Blue Coat School’s first two Organ Scholars, Olivia Stone and George Ke, both of Year 10, have progressed so well that they were given their first lesson on Liverpool Anglican Cathedral’s Willis organ – the largest in Britain.
Under the guidance of their tutor, Old Blue Lee Ward from the Class of 1983, who is Director of Music at the Cathedral, they both played this mammoth instrument with its five keyboards and 10,268 pipes.
Hearing the sound of their performances resonate down what is the longest cathedral in the world was both awe-inspiring and exciting – but not intimidating thanks to Lee Ward’s support.
George said: “Playing at the cathedral was an amazing experience. As the organ pipes were situated all across the chancel, playing on the organ produced this heavenly echo which surrounded you.
“The actual organ itself had lots and lots of stops surrounding the five(!) keyboards, which when pulled out produced wonderful sounds and which really did make feel like you were playing an orchestra at your fingertips.
“These stops ranged from the sound of a relatively quiet clarinet to the very loud and rich sound of a trumpet. The foot pedals also produced this deep and rich bass which you could really feel.
“To hear your playing projected with these wonderful sounds echoed across the cathedral, along with having a great teacher like Lee to help, felt satisfying and somewhat magical!
Olivia Stone said: “It was a fantastic experience being able to play on the largest Cathedral in Britain. It was great fun, although I had a bit of difficulty getting used to the size and differences between this huge organ and the others I have played.
“Luckily for me, Lee is very patient and explained various techniques on how to play an organ of that size with 10,268 pipes. I’m really grateful to Lee for giving me the opportunity and I really hope that I get the chance to play on the Liverpool Cathedral organ again.”
Lee Ward said: “George and Olivia have moved ahead really well, in spite of all the interruptions they’ve had to their lessons with lockdown. Their progress meant that I was confident they could cope with the experience of the Cathedral organ and they performed really well in their lessons.”