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.

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 23 November

Organ Quotes II
Reed Pipes

“There is nothing to playing the organ. You only have to hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach

“Oh! there is an organ playing in the street – a waltz too! I must leave off to listen.
– Lord Byron

“The organ is the grandest, the most daring, the most magnificent of all instruments invented by human genius.”
– Honore de Balzac

“To my eyes and ears the organ will ever be the King of Instruments.”
– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Rededication Sunday Nov. 16

TEMC Exterior detail small

The Carillon Tower, Timothy Eaton Memorial Church

When an organ, a church building, a communion chalice, prayer shawl or any other inanimate object is said to be somehow ‘dedicated’ to God’s service it is actually not so much about “the thing” – it is really about us. In committing a century of vision, investment, artistry, careful management and thoughtful reflection to its organ, our church has not just honoured a legacy or maintained an asset – it has sought God’s will for how our faith might be proclaimed in our time and place, and found a way both for us, and the world around us.

It might be easy for the music of the TEMC Organ Rededication Service at 11:00 today to be overshadowed by the glories of the festive concert planned for later that afternoon – so here, to avoid the risk, is perhaps the true heart of our Sunday celebrations.  The service is broadcast live on CHIN Radio AM 1540 in Toronto, live-streamed on the Internet and podcast for download anytime at www.temc.ca (follow the Listen and Learn link, and either ‘Listen Live’ or ‘Find a Sermon’ searching for Sunday November 16.

BIG HYMNS: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”, “Now thank we all our God”, “O God beyond all praising”, and in the postlude “A mighty fortress is our God” – all voicing one of the highest tenets of the Christian faith, gratitude.

A LITURGY OF REDEDICATION that culminates in an improvised “Organ Praise” response in music.

A “CHOIR ANTHEM” BY THE ORGAN: In keeping with TEMC’s eclectic and outreaching musical tradition I’m offering two consecutive movements from Edward Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, and most especially “Nimrod” – Elgar’s beloved testament to his closest friend and to a conversation they had about the slow movements of Beethoven Symphonies.

A POSTLUDE CELEBRATING THE REFORMATION: the Roman Catholic Church is the unquestioned founder and initial sponsor of the organ’s unique place in Christian worship to this day – but it was the Reformation that made it what it is throughout Christianity today – the main enabler of congregational singing looking both backward and forward in time.

PRAISE TO GOD for holy work in our midst, including music. Amen. Alleluia!

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 9 November

The Swell Organ


TEMC Swell stopknobs

The name of the Swell division refers to a pipe organ technology dating from the mid-19th century that encloses pipes within a chamber with louvres (somewhat like a Venetian Blind) that can be opened and closed by a pedal operated by the organist.  Pipes treated in this way are able to ‘Swell’ louder and softer to make music more expressive than it could by simply adding and subtracting stops, and are said to be ‘under expression’ – and the Swell division is not the only one to be built this way (we have a total of five at TEMC, the others being the Choir, Solo, Bombarde and Echo divisions).

On most organs having a ‘Swell’, it is played from the manual (keyboard) immediately above the Great (at TEMC this is the third from the bottom).  Swells are characterised by enclosing both loud and soft stops, giving them (usually) the widest volume range and greatest versatility of function on the organ. The Swell is a mainstay of accompanying choirs, voices and instruments, a key tool to colour the unenclosed stops of the Great through ‘coupling’ (a device allowing more than one division to be played on a single keyboard at the same time), and perhaps most importantly the organist’s most immediate and intuitive means of shaping musical phrases, and managing music’s louds and softs.

ORGAN SYMPHONY Radio Ad hits the airwaves

10658941_709572839122969_2549348661117052086_oThat moment when one of Canada’s great organs shouts out its incredible and unique music to celebrate its own 100th birthday… ORGAN SYMPHONY with the Toronto Concert Orchestra under Kerry Stratton and the TEMC Sanctuary Choir under Elaine Choi.

Sunday November 16 2pm Timothy Eaton Memorial Church – tickets at Ticketweb.ca or the TEMC Volunteer office at (416) 925-5977.

You’ll hear this all next week on 96.3 Classical FM – but here’s your on-demand version – don’t miss this great event on November 16, 2pm at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church.

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun 2 November

The Great Organ

Great OrganThis week we begin a series of ‘tweets’ about the physical parts of the TEMC organ.

Did you know that the TEMC organ is not one but seven organs? And no, this does not count the lightly-used electronic instruments you may have seen in the East Chapel and West Assembly Hall – the 6120 pipes of the Timothy Eaton Memorial Church organ are spread across seven “divisions”, by tradition also known as ‘organs’ unto themselves.

The names of these divisions are somewhat standard across all organs, although they appear in different languages, and because most organs in the world have fewer than ours, many are absent elsewhere.

The main division is called the Great Organ, and as its name suggests it holds the central set of voices in the organ’s symphony of sound. Its 17 stops live in the elevated chamber above the east side of the chancel; it is played from the second-lowest of the five manual keyboards of the console (Manual II), and its main function is to support congregational singing and to offer the fullest, and many of the loudest sounds of the complete instrument. The photo shows some of the current draw knobs for Great Stops, as well as the “Super” and “Sub” couplers that allow playing two or more octaves’ worth of pipes for each key press.

TEMC “Organ Tweet” for Sun October 26

10658941_709572839122969_2549348661117052086_oTEMC and the Toronto Concert Orchestra present ORGAN SYMPHONY
Sunday November 16 2014, 2:00pm

Unlike in the case of the organ it is not easy to point to the moment the orchestra was ‘invented’, but it is certain that the organ has been featured as solo and ensemble instrument within the orchestra more-or-less from the start. The organ’s now-rare role as solo instrument with orchestra was first established in the works of Mozart and Handel the mid-18th century, and grew into and throughout the 19th century along with the growth of orchestras and the interest in richer and greater sound possibilities.

In answer to Mozart’s famous title for the organ “King of Instruments” it has been suggested that the orchestra is “the Queen” – and TEMC’s November 16th Organ Century-celebrating performance of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony is certainly an occasion fit for royalty.  This iconic work is among the most celebrated in the literature – yet performances of it are limited by the large forces called for (triple winds and brass, piano, organ, percussion and strings). Commissioned by the English Royal Philharmonic Society, the first performance was given in London on May 19th 1886 conducted by the composer, who shortly thereafter dedicated the work to the memory of his friend Franz Liszt. The work’s most outstanding features are the use of keyboard instruments (the organ, of course, but also piano for two- and four-hands), and a romantic composition device known as Cyclical Form, in which melodies introduced early in the symphony return and are developed throughout the movements of the work. As a kind of early Christmas present, the TEMC Sanctuary choir will contribute selections from another beautiful and seldom-heard Saint-Saëns work, the “Oratoire de Noël”, as well as other beautiful selections from the French choral literature.

Tickets for this special concert are $30 adult and $20 student and senior, available on the Internet at http://www.ticketweb.ca (search for the performance venue, Timothy Eaton Memorial Church), from the TEMC Volunteer Office at (416) 925-5977, 230 St. Clair Avenue West, and around Sunday services at the church.

Make sure to be at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church on Sunday November 16th at 2:00pm for the Toronto Concert Orchestra and TEMC Sanctuary Choir and their conductors Kerry Stratton and Elaine Choi – a fitting start to our celebrations of our church’s musical birthday.