Encouraging organists in Chichester and Arundel

The West Sussex Organists Association has devised a new scheme to promote interest and create opportunities, including an Arundel workshop.

Friday, 11th May 2018, 9:50 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:17 am
Nick Plumley tuning a square piano in in the Plumley collection in Arundel
Nick Plumley tuning a square piano in in the Plumley collection in Arundel

Spokeswoman Sarah Plumley said: “It is exciting to hear a good organ played well, either in a concert or in a church service. Have you ever had that experience and wondered if you yourself could do just that?

“Members of the West Sussex Organists Association enjoy events which involve visiting organs, listening to them and playing them. The Association is also keen to promote interest and to offer opportunities. Trips have been organised from the very adventurous – travelling to the Netherlands, for instance, to see superb historic organs or increasing awareness of the organs locally, here in Sussex. We love to hear from anyone interested in the organ, whether they are players or listeners or fascinated by the construction and working of organs.

“A new scheme has recently been set up whereby the WSOA is sponsoring introductory organ lessons at Chichester Cathedral with the organist and master of the choristers or the assistant organist for anyone who has reached about Grade 5 level on the piano. The idea is to have six 30-minute lessons in the first instance and, if they are going well, the sponsorship of another set of lessons will be considered. We are talking about young people as well as adults. These lessons are free – but only if the learner is prepared to work towards contributing to the music of their own church by playing the organ. If you are interested but not attached to any particular church the WSOA can probably find you a church who would like to use your growing skill. They can also help you find somewhere to practise.

“A lot of churches are in need of an organist and different churches vary enormously in the musical demands made on their musicians. Some have choirs who sing anthems and quite complicated service settings, while other churches require just the accompaniment of hymns and some organ music on small organs. It will take some time and lots of practice to get to the level of being able to play the organ for a whole service, but this will be done gradually and with support. Meanwhile you will have the interest of learning a new skill which will be greatly appreciated by the community. The pedals are introduced gradually and learning the organ is not just a case of combining hands and feet. You will discover a whole range of new sounds and new repertoire – using the feet little, if at all, at first.

“A workshop for children is taking place at 47 Maltravers Street, Arundel on Saturday, June 2 from 2.30-5.30pm. There will also be an opportunity to play the Arundel Cathedral organ. The focus will not only be on playing but also on looking at the inside of an organ and on having a go at tuning some of the pipes.”

The hands-on workshop with different activities will be led by Nick and Sarah Plumley. For further details, email Sarah Plumley at [email protected]