|Composer profile from MelBay|
There are many levels of contemporary organ composition ranging from the extremely difficult to the very straightforward. Most organ composers wish to be seen as great writers who produce difficult and challenging pieces which will achieve quick recognition and be played by the world’s top virtuosi. This is a praiseworthy ambition but it is rarely fulfilled.
If one studies the ability of organists one sees that about 95% are ordinary players who perform in church on Sundays on not very good instruments. Of these 95%, very few are professional players and many have only a basic technique. Many are reasonably open-minded about repertoire and welcome new music which is written for players of their ability who have little time to practice. They take great pride in their work and always offer their insights and talents to congregations and give them voluntaries which raise their hearts and minds to the Creator.
I plead for composers to write for this important group; take it seriously and produce music which is tuneful, attractive and appealing. These organists are never going to play virtuoso music – they can manage a simplified version of Widor’s Toccata but not much beyond this. If one looks at the great output of French organ music, one sees that composers like Franck, Lefebure-Wely and others wrote much very pleasant music for precisely this market. It did not prevent them establishing a reputation as great virtuoso composers – quite the contrary.
Contemporary composers should write for this market and extend its repertoire. Many ordinary organists will applaud and thank them for doing this essential and valuable work.
136 High Street
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