While the world of YouTube and other online streaming platforms have an abundance of organ video material, it is seldom if ever presented in any detail on mainstream TV.
So I was delighted to learn a few days ago that a video documentary made in 2021 by James Dawson will be shown on BBC 4 on Christmas Eve with the commentary read by fellow Welshman and organist Huw Edwards. Huw of course is far better known as a News Caster and Journalist seen frequently on our BBC screen.
Programme notes from BBC
“One hundred years ago, pipe organs and organ music were found across Britain, but the steady closure of churches and venues has seen the loss of many instruments. This documentary follows the tireless efforts of a small band of organ enthusiasts to save, restore and rehome pipe organs.
Martin Renshaw dedicates his life to travelling the UK on organ rescue missions, sound engineer Marc Ogier rebuilds instruments in his back bedroom from pipes bought online, organ builder Dominic Gwynn resuscitates historical pieces that are close to death, and avant-garde musician Claire Singer uses pipe organs to create a new kind of acoustic sound.
Each, in their unique way, is saving one of Britain’s musical treasures while breathing new life into rare masterpieces that would otherwise be destined for the skips.”
Watch the Organ Stops documentary on BBC IPlayer.
Howard Goodall’s Journey
Older readers may well remember a fascinating series of 6 programmes made by now renowned composer Howard Goodall in the 1970’s. Howards journey took him far and wide visiting instruments across the world.
James’s documentary focusses on the UK and looks at the part the organ has played over time in the life of the country and our communities. It also attempts a forward look and I gather my own contribution to those thoughts avoided the ‘edit out’ process so I can also look forward to a national TV appearance to add to a career list of otherwise modest achievements.
Fugue State Films
Coincidentally I discovered another treasure trove of organ video material available from producer Will Fraser of Fugue State Films which are also very much worth exploring.
More of that material can be found on our blog where we introduce Fugue State Films.
This is my last blog before Christmas and probably the last of 2022. Have a great festive holiday time and my best wishes for a more tranquil and normal 2023.
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.