Wedding Gala (arr John Norris)
Sixteen celebrated pieces for a perfect wedding. Selected and arranged for organ by John Norris.
A well-known teacher and compiler of Stainer & Bell’s Opera Gala series, John Norris has created Wedding Gala with an ear to giving church organists a mix of favourites and exciting discoveries to brighten the routine of music for the service of holy matrimony.
No album would be complete without the traditional wedding music of Mendelssohn and Wagner, and it can be found here in this collection alongside other classics of the wedding repertoire by Jeremiah Clarke, Bach and Handel. But there’s also a thoroughly contemporary leavening, with arrangements of Sydney Carter’s One More Step and Lord of the Dance, both firm favourites, plus Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Charpentier’s Prelude, adding a note of splendour.
But the real bonus is for lovers of English music, with Elgar’s Chanson de Matin and ‘The Call’ from the Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, seldom found in comparable collections. And there’s also a rare new discovery: the ravishing Chosen Tune by Herbert Howells, transcribed from his Three Pieces for violin and piano, Op. 28, and available as an organ piece for the first time.
Each piece is comprehensively registered by the arranger, and the collection as a whole will be welcomed by all organists of intermediate standard as a source of new material not only for liturgical use but also for recitals.
Bridal Chorus (Wagner)
Trumpet Voluntary (J Clarke)
Triumphal March (Verdi)
Ave Maria (Schubert)
The Call (Vaughan Williams)
“Chosen” Tune (Howells)
Chanson de Matin (Elgar)
Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod)
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Bach)
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (Handel)
One More Step (Carter)
Wedding March (Mendelssohn)
Lord of the Dance (Carter)
The sixteen items in this beautifully produced book include old favourites and a few less usual pieces. I am doubtful about new versions of standard pieces such as Wagner and Mendelssohn wedding marches unless they offer a new slant on earlier publications, which fortunately these do to some extent. Apart from these two, there are Purcell, Charpentier, Verdi, Handel, Bach/Gounod and Schubert.
You will also find more unusually The Call from Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs, Promenade (Moussorgsky), Howells’s Chosen Tune (an arrangement from the Three Violin Pieces Op.28), and pieces based on Sydney Carter’s Lord of the Dance and One more step.
The latest batch of organ music to reach your reviewer falls squarely into two camps: that which provides eminently useful teaching material (as well as being useful for those teachers who also perform), and that which is aimed very much at the most able of recitalists.
Top of the pile is Wedding Gala, a collection of 16 voluntaries for use at weddings. One might think that this market was already saturated. John Norris is therefore to be congratulated on bringing together the commonest items requested by blushing brides in an edition that is practicable, reliable and clear, without conceding musical integrity.
All the usual staple favourites are there, in secure versions which will be well within the competence of most organists, and in which more able players will find little need to resort to their own improvements. There is little more that needs to be said. Throw away all those tattered old editions of individual pieces, and the costly individual copies of arrangements with dubious musical merit. This collection sets a new standard, and you’ll easily get the price back after playing for one wedding. It is hardly possible to offer a more positive recommendation, and we look forward to the arranger turning his attention to music for funerals, in which area we have so often in recent columns needed to lament the paucity of material and the highly questionable musical quality.
Music Teacher Magazine