The last month has been one of lockdown across the UK and perhaps things should therefore have been quiet but once again this has not been the case. We have been treated to countless online recitals which bring joy to many of us and I for one have continued to be introduced to new music as a result. In addition I am sure many of us have enjoyed some of the many online services. Whilst some have not offered organ music, there has been a great deal of choral music to enjoy. Meanwhile during the lockdown in January, work at Radley College, Shrewsbury Abbey, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and I am sure others has continued a pace and it was good to read of new work, with Mander organs being awarded the contract to rebuild the organ at Wimborne Minster. I have just read that at York Minster the voicing team have been making good progress with the Great and Swell finished and the Pedal flue being almost done.
Whilst cathedrals up and down the country have had to close their doors for services, they have opened them as vaccination centres and many, many people have had their jabs whilst listening to organ music. Salisbury cathedral was just one of those centres providing the service and the organ certainly made headline news, appearing in countless newspaper articles and even on BBC Breakfast! It was a joy to see and hear. The organ also made the news when Anna Lapwood played along to ‘the relentless undeveloped loop of Mozart’ whilst on-hold to her energy company! I wonder how many people heard the organ as a result of either of these headline making stories for the first time and how many may have been inspired to give it a go one day?
The RCO are looking to encourage just that and are currently putting together their International Organ Day (24 April) and Festival which will be celebrated between 18-24 April. Much of last years inaugural event was overshadowed by Covid and so plans for the event this year are being designed for online participation. They’re asking for short films from organists about their instrument, what they love about being an organist or what a piece of music means to them. If you’d like to contribute to this, pop over to the RCO website for more information.
Another organisation supporting and encouraging young organists is YOST who this month announced the appointment of Dr Martin Clarke as the Trust’s first President, in recognition of their expanding profile and work in high-profile events. When it comes to events for young organists, there is little need to look further than the Oundle for Organists course which is continuing to take bookings, the Jennifer Bate Organ Course, running online this year as is the TOSE course which is again open for bookings.
I came across a new site this month, almost at the same time as the creator wrote to me! Organ Tricks was inspired by a similar site for the piano and created by Patti Whaley. It will of course be added to The Organ Manual and I am delighted that Patti will be writing a piece for the site in February!
Finally, The Organ Manual’s generous sponsors, Viscount Organs Wales are sponsoring the inaugural competition run by the School Organists Association of which more information is available here. It is such a delight to see them supporting young organists, as they also do by providing an organ to the RSCM (my other sponsors) allowing Rosemary Field, Head of Organ Studies to run lessons online during lockdown. I continue to be most grateful for their support.