I set off early on the morning of Saturday January 25 to drive to Cardiff. I was the ‘guest speaker’ at the South East Wales Organists’ Associations annual lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Born in Wales and until 7 years ago with a parent still living in Cardiff, this was a drive the car could have managed on its own as I stick to the same route. The A420 between Oxford and Swindon, onto the M4 and then into the City Centre. As I mentioned at the beginning of my talk though, this was the first time as a Welshman living in exile, I did not have to pay for the pleasure of crossing the Severn Estuary to return home.
The South East Wales Organists’ Association Society (SEWOA)
The SEWOA is clearly a busy society as the programme for the 2020 planned events shows. Having myself often tried to visit well know instruments I understand all too well how difficult it is to make contact with the right person and then get diary dates to work. So I must commend the SEWOA management for making all this happen.
The association also produce a bi monthly news letter ‘Stop Press’ which again involves a great deal of work. There is clearly energy in abundance for the organ in South Wales.
The concert series at St John the Baptist Church was also evidence of this, a series I believe put together by the alternative Cardiff Organist Association, but I stand to be corrected on that point.
Many of the members I met had digital home practice organs including the society president David Thomas and an old childhood friend of mine, David Evans whose mother had been my piano teacher. If I might be allowed a little boast they both actually have a Viscount.
Talking about Cavaillé-Coll and inspiring young organists
David pictured bearing a splendid presidential ribbon and badge of office is the principal organist at Llandaff Cathedral (read about the pipe organ at Llandaff Cathedral) where I have had the pleasure of hearing him most skilfully linking and filling in parts of the service with richly harmonised improvisation on the magnificent Nicholson organ installed 10 years ago.
About 25 or so members stayed on after the AGM for lunch and my ramblings that covered the wonderful instruments of Cavaillé-Coll I had visited in my role of page turner for the Widor recordings made by great friend Dr Joseph Nolan. With time to spare I was then able to enlighten the group as to the work Viscount are doing to make organs available for schools and hopefully get a lot more young musicians engaged with the instrument.
And so after a splendid lunch and a talk whose quality must remain to be judged by others, I found myself by 4.30 pm heading homewards. Quite a long day and even Sunday afternoon had me in the showroom with customers from London so a 7 day week. Although it was worth the effort as the sale was confirmed the following Tuesday!
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.