A Message from the President !
What a year for the organ!
The ISO Congress (much trailed in newsletters) has now taken place, and for those of us involved in putting it together and making it work I think there is a great sense of relief. An article about the event is contained in this newsletter, but I think a few words here are appropriate.
With 101 delegates and a number of day visitors this was a comfortable group. Having encountered rather middling demonstrations at some previous congresses, the committee was very clear about expectations, and this worked very well, with Simon Johnson (organist of St Paul’s Cathedral) taking the lead.
The various domestic and logistical elements went very well, and I guess that no news was good news. Central to the whole event was the degree to which British organ building left a positive impression on our visitors. I think many were surprised by the wide array of instruments which they encountered, and many delegates have since sent generous, congratulatory messages.
The summer of 2016 also saw the 40th birthday of BIOS. It was very good to see a number of the founder members still very much in harness, and when I encountered them at King’s College, Cambridge, delegates had given and listened to some very interesting papers. The visit to King’s allowed attendees the opportunity to see and hear the organ just a week after the job was finished, and I should like to thank Stephen Cleobury for his brief demonstration of the instrument.
We appear to have some good news on the apprenticeship scheme, with the possibility of enhanced levels of funding and no upper age limit, which is particularly good for organ building, given the number of folk who come to it from other walks of life. There is still some way to go, including costing of the provision and determining what student numbers would be required in order for the programme to run. Business Members are likely to receive a phone call from Geoff McMahon during the autumn to canvass your views and explain what is proposed in more detail.
Following discussion at the AGM and mention in an earlier newsletter, the board considered a short paper concerning the possibility of a tuning programme which might be developed, partly to engage those in their teens, but also, perhaps, to help to address the shortage of tuners. Our deliberations were inconclusive, and I hope to speak to some interested bodies in the next few weeks, before potentially reverting to the Board.
It was a great pleasure to welcome Stewart Taylor and Alexis Paterson (respectively Operations Director and Chief Executive of the Three Choirs Festival) to the September Board meeting. Following our disappointing experiences at the St Albans Festival in 2015, Stewart had been in touch concerning a potential liaison with the Three Choirs Festival. Our visitors outlined some very interesting and attractive possibilities, including the location of our exhibition/performance and workshop event in All Saints’ church in Hereford in 2018.
There is a clear interest in what goes on beneath the bonnet and, if this goes ahead, which I hope it does, the IBO will have a tremendous opportunity to showcase a variety of organs, restoration techniques, pipe-making and much more! Watch this space.
We are well into planning meetings for 2017, but in the meantime I look forward to seeing you in Tewkesbury for our residential weekend (October 7th to 9th).
Chris Batchelor (President)