Blue Coat students were enlightened on the mysteries and magic of what Mozart called the ‘King of Instruments,’ during a series of interactive Organ Workshops, which took place in May.
Delivered by Old Blue Daniel Greenway, from the Class of 2020, the series was funded by generous donations made to our Pipe Up appeal, the fundraising arm of Blue Coat For All’s legacy program.
It is believed Blue Coat is the only UK state school with two large pipe organs, the Father Willis organ located in Shirley Hall and the Walker organ, situated in the Chapel. Access to these magnificent instruments inspired the Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship, which uses these two wonderful instruments and their giant ‘cousins’ in Liverpool Anglican and Liverpool Metropolitan cathedrals.
Daniel, an Associate of the Royal College of Organists and Organ Scholar at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, opened the series in the School’s magnificent Fenwick Memorial Chapel, with an introduction to the organ’s origins and provided a fascinating insight into how this complex instrument works, plus a tour of its key features. The series also touched on the different types of organ, including church, concert hall, cinema and electronic organs, with our students being guided through the world of organ composition. Throughout the series, students were encouraged to try playing the organ and to experience firsthand the pedals, keyboards, and stops.
Year 10 student and Blue Coat School Organ Scholar George Ke said: “I found the organ workshops very intriguing and fascinating. I really enjoyed the way Dan presented lots of musical concepts and explained the history of the organ in a fun and engaging way. Learning about how the organ came originated as well as its versatility and many musical styles made me appreciate the organ even more so than I already do!”
Stephy, a Year 7 student, said: “I had a great time at the Organ Workshops. Attending them taught me a detailed and interesting background in music, deepening my knowledge in the subject. Being able to play the organ itself was an exciting and rare opportunity that I had great fun with.”
Year 7 student Danton said: “The Organ Workshops were great! They taught me about organs: such as famous organists, and how they were created. I had plenty of fun and I even got the chance to play one myself!”
Ambrose Pailing, Year 12 student said: “I really enjoyed exploring both of the School’s organs and learning about the styles of music which complement each instrument. I hope to make better use of playing organs with my new understanding of their ‘characters’.”
Reflecting on the series, Daniel remarked: “The interest in the three workshops was more than I ever imagined, with around 20 students attending each one. It was a great opportunity to show the multiple sides of the instrument and explain the types of music it played. This is all a very encouraging sign for the future interest in organ music at the school and our new Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship.”
It is hoped that the workshops motivated students in Years 7 to 9 to consider applying for our next Blue Coat School Organ Scholarship, during the Autumn Term.
We would like to thank Dan for leading such an insightful whistlestop tour of the ‘King of Instruments’ and we wish him the very best of luck as he prepares to embark on a new adventure as Oxford University’s Keble College Organ Scholar in October 2021.
Our thanks also go to our Pipe Up supporters for their generous support and we look forward to hosting future extra-curricular activities centered on the ‘King of Instruments.’ If you would like to find out more about our Pipe Up campaign, or if you would like to make a donation, please click here.