Last week a class from St. James and St. John, Hyde Park school, had the opportunity to build their own organ at the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall as part of Betty’s engagement with the community, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The day started with an introduction to the Royal Festival Hall . Pupils learned about the types of activities the hall promotes including orchestral concerts and the use of the recently restored Harrison and Harrison organ. Together they watched an exciting video made by similar aged children explaining how the organ works, from the blowers and bellows through to the different types of pipes played from the console. Continue reading
On wednesday 18th February, nine students from Westminster Academy (WA) and their music teacher, Julia Reid, came to St. John’s to be introduced to the organ AKA Betty. Recording engineer Orlin Dimitrov made professional quality recordings of sound samples of the organ. WA students have started to work these into their minimalist compositions for organ and string quartet.
All of the students had a tour of the inside of the organ and the opportunity to play the organ. The students were introduced to a range of repertoire for organ spanning a 300 year period demonstrated to them, plus contextual information about the history of the church.
All students handled pipes and demonstrated an awareness of the different materials used to make them, that length affects pitch, and that a sustainable wind source is required, beyond the capacities of human breath.
This past Tuesday Betty welcomed students from St James and St John Church of England Primary School, to learn about the organ, how it works and why it needs refurbishment. Mark James, the project animateur, explained the organ’s operation using small replica’s of the different types of organ pipes which make up Betty’s sound. The students asked numerous questions about the organ and it’s refurbishment before Mark did a demonstration playing March of the Magi by Théodore Dubios (1837-1924) and discussing how Dubois used the sustained high note to represent the Star of Bethlehem and what Dubois was trying to convey with the composition. Teachers, students and Mark were all pleased with a very engaging session.
Animateur, Mark James speaking to St James and St John CE Primary School