I thoroughly enjoy playing the Phelps organ at Hexham Abbey with Michael Haynes,
Director of music; it is a fantastic experience. I have had experience with the pedal board and all the stops and sounds you can create. What I like about the organ is the power you are able to control all yourself. You can feel the notes when you play them. I hope one day to play Toccata and Fugue in D minor by J.S. Bach however so far I have played Trumpet tune in D by Jeremiah Clarke, soft voluntary No.1 and No.2 by L. Boellmann, versetto by Giovanni Battista Fasolo and I have started No.1 Fugato of two pieces by Georg Goltermann.
The week I spent at Oundle is one I will not be forgetting any time soon. Not only did I learn lots about my playing, the instrument and its repertoire but I also made friendships and bonds I can see lasting throughout my life. Having completed the Pulling Out The Stops (POTS) course last year, there were a couple of familiar faces however there were many people I had not met before. Each and every one of these students and teachers I met were so friendly and easy to get along with (helped along by our shared interest in the organ!)
My first activity was a masterclass given by Martin Baker at Titchmarsh church. All of the students in my group took their turns to play their pieces to him and each received feedback and advice on how to better their playing. This feedback was not only beneficial for the individual but was also useful to others too! This was the case for all of the masterclasses given by the course tutors throughout the week, each of them providing different ways in which to improve upon our pieces and keyboard skills. Each of these masterclasses were held in the different churches of Oundle and its surrounding areas, giving us opportunities to play on many varying styles of organ. The ability to understand how to use different types of instrument to the best of their abilities is a crucial skill as an organist, so having the chance to play so many throughout the week was a luxury! Particular highlights include the organs of Oundle School chapel, John Miley’s home and those of Trinity College, Trinity Hall College and Jesus College Cambridge.
Aside from our masterclasses there were rehearsals each day for a student choir, lead by Richard Pinel and Martin Baker. One of my favourite things about this was picking up tips from experts on how to take a choir rehearsal, spotting mistakes and finding ways to resolve them. Students that showed an interest were also able to try conducting the choir, with feedback on this given by the group and the leader of the session. Although I didn’t conduct, the advice given to others will certainly come in handy when I take rehearsals and conduct my choir in Northampton. The choir performed a Genevan psalm in a recital given by Anne Page and also in a Sunday eucharist service at Fotheringhay church. This service was one of my favourite parts of the course as we were able to put into practice all that we had learnt throughout the week, leading the congregation in worship. After the eucharist service there was a student recital. A handful of students, myself included, were chosen by the tutors to perform a wide variety of music spanning many hundred years and covering several genres. This was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the work I had put in throughout the week in the masterclasses and in my personal practice (on the Viscount organs and school chapel organ). I may have felt nervous to perform, but knowing the audience of organists, tutors and parents were willing me on was certainly comforting. Hearing the other students inspired me to try new styles of organ music and (as I am only two years into playing) gave me something to aim for. It is essential that courses such as this exist as it is the only way young organists can come together with a shared passion and learn from each other. Being an organist is a rather lonely business. Whereas a violinist would have fellow organists in an orchestra or chamber group to socialise with, organists do not have this luxury. If we are to encourage the next generation of organists, courses such as this must continue to run. As an aspiring organist myself, this course has put in place and strengthened the knowledge and abilities I will rely upon on a daily basis.
Starting the summer holidays I was nervous, yet very excited for the prospect of taking
part in the Oundle for Organists summer course once again this year, a course in which young organists are given masterclasses, private tutor ship and musicianship classes to promote they’re playing and passion for the organ. Overwhelmed with nerves, it was important I was able to continue my Organ and Piano studies in preparation for the course, with my tutor
Alistair Mackenzie, of which without the financial grant from the Bretherton Trust, I would not of been able to continue. I had an amazing time on the course, and met a fantastic group of like minded people who inspired and encouraged me to practice hard, and that gave me a deeper passion for not just the organ, but every aspect of music. Following my experience on Oundle for Organists, my tutor and I planned, and are working through the syllabuses of the next exams on both instruments with the view of taking the both exams early next year.
Continuing my lesson pre Oundle and post Oundle have been vital as its given me the
opportunity to continue my planned progress with my tutor, working intensely on my technique and in particular looking at different pianistic techniques relative to each time period of music.
Ultimately this has motivated and inspired me and has been explicitly useful in my preparation of exam pieces and in my wider playing. Consequently, the benefits from these lessons have also helped me with my A Level composition and with my performance element. Without the support however of the Bretherton Trust, I would have had no access to lessons through the entire summer which would have been detrimental to my studies, therefore it is with great gratitude and appreciation that I write this response, with the knowledge that without the kindness and support of Bretherton, I would not have had a summer filled with inspirationand encouragement, following a passion that I love
- Stephen Ayodamope Ogunranti: contribution towards cost of preparing for ARCO exam
- Christopher Woodward
- Peter and Mark Harrison: bursary to attend Oundle International Summer School for Young Organists
- Holy Trinity Church Choir, Hereford: contribution to cost of music
- RSCM Sussex: help with costs of Organists’ Training Scheme
- Hannah Parry: bursary towards organ lessons to prepare for Grade 8 exam
- Bradford Organists’ Association: contribution to series of organ lessons for two young organ pupils
- St Margaret’s Church, Bentham: music for new Celebration Choir
- Plymouth and District Organists’ Association: Organist Training Encouragement Scheme
- Ashley Marshfield: bursary to attend Oundle International Summer School for Young Organists
- William Mason: bursary to attend Oundle International Summer School for Young Organists
- Armagh Cathedral Choir: mirror and portable hi-fi for the choir room
- Jack Day: help with travel costs from Germany to play at London Handel Festival
- All Saints Church Choir, Peterborough: contribution to cost of choir training scheme for boys
- Graham Mark Scott : bursary to attend IAO Congress in Paris
- Daniel Bishop: bursary to attend IAO Congress in Paris;