The Lady Organist

an online magazine for organists

Playing in a polytunnel

On Sundays, in my new position as Director of Music in Narnia (aka Frittenden, Kent), I play encased in plastic. Not an attempt by the Parish to nurture their organist through the cold weather (or even to keep her in quarantine for the critical first three months), but essential protection for the organ from the Building Works over in the south aisle (a new glass upper room, and a kitchen. It’ll be lovely when it’s finished).

The organ is protected, but I can’t see a thing. Faint shadows on the polytunnel walls tell me the choir and clergy are processing by, but a member of the congregation has to be enlisted to stand in the roll-up doorway, and politely shout when they are in their places and I can bring my opening music to a tasteful and timely conclusion.

I can’t hear that much either. The Rector is not only out of sight, but due to the building works has to stand on the north side of the chancel rather than the south, so his announcements are rather lost to my plastic hidey-hole. Deciding when to power into a hymn intro involves a certain amount of guesswork.  Is the sudden profound silence in the church a moment of liturgical significance, or is it because I HAVEN’T COME IN?  Am I going to wreck a sensitive time of quiet personal reflection, or are they all standing there, hymnbooks open, waiting for the new organist to pull her socks up?   I rely upon aforesaid member of the congregation to stick their head through the plastic and hiss “It’s the hymn now!!” and off we go.

It’ll all be over by Easter, I’m told.

As our own contribution to the church improvements, one of the churchwardens and I had a highly satisfactory Saturday morning bottoming the ancient chest that held choir music. The usual selection of mouldy hymnbooks, psalters with their covers missing, and browning anthologies of dismal Victorian anthems emerged – sadly no unpublished Bach manuscripts (we tried).  Some useful treasures though, to keep: a set of Carols for Choirs 2,  a hymn written by a previous incumbent, some service settings for when we get around to it.

We ruthlessly ditched a rather nasty trolley-thing from one side of the organ, full of photocopied music ahem, which has duly gone off to the recycling. On the other side of the organ is a two-drawer metal filing cabinet which is now too small for the whole music collection.  I’d like a four-drawer replacement please.  Preferably in oak.  Solid, not veneer, mind you. With some light gothic detailing to match the organ case. Thank you.

The contents of the choir chest have been exhumed.


2 Comments on
“Playing in a polytunnel”
  • Interesting opening to your new post Morwenna – I’m beginning to wonder about the implications of your 1st April start date, haha. May I wish you every success in your new post. What do you have planned for Easter Sunday?

    • I’m still dithering Gordon. Something loud, naturally, but might have to fall back onto an old favourite rather than a new piece. Having The Builders In means my practice time has been a bit curtailed – the church has to be locked, unusually, so their tools don’t get nicked.

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