AVA161: How To Build A Principal Chorus On The Organ At Vilnius University St John's Church?
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 161, of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. We’re continuing our discussion about the preparations that John from Australia, John Higgins is doing in order to be well prepared for his upcoming recital in April in our church, Vilnius University St. John’s church. In the previous podcast we discussed the questions about the action heaviness, about the situation with the swell pedal, right? About English speaking listeners and if we can translate English speaking words from John that he will be saying in between the pieces, right. And now, let’s start a little further bit further. He asks:
5) How many people who might attend my recital would speak English? I'm guessing my poster and program need to be in Lithuanian and you would have to interpret any words I say?
6) Would people expect me to speak at the beginning of the recital and then play all the pieces, or is it ok to play groups of 3 pieces and introduce each bracket of three pieces? If it takes a long time to walk from the organ loft, this may not be possible unless there is a wireless microphone?
7) On the St John's organ playing Bach fugues, would you normally register the pedal with principal chorus and no couplers, plus the pedal Posaune or is this reed too loud? I am used to playing small organs more in the English style, so you always use the Great to Pedal coupler. Sometimes on Australian organs the pedal Posune is too loud for fugues, so you might use the Swell 16’ reed coupled to the pedal with the Swell to Pedal coupler, and just use the Great principal chorus in the manuals.
Can you believe it's only 9 weeks to go!
Look forward to hearing for you!
I hope you have a lovely day,
V: So, Ausra, it’s a very simple situation, right, we have?
A: Yes, we have a wireless microphone.
V: No, it’s, a cord, we record.
A: It’s a cord?
V: Yeah, it’s an old-fashioned microphone you have to
A: It’s connected to that speaker. I remember now, yes.
V: So the system is this; before recital, I turn on the lights and we have the headlights pointing to both sides of the organ loft and beautiful organ facade is lighted in golden colors then. And then I take out the speaker from the inside of the organ and put it someplace close to the balcony, eh, balcony rim. And then, what happens; I connect the microphone and I recommend then probably you could do both ways: You could speak just at the beginning of the recital and then play all the pieces of your program non-stop, right? Or you could talk between each of the pieces, or between some groups of the pieces, like John says, three pieces, and then play. What would you prefer, Ausra?
A: Well, if I would be listener or if I would be a player. Because you know if I would be a player then I would just talk at the beginning and then would play the entire recital through. But if I would be a listener I would prefer that somebody would speak, maybe in groups of three pieces as John suggested.
V: And, I know what you mean. For a player, you concentrate better if you play non-stop.
V: But it’s also more difficult to concentrate for an hour, right, non-stop. So if you talk and play, talk and play, talk and play, you could kind of switch actions and activities and can start afresh in each piece.
A: Well it depends what is easier for you, to talk or to play. For me it’s easier to play than to talk.
V: Of course, John is a great storyteller. It will be easy for him to talk.
A: So what I would suggest is that he would talk , you know, during the recital.
V: Mmm, hmm, as many times as he wants because we can translate it for people. Excellent! Another question that he had is that about playing Bach fugues on this organ. He says ‘would you normally register the pedal with principle chorus and no couplers, plus the pedal Posanne, or would this be too loud?’ No, I wouldn’t say it’s too loud, right? If you have, let’s say, full Principle Chorus on the great, like Principle 16’, 8’, 4’, 3’, 2’ and a Mixture, maybe some flutes, 2’, 8’ and 4’, and if you like you could add a Tierce, right?
A: This is on the right side, yes.
V: You could also have many stops in the pedals; 16’ Principle, 16’, another, you know, wooden stop, and then maybe full basso 8’ level, and then 4’ flaut bass, and then you could add Posanne. Right?
V: Would you need, Ausra, pedal coupler for these two?
A: I wouldn’t have pedal couplers. If I have Posanne, it is not necessary unless you want to have more pedals.
V: For example, if you have a large pedal solo.
A: Then yes, you could do that.
V: Because at the moment our mixture, pedal mixture is not working.
A: Then you could add the coupler. Great to the pedal.
V: Then of course, and then you could use the pedal coupler in spaces when you need the manual coupler too. 3rd’: to the great, 3rd to the first coupler and 2 principle choruses combined then, and you would need it and you need more pedal power too. You see what I mean?
A: That’s right, yes.
V: If you couple two manuals, then you might probably need pedal coupler as well.
V: Excellent. Wonderful! So, nine weeks to go for John to prepare because of course, it’s a long process to adjust, adjust to the unfamiliar organ. And we’ll be talking about the next question. How we prepare for our international tours on unfamiliar instrument, especially when we don’t have a lot of rehearsals scheduled, right?
A: That’s right?
V: This summer, we’ll be going to St. Paul’s Cathedral to play in London and before that we’ll going to go to the oldest organ in the Baltic States. What is it?
A: Yes, it’s Ugale, in Latvia.
V: Yeah. Our friend, organ builder Janis Kalnins has restored this beautiful Cornelius Rhaneus from 1601 or 1701, I forget. It doesn’t matter. 100 years older or younger, who cares...
V: But you find a beautiful movable eagle.
A: This reminds me of a duck, because as an eagle seems too fat. So I imagine that it’s a duck with eagle wings.
V: Oh, I remember, it’s 1701.
A: Yes, 1701.
V: Yeah. So, but we’ll be talking about how we will be preparing for these unfamiliar instruments in the next conversation. In the meantime, go ahead and try to practice some more because it’s really a wonderful day, right Ausra? You will be playing today, some of the pieces solo, recital pieces on your program for the upcoming Bach recital, and will be playing organ duet pieces.
A: Oh yes, that’s right.
V: Everyone knows your playing E Flat Major Prelude and Fugue by Bach. How’s that going for you?
A: Well, it’s going well. I just have to repeat it time after time just to keep myself in good shape.
V: It’s not a big deal.
A: Yes. It’s not a big deal. It was a big deal you know, last year when I played it after like ten years after not playing it.
V: And you are scheduled to play this piece in Notre Dame in Paris,
A: Yes, that’s true.
V: in a couple of years.
V: So, wonderful piece, wonderfull instrument too. And Ausra, what about our Duets? Are you enjoying the quick runs with your right hand from the Bach arias we’re playing together?
A: (Laughs) Are you teasing me?
V: Of course! That’s my, that’s my character, always.
A: Yes, we are working on two duets from Cantata 140 which is probably my most favorite cantata by J. S. Bach.
V: Wachet auf…
A: Yes, Wachet auf.
V: You remember, guys, BWV 645 is taken from this cantata.
A: The 1st of the Schüblers chorals.
V: Yes, Middle movement from the cantata. And we’re playing organ duet arrangements from that cantata.
A: Yes and we are playing one which has the nice oboe ritornello?
A: Ritornello. And another one which has violin ritornello. And I play that ritornello with my right hand in both of these duets, and then with my left hand I am playing, you know, one of the soloist, I think the rhythm parts of soloists. Because these are sort of like that between bass and soprano. And of that you know, ritornello of the solo instrument. And then of course there is the continuo parts. So with this playing the continuo part and doing one of the soloists, the bass soloists, and I’m doing the other two. So my, my sort of role is small, virtuoso and I’m not enjoying it so far. Maybe I will when I will learn the text.
V: Are you enjoying the third eye, I remember from, it’s called Mein glaubiges Herze. It’s Cantata No. 68. But we have to read from the C clef.
A: Yes. Actually it’s okay because when I have the C clef I have only one voice. And then later on when I have the two other parts and two voices I have two treble clefs so that’s fine with me. What about you?
V: In my part of the third, this aria, or duet, probably I need only two bass clefs, no C clefs for me. Umm, which is easier then. But I don’t mind C clefs. I enjoy them. It takes a little more time to get used to them, especially in, you know, live situation, when you play in public. But it’s not a big deal anymore for me. But playing together with you is really fun, especially to see how your right hand is running all, in all passages up and down.
A: Yes. And now when we’re talking about clefs, I remember a funny story we had that just happened when you just started learning your organ book. I remember you were talking about or writing about clefs, and instead of bass clef, you just left that ‘B’ letter, you know, just by accident.
V: Ah, I see.
A: And, and when you did the spell check it still, you know, showed it’s okay because such a word exists. And then you received a letter from one of your readers, you know, telling you, ‘O Vidas, look at this! Was this a new class that starts not with the ‘B’ letter but with the letter ‘A’?’.
A: it was so funny. Funny, funny joke.
V: I felt embarrassed.
A: I know.
V: But uh, I corrected my, my typo right away.
A: Yes. That’s funny.
V: Excellent, guys. So we’re going to stop this recording now and go ahead and practice some duets and solo pieces. And we hope you do the same, right?
V: Please send us more of the questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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