Fairfield Halls pipes up with series of lunchtime organ recitals

The Fairfield Halls has taken another step towards fulfilling the vision laid out before its refurbishment, to turn the arts centre into a thriving, all-day community asset, with the announcement of a series of lunchtime organ concerts, where tickets are just £5 each, and free for under-18s, and everyone can get a cuppa on the house while they listen to some outstanding performances.

The Fairfield Halls organ is a vast, prestigious instrument which was originally installed in the world-famous Concert Hall in 1964.

It was built by Harrison and Harrison, the Durham firm renowned as world leaders in the building of pipe organs, who have been responsible for the organ in Croydon Minster, at King’s College Cambridge and at Westminster Abbey, where that instrument played such a key part of the Coronation ceremonials earlier this month.

A pipe organ is a complex instrument with thousands of pipes and loads of moving parts, and one saving grace of the controversial Fairfield Halls refurbishment was that expert organ builders Harrison and Harrison were called in to dismantle and overhaul the organ during the building works.

And now, the organ is to be placed front and centre in a series of recitals, lunchtime concerts which often proved so popular at the Fairfield in the 1970s and 1980s.

Big blow: the Fairfield organ, back in place in the Concert Hall

The series will showcase a number of renowned organists, and “promises an exceptional musical experience and a celebration of the organ as the world’s most versatile instrument, performed in one of London’s finest acoustics”, the Fairfield Halls management says.

And the first of the concerts, on Thursday June 8, will be performed by Andrew Scott, the director of music at St Michael and All Angels at West Croydon, who was a key part of the Harrison and Harrison team which oversaw the restoration work on the Fairfield organ.

“At the core of our mission at Fairfield is to be a hub for international music excellence for the borough and for London,” said Jonathan Higgins, the Fairfield Halls associate director.

“We are delighted to celebrate this extraordinary instrument, and hope this series will be a beacon for both avid organ fans and for those who want to discover something new.”

Attendees at events can enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee, which will be available from The Cube Café starting from 12pm, where there will also be a 20per cent discount on food purchases, providing for lunch before the recital.

Organ expert: Andrew Scott

Tickets for the 2023 Organ Recital Series’ are priced at £5 (no fees) and can be purchased at www.fairfield.co.uk.

Andrew Scott is managing director of Harrison and Harrison, and has played at leading venues and churches around the globe. “His exceptional musicality, combined with his extensive experience, promises an extraordinary performance that will captivate the audience,” the Fairfield promises.

Scott’s programme for June 8 includes several pieces which featured in the Coronation service: Walton’s Crown Imperial Coronation March, Handel’s Lift Up Your Heads and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, as well as a piece, IMpromptu No1, by Croydon-born composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

“This is a rare opportunity to experience world-class organ performances at an affordable price, in the hub for international music excellence in South London,” the venue management says.

Other dates in the lunchtime organ series are:

Jun 29: Jonathan Holmes
Jul 13: Norman Harper
Sep 21: Marilyn Harper
Nov 9: Herman Jardaan

Full details and booking for these and other Fairfield Halls classical music performances can be found by clicking here.

The Fairfield Halls is extending its policy of encouraging teenagers to visit the venue and enjoy the music by making tickets for under-18s free (when accompanied by an adult).

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1 Response to Fairfield Halls pipes up with series of lunchtime organ recitals

  1. Lewis White says:

    Thank you for using your illustrious organ to publicise the use of this enormous instrument.

    There are sadly, hundreds of church organs, maybe thousands, that are or would be playable, but are hardly ever or never played, due to lack of organists. This is a major tragedy for the UK national culture.

    I hope that the Fairfield Yamaha piano learners could become Yahama organ players, and then pipe organ players.

    Was it a Chinese–or possibly Japanese — Wise person, who said “Every musical journey of a thousand notes starts with one finger applied to a key” ?

    Ah, so. So right.

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