Current Issue

Nov 2018 - Jan 2019 (Number 386)

Issue 386 includes features on: as well as lots of news from the UK and abroad, reviews of choral and organ CDs, books, concerts, new organ music, new installations, letters, and more.

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Cover of Organ magazine current issue


The French Symphonic Organs – instruments as inspiration for the performer

Michal Szostak

French Symphonic

We are pleased to publish a further essay in the series on organs, organists and organ music by the distinguished Continental musician.

From the point of view of aesthetics, as a science dealing with the so-called aesthetic situation, inspiration is an inseparable element of the initial phase of the aesthetic situation, which includes the artist (creator), creative process, work of art, the recipient, the process of art perception and aesthetic values. Inspiration (from Latin noun 'inspiratio' = inspiration and Latin verb 'inspirare' = blow in) is an encouragement to action, especially in man's creative work. It involves stimulating the creative process of the artist to perform a specific work of art. The opposite of inspiration is discouragement, demotivation, weakening the spirit. The phenomenon of inspiration (and “deinspiration”) can be considered as an ephemeral temporary situation (coincidence) and as a long-term process (e.g. an inspiring place).

From the point of view of the performer, sources (factors) that can be an inspiration I divide into external (objective) to the performer and internal (subjective) to the performer.


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Dr Donald Hunt

Dr Brian Hick recalls a fine Elgarian

Donal Hunt

It seemed almost fitting that Donald Hunt, who spent so much of his life working with and for the Three Choirs Festival, should die on the last day of the 2018 celebrations, the Fourth of August. The concluding performance of Brahms’s German Requiem was dedicated to his memory, though it was for his many outstanding Elgar performances that he will be remembered across the three cathedral cities.

He had a direct link to Edward Elgar through his teacher and mentor Herbert Sumsion, who had been the composer’s close friend and musical confidant. “This is the way Elgar would do it,” Sumsion would say, quietly but confidently.

As Master of Choristers and Organist at Worcester Cathedral from 1975, he organised eight Three Choirs Festivals and was disappointed when retirement in 1996 meant he would no longer be able to use his many skills and sensitive experience performing Elgar at what many saw as the key Elgar meeting of the year. However his enthusiasm was not depleted and he moved on swiftly to become principal of the Elgar School of Music for a decade and then its musical adviser until 2010.


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The Hastings Recitals - Thirtieth Series 2018

Patrick Cox-Smith

All Saints church

The annual eagerly-anticipated detailed report from our regular correspondent

Hastings and its surrounding 1066 country is steeped in history with the annual All Saints organ recitals on the twenty-five speaking stop original Father Willis continuing to contribute to the legend. There are now so many stories of recitalists with distinctive memories of playing here on past occasions that a diminutive musical history could almost be written in its own right.

On the opening night, the effervescent Daniel Moult added to these thoughts, regaling a large and enthusiastic audience with memories of his first Hastings recital performance as a sixteen-year-old student, having just sat his GCSE examinations, then in their infancy. Fast forward many years and a rapt gathering enjoyed a bright interpretation of the Bach/Liszt Cantata 21 Introduction and Fugue with the great chorus to mixture once again sparkling in the generous All Saints acoustics. Mozart and the popular K608 F minor Fantasia followed and was registered with variety, demonstrating the delicate eight ft. flutes contrasted with the bite of full organ that always seems to belie the relatively small resources of this instrument - it is hard to appreciate that a 16 ft. reed does not exist on manuals or pedals, such is the cohesiveness and depth of the full coupled chorus


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The Pump Organ Project at the Kings Lynn Festival

A report by Peter Godden

Pump Organ

St Nicholas' Chapel, King’s Lynn, is not only the largest Chapel-of-Ease in England but also the largest building in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It houses possibly the last organ built by Father Henry Willis, with two manuals & pedals and 21 stops all contained in a fine case by John Oldrid Scott.

For a week during October 2018 it also housed the Pump Organ Project by Sarah Kenchington, leading up to and then part of the Kings Lynn Festival Extra Weekend.

Sarah trained as a sculptor, and has an interest in creating art from scrap. Starting with four ranks of redundant organ pipes bought on Ebay (Principal, Dulciana, Rohrflute & Bourdon), an assortment of other materials, especially copper piping and with no previous knowledge of the organ, she has devised and built what amounts to a huge primitive organ.






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An Organ in Memory of John Scott

John Panning

Scott Organ

The sudden death of John Scott, at the age of 59, was a grievous loss to church music on both sides of the Atlantic. At the time of his death he was organist and choirmaster of St Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City, whilst maintaining an active career as an international concert performer and recording artist. The recently-completed Miller-Scott Dobson organ in the Church has been named in his honour, and we are pleased to publish this background account of the instrument, by the Vice-President and Tondal Director of Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, in tribute to an artist acclaimed as "the premier English organist of his generation.”

Lovers of church music have long made St Thomas’s Church Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan’s Midtown, a place of pilgrimage. Within its landmark Gothic Revival walls, the parish has forged a unique musical perspective, combining a high Anglican choral tradition with organs of French inspiration, a musical practice that strongly informed the tonal design of the Miller-Scott Dobson recently completed Opus 93. The two basic requirements demanded by this tradition—colour and discretion for choral accompaniment, grandeur and panache for solo performance—are found in few historic styles.



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