inaugurated and it sounds great!

    Donated by the Oppenheimer family in memory of various members of the family and to the glory of God, this Rieger (to rhyme with 'fee' not 'die') organ cost R7 million – an “easy decision” as Nicky Oppenheimer said. The organ is a beauty both in terms of visual and aural aesthetics. Certainly the accoustic quality of St George's Anglican Church is more pleasing than that of the Cathedral, and so I suspect that many of the smaller recitals will relocate to St George's in the future.

    The inaugural concert was necessarily small, the church only seats 210 people, but there were a lot of Anglican church musicians present, not least of which was Sidney Place, the organist of St Mary, the Cathedral, who is also the Diososan organ advisor. Sidney Place wrote the programme notes for the evening's entertainment. Also present were the Rieger team, and special guests of the Oppenheimer family. Needless to say the concert was sold out even before it was advertised. There are several concerts in the inauguration series, featuring Gordon Stewart from the UK, John Scott from UK and USA, Olivier Latry from France – actually the organist at Notre-Dame and Nathan Laube from the USA. I am sure they will all be similarly sold out.

    The last big organ installation in Gauteng was the one at the ZK Matthews Hall, Unisa, in 1995. This was also a Rieger organ. John Roos, the then head of the Unisa Music Foundation, was also present at the concert. Not only musicians, there were a host of church dignataries, including Bishop Brian Germond and the Dean of the Cathedral, Gerard Sharp. I was fortunate to also be present together with this illustrious group of people on this very auspicious occasion.

    The programme featured Professor of Organ Studies, organist Wim Viljoen, and Zanta Hofmeyr, violinist. Every alternate piece was an organ solo, so we got to hear a lot of the new organ, which is exactly what the audience wanted to hear. The programme was well constructed with a balanced range of styles from baroque through to contemporary, and a pleasing mix of familiar and new work. The violin addition also added much panache to the concert, showing how versatile the organ, the medieval king of instruments, actually is and how relevant it can be to contemporary recitals.

    The programme began with A Trumpet Minuet by Alfred Hollins (1865-1942). The programme notes mentioned a Johannesburg connection. In 1916 Hollins gave a concert on the Johannesburg City Hall organ which Hollins had designed. Sadly this organ at the Johannesburg City Hall is in a very poor state of repair currently and cannot be used. I think that Wim Viljoen may have been a tad nervous for there were a lot of mistakes in the opening piece which simply weren't there for the rest of the concert. It is endearing to learn that a musician of the standing of Viljoen can be nervous.

    The Air on the G String, more properly titled Air in D Major BWV 1068 by J S Bach (1685-1750) followed and then a glorious rendition of Bach's Toccata, Adagio and Fuge in C Major BWV 564. Here it became obvious that most of the audience were church people rather than music people. It is the applause between the movements which is the tell tale signal. This is exciting. When people discover that they actually enjoy listening to live music this is good for live music. Hopefully some of these people will be encouraged to attend the symphony concerts or small recitals in and around the city.

    The Fanfare in F Major by G P Telemann (1681-1767), Noel No 3 in D major by C Balbastre (1729-1799) and the famous Adagio in G minor attributed to T Albinoni (1671-1751) which was really composed by Remo Giazotto (1910-1998).

    After interval, we got the Canzona from the Violin Sonata Opus No 74 by Richard Pantcheff, a British composer born in 1959. Wim Viljoen and Zanta Hofmeyr premiered the full work in 2010 in South Africa. Mendelssoh's Sonata No 1 in F minor and J Rheinberger's Theme and Variations, opus 150 followed. The concert proceeded with two movements from the Sonata No 1 in D minor opus 42 by A Guilmant (1837-1911), Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by Elgar and ended with the Toccata from Symphony No 5 in F Major opus 42 by Charles Marie Widor (1844-1937).

    The programme notes by Sidney Place focused on general information rather than form analysis and were most readable. They were informative without talking down to those who have a trained understanding of classical music while not scaring those who are most comfortable with live music (of this nature) as an essential part of enjoyable worship.

    One interesting feature of this concert was the AV at the front of the church which made it easy to watch the soloists and particularly the organist, as it was filmed from the side of the organ, giving the audience an excellent view of both the manuals and the pedals on the console, but presented the violinist at an accute angle. It was mildly amusing to note that the musicians still stepped forward and bowed properly to the center of the church (always appropriate in view of the placement of the Cross) giving the audience a side-on view of the artists' acknowledgement of the presence of the audience. The amusement was because the thought that struck me during this whole concert was “It's behind you” sung out in a pantomime chorus. The nature of the ancient and noble instrument's placement is inflexible. For many people that is precisely part of its charm.

    I was advised that the audio-visual of the concert or at least parts of the concert will be made available online in the near future and I am looking forward to finding this so I can provide a link for the many people all over the country, and indeed the world, who are interested in this new organ.

    The inaugural concert was on Saturday 21 April, the closest convenient date to St George's Day (23 April) at 19:30 at St George's Church, Sherborne Road, Parktown.

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petereblack View Post
    The inaugural recital is sold out, but look out for upcoming recitals in May Peter Black on 6 May at 5.20pm, Gordon Stewart later in the month, Joh Scott in August, Olivier Latry in November and Nathan Laube in February 2013.
    I am sorry that I will miss your recital on 6 May, but I have already accepted a much less pleasant assignment way out North of Johannesburg. I will see if I can get out of that one graciously.

    I am also curious as to whether all the concerts are going to sell out to your own congregation before other music lovers even get to hear of them? Certainly there were people at the inaugural concert who expressed how surprised they were that they enjoyed a whole concert. :-)

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    In saying that we haven't had a new organ of this calibre in Jhb for 70 years no one has mentioned the organ at St Catherine's in Bramley. It was installed around 1980. I was too young to pay attention to the details but it seemed very 'big' and special to me. I know I loved it and its installation caused a lot of excitement.

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacqui View Post
    In saying that we haven't had a new organ of this calibre in Jhb for 70 years no one has mentioned the organ at St Catherine's in Bramley. It was installed around 1980. I was too young to pay attention to the details but it seemed very 'big' and special to me. I know I loved it and its installation caused a lot of excitement.
    St Catherine's has an organ like the new one at St George's?

    I am SO going to tease Father Douglas Torr about this. He thinks that the money spent on the organ at St George's was a terrible waste of money.

    I suspect, though, that it is more akin to the old organ at St George's. Not all organs are equal. (Is one allowed to say that here?) The one at St George's in the old days pleased me well enough for hymn accompaniment and some nice voluntaries. Up until now the only concert organ of any quality owned by an Anglican church was the one at St Mary Cathedral, and the acoustics there are very 'wet'. It sounds as if everything is being played in a bathroom.

    The church venues used for classical and religious music concerts in Johannesburg tend to be St Mary's (CBD) for organ and choral, Trinity Catholic (Braamfontein) for choral, Trinity Methodist (Linden) for choral. The Lutheran church in Hillbrow has a beautiful organ (as one would expect), but because of the deterioration of the area it is seldom used for concerts. This is a pity because the venue was nearly perfect.

    A lot of churches have their parochial concerts in their own church venue with a great deal of musical success. I think of the lovely brass band concerts I have attended over the years in various Salvation Army halls and the number of chamber music concerts in many churches, especially for festivals, I have enjoyed defies interesting documentation.

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    Senior Member GoneBaroque's Avatar
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    Moira, Thank you for the information on the new organ at St. George's, Parktown. The inaugural concert was certainly an interesting program and I will look forward to the forthcomjng videos. Please keep us posted if you can. I cannot, however disagree strongly enough with Father Torr's comments. As music is, to me, an integeral part of worship money spent on an organ is never wasted.

    Over the many years of its existence the Rieger firm has built a number of magnificent instruments. I have several recordings of Peter Hurford playing the glorious Rieger in Ratzburg Cathedral According to the specifications this organ has a very interesting stop, a Raushwerk which when pulled "opens a small drinks drawer" Heaven forbid that the organist should become thirsty while playing.
    Rob

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    Senior Member Moira's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoneBaroque View Post
    Moira, Thank you for the information on the new organ at St. George's, Parktown. The inaugural concert was certainly an interesting program and I will look forward to the forthcomjng videos. Please keep us posted if you can. I cannot, however disagree strongly enough with Father Torr's comments. As music is, to me, an integeral part of worship money spent on an organ is never wasted.
    Hmm. For simple worship there was already an organ. Not nearly as glamorous as the new one, this is true, but perfectly functional. However, Father Doug Torr tends towards radicalism in many spheres. I simply mentioned him to one of his flock Co-incidentally I know him rather well, as he is a good friend and we attend many functions together, probably averaging at least one a month.

    In fact I chatted to him about the organ at St Catherine's and he tells me it is one of the better organs in the diocese, pointing out that one of the Anglican Church's top organists, Debbie Green, did her performers exams on it. Debbie Green taught me singing at the university where I did a non-degree music course for three years (MEWS - Musical Enrichment WorkShops).

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