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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

Agreeable respect

My long but intermittent association with the land of the choir and the organ brings to my door bulletins from organists' societies around the world, which I invariably scrutinise in case the humblest production reveals an amazing amount of valuable activity.

Musicians outside this particular specialisation are usually dismissive of what they consider to be 'dull drudgery'. Yes, it can be so. It can equally reveal music-making of a high quality. There is an unceasing trickle of those who are drawn like magnets to music for worship, and who have a totally different ethos to the fanatics who thunder through indifferent organ music.

After all, the church musician has a pretty good pedigree, whether he's overwhelmed with enthusiasm for a cappella choral music or nineteenth century organ music. Occupants of British cathedral organ posts at any one time represent the cream of specialists in church music and skilled trainers of mostly male-voice choirs.

As the world generally retains both the British-based tradition and its variations of usage in other denominations, the likelihood of extinction is unlikely. It has developed in tandem with secular music, often blessed with quality comparable and sometimes superior to its partner.

The brand of gentle banter between its enthusiasts always maintains a quality of respect, and certainly keeps both camps in healthy and agreeable competition.

Copyright © 6 October 2003 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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