Hastings organ series resumes with strong support
Strong returning audiences have greeted the resumption of an important organ series which goes back decades in Hastings.
Every Monday evening until the end of August, at 7.30pm, there will be an organ concert at All Saints Church, Hastings Old Town.
Marion Lovell, who ran the series for many years and has been associated with it right from the start, was thrilled to see an audience of well over 100 at the first concert in the new series – the 32nd season of concerts.
“It would have been 33 but for lockdown. The series began in 1989 and it was started by the organist of All Saints, Nigel Spooner. He was an organ enthusiast and he thought maybe a series of concerts would work. When it began, it was just two concerts, but it has developed from there. He left after three years and we have developed it to include standard and innovative organ repertoire because there was just nothing like it in Hastings at all. We started with just the two concerts, generally speaking, but there are now eight, except this year there are nine.”
And the great thing this year is that during lockdown the “fabulous Father Willis organ” had a huge amount of work done to it.
“The instrument has had major restoration work done by B C Shepherd and Sons from Edgware and is sounding as good as I have ever heard it in all of 32 years since the series began. The woodwind, flutes, clarinet and oboe are particularly fine, and the deep pedals have a sonority which was previously missing. They have had every pipe out and cleaned it. It is a three-manual organ and all the keys have been refaced with recycled ivory. The pedals were extremely noisy, but that has been all sorted out. It really is a pleasure to play and to listen to now.”
Hence the importance of the series: “The organ itself is delightful and deserves to be heard. There is nothing else comparatively. Last week we had people coming from Croydon and also from Eastbourne. People really do come a long way to hear the organ being played by musicians who are international concert organists or who are cathedral organists. There is nowhere else that has a series on such a gorgeous organ.
“The repertoires runs from the earliest composer who would be Buxtehude going right up through to The Beatles. You get music that was written for the organ but you also get all the classical composers, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Liszt and so on.”
All concerts are on Monday evenings at 7.30pm. No need to book in advance. Tickets are £10 at the door at All Saints Church, Old Town, Hastings.
Concert 3, July 19: Peter King, organist emeritus Bath Abbey. Music by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens, Handel, Stanford, Grieg, Guilmant, Karg-Elert, Grison.
Concert 4, July 26: Iain Quinn, Florida State University. Music by J S Bach, Czerny, Mendelssohn, Papperitz, Rachmaninov, Bridge, C P E Bach, Josephs, Quinn.
Concert 5, August 2: Paul Ayres, London. Music by Handel, Herschel, Buxtehude, Ansdel-Evans, Mendelssohn, arrangements by Ayres of Lennon & McCartney and J S Bach.
Concert 6, August 9: Francesca Massey, Manchester Cathedral. Music by Mendelssohn, J S Bach, Boulanger, Vierne, Tournemire, Eben, Gardonyi, Planyavsky.
Concert 7, August 16: Simon Bell, Tewkesbury Abbey. Music by Bruhns, J S Bach, Franck, Bairstow, Alcock, Guilmant.
Concert 8, August 23: Tom Bell, concert organist. Music by Meyerbeer, Wesley, J S Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn.
Concert 9, August 30: Grand finale concert, Gordon Stewart, concert organist. Music by Hollins, Arne, Mendelssohn, J.S. Bach, Schubert, Pierne, Muller, Goss-Custard, la Tombelle.