Rhinegold Photo credit: Diocese Of Leeds
David Pipe introduces schoolchildren to the organ at the 2018 Leeds International Organ Festival

John Barnett

Celebrating Yorkshire organs: Leeds International Organ Festival 2019

12:04, 9th May 2019

The 2nd Leeds International Organ Festival will launch on 13 May with a recital at 1.10pm in Leeds Cathedral by Leeds City Organist Darius Battiwalla.

The festival will run over two months, with subsequent Monday lunchtime recitals given by Thomas Leech, Nigel Ogden, Anthony Hammond, Benjamin Saunders, Ourania Gassiou, Thomas Heywood, and concluding on 8 July with Leeds Cathedral organist and festival artistic director David Pipe.

The lunchtime recitals are just one strand of a major and varied two-month celebration of the organ, which aims to showcase some of the finest instruments in West Yorkshire. Masterclasses will be given by Nigel Ogden on The Theatre Organ (3 June, Ossett Town Hall) and by Thomas Heywood on Organ Transcriptions (2 July, Leeds Minster). Students on the Leeds Diocese Organists’ Training Programme will present a concert on the Klais organ in Leeds Cathedral (19 May), and there will be an organ workshop day for local primary school children, featuring WOOFYT, and including Bob Chilcott’s Mr Majeika and the Magic Organ for organ and narrator (10 July).

Evening concerts present music for percussion and organ (Teena Lyle and David Pipe, 21 May), Philip Wilby’s Service of Compline (The Clothworkers Consort of Leeds, 5 June), Baroque Cantatas and Arias (Christopher O’Gorman, tenor, and Garreth Romain, countertenor, 26 June), all at 7pm in Leeds Cathedral, and medieval music with Leeds Cathedral Choir and Jane Flynn (7pm, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, University of Leeds). Also in the festival is a public lecture by Francis O’Gorman (‘Endless Breath? The Pipe Organ and Immortality’, 15 May); and marking his 60th birthday this year, Sir James MacMillan will be ‘In Conversation’ with Opera North general director Richard Mantle OBE (11 June; tickets from Eventbrite), which will be preceded by Tom Bell performing the composer’s Le Tombeau de George Rouault, and a concert given by Notre Dame Children’s Choir and Leeds Cathedral Choir.

Choral events include Come and Sing Haydn, led by David Pipe with organist Caius Lee (1 June: workshop 12.30-5.30pm, Wheeler Hall; 7.30pm performance, Leeds Cathedral) (tickets from Eventbrite); and the Diocesan Girls’ Choirs Festival and Boys’ Choirs Festival on 16 and 23 June respectively.

David Pipe told C&O: ‘These events offer the chance to hear a huge range of organ music, not only in the impressive setting of Leeds Cathedral, but also in some of our finest churches. I’m delighted that we’re able to welcome acclaimed performers from overseas, such as Thomas Heywood from Melbourne, Australia, and feel confident that the Festival will continue to make its mark on the music scene in the north.’

The Festival – the first of its kind in the region – was the brainchild of Leeds Cathedral’s Music Department, and the Organists’ Training Programme it runs in partnership with the Royal College of Organists. The scheme enables people of any age – including many youngsters from the region’s most economically deprived areas – to learn the organ.

Those interested in supporting the Festival may consider becoming a Friend (£35 single, £60 couple, with several benefits, including a complimentary ticket to the MacMillan event) or sponsoring a concert (£200-£450, including meeting the artists and touring the organ); email David Pipe at office@dioceseofleedsmusic.org.uk.


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