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Tue 01/11/2016 : 1 pm
Moot Hall, Colchester
Ten Pieces for Organ...

Dr Gillian Ward Russell is a respected organ recitalist, choral conductor and accompanist (organ and piano).  Performances have taken her all over the UK, the USA, and Europe.  Wherever she has played the audiences comment on two aspects in particular: her communicative skills (both through the music itself and with verbal introductions) and her colourful and imaginative registrations.  Many of her recitals are themed and are given snappy or intriguing titles, and each one is tailor-made to the organ and location.  In July 2015 she gave one of the first recitals on the newly-refurbished organ in Colchester’s Moot Hall.

Gillian has always believed in the importance of musical research and applies this to her performance preparations.  She has two research degrees, both on the subject of her ancestor, William Russell (1777-1813).  She self-published Russell’s Complete Organ Voluntaries in facsimile, which includes historical notes and useful advice on performance; Gillian has also written articles on Russell and his music.  Some years ago she gave a recital of Russell’s Voluntaries on BBC Radio 3; she has also appeared on Channel 4 TV, and she periodically gives interviews on BBC Essex.  Gillian’s professional qualifications are: BA, MPhil, PhD, FRCO, ARCM, LRAM, LTCL, and FISM.

Teaching organ, piano, and theory are also important parts of Gillian’s life as she believes in the need to pass on these special skills to others.  Increasingly she feels drawn to supporting and encouraging music-making in her own area.  As well as having a select number of students she also works with larger groups, in particular Maldon Choral (where she is Musical Director) and the Essex Organists’ Association (of which she is President—a position she will relinquish in June 2016, having served for 30 years).

NEW FOR 2016

It is a fact that classical music (in the widest sense of the term) is a minority interest in the UK; it is also acknowledged that the appreciation of organ music forms but a tiny part of that interest. With the BBC’s initiatives ‘Ten Pieces primary’ and ‘Ten Pieces secondary’ as her inspiration, concert organist and private music teacher Dr Gillian Ward Russell has devised a recital programme headed ‘Ten Pieces for Organ’ with the aim of attracting young people to come and experience the thrill of the organ and its music.

The programme comprises ten fairly short pieces taken from the core repertoire—from Bach to Bovet—each of which will be introduced in an appealing way by Gillian. She will launch the presentation on Tuesday 30 June at 1.15 at St Mary’s Church, Frinton, Essex, and will repeat it at Chelmsford Cathedral on Friday 7 October at 12.30. Gillian’s hope is that, from these initial performances (to which schools will be especially invited) others will take up her lead and turn this into a national project.


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