Archive for November 2013

Not Just for Thanksgiving…   Leave a comment

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

Marcus Aurelius

One of the many things I am thankful for is you, my readers  –  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Posted November 28, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Choir Attendance – A Phenomenal Response   Leave a comment

Thank you to all my colleagues who have responded so generously to this survey! What do you think choir membership looks like nationwide? And what’s the best way to bring in new people? And how many of your church members actually show up on any given Sunday?

Some very rough preliminary results are on the Survey page of my site here, – here’s the link! It’s getting more and more interesting… Again, thank you to all!

Posted November 24, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Great Britten!   Leave a comment

A portrait of the composer Benjamin Britten from 1948.Today, November 22, is the 100th birthday of Benjamin Britten, who many (including me) consider the greatest English composer of the 20th century. NPR has a wonderful short article about him. Do give a listen to the Serenade and War Requiem excerpts, and if that’s not enough, try the Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes – just about my favorite orchestral music! Happy Birthday, Ben!

Posted November 22, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Survey Says….   Leave a comment

Metrics. They’re all around us. Why? Because we can – computers make it easy.

That’s why I put together this quick 10-question survey for church musicians. 

Let’s see if choir numbers and congregation numbers are related. More responses = more accuracy. It takes 5 minutes to fill it out, and once enough responses are in (hint: you can forward the survey to people I might not know), you’ll see a report here!

With much appreciation and thanks,

Here’s the link again:

Posted November 19, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Recital at Trinity Santa Barbara   Leave a comment

It’s always a pleasure to drive up the beautiful coast to play at Trinity Church, Santa Barbara.

And it was gratifying that more than 100 people came out on Sunday to hear music by Bach, Gigout and others – and my trademark encore, my arrangement of the theme song from  TV’s Zorro. (Here’s the program if you’d like to see what I played.)Image

One audience member had even heard me in York last July, where he said he had gone to our first Evensong and returned to the others to hear my postludes!

Emma Lou Diemer was there, too, and we had a wonderful talk. Carolyn and David Gell are always the most gracious of hosts with equally interesting guests.

Sometimes I envy violinists and others who carry their own instruments. But that wouldn’t give the same sense of musical discovery as when I get to really explore what a different organ can do. The new organ console at Trinity (new for an organ – 2006) really allowed me to bring out some special Ray Urwin-type colors in the pieces.

Thanks again to David and all at Trinity, as well as the wonderful audience!

Posted November 18, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Concert!   1 comment

I’m excited to have been asked by my good friend David Gell, Organist at Trinity Church in Santa Barbara, to play on their concert series. It’s been several years since I last played there, and I’m delighted and looking forward to it very much. The concert is this Sunday, November 17, at 5:00 pm.

I’ll be playing music by Bach, Britten (it’s his 100th birthday in a few days!), Widor, Gigout, Hampton, and others in an hour-long program. Trinity is at 1500 State Street and has a wonderful organ and acoustic. Do come if you’re in the area!


Posted November 13, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

York, Day 2: Monday, July 22   1 comment

 Our usual accompanist had made all the practicing arrangements with the organist, but due to her sudden illness was not with us (see “A Fond Remembrance”), and her records were not available. And the Minster organist had taken the weekend off! So on Monday morning I was rather nervous about our first service, as I had not even seen the organ yet!

After knocking around a while trying to figure out how to get the organ key to at least have a look at the console, I gave up and just explored the very quiet Minster (including the wonderful crypt, dating to Roman times), before it was officially open.

Most English cathedrals, large churches or even chapels place their organ consoles up in a loft, which can be quite a distance from choir and conductor. Both the case containing the pipes and the console are together, but away from everything else. Pipes and keys had to be close together until the invention of electricity.  

This was true for York and Beverley, and you’ve probably seen pictures of Westminster Abbey and King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. The organist watches the conductor through a mirror or by closed-circuit television, or the old-fashioned way with an assistant watching the conductor and beating time for the organist.

Later that morning I saw a large console down in the nave, and figured out that it was very likely identical to the main instrument upstairs, but used on Sunday mornings so the organist can be on the same level as the others. I got permission to just sit on the bench and take some notes—getting some strange looks from some tourists and clergy, but I just smiled and ignored them! This proved to be invaluable, as the layout of these two consoles was different from anything I’d seen—very different!


Posted November 8, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

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