Great Organ Music Must Not Die!
By Ilze Sidney, Cape Town – With reference to the articles “Teen organist plays for God’’ and “Young talent’s passion is the organ”, I am pleased to see that these two young and upcoming organists are receiving such exposure at a time when traditional church and organ music is becoming less popular, with parishes replacing the organ with other instruments.
The organ is unfairly associated with “old and dreary” music, but having heard these two young gentlemen play the pipe organ, I would like to think that the opposite is true.
This still begs the question of how we can further encourage our young people to have a love and appreciation for church and organ music, and so encourage the development of more organists within our parishes.
As an organist myself (for 22 years, now at St Ninian’s parish in Kuils River), I was fortunate enough to receive my formal training at Diocesan College (Bishops) in Cape Town, having won a scholarship. Not everyone is that lucky.
Our organists give selflessly of themselves at their organ benches, some of them for decades, but few receive any recognition for their time and service — it really is a thankless job.
I do believe that we do it as a simple means to give God praise and glory for the talent we have been blessed with.
Some of us are self-taught, or owe our skills and learning to past educators or fellow organists.
I believe now is the time to take a leaf out of the book of our New Apostolic brothers and sisters, who promote music education extensively, and recognise that it forms an integral part of divine worship and praise.
Our organists — and musicians in general — are not promoted enough, not given sufficient training or resources, and some have little to no education in liturgical music, yet we are all expected to play the same way.
Is the role of the organist in the Mass not to encourage the assembly to be more prayerful by singing? Or has playing the organ become a dying art?
Our organists are already so few; we could be extinct before long. Is there really no one to take our places?