I said this blog was about my highs and lows and yesterday was a low. Today was the biggest high possible! Ann Elise Smoot had agreed for me to interview her at her home in Windsor, better still in the grounds of Windsor Castle. Not only that, her husband is the Director of Music in St George’s Chapel and she arranged for me to hear the choir rehearse, attend Matins, sit in the organ loft for Eucharist and then play the organ!!!
Having gone through security we met with Ann Elise and discussed my project and some of the questions I had before going over to the chapel and hearing the choir rehearse for the services. More can be read about the here – https://www.stgeorges-windsor.org/worship-music/
They have really clear, crisp voices and the four parts blend beautifully. I really liked the Canticles they sang. I’d not heard them before, Britten Te Deum and Jubilate in C. There is a lot of tradition in the service, including the Military Knights processing in and out in full uniform.
After the Mattins I went to the organ loft to hear and see the Eucharist service be played. Luke and Lucy the Assistant Director of Music and Organ Scholar were really welcoming, even though they were so busy making sure they were doing all they should to support James the Director of Music and the choir.
The organ had a lot of restoration in 1965 and was largely rebuilt. Dr Sidney Campbell transformed the organ into a versatile instrument capable of both delicate choral accompaniment and the rousing sounds of continental Europe. It has 90 stop knobs and 4 manual keyboards. The organ is ideally scaled to the size of the chapel, is versatile and regarded to be one of the best to have been built in this country since the end of the Second World War. At the end of the service, Luke invited me to play the organ as much as I wanted. Lucy set it up for me to play some Bach and then they left me to it. I had St George’s Chapel organ to myself and I played it and loved every second of it!
I played three pieces, my new piece of Bach followed by Fanfare
And finally I play my Stanford piece. This piece was played after the Queen had arrived at the chapel before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married – see my previous posting! https://pipeskeysandchords.com/2018/05/19/royal-wedding/
The views from the organ loft are very special, as has been my day.
I really am so very lucky to have had this unique and very privileged experience. Ann Elise joined me in the organ loft for a while talking to me about Bach and how pieces should be played, before I finished my special day completing my interview and heading home.