The 2018 Willis pipe organ festival got off to a rousing and glorious start with the organ and trumpet fanfare concert at lunchtime on Friday 7 September.
Jonathan Kingston at the console of the Willis was joined by his friend and colleague Nigel Gibbon playing not just one trumpet but a variety of trumpets from different eras, much to the absorbed delight of the audience which included all the Year 5 children of St Mary & St Giles School.
Jonathan and Nigel started with The Prince of Denmark's March (Clarke) then Nigel demonstrated the origins of the trumpet through nature (including a conch shell) and the gradual development in manufacture (even including putting a mouthpiece on a hosepipe to demonstrate the principle of length of pipe coiled up into an instrument.
Organ and Trumpet followed with Bist du bei mir by JS Bach.
To give Nigel a break, Jonathan played Largo, Allegro, Aria and Variations by Michael Festing before they played Handel's Concertino together.
This was followed by another organ solo - this time Serenade by Derek Bourgeois.
The final piece of the concert was included as a result of a challenge to the players when they were planning their programme 3 months earlier - could they find a piece by an extraordinary woman composer to fit in with the Heritage Open Days theme of Extraordinary Women. They rose to the challenge with an arrangement of a piano piece by the 19th century French composer, teacher and composer Louise Farrenc. This was the world premiere performance of their arrangement for organ and trumpet of Fantasy et variations of Souvenir des Hugenots by Louise Farrenc. I hope we hear it again.
After the concert, the children stayed behind to learn more about how the pipe organ works.
The video camera which had been pointing at Jonathan's feet working the pedals was now carried around by David to show the children what Mr Salter was explaining and Jonathan was demonstrating - how the keyboards (all 4 of them, pedalboard included), stops, pistons, couplers and swell pedal work as well as how the wind is supplied to the pipes.
The children were thoroughly engaged in this even though the picture on the big screen was not very clear because we had too much light coming in through the big windows and sometimes they could not hear Mr Salter very well when he went inside the organ (he needed the radio microphone clipped onto his shirt).
The feedback we received afterwards from some of the children showed how much they had enjoyed it:
"It's amazing how the organ has so many pipes in it."
"The concert was brilliant."
"I was surprised how quickly they both played the notes on the organ and trumpet."
"They played so well, they might be famous in a couple of years."
"I couldn't believe how the small trumpet sounded so normal and not all squeaky."
"When I was listening I thought it was the trumpet playing and then I looked up and saw it was the organ making the trumpet sound."
"I liked it when Mr Kingston played the organ with just his feet. It was funny."
"I didn't realise how many instruments the organ could mimic."
Teacher: As you can see, the children were thoroughly engaged with the recital and the organ talk afterwards. I think all things considered they did incredibly well to sit in the church for 2 hours. I particularly enjoyed the talk about the history of the trumpet and how it has developed into what we know today. One child said that the shell one was his favourite.
On Friday evening we held an informal social evening in the Parish Hall for anyone who wanted to join us for friendly conversation and food (tea and coffee was free). 19 of us enjoyed Jacket Potatoes with fillings and salad, musical crossword and wordsearch puzzles as well as plenty of chatting. It was a lovely way to round off the first day of the organ festival.
More photos can be found in the Willis Pipe Organ Festival 2018 photo album.
Words and photos by Anna Page