Picture of by Dr Andrew Padmore BEM

by Dr Andrew Padmore BEM

Choral and Orchestral Conductor | Accompanist | Singing Tutor | Examiner | Adjudicator

It was during the pandemic that I rediscovered my inner organist – neglected after I started to build a freelance musical career in 1988. 

My first loves have always been voice production and choral conducting. Opportunities came through appointments as Director of the York Minster Chapter House Choir, The Bradford Choristers and Yorkshire Chamber Choir (which soon grew to be the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir). Added to this teaching, adjudicating and examining there was little time or motivation for organ practice.

I did enquire on moving to Leeds, whether I could practice on the organ of my parish church in Roundhay, but received a definite negative! Surprising as I had credentials from two Cathedral Organists posts over the previous ten years!

Then I was approached to start a choir of boy choristers at the small Whitkirk Church, formerly part of the Temple Newsome estate with connections to the Knights’ Templar, situated on the outskirts of the city. There were two competent organists so, once again, there was not much incentive for me to play. The instrument ……… not much inspiration there!

As we know, the pandemic had a catastrophic effect on the performing arts and those of us who earned our bread and butter thus had to find alternatives. My 2 manual Johannus Organ, purchased in the early 80s was feeling its age and technology had left it far behind. As soon as we were allowed to travel, I visited David Mason (Viscount Organs) at his showroom near Oxford and purchased an Envoy 3 manual 350 FD.

It was like going from a WW1 De Havilland to Concorde. I was flying high or would have been but for two major impediments.

The previous year I had fractured my right little finger which, although operated upon by a leading surgeon from the Leeds General Infirmary hand plastics team, was still causing painfully restricted movement. The other problem was that I was woefully out of practice.

With focused effort and hours of practicing, I gained great enjoyment and fulfilment at being able to play some of the repertoire learned in my youth as well as learning new pieces.
A few tentative recitals were performed and confidence grew. I also played for the 2022 Christmas Day Service then the 2023 Easter Day Services on the splendid Snetzler organ in St Laurence’s Church in Ludlow.

In my ‘retirement’ I intend spending more time honing my console facility and hopefully being able to assist in playing for the odd Church service and recital.

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