May 2021 Review

As we’ve been easing out of lockdown more recitals have been taking place with a ‘live’ audience. This has been so exciting to see as we head back to ‘normal’. However, I do hope that we won’t see a decline in live streaming of these events. As I have said before I and I know many others, have had the joy of being introduced to and hearing so much more music than ever we would have done without the live streaming. Sadly some have already stopped the live streams but fingers crossed that won’t become the norm.

One event that will most certainly be live streamed is the annual Bach-a-thon organised by Anna Lapwood. The event will be taking place on 14th June from the Pembroke College Chapel. Anna has put together the play lists for over 80 organists who will be taking part this year, some virtually, some by recording and some live. It will certainly be a event to watch!

May saw the start of the Leeds International Organ Festival which continues through June and into July. Most of the events will be streamed from the cathedral. Elsewhere, despite William Saunders leaving St Edmundsbury Cathedral regular Music Reflections have continued to be shared on YouTube. Organ Meditations have returned to Wells Cathedral which are recorded and then shared online and Paul Carr has been sharing his Thursday Live recitals from St Chad’s Cathedral.

May 4th saw a rather specific piece of music be shared as organists took the opportunity to play music from Star Wars! If you’ve not seen it yet, in fact even if you have, do take the time to watch Richard McVeigh play 13 Intergalactic arrangements for the organ which was first shared with us on 4th May, of course. If that’s not enough, take a listen to Roger Sayer who on Music on Monday shared some music from the soundtrack of Interstellar, which he continues to transcribe.

With schools returning to ‘normal’ it has been wonderful to read of new organ scholars. The Blue Coat School shared news of their new scholars, funded by The Eric Thompson Organ Trust. The pupils enjoyed their first lessons on Liverpool Cathedrals Lady Chapel organ! The Trust are also funding the organ scholar at St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth. Meanwhile progress has continued to be made by organ scholars on the Young Organists Scheme at Barnard Castle School despite the challenges of lockdowns and pupils not having access to instruments.

Sponsors of The Organ Manual, Viscount Organs Wales have been very busy in the last month offering their support for young organists. The results of the School Organists’ Association, Young Organists’ Competition were announced and you can find out more about that on their site. Viscount Organs Wales are also sponsoring Tim Knight’s Music composition competition. The theme is ‘Organ Music for Solemn Occasions’ and the five winning entries will be published in a companion anthology.

On the subject of young organists, Dr Elizabeth Stratford asked for ideas for an Organ Scholar survival kit. She was inundated with ideas and The Organ Manual felt it was too good an opportunity to not add a new page to the site, Gifts for an Organ Scholar.

Maintaining the link, Pipe Up Salisbury have organised various events for young organists, or ‘wannabe’ organists to play in Weymouth and Dorchester in July along with an Open Morning in Salisbury Cathedral on 19th February 2022! In Salisbury related news, it has been wonderful to see they along with St Paul’s, Ely, Rochester (and probably others) have been advertising for organ scholars!

For those who have not yet seen it, the BBC Proms listings are out now, with not one but two organ recitals (one of which, as usual, will need to be viewed on catch up for those of us who are in church on a Sunday morning. The organ features elsewhere in the Proms Calendar too, so it’s worth looking through the programme. And for like to plan in advance, do take a look at the website for Arundel Cathedral where music to celebrate the birth of Vierne, Tournemire and Duruflé are planned into 2023!

Finally, I hope you’ll be interested to know plans continue to be made for The Organ Manual Magazine which will be launched in September. It will be packed with useful information and interesting articles for organists of all ages and levels. As such, there will not be any further guest blogs as these will all feature in the magazine. I am incredibly grateful to all those who have written a piece and I do hope you have enjoyed them.

My thanks goes to sponsors of The Organ Manual, RSCM and Viscount Organs Wales. The exciting developments ahead could not be done without their continued support.

Best wishes


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