Here It Is, Your Moment Of Holiday Zen

You know it, you love, it, and it just isn’t the holiday season without it: The Messiah Organist On Crack. If this holiday classic is new to you, give it moment and hang in there until the end; I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s 0:43 of unfiltered Messiah goodness.

Messiah Organist On Crack

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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0 thoughts on “Here It Is, Your Moment Of Holiday Zen”

  1. At the risk of poo-pooing, I thought this would be a good forum for me to postulate the unthinkable (and, perhaps, get expert feedback): I believe this is FAKE. The reasons for my theory are these:

    1) The organ is WAY louder during the screwy chords at the end than it is during the rest of the clip. In fact, you can’t even hear the organ until the ‘point of impact.’

    2) The choir stays in PERFECT harmony, unwavering despite the calamity of it all;

    3) The chord the organ plays at the end is probably the WORST sounding compliment to the voices singing the plagal cadence;

    4) The way the organist chromatically gets to home-base is weird.

    Would be curious to hear any affirmers/detractors of my theory. If it is a fake, it must go into the classical viral-marketing hall of fame, and I want to meet the people responsible! If it’s real, ditto. Merry Christmas!

  2. As to #4, a number of electronic organs (and this is clearly elctronic) had “key changers” that allowed the player to play in one key and have the instrument sound in another. This was done by a rotating wheel where “neutral” was 12 (O’Clock) and you would go up chromatically up or down by switching the dial to the right or left (respectively). So, if the organist was most comfortable playing “O Come All Ye Faithful” in A Major, but it needed to be in F, He/she could simply use the switch (Clicking 4 notches to the left) to avoid having to transpose by sight or find a printed copy in the different key..

    The final key shift during the final chord sounds very much like somehow the chormatic shift switch was employed and someone wasn’t quite sure where the original position was.

    As for #1, most organs with some kind of combination (preset collection of stop/voices) action have a “SFZ” or Sforzando button, which basically means “pulling out all the stops”. As someone who plays, it sounds like the last 3 measures are played with the sforzando ON. FWIW, I do hear the organ on at the beginning of the clip, albeit at a much more complimentary level of accompaniment.

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