2018 Willis Pipe Organ Festival
Musical Director: Jonathan Kingston
The 2018 festival will take place from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 September, as part of the national Heritage Open Days weekend.
We’ll be repeating the most successful elements of our last two Festivals again this year. If you’ve been before you’ll know how much fun these are … and if not, save the dates now and join us this year!
We have 5 free daytime events, one free evening event and one evening concert:
Saturday 8 September:
Saturday Night at the Movies
Silent Movies with live organ accompaniment - A series of comedy shorts starring Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy.
7:30 pm-9:30 pm
Don't miss family fun at the Silent Movies. This year we are showing a series of Comedy short movies starring Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy with Odeon Leicester Square Organist Donald MacKenzie accompanying on the Willis organ. Popcorn and icecream will be available.
Tickets £10, children under 18 free).
Friday 7 September:
Festival Social Evening
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
A free non-musical social event with food for everyone to enjoy.
This is a free social event in the Parish Hall for all the family. Join us for a friendly informal evening of chatting and a fun game with free tea and coffee available. Hot Jacket Potatoes and a variety of delicious fillings will be on sale, to help us with the catering please order your choice in advance via the online booking form on the Music for All @ SMSG website. You can also find out more about the Organ Festival events, tell us what music you would like to hear in our concerts and discover how to join our enthusiastic group of Music for All @ SMSG volunteers who keep our musical events running so successfully.
Please order your jacket potato in advance:
Friday 7 September:
Opening Organ and Trumpet concert Free Friday lunchtime concert with Jonathan Kingston and Nigel Gibbon
12:00 pm-12:20 pm Soup & roll
12:30 pm-1:15 pm Organ recital
Free Friday lunchtime concert with Jonathan Kingston and Nigel Gibbon
A free 45 minute lunchtime organ and trumpet concert. Soup & roll served at noon (£3) until 12:20pm, when we will all take our seats for the concert.
Saturday 8 September and Sunday 9 September:
Projected Picture Trust and Willis Pipe Organ Exhibition
A free exhibition about the Silent Movie era by the Projected Picture Trust, with an exhibition and video about the Willis Organ
12 noon-5:00pm; 6:30pm-7:30pm (Saturday)
12 noon-3:00pm (Sunday)
To complement the Silent Movie with live organ accompaniment showing on Saturday evening (a ticketed event which can be booked online), the Projected Picture Trust presents an exhibition of photos, equipment and film-related memorabilia of the Silent Movie era. There will also be an exhibition about the Willis organ telling the story of pipe organ music at St Mary & St Giles, Stony Stratford, in the past, present and future. The church will not be available during the day on Saturday as there is a wedding, so please enter by the Parish Hall garden door only. The church will be open on Sunday for Organ Festival events. At 12 noon on Sunday there will be a screening of the Video of the Willis organ in the Parish Hall. Donations to the Organ Maintenance Fund welcomed.
Sunday 9 September:
Hands on our Willis!
Your chance to try playing a wonderfully restored Victorian pipe organ.
This is a golden opportunity for you to play, with help from our organ volunteer team, those wow chords on the pipe organ. Budding organists and pianists of all ages - please bring your favourite sheet music to try on the pipe organ. The organ console is in the gallery which is reached by stairs, so this event is unfortunately not accessible for wheelchair users, who can access the church via the Parish Hall to listen to the organ at other events and see the exhibition by the Projected Picture Trust. This is a free drop in event. Light lunch and other refreshments are on sale from 12 noon. Donations to the Organ Maintenance Fund welcomed.
Sunday 9 September:
Get to know our Willis Pipe Organ!
‘Father Willis’ was a leading Victorian organ builder, making many innovations in organ technology and sound. In this free one-hour talk, Jonathan Kingston explains how the Willis pipe organ works at St Mary and St Giles, Stony Stratford.
Back by popular demand! A talk at the organ console with excerpts on the organ by Jonathan Kingston, who will explain and demonstrate what the different controls on the console mean. The organ console is in the gallery which is reached by stairs, so this event is unfortunately not accessible for wheelchair users, who can access the church via the Parish Hall to listen to the organ at other events this weekend and see the exhibition in the Parish Hall. Refreshments will be available. Donations to the Organ Maintenance Fund welcomed. Please book ahead as numbers around the console are limited to 30 people.
Sunday 9 September:
Audience requests - free organ concert
Jonathan Kingston plays your favourite music on the Willis pipe organ
Our closing recital of the Organ Festival is the popular one-hour audience requests concert when Jonathan Kingston plays the music you have chosen - book your request in advance via the website booking form below or email details of your favourite piece to email@example.com for Jonathan to play. Jonathan will compile the programme from the suggestions of music, which may include music by extraordinary female composers. Drop in event with Refreshments. Donations to the Organ Maintenance Fund welcomed.
2017 Willis Pipe Organ Festival
We had 6 free daytime events and 2 evening concerts:
- Friday night Festival Gala recital by Dr Simon Lindley (Leeds City Organist). Advance booking via the Festival Gala online booking
- 'Sherlock Jr' - Silent Movie with organ accompaniment by Donald MacKenzie on Saturday night. Sherlock Jr online booking
Free daytime events include:
- a free lunchtime organ concert on Friday by Jacob Collins at 12:30 pm
- a free Heritage photo exhibition on Friday and Saturday at 10:00 am - 12:30 pm (with video screening on Saturday at 12 noon)
- Teddy Bears' Picnic with organ on Saturday afternoon (places limited to 60, advance booking preferred). Teddy Bears' Picnic online booking
- Hands on our Willis! on Sunday afternoon
- Get to know our Willis! (places limited to 30, advance booking) on Sunday afternoon. Get to know our Willis! online booking
- An afternoon 'audience requests' organ concert by Jonathan Kingston. Book your request in advance via the website contact form or email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org of your favourite piece for Jonathan to play.
Online booking opened on 24 June 2017 via the Online Box Office
Seating is limited for some events so book early to avoid disappointment.
2016 Willis Pipe Organ Festival
The 2016 Willis Pipe Organ Festival ran from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 September, as part of the national Heritage Open Days weekend.
Musical Director: Jonathan Kingston
All events except ‘Family Jam’ were at St Mary and St Giles Church, Church St, Stony Stratford, MK11 1BD. ‘Family Jam’ was at St Mary and St Giles School.
Three special evening events
Three very special evening events formed the centre piece of the Festival and demonstrated the versatility and grandeur of our newly restored Willis Pipe Organ:
Friday Night Organ Pops introduced and played by Jonathan Kingston
Popular organ classics with something for everyone! 9 September 7:30 pm
Saturday Night Silent Movie ‘Safety Last!’ accompanied by Donald MacKenzie. 10 September 7:30 pm
International virtuoso concert organist Donald MacKenzie improvised a live soundtrack to Harold Lloyd’s classic 1923 film Safety Last! giving you an authentic Jazz Age experience of this iconic romantic comedy.
This event was promoted by Independent Cinema Milton Keynes
Sunday Night Masterworks Recital by Roger Sayer
A blaze of sound filled St Mary and St Giles Church in a recital of masterworks by J S Bach, Jongen, William Lloyd Webber, Alain, Duruflé and Vierne. 11 September 7:30 pm
Five free daytime events – fun for all ages
Five free daytime events are designed to help music lovers of all ages to find out more about our wonderful pipe organ.
Friday lunchtime Opening Recital with Jacob Collins
Jacob got the Festival off to a rousing start with an introduced programme of attractive and well known music for organ.
9 September 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm
Friday afternoon workshop Beginner’s Guide to the Organ for grade 4+ keyboard players who sat at the console and played not just on one keyboard but three keyboards and a full set of foot pedals.
9 September 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm
Saturday morning workshop Family Jam with pipes and percussion for preschoolers.
10 September 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Saturday afternoon family concert Teddy Bears’ Picnic – an entertaining introduction to the pipe organ for 4-11 year olds.
10 September 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Sunday morning talk with excerpts on the organ Get to know our Willis! by Jonathan Kingston.
11 September 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Drop in to find out more about the organ and church
Drop in and find out more about the newly restored Willis pipe organ in the lovely grade 2* listed church of St Mary and St Giles at the heart of Stony Stratford.
Thursday (11:00 am - 5:00 pm) and Friday (9:00 am - 12.30 pm) the Church Hall was open for a History & Photo Exhibition. A 20 minute video of the organ history and restoration was shown at 11.30 each day. See History & Photo Exibition part 1 and History & Photo Exhibition part 2
Sunday morning service (9:30 am) was open to all and included organ music. The Parish Singers sang the psalm and an anthem with the organ (A New Commandment composed by David Barton).
Sunday afternoon (12:30 pm - 3:30 pm) our organ guides were available for Hands On Our Willis! – your chance to try the organ and find out more about it.
Refreshments were available at all events. All funds raised went towards the maintenance and restoration of the organ.
We enjoyed welcoming you (more than 800 people) during the Willis Pipe Organ Festival!
Music for All @ SMSG Events Team
For all queries, contact us at: email@example.com
For high resolution photos of our Organ Festival promotion photos please visit the album Willis Pipe Organ Festival on Flickr.