Pulling Out the Stops

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Saturday 15th February 2014
St Peter’s Church, Nottingham

Discovering the pipe organ
A Nottingham and District Society of Organists’ event

For some time the NDSO committee had discussed how best to encourage youngsters to take up the organ. A number of ideas had been considered – sponsored lessons, an organ scholarship, open days at churches – but Derby Society’s Pulling Out the Stops initiative seemed too good to ignore.

In collaboration with Derby and District Organists’ Association, the event took place at St Peter’s Church on Saturday 15th February and was based on members’ nominations of young musicians who were ambitious to try the organ or were curious to see what was involved. Eleven youngsters, aged from approximately 7 to 15 years, came to the event. They were supported by parents and sponsors – about 15 members – and a few curious visitors to the church.

Peter Siepmann at the consolePeter Siepmann at the console

All gathered around the console to have demonstrations of playing a piece (by Peter Siepmann) to demonstrations of the manuals, the stops and the pedals – not to mention the hands in playing and turning over! The most unusual part was a demonstration of the pipes themselves, the different materials and design or shape by organ builder Ed Stow using his ‘spares’.


The Derby Society also brought their demonstration instrument of three ranks of one octave built by Ed Stow. Placed on a table top, this was an item of particular attraction to several old hands. Members who presented included James Muckle, Laurence Rodgers, John Maynard Jones, John Forster and Chris Darrall. When the young organists tried the organ, it was the combination pistons which caused greatest fascination and the session continued well beyond the finishing time.

The success of the day was due to the leaders from Derby – amongst whom Anne and Stephen Johns must be thanked in particular for arranging the programme of presentations. This very worthwhile event now needs to be followed up because the enthusiasm of the young organists was so very obvious.

David Gabe; photos: David Cowlishaw

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