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Report on Diocesan Organ Advisers Conference 2017

Posted on Monday 4 September 2017
Thirty-five delegates attended the 2017 Organ Advisers Conference held for the first time in the Diocese of Ely from 29-31 August.

These were mostly DOAs but the number included other representatives of organ-related organisations. The venue was Madingley Hall, near Cambridge a delightful backdrop for the meeting.


Delegates were welcomed to the Conference by the Bishop of Huntingdon, the Rt. Rev. David Thomson. Following an outline of the Diocese’s organ heritage by the Ely DOA, José Hopkins, Canon Nicholas Thistlethwaite, now returned to the Diocese, spoke on the role past and present of organ advisers.


William McVicker and Paul Hale then outlined the role of the Association of Independent Organ Advisers. At the end of the first day delegates departed for Ely Cathedral where Cambridge based concert organist Anne Page played the Cathedral organ to great acclaim exclusively for the Conference members.


The middle day was devoted to visits by coach to interesting organs in the Diocese, starting with the 1846 J.C. Bishop organ in All Saints’ Church, Haslingfield. Peter Bumstead, organbuilder and Robin Walker demonstrated the organ. The next stop was St. Mark’s Church in Newnham, Cambridge where the organ project was described by the organbuilder Jonathan Wallace and consultant adviser, Paul Hale.


Jesus College, Cambridge, was the next stop where the two organs, Kuhn (2007) and J.C. Bishop (1848) were outlined by Nicholas Thistlethwaite and demonstrated by Anne Page. The final organ of the day was that built by Richard Bower in 2013 for St. Andrew’s Church, Soham, Peter Scott, organist of the church, demonstrated it. Having returned to Madingley Hall, a convivial dinner in the evening provided welcome refreshment.


The final morning of the conference was devoted to administrative matters, a talk by Andrew Dolby of P & S Organ Supplies, plus a report from Dr. David Knight, Church Buildings Council.


A discussion took place about training and recruitment of Diocesan Organ Advisers and a subcommittee was formed to make suggestions. Planning for the conference was undertaken by Dr. Richard Godfrey (Salisbury Diocese), Paul Hale (Southwell and Lincoln Dioceses, and José Hopkins (Ely Diocese).


It was generally judged to have been very successful for the Diocese.


José Hopkins

Organ Adviser, Diocese of Ely