Jump to content
Mander Organs
Sign in to follow this  
OrganistOnTheHill

Organs that you can play?

Recommended Posts

Recently I have been enjoying going through amazing English organs on the list! I thought that with some pocket money I could save up and go around England playing a variety of organs. I have been stuck to only my school organs and have not had much time exploring England as I wish to. Could anyone recommend some nice places around England reachable by train with a church that would let you play the organ? 

P.S. Looking for an approachable church with a pipe organ in London that would let you practice. I need to find an organ to practice during school exeat. Would not mind paying a small fee if necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My advice would be to pick an area in which there are organs that you would be interested in seeing and then, using the "A Church Near You" website, ask the contact listed for each church if you might be able to arrange a visit to see and perhaps play the organ. I use this approach when going on holday and have, without exception, been made welcome. I have always made a generous donation upon leaving.

My particular interest is village church instruments and I have little interest in playing the much larger multi-department organs and suspect that on occasions access to these might be more limited anyway. A loud tuba or big pedal reed is a tiny part of the experience of being an organist and constant loud playing is tiresome to any audience and will win the player few friends. The pleasure, to me at least, of discovering little used small organs and exploring their resources beats into a cocked hat the "Full Organ"  large instrument approach. As has been said elsewhere on this forum the quieter stops on a organ usually provide the most beautiful and expressive sounds and small organs often have some real gems.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If approached in all the right ways, there are many churches and possibly cathedrals that would let you play if it was all fixed up in advance. You need to decide where you want to go, look up their website to find the name of the person in charge of the music, and write them an email introducing yourself and asking if you might be allowed to visit the organ and play it. Now, most cathedrals don't want their organ being played during the day because it disturbs the visitors and tour guides, so if you are lucky and they say 'yes' it's likely to be first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, possibly after evensong so that will be less easy for you travelling from London. Why don't you make a start and - plucking somewhere out of the air - see if you can visit St Mary, Redcliffe in Bristol. You can get to Bristol Temple Meads station direct from London Paddington. It's an hour and 40 minutes on the train and an adult ticket is £60 return (on a Saturday afternoon) but perhaps you have a student railcard. The church is no more than a 20 minute walk from the station. It is a stunning church with a wonderful Harrison and Harrison four manual organ - one of the very finest instruments in the country. It's no so easy on their website to find who the Director of Music there is, and I resorted to looking at the parish magazine. It looks as though all contact has to be made through the parish office. So, you write, asking for your email to be forwarded to the DoM, saying that you are a young organist at Harrow School and generally saying a bit about yourself. You have heard that the St Mary Redcliffe organ is a wonderful instrument and you wonder if you would be allowed to come down and play it one day. You might then want to suggest a few dates when you could get down there. Do make sure you have practised your pieces thoroughly, and take into account handsoff's caution about loud music. They know you will want to try the tuba and the devastating 32 reed there, but not in every piece. In a nutshell, I think that is the sort of approach you could take. 

As far as exeat goes, can't your Director of Music or your organ teacher or Chaplain give you an introduction to a local church? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a lot of good advice given above.  However in some cases it's not easy just to get in touch in the first place.  For instance, email addresses are not always given on websites, or you are merely presented with one of those awful tiny boxes in which to write your message on the 'contact' page.  Incidentally, a tip when confronted with these is to first compose your message offline using the simplest of text editors (such as NotePad on Windows - definitely not a 'proper' word processor such as Word which will insert lots of hidden inline garbage within your text) and then simply copy and paste it into the text box of the website in question.  However you may well find, as I and many others have, that your approach is ignored.  This seems to arise more often the greater the size and importance of the outfit you have approached - on the whole the smaller churches seem to be more helpful and courteous than some of the larger ones such as cathedrals, stately homes and schools.  (This tends to colour my attitude when they next rattle a tin in aid of their organ fund under my nose ... ).  But don't lose heart if you don't always get a reply.

Another suggestion is to join a local organists' association.  They usually have a number of committee members who are well connected with the sort of people who can help you gain access to organs of all sorts - after all, if this were not so then they would be unable to organise the visits they do to cathedrals, town halls, etc.  Once you get known through attending their meetings and 'organ crawls' they will probably be very helpful to you, and belonging to a respectable organisation like this can also assist your chances of success when approaching those who control access to organs (so do mention it).  There are a lot of very nice people in organists' associations in my experience extending over many decades since I was at school myself (and by golly, that's a long time ago now - you're talking to a grandad here ...)

So good luck.

CEP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 02/09/2018 at 15:11, Martin Cooke said:

If approached in all the right ways, there are many churches and possibly cathedrals that would let you play if it was all fixed up in advance. You need to decide where you want to go, look up their website to find the name of the person in charge of the music, and write them an email introducing yourself and asking if you might be allowed to visit the organ and play it. Now, most cathedrals don't want their organ being played during the day because it disturbs the visitors and tour guides, so if you are lucky and they say 'yes' it's likely to be first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, possibly after evensong so that will be less easy for you travelling from London. Why don't you make a start and - plucking somewhere out of the air - see if you can visit St Mary, Redcliffe in Bristol. You can get to Bristol Temple Meads station direct from London Paddington. It's an hour and 40 minutes on the train and an adult ticket is £60 return (on a Saturday afternoon) but perhaps you have a student railcard. The church is no more than a 20 minute walk from the station. It is a stunning church with a wonderful Harrison and Harrison four manual organ - one of the very finest instruments in the country. It's no so easy on their website to find who the Director of Music there is, and I resorted to looking at the parish magazine. It looks as though all contact has to be made through the parish office. So, you write, asking for your email to be forwarded to the DoM, saying that you are a young organist at Harrow School and generally saying a bit about yourself. You have heard that the St Mary Redcliffe organ is a wonderful instrument and you wonder if you would be allowed to come down and play it one day. You might then want to suggest a few dates when you could get down there. Do make sure you have practised your pieces thoroughly, and take into account handsoff's caution about loud music. They know you will want to try the tuba and the devastating 32 reed there, but not in every piece. In a nutshell, I think that is the sort of approach you could take. 

As far as exeat goes, can't your Director of Music or your organ teacher or Chaplain give you an introduction to a local church? 

Thank you for the excellent advice, Mr Cooke! I shall take that into note.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×