Girls at the organ

02 November 2006

CHURCH MUSIC is still dominated by men and boys, says Richard Nicholson, director of music at St Catherine’s School, Bramley, near Guildford. St Catherine’s, a girls’ boarding school, wants to help correct this. Some of the girls already sing in the cathedral choir in Guildford, but the school and cathedral also want to encourage girl organists.

The school is now funding two-year organ scholarships (one third off the boarding fees) for sixth-formers, and there are already a couple of girls in the school who may take them up, although Mr Nicholson is not ruling out girls’ coming from other schools into the St Catherine’s sixth form.

The school and cathedral together are also launching an annual weekend course for female organists, under the patronage and tutelage of the internationally renowned organist Jennifer Bate. Nine are coming to the first of these in March, and Mr Nicholson says that, as well as being tutored on the school’s own chapel organ, they will have experience of other organs in the area, including a 1759 instrument. They will also learn more about accompanying church music, directing choirs, and much else to empower them to take their place in this male-dominated world.

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