This June, Chester Cathedral will present an out of the ordinary organ event in the form of a Battle of the Organs concert.
Cathedral organists Philip Rushforth, Andrew Wyatt and Rachel Mahon will be joined by a special guest star – Radio 2’s Nigel Ogden – for a light-hearted, one-off organ skirmish jam-packed with musical variety and virtuosity.
Musical ‘battle’ will commence with a performance of Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor and end with Widor’s equally famous Toccata. Other pieces planned to make an appearance include Mars from Holst’s The Planets and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1.
The cathedral will take delivery of two digital organs and a small chamber organ in preparation for the concert. These ‘young pretenders’ will go up against Chester’s Grand Organ on its home turf. Dating from 1876, the Grand Organ has 4864 pipes and has been played virtually every day for nearly a century and a half.
Nigel Ogden started playing the organ when he was 12, having studied the piano for a number of years. His father was a church organist, so he says he had plenty of opportunity to find out about and discover the instrument for himself. He currently presents a programme on Radio 2 entitled The Organist Entertains.
Director of Music and Cathedral Organist, Philip Rushforth, said:
“We are very excited about the Battle of the Organs. We’ve done a couple before and I think it is an excellent way to bring organ music and the cathedral’s magnificent Grand Organ to a wider audience.
The first time I heard the Grand Organ of Chester Cathedral at the age of eight, I knew I wanted to be organist here. Being an organist is a bit like being an athlete – if you don’t use your skills, you lose them quite quickly – and so I’ve definitely been putting in some extra hours for the upcoming battle!”
In 2014, Chester Cathedral launched a Grand Organ Appeal to raise the funds required to rebuild the cathedral’s much-loved organ. People can sponsor a pipe or enjoy an Organ Experience to contribute to the appeal.
The concert will take place on Friday 8 June at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12 and are available from the Chester Cathedral Box Office on 01244 500959 or by clicking to www.chestercathedral.com/events