Lockdown is easing and as Lent is coming to an end it is really exciting to hear organists plans for Easter Sunday. I will be playing at St John’s in Devizes, while we have a small choir for the service and even a congregational hymn (outside) at the end! I do hope as everyone heads back to the organ benches the instruments behave themselves. My first face to face lesson back in church this month was on a rather poorly instrument, with just the Great and Pedals working.
Last week saw the second ‘birthday’ of The Organ Manual on Twitter. Setting that page up was the first in a number of steps in making creating The Organ Manual as I envisaged it being. Two years on there are now over 1,000 followers on Twitter – over 2,000 on the various social media outlets. I am delighted with this, but I’d like there to be more, of course! To help maintain its relevance with the organ world, I am looking at changing these monthly updates and guest blogs into an online ‘magazine’, published three times a year, with a host of guest writers sharing their experiences and knowledge with us. The plan is to launch in September. If you would like to be involved and are able to commit to writing on a regular (every three, six, nine or twelve months) piece, please do get in touch. My hope is this will become a real reference point for users. This big step would not be possible without the support of The Organ Manual’s generous sponsors, Viscount Organs Wales and RSCM. I continue to be most grateful for their continued support.
For now however, what has caught my eye over the last month.
I’ve continued to enjoy the daily guess the organ stop from Lichfield Cathedral each day and the ‘PipeUp Lent’ offerings of William Saunders, but also March saw Anna Lapwood celebrate female composers, playing a different piece each day. The highlight must have been Sarah MacDonald writing a piece in the morning and Anna playing it in the evening – what a turnaround – and very lovely it was too! Richard at Beauty in Sound has been very busy, recording at Truro Cathedral and providing YouTube viewers with a superb insight into how that worked, a hymnathon, various recitals and most importantly, becoming a Daddy to Hugo – congratulations Richard!
As many of us will have seen (and/or heard), organs across the country have played whilst people have received their Covid jabs. In the last week Salisbury Cathedral have released a CD, ‘Salisbury Mediation – Music for the NHS’. The music is a selection of that played during the vaccination sessions. Funds raised from sales of this album will go to NHS Charities Together, the membership body for 241 NHS charities that give £1 million every day to help our hospitals do more. The CD is a collaboration between John Challenger, the Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music and Andrew Mellor of AJM Productions Ltd.
Salisbury isn’t the only place celebrating the organ. Gloucester’s Director of Music, Adrian Partington has created an interesting ‘Behind-the-scenes’ Organ Tour video along with various recitals. Whilst some repair work is coming to an end such as at York where music from the Grand Organ is now being enjoyed at services, others are just starting theirs, such as at Brecon Cathedral – as always – we look forward to following the progress, as we do in Abbeys and Churches across the country including Farnborough, Portsea and All Saints Cheltenham. Other regular offerings have come from Llandaff, Norwich, Coventry, Peterborough, St Albans and many more.
For those looking for organ courses, don’t forget to sign up to one of the courses taking place this year such as the RCO’s TOSE or Oundle for Organists ‘Pulling out the Stops’. If the recent RCO Winter Conference or IAO London Organ Day, held online, are anything to go by, a great deal can be gained from them whether online or face to face.
Finally, don’t forget, 24th April is the RCO’s International Organ Day, following a week of celebration for all things organ. I hope you are able to enjoy it and take part.
Wishing all readers, near and far, a very happy and blessed Easter when it comes.