International Organ Day & The Organ Show

Join us for The Organ Show & interNational Organ Day

We are celebrating organs, organ music and organists around the world with a week of online broadcasts leading up to interNational Organ Day 2021.

Starting on Sunday 18th April, The Organ Show is broadcasting a mix of interviews, chat, features and studio guests, and exploring different themes every evening. RCO Chief Executive Sir Andrew Parmley and British soprano Cheryl Enever present the shows, joined by organist and broadcaster Anna Lapwood as guest interviewer.

The Organ Show is live at 8pm BST every night, Sunday 18th to Saturday 24th April on the RCO YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/c/RCOorguk [you can click the Watch It On YouTube graphic, right, to visit now].

The Schedule

The Organ Show has been produced to inspire non-organists to engage with the organ, seek out organ music and events, to learn to play, and to support the work of the RCO in developing new generations of musicians and enthusiasts.

The week begins on UNESCO World Heritage Day, Sunday 18 April, emphasising the immense historic inheritance of many organs, with visits to instruments in World Heritage sites including Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral and Blenheim Palace.

Sunday 18 April is also designated RCO Choral Day to highlight the work organists and choral directors are doing to maintain, enthuse and develop their choirs in the current climate.  Among the guests, Hugh Morris, Director of the Royal School of Church Music, will speak about the role of the RSCM in developing and encouraging church music.

Monday 19 April focuses on the grassroots work of local organists’ associations, in sponsoring students, training, and supporting parish organists.  David Saint, Chair of the Incorporated Association of Organists, will be ‘on the sofa’ in the studio. 

Cinema and theatre organists will take centre stage on Tuesday 20 April, with organist Richard Hills whisking visitors from the organ of the spectacular Blackpool Tower Ballroom to the equally splendid Wurlitzer in the Troxy in the East End of London.

On Wednesday 21 April the team take a look at organs in locations other than churches and chapels, highlighting the contribution organ playing makes to ceremonies within other traditions such as Freemasonry, and how these organisations support initiatives across the country to help people learn the organ. Organist Carl Jackson will be playing live from the grand Henry Willis & Sons organ in the splendid Art Deco setting of Freemasons' Hall in London.

The week’s celebrity recital will be given by Stephen Farr on the superb Harrison & Harrison organ at All Saints, Margaret Street, with its magnificent Butterfield interior, on Thursday 22 April.  The recital includes music by Christopher Steel, Dupré, and the world premiere of First Flight by British contemporary composer Cecilia McDowall.

Youth is the focus on Friday 23 April, with a look at initiatives to introduce young people to the organ, including a panel discussion between a group of well-known music educators. 

A number of projects will unfold throughout the week, with viewers able to follow an organ builder at work, and watch as artist Michael Alan-Kidd creates a painting entitled ‘the organ lesson’ to be auctioned on the Saturday. Highlighting the importance of improvisation in organ performance, a top organist will improvise live each day, using a theme selected by the online audience just a few minutes before. Improvisors include Gerard Brooks, Martin Baker, Richard Hills, Carl Jackson, Ronny Krippner and David Briggs.

The week will draw to a rousing finale on interNational Organ Day 2021, Saturday 24 April, with contributions submitted by organists from around the world. American Guild of Organists (AGO) Executive Director James Thomashower will join the programme, and the programme will visit Germany (where the organ has been declared ‘Instrument of the Year 2021’) for organ music and interviews.

The day will conclude with a live performance of Zoltan Kodály’s late masterpiece Laudes Organi from St Paul’s Knightsbridge,a secular piece commissioned for organ and choir in 1966 for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.  Dan Ludford-Thomas will be the conductor, with the choir of St Paul’s Knightsbridge, and James Orford at the organ.

How to Watch

The Organ Show is broadcasting live every night at 8pm BST from 18th to 24th April.

Visit the RCO YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/c/RCOorguk or click the ‘Watch It On YouTube’ graphic at the top of this page to watch.

Everyone is welcome, with absolutely no registration or payment required.

A week of social media discussion will use the hashtags #TheOrganShow and #InternationalOrganDay

Contacts & More Information

As well as regular updates here at www.rco.org.uk/internationalorganday2021 and on the RCO's own social media channels, there will also be regular updates via the International Organ Day Facebook page at www.facebook.com/internationalorganday

For any other questions, comments or ideas on interNational Organ Day please email us on internationalorganday@rco.org.uk 

You can watch The Organ Show trailer here, and please do tune in every night from 8pm BST on Sunday 18 April.