Thursday, February 16, 2017


Well that was strange. I went to Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral yesterday. Their website had claimed the choir were to be singing William Byrd's "Evening Service in Five Parts". That didn't happen. The usual choir were on half-term holiday, so there were some people from a music course filling in. They were competent, but the lack of precision was noticeable (never expected to go to Evensong and find the choir weren't quite on form). I can usually tolerate all the readings and endless sitting/standing 'cos the music's so far-out, but this was all a bit dreary, not much of the usual celestial organ playing (which can get quite "prog" sometimes, with all the gentle chromatic freakouts). So as the choir filed out, I was feeling a bit disappointed.

And then the organist launched into the oddest bit of organ playing...and everyone sat and listened...and then tentatively applauded before leaving. I've never witnessed that before. The piece was in 5 or 7, curiously jazzy, and played quite stiffly, with some strange synthy choices of organ sound. An elderly gent to my left afterwards leaned over to his friend, laughed and said something about "Brubeck". And that was it — it was like Jean-Michel Jarre had hijacked the organ for a few minutes and played a bit of Brubeck he'd only just learned. What was that??

postscript: OK, I just communicated with the Cathedral via Twitter and found out what it was:

It was composed last year, I discovered here. And the stiffness was in the composition — no swing at all — not in the organist's playing, as you can hear here. So the idea of Ant Saggers' (aka Stray Ghost's) extraordinary Lament, or some Soft Machine, being played in the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury (to give it it's full name) doesn't seem that unreasonable. Would they let me curate?


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