February 2021 Review

February saw results for the recent RCO exams. I was delighted to be able to celebrate the success of so many of my friends receiving their awards. Congratulations to all those who were successful and to those who were awarded prizes.

I am sure many of us have found the start of Lent strange, not being in our regular places of worship with music filling the air from choirs and/or organs. It being Lent, I wonder if I should be ‘enjoying’ the Lent organ offerings I see each day on Twitter. Having said that, who wouldn’t enjoy guessing the organ stop at Lichfield Cathedral each day, or the ‘PipeUp Lent’ offerings of William Saunders?!

Later this year, we will be able to enjoy the Leeds International Organ Festival with recitals taking place each Monday. Rather sooner than that, Scott Brothers Duo, who have entertained us throughout lockdown, will provide a concert from a real pipe organ on March 6th! Having started in February, Gonville and Caius continue to provide weekly recitals which can be watched online throughout March. Meanwhile Daniel Cook, Ben Bloor and many others provide regular offerings for us to enjoy, whilst Richard McVeigh at Beauty in Sound continues to delight with Sunday Church, themed Saturday evening concerts and midweek recordings. Meanwhile, some have been lucky enough to enjoy live organ music as cathedrals continue to act as vaccination centres with organists providing ‘backing music’.

Whilst we continue to progress back to ‘normal’, there are a number of events that can’t go ahead as originally planned. Oundle for Organists ‘Pulling Out the Stops’ course is now running online and, as I mentioned last month, so is the the RCO TOSE course in the summer and the Jennifer Bate Organ Academy at Easter. However, the RCO planned their winter conference to be online. Held in February, there were keynote speakers including John Rutter, the RCO President Gerard Brooks, and the Chief Executive Sir Andrew Parmley. Recitals by Matthias Havinga, Eleni Keventsidou, Nathan Laube, Rachel Mahon, Konstantin Reymaier, and William Whitehead were enjoyed and they were each followed by ‘meet the player’ sessions. There were also a variety of seminars as well as a trade show.

There have been a number of reports of work continuing on various organ. I only report on a small selection each month but if there is a particular work of interest, Facebook and Twitter pages are a great source for keeping up to date on what is going on. At York Minster the pipe-voicing is coming to an end. Radley College have now said goodbye to their old organ. Meanwhile work has just started at Wimborne Minster. The renovation of the grand organ at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is also continuing with the 4565 pipes being removed, cleaned and restored over the next 18 months.

One of the pages I hope to develop on The Organ Manual is a list of organs where enthusiasts are able to play, by appointment. I was interested to see All Saint’s Church in Cheltenham offering the opportunity for visitors to play for a sum of £10/hour with funds going towards the upkeep of the instrument. I wonder if we will see more such initiatives? If your local church, cathedral, chapel or college would welcome players, do let me know and I will add the details to the page.

With the latest announcements on lockdown and the way out, the ISM have said 1:1 music lessons can resume next week. It’ll be a strange week for me, no more school assessments (for a week or two anyway!) back to school for the first time since the end of November and back to face to face music lessons. I can’t wait! I do hope you’re all keeping safe and well and that you too have some normality to look forward to.

As I close each month, I would like to thank The Organ Manual’s generous sponsors, Viscount Organs Wales and RSCM. I continue to be most grateful for their support.

Best wishes


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