"Meet the Pipe Organ" Day at Cartmel
1 October 2016
Review by Adrian Self

As part of our remit to offer at least one ‘educational’ event each year, around fifteen members and guests spent several happy hours exploring the pipe organ and some of the music written for it.

Despite writing to the heads of music departments in twenty-six secondary schools and sixth-form colleges, the response was less than that for which we might have hoped. Three youngsters came along with their parents or teachers and, by all accounts, found the event worthwhile.

The day began with Ian Pattinson (organist of Lancaster Priory) presenting a demonstration lesson. Young Dominic from Morecambe played a Pachelbel ‘Magnificat’ Fugue and John Falkingham (who plays at St. Paul’s Church, Grange) played ‘I thank thee, dearest Lord’ by Karg-Elert. The combined assembly were also invited to sing ‘Just as I am’ while John accompanied us on the organ.

It was extremely brave of these two players to submit themselves to the ordeal of playing in front of a gaggle of organists, but they seemed unfazed by the experience. Ian’s comments were detailed and very helpful, especially regarding registration, tempo and articulation. We could hear clearly the difference when his suggestions were put into practice.

Participants were given a copy of a booklet which hopefully goes some way towards explaining how the organ works. Tony Milledge had been up late the previous evening making a cardboard windchest and he used this superb visual aid to let us into some of the mysteries of the bits we don’t see. We all learnt a great deal from this. Mike Town kindly brought along a selection of different types of organ pipes and demonstrated them to us. Again, it was really useful to see and hear how sound is produced in a pipe.

During lunch our younger guests took the opportunity to play both the Priory organ and also the chamber organ in the Town Choir. The way in which they quickly overcame any early diffidence was very encouraging.

In the afternoon Tony Milledge played pieces by each of the composers in the booklet to give an idea of their style. No-one wanted to play any Reger (all too difficult!) but we did look at a score. His playing was stylish and a real joy to listen to. The day concluded with a performance of ‘Coronation Scot’.
Thanks are due to Ian Pattinson, Tony Milledge, Mike Town and Pam Self (who kept us well supplied with tea, coffee, chocolate biscuits and jaffa cakes).

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