The King’s School Ely created new interest in the much maligned instrument: the organ. In Prior Crauden’s Undercroft, within sight of Ely Cathedral, a sizeable audience had the opportunity to watch a series of organists close at hand in a concert entitled “Bombarde of Organists 111”. To see fingers flying over four manual, feet gliding rapidly up and down the pedal board and hands rapidly changing stops gave new zest to a promising programme.
Arrangements of works by Elgar held a prominent position. Paul Trepte, Director of Music at Ely Cathedral, opened the event with excerpts from “Sonata no.2 in Bb: Severn Suite”. Jonathan Lilley, Assistant Organist at Ely Cathedral, played “Serenade for Strings – Larghetto” and “Triumphal March from Caractacus”. These two first-class musicians breathed life into the instrument showing how versatile, powerful and expressive the instrument can be – arguably more than the ever-popular piano.
Saint-Saëns was another favoured composer. Edward Taylor gave a fine performance of his “Seventh Improvisation” from the work of the same name. Will Gardner gave a masterful performance of “Recession” by Mathais, Farrel Gray clearly marked the separate voices of JS Bach’s work, David Tagg-Oram revelled in the strong chords of Stanford and Benedict Todd introduced a fascinating array of effects in items by Couperin.
This highly entertaining event was made even more engaging with two final pieces played by Graham Griggs. Saint-Saën’s “Softly awakes my heart” made full use of theatrical stops that had the audience in stitches, while the skilful tongue-in-cheek “Hornpipe Humoresque” by Noel Rawsthorne left us in no doubt that the organ is a fascinating instrument capable of the highest of expressions, yet also an instrument of wit and fun.