Review of the Aspiring Organists Day directed by Rosemary Field
held at Stogursey Parish Church on Saturday 14th May 2022
Stogursey is one of those remote Somerset villages in which you could imagine just about anything happening. Under the blissful sun of Saturday 14th May, it was a gathering of six Somerset organists.
This “Aspiring Organists’ Day” was run by Rosemary Field, former Head of Organ Studies at the Royal School of Church Music and currently Organist of Worksop Priory. It may, perhaps, have been more accurately described as a “Returning Organists’ Day,” for most of the attendants were former cathedral scholars returning to the instrument after gaps that spanned decades. Fifty years was the record.
Rosemary Field demonstrated her formidable knowledge of the organ in what was effectively a three-hour masterclass, broken by an essential walk up to the church hall for coffee and cakes. In calm but intense sessions, she took us all through the finer details that can improve (or detract from) an organist’s performance, such as posture and how to position our feet to reach the outer regions of the pedal-board. Coordination between manuals and pedals was a popular concern among the students and much of the second session was devoted to this.
Stogursey’s organ proved an ideal teaching assistant, being a sizeable instrument with a light, consistent touch. The stop-list is of reasonable length, being substantially longer than that of a tiny village organ without the breadth of choice of Taunton Minster that the present writer still finds confusing.
The three-hour duration does no justice to the wealth of advice Rosemary conveyed. The day was deeply informative and satisfying for all concerned, with a healthy level of challenge. We rounded off with an improvised rendition of Psalm 150, which names only a few of the organ’s many instrumental voices. A fitting end in a most ethereal setting.