TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 1 March 2015

Organ Poetry II

Psalm150Praise ye the LORD!
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with string instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD! #TEMCmusic

– from Psalm 150




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TEMC Organ Tweet from Sun 22 Feb 2015

20150215_114117Tucked away in the east corner of the sanctuary’s South Balcony is a small division of organ pipes you might not have noticed, partly because of its unusual location. Installed as part of the organ’s 1938 relocation to the chancel the Echo division, a remarkable piece of technology requiring its own blower and hundreds of feet of wiring, was designed for gentle, touching effects whose main characteristic is eminating from away from the main instrument. It is from here that the Choir hears it’s notes to sing the concluding ‘Amen’ of every 11 o’clock service, from here that the traditional chimes play the final verse of ‘Silent Night’ every Christmas Eve.

In 2016 if all goes according to plan, Phase II of the Trustees’ Organ Century refurbishment and enhancement project will see the Echo division joined in the South Balcony by a very different set of pipes, not tucked away in a chamber, but proudly adorning the back wall around the stained glass. Also designed to add the dimension of space to the organ’s art, this ‘Antiphonal’ division will sound very differently, and feature much stronger stops including a Festival Trumpet ‘en Chamade’ mounted horizontally, projecting out from the wall. Distinguished former Crystal Cathedral organist Fred Swann, who paid TEMC a visit in January, enthusiastically endorsed the Trustees’ plan, agreeing it would “really bring the organ’s sound out to the people,” enhancing our celebrations, and our song.

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TEMC “Organ Tweet” from Sun 15 February 2015

TEMC Organist Historical Spotlight
Albert Jordan and Thomas James Crawford (1925-1946)

Present day chancel ceiling showing 1938 organ chambers.

Present day chancel ceiling showing 1938 organ chambers.

Whereas TEMC’s third organist Ernest MacMillan took up his duties at the age of 27, leaving in his early 30s; Seaforth, Ontario native Albert Jordan came to the bench at 48, as an established figure on the London, Ontario music scene, where he lived (and commuted to from) until his death in 1932. Jordan had already founded and directed several musical organisations in southwestern Ontario, performed organ recitals in Pittsburgh and New York and represented Canada at both the Pan-American exhibition (Buffalo, 1901) and the Panama-Pacific exhibition (San Francisco, 1915). He was succeeded in 1933 by Thomas James Crawford, a Scot of precisely the same age who had come to Toronto in 1922 to become organist of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, but who had pursued a more international career in Glasgow, Leipzig, and most notably Westminster Abbey and St. Michael’s Chester Square in London England. He retired to Barrie, Ontario in 1946 where he served as organist to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church until a tragic auto accident claimed him in 1955. In 1938 during Crawford’s time at TEMC (and perhaps at least partly under his influence) Lady Eaton directed that the organ be moved from its original east transept balcony position to dual chancel chambers, and the choir reconfigured into the classic Anglican divided “Westminster Chancel” – this is what we see today.

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TEMC “Organ Tweet” from Sun 8 February 2015


wpid-wp-1423572525061.jpegTEMC’s Organ Century celebrations continue Friday February 13th at 7:30 pm with “DANCE OF THE BLESSED SPIRITS”, a concert by our Principal Organist Christopher Dawes with saxophonist Daniel Rubinoff presented by the ORGANIX 2015 concert series as its opening performance.

Music will include works of Telemann, Ruth Watson Henderson, Eugene Bozza and Denis Bedard, as well as jazz compositions and improvisations with piano, and the concert will be repeated Sunday February 15, 3pm at St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church.

Tickets discounted for members of the TEMC congregation are available from the Volunteer Office at (416) 925-5977.

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 1 February 2015

TEMC Organist Historical Spotlight – Mrs. H.M. Blight to Sir Ernest MacMillan (1910-1925)


Dalton Baker and the first TEMC Choir

TEMC’s founding in 1914 occurred against the backdrop of the optimism and energy of a new century, but as in many major churches the expense and challenges of creating a remarkable building trumped the practical need for an organ to lead worship, and as you will likely have heard the organ we still enjoy at TEMC followed fully four years later in 1914, a year which also saw the outbreak of World War I. Prior to that time our church’s first Director of Music, Mrs. Harry M. Blight, accompanied services led in various locations prior to the completion of the main church sanctuary that stands today.  

In 1914 the church opened, and on Monday December 21st of that year, celebrated British-American organist T. Tertius Noble of St. Thomas Church New York City gave the Dedication recital on its new Casavant Organ.  The concert, which featured works of Bach, Guilmant and Liszt also featured renowned recently-emigrated British baritone Dalton Baker, who became TEMC’s first Organist and Choir Master, serving until 1919.

But it was a Toronto boy who would become TEMC’s next and most famous organist, Ernest MacMillan.  MacMillan spent World War I interned as an enemy alien in Germany, but became TEMC’s organist in 1920, staying until 1925.  MacMillan became principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music in 1926, served as conductor of the Toronto Symphony from 1931 to 1956 (and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for the last 14 of those years).  MacMillan was knighted in 1935, and became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1970.


TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 25 January 2015

ORGAN AND SAXOPHONE CONCERT: “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”

Christopher Dawes, organ and Daniel Rubinoff, saxophones
TEMC’s Organ Century celebrations continue Friday February 13th at 7:30 pm with “DANCE OF THE BLESSED SPIRITS”, a concert by Principal Organist Christopher Dawes with saxophonist Daniel Rubinoff presented by the ORGANIX concert series.  Music will include works of Telemann, Ruth Watson Henderson, Eugene Bozza and Denis Bedard, as well as jazz compositions and improvisations with piano.  Tickets discounted for members of the TEMC congregation are available online from http://www.organixconcerts.ca and the TEMC Volunteer Office at (416) 925-5977.  The performance will be repeated on Sunday February 15, 3pm at St. Cuthbert’s Anglican, Church, Oakville.
Image: Caricature of Dawes and Rubinoff for their 2008 appearance in the Sundays at 3 series of the Royal Canadian College of Organists in All Saints’ Cathedral, Edmonton.
Audio: Classical 96 Radio ad for 2015 Organix performances

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 18 January – The Solo Organ

The Solo Organ

Solo organ

Stop knobs on the Solo organ

In the early 20th century when TEMC’s organ was built a well-established preoccupation of organ builders was the emulation of symphonic sounds. Our organ bears many marks of this interest from its early life, but none so obvious as in its Solo division, sporting stops like “Viole d’orchestre”, “Orchestral Flute”, “Cor anglais” and “Orchestral Oboe” – even an interesting “Jeu de Clochettes” (‘ring of bells’ – although it is not) and a Harp (which, strangely, IS a ring of bells!!) The division’s main use is the playing of solo melodies, either intentionally resembling the instruments they imitate, or blending colours with the overall harmonic palette. The Solo organ plays from the 4th manual on the TEMC console, which it shares with the Echo Division in the east corner of the church’s rear gallery, but the intention in our 2015 console revision is for the Echo division to move up to the 5th manual where it will reside with our exciting new Antiphonal organ, while the Bombarde (our other ‘orchestral’ style division) joins the Solo on manual IV.

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 11 Jan/2015

Organ Quotes III

“Miss no opportunity to practice on the organ; there is no instrument that takes such immediate revenge on the impure and the careless, in composition as well as in the playing, as the organ.”
– Robert Schumann

“If we complain about the tune, there is no reason to attack the monkey when the organ grinder is present.” 
-Aneurin Bevan

“Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.”
– Winston Churchill

“Bring me a bowl of coffee before I turn into a goat.”
-Johann Sebastian Bach

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sunday December 7

The Bombarde Organ

BombardeThe notion of bright, brassy, high-wind-pressure trumpet-like stops on pipe organs is centuries old – Spanish organs in particular were famous for this feature in the Renaissance and Baroque eras – but dedicating an entire pipe division to these and related stops was a late 19th-20th century trend driven by technological advancement, and by players, composers and builders interested in orchestral sonorities, and in particular with mimicking the effect of a complete orchestral brass section. It is no coincidence that Bombarde stops and divisions are named by the same root as military ‘bombardment’ – they are frequently used in connection with fanfares on royal and military occasions – but historically there is a closer connection to a bright and powerful Breton folk instrument related to the oboe and its ancestor the shawm.

As the photo shows the TEMC Bombarde division, currently playing from Manual V and mounted at the front of the west chancel chamber, is based on two ‘Tuba’ stops (‘tuba’ is the Latin word for ‘trumpet’), but also includes three other stops, Violoncello, Flute and Principal – used either to colour and complete the trumpet effects or as bright, prominent solo stops in their own right.

Our ‘Organ Century’ plans for the TEMC organ call for the combination of the Bombarde and Solo (see next week’s “Tweet”) divisions onto Manual IV, and the creation of a new Antiphonal division above the south balcony joining the current Echo division on Manual V. The crowning glory of this new division is to be a Trumpet ‘en chamade’ (another military reference) projecting out horizontally from the south wall. This new division would be our organ’s new, and best-ever connection with the space in our nave, and God willing, with our hearts as we gather there.

More on this in 2015…

TEMC “Organ Tweet for Nov 30 2014

The Choir Organ

Choir Organ

TEMC Choir Stopknobs

The Organ in church music dates from the Middle Ages: the Choir as we know it, a group of singers in a local church offering or supporting God’s song among the faithful is a more recent idea (although there is a wonderful ‘first account of a choir’ you can find in 2 Chronicles 20-22, where the king Jehoshaphat sent singing men ahead of the army to great effect!).

In Christianity the idea of the choir began in religious communities of monks and nuns, moving quickly to the chapels of royalty, to cathedrals and churches welcoming and supporting their congregations in the Protestant and Reforming traditions. But the introduction of the choir to Christian worship, particularly in England, had the effect of establishing a new standard division for some organs – the Choir organ, which features gentle, colourful and from the overall organ-concept mostly independent sounds with the particular job of accompanying voices.