On Wednesday 19 January we were very fortunate to have Rachel Mahon, the Canadian organist of Coventry Cathedral, come to Cranleigh to give an organ masterclass and recital in the Chapel. Having waited so long, courtesy of Covid, to be able to put on any concerts, it was a wonderful experience to be able to listen to some live music-making once again.

In the afternoon, we had planned to have seven young musicians from three different schools perform to Rachel in the masterclass, but unfortunately four of them had to pull out beforehand because of Covid-related reasons – thankfully, two young organists from Papplewick School in Ascot, and our own Theo Sainsbury performed pieces, and were coached by Rachel in aspects of articulation, registration, expression, and dynamics – in short, how to make the organ sing.

In the evening recital, Rachel demonstrated with her own performance how exactly to do this, and it was refreshing to hear, in addition to some standard pieces by Bach and Buxtehude (in which she highlighted the beloved “Nazard” stop on the organ!), plenty of lesser-known repertoire by a number of female composers from Rachel’s native Canada.

All in all, it was a splendid occasion.