As I write, lockdown 2 in England is ending. Over the last month, I have made several recordings that have been used as part of St John’s Devizes online/streamed services. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this (although what it is about recording making everything go wrong I don’t know!) and have been proud to wrap up the services for the last two weeks. Am I looking forward to getting back into church for ‘real’ services? Yes! But once again, lockdown has provided opportunities and coming together we may not have otherwise enjoyed.
As I said last year, perhaps November has been a good time to remind us of the joy of music with the feast of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of musicians and church music, celebrated on 22 November. Once again, there were many images of her shared that day on social media, more often than not at or with an organ, the instrument most attributed to her. I wonder if there were as many images of her as there were organists taking part in the wonderful Bach for the Future?! Fifty-four leading organists from around the country (and further afield) took part in this tremendous event raising funds for the Cathedral Choirs’ Emergency Fund. If you’ve not watched it, do take the time and contribute to the fund if you’re able. It is one of the best eight minutes or so you could spend! Whilst not quite on the same scale, many organists from around the country have continued to bring listeners together with recitals being live streamed and/or released on social media, including the Cheltenham Music Festival Radio 3 broadcast by Anna Lapwood.
Whilst, no matter where we are in the country, we have been in some sort of lockdown at some point in the month, much maintenance, repair, refurbishment and building has taken place. The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire received their new Flentrop organ this month. As work has continued on The Organ Project at St Mary’s Church, Portsea, there have been some superb photos shared on social media and with the scaffolding down at York Minster, images of the organ and quire are being shared. Meanwhile, the dismantling and documentation of the 1877/1893 Cavaillé-Coll organ in Manchester Town Hall has been completed and work starts at Nicholson and Co. They are also progressing on the III/53 Organ for Radley College. One of The Organ Manual sponsors, Viscount Organs Wales took a delivery of 3 of 8 new instruments for their showrooms.
During November, the RCO continued the publication of their A-Z of Organ Films. The most recent being ‘V’’ for voluntary’ by Anne Elise Smoot who also wrote the guest publication for The Organ Manual in November. The piece is about courses, what to look for and the value of attending them. Oundle for Organists, run by Ann Elise has information available on their site about their POTS course and details of the summer course are due for release in December. Meanwhile the RCO have launched the details of their TOSE 2021 course and the RSCM have released details of the Bath Course. Another initiative to support younger organists, the Society of Women Organists Youth Group has launched and welcomes new members through Facebook.
There are so many schemes available to support young organists, some well-known, some not so much. Over the course of Advent, The Organ Manual share information about a different scheme, bursary, scholarship, course and competition through its various social media channels – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
As I close, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors of The Organ Manual, RSCM and Viscount Organs Wales for their valuable support this year.
Finally, may I take this (slightly early) opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas? I hope everyone who expects to, makes it to their organ bench of choice, everyone stays safe and well and that everyone enters 2021 ready to make and enjoy plenty more organ music!
Stay safe and well, best wishes