The Organ Project 2012-15
Opening up our restored organ to the local community and beyond through arts, music and education
In 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Union Chapel a generous grant to the completely restore our unique pipe organ: Durham organ builders Harrison & Harrison carried out the repairs in 2012-13, together with Duplex. The HLF grant also included funding to encourage an eclectic programme of organ performances, new compositions and educational activities for all – and so the Organ Project was launched. Led by our Music Director Claire M Singer this ambitious project came to an end in 2015 but 2016 saw the start of an exciting new festival Organ Reframed and a year long programme of events.
2012-13 Organ restoration by Harrison & Harrison, blower and hydraulics restored by Duplex | Photo by Daniela Sbrisny
What it was about..
To demonstrate the organ’s versatility and encouraged new collaborations with the instrument we curate a range of events each year stretching across the genres in classical, choral, jazz, film, rock/pop, contemporary/experimental, sound art and much much more! Highlights included The Hilliard Ensemble, James McVinnie, Linnea Olsson, Phantom of the Opera, Rebekka Karijord, Small Feet and Valgeir Sigurðsson.
We also encouraged people who are performing at Union Chapel to incorporate the organ into their sets. Artists who have played the organ include Bernard Butler, Penguin Café, Rod Argent of The Zombies and Bill Lawrence. This work continues.
We ran a number of workshops and master-classes for children, university students and adults. These workshops provided an opportunity for people to learn about the organ through their chosen art form and are designed to enable people of all abilities to reach their full potential.
For primary school children in KS 2, years 3-6. Activities included incorporating the organ in Computer Music Composition, Acoustic Composition, the Science of Sound, Creative Writing and Physical Theatre.
Composition Masterclass Series
With organist Roger B Williams. These workshops aimed to inspire a new generation of composers to work with the organ. Participants to date have included students in the MA course in Studio Composition at Goldsmiths College and the MA course in Sound Art at London College of Communication.
These workshops were open to all and aim to give an introduction to beginners in Computer Music Composition, Instrument Building and Improvisation, as well as how the organ works.
The creation of new music of the highest artistic quality is at the heart of the Organ Project – past and present. We encourage artists/composers to take risks in developing new work, which pushes the boundaries of the traditional organ repertoire, with inspiring performances of the highest standard to increasingly wider audiences.
Our commitment to the creation of new music has already seen commissions from the following composers:
Mara Carlyle, Kim Cascone, Carly Paradis, Arthur Jeffes, Adam Jansch, Pee Wee Ellis, Max de Wardener and James Weeks