International Organ Day – 20th April

15th April 2024

Did someone say Silent Discos?  This summer it’s all about the organ!

International Organ Day April 20th

As International Organ Day approaches, cathedrals have announced special summer festivals and organ recital series’ designed to celebrate this king of instruments.

Worcester Cathedral will mark International Organ Day on 20 April with a special concert using all the Cathedral’s three organs, the Quire organ, the Nave organ and the Chamber organ – all producing dramatic and very different sounds – for a concert of organ favourites and music from the movies.

The Cathedral’s Director of Music, Samuel Hudson, Assistant Director of Music, Nicholas Freestone, and Organ Scholar Charlie Gurnham will perform classics such as Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Widor’s Toccata, as well as much-loved film scores including Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Nicholas Freestone said:

“We’re delighted to welcome visitors as we show off the organs in ways that some will not have experienced before. By bringing well-known tunes and organ classics together, we hope we can inspire a whole new audience to be captivated by organ music.

“Playing the organ is like having an entire orchestra at your fingertips. You can produce such a unique variety of sounds, it really is magnificent to hear and we hope to welcome many visitors to enjoy the beauty of our three wonderful instruments here at the Cathedral.”

The team will also be screening an interactive video link on the evening from the Cathedral roof space which houses the 3,500 pipes of the Quire organ to provide an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how the instrument works, and uplighters will create an atmospheric evening for all to experience the organs too.

To book tickets, please click here.

Norwich Cathedral is celebrating the return of its historic organ with a week of music this summer that includes a family-friendly Battle of the Organs, a Night at the Movies with the Leicester Square Odeon Organist, and a silent movie with live organ accompaniment.

The Organ Reborn! celebrates the first anniversary of the return of the cathedral’s historic pipe organ following an ambitious rebuild programme and will take place from Saturday 6 to Sunday 14 July.

The festival will open with the three cathedral choirs of Norwich, Ely and Peterborough joining forces for a concert featuring choral favourites including Parry’s I was glad and Handel’s Zadok the Priest.

There is a packed programme of events during the week including more headline concerts, six organ recitals, the return of the BBC Singers, two talks, a schools’ programme and a live broadcast of Choral Evensong on Wednesday 10 July for BBC Radio 3.

The free Battle of the Organs concert on Saturday 13 July will see Norwich Cathedral’s three organists – Ashley Grote, David Dunnett and Robbie Carroll – join forces to play musical favourites ranging from Bach’s Toccata and Fugue D minor to the theme from Thunderbirds on three organs all at once.

Ashley Grote, the Cathedral’s Master of Music, said:

“We are really excited to be celebrating the return of Norwich Cathedral’s historic pipe organ with this special festival showcasing the organ in all its glory with nine days of wonderful musical events.

“From big concerts and services to talks and school workshops, there is something for everyone in the programme and we hope people of all ages will enjoy hearing the incredible music being played on this magnificent instrument.”
He added:

“The festival week will bring internationally renowned organists to Norwich as well as world-leading ensembles including the BBC Singers and the Britten Sinfonia.

“The opening concert will see Norwich Cathedral Choir join forces with Ely and Peterborough Cathedral Choirs for a thrilling programme of choral favourites.

“There will be a programme for schools running through the week, a family-friendly Battle of the Organs and a silent movie with live organ accompaniment.

“All of these events will run alongside our choral services, one of which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 during the festival week.”

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Dr Andrew Braddock, said:

“Norwich Cathedral is delighted that the festival will celebrate the amazing breadth and diversity of which organ music is capable.

“Across a whole range of styles and performances, the festival invites the wider community to experience organ music in all its versatile brilliance.”

Full details of the festival, including ticket prices and how to book, are available by clicking here.

Bradford Cathedral’s free organ recital series, Wednesday@One returns next week and features a line-up of eleven organists from across the country and beyond. The series includes the premiere of a new composition by Leeds-based composer Dr Niki Zohdi which was inspired by his trip to India.

He said:

“My piece is called Kambaramayanam-34 and is inspired by my recent travels to the Tamil Nadu region of India. The piece uses an ancient Tamil poem as its starting point. A rumbling pedal drone continues for the entirety of the piece with interjections of different material played on the organ manuals.”

Anthony Gray, Assistant Director of Music at Bradford Cathedral, said:

“We’re greatly looking forward to another season of fabulous performances in our Wednesday@One series at Bradford Cathedral. This term, we are once again welcoming organists from all over the country, as well as some international visitors, to delight us in a huge variety of music.

“The summer season is themed around the development in the French symphonic repertoire, so we will be exploring the music of composers such as Widor, Vierne and Guilmant, through to Franck and Duruflé and other lesser-known composers such as Marie Prestat.”

There are regular ‘notes from an organist’ blog posts on the cathedral website in which the recitalists preview their programmes.

For more information about the new series, visit

Salisbury Cathedral celebrates the work of composer Sir Charles Villiers Stanford – regarded as of one of the titans of late 19th and early 20th century English music – with a week long festival this May.

The festival starts on Bank Holiday Monday (6 May) with Evensong sung by Truro Cathedral Choir, including the Stanford in A canticles and the anthem For lo, I raise up, a dramatic piece composed in 1914 in response to the outbreak of the First World War, but not published until 1945, over 20 years after Stanford’s death.

Stanford is largely remembered for his songs and church music, but his influence extends beyond his own work to the work of students he taught at the Royal College of Music and Cambridge University, including household names such as Sir Arthur Bliss, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

International Organ Day 20th April

Highlights at this concert will include three of Stanford’s Bible songs – A song of Trust ‘I will lift mine eyes’, A Song of Peace and A Song of Wisdom – and his Three Latin Motets – Justorum animæ (trans. The souls of the righteous), Cœlos ascendit hodie (trans. Christ is ascended on high today) and Beati quorum via (trans. Blessed are those that are undefiled), plus Vaughan Williams’ Lord, Thou hast been our refuge, Holst’s Nunc Dimittis, Stanford’s Latin Magnificat and the ‘Collegium Regale’ Te Deum by Herbert Howells.

And the programme includes two concerts built around the composer’s own works and those of his pupils.

On Wednesday 8 May, John Challenger, Assistant Director of Music, will perform amongst other works, Stanford’s Fantasia and Toccata in D minor, inspired by J. S. Bach – this will include the screening of a view into the organ loft allowing concer-goers to see the Cathedral’s Father Willis organ being put through its paces while they listen.

And there is a choral concert on Saturday 11 May featuring the combined choirs of Salisbury Cathedral and St Matthew’s Church, Westminster performing a wide-ranging programme of work by Stanford and his students.

More information on the daily festival programme and how to buy tickets here.

York Minster has just announced the return of its popular summer organ recital series with seven internationally renowned musicians taking centre stage to showcase its Grand Organ.

It is the third series of concerts since the Grand Organ’s £2m refurbishment. The instrument, which dates back to the early 1830s, was removed in October 2018 – including nearly all of its 5,000+ pipes – and taken to Durham for repair and refurbishment by organ specialists Harrison and Harrison, the first on this scale since 1903. It returned in time for Holy Week in 2021.

International Organ Day 20th April

The summer recitals series will take place on Thursday evenings from 18 July to 29 August, beginning at 7pm.

The first six performances will feature world-renowned organists including Naji Hakim, prolific organist, composer and improviser; Katelyn Emerson, American virtuoso and scholar; Thomas Trotter, recipient of The Queen’s Medal for Music; and Gordon Stewart, a performer, teacher and conductor who was recently awarded a British Empire Medal for services to music.

The guest soloists will be joined by York Minster’s own talented musicians – Robert Sharpe, Director of Music, and Benjamin Morris, Assistant Director of Music, both experienced organists performing in the UK and abroad – for six nights of organ music.

The seventh performance will see star soloist Roger Sayer perform Hans Zimmer’s epic Oscar-nominated Interstellar suite. Sayer, who featured on the film’s official soundtrack as the organ soloist, will bring Christopher Nolan’s dystopian masterpiece to life, as well as performing intergalactic favourites from A Space Odyssey and Holst’s The Planets.

Robert Sharpe, Director of Music at York Minster, said:

“We are looking forward to welcoming people to the 2024 organ recital series with a great line-up of guest artists joining us to showcase York Minster’s renowned Grand Organ in this third series of concerts since its refurbishment by Harrison & Harrison.”

More information on the recital series and how to buy tickets, including combined tickets, can be found here.