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Organs & Organists: Their Inside Stories
All you (n)ever wanted to know
by Jenny Setchell
Published 2017
Pipeline Press

Jenny Setchell is a popular writer, photographer and pipe organ-buff from New Zealand. This is her third entertaining book about pipe organs. Her previous works were Organ-isms: Anecdotes from the World of the King of Instruments, published in 2009 (review), and Dem Himmel Nahe (Looking Up at Pipe Organs and Ceilings) in 2015.

Her new book is a 416-page paperback and includes a foreword by Christopher Herrick, one of the world’s leading organists. The book is divided into four well-illustrated parts, each section full of colorful photographs, cartoons, jokes, drawings and a ton of information about pipe organs.

Part One features beautiful photographs of organs from around the world and describes the parts of the organ and the inner workings, including the facades and cases, the pipes, the consoles, and the mechanics inside that make music come to life. Two city organs in New Zealand, the massive Klais organ in Auckland Town Hall with 5291 pipes and the Christchurch Town Hall Reiger organ are presented and described in more detail.

Part Two is titled “Organist on the Loose” and features Jenny’s husband, internationally-famous concert organist Martin Setchell, and an up-close look into the life and adventures of a working organist. Martin has seen a lot in his career, including long climbs into treacherous lofts, being locked in and locked out of assorted churches and cubbyholes, and an unknown and vast number of different organ quirks and anomalies, including out-of-tune keys and ciphers. (A cipher is a random note that continues sounding after a key has been released).

Part Three is a short and witty piece written by Adrian Marple, Director of Music and Organist at St. Mary’s Bury St. Edmunds, and Director of Music at Stoke College presenting a tongue-in-cheek look at life as a church pipe organist.

Part Four is called “Life Aloft Around the World” and features a large collection of short, intriguing stories of past and present organists and some of their wilder adventures on the job, including animals and even transients living among the pipes.

Bruce McCollum

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