Malcolm Archer - 2004/2005
Malcolm Archer (Director of Music Wells Cathedral, 1996 - 2004)
(Director of Music St. Paul's Cathedral, London from September 2004)
It is a wonderful honour for me to be taking over the Presidency of this vibrant Organists' Association, especially having now spent 21 years in the West Country. My Association with the BDOA goes back to 1983 when I became Organist and Master of Choristers at Bristol Cathedral, later moving on to Wells in 1996. The BDOA must surely be one of the most energetic and active Associations in the country, promoting a wide range of fascinating visits to some of Europe's finest instruments.
My own love of the organ as a musical instrument goes back to my teens, when, inspired by an organ teacher at my school in Lytham, Lancashire, I was given the opportunity of visiting Durham Cathedral, meeting the then cathedral organist Conrad Eden, and being allowed to play that magnificent instrument. This memorable experience was something that stayed with me for years, and I always remember those visits to Durham when young organists ask me if they can 'have a go' on the organ at Wells. It is easy to forget how those early encounters shaped our lives and our enthusiasms.
I have always tried to see my role as a cathedral organist as one of education and encouragement, both in terms of the choral training given to our choristers and also in the support which we give to young organists. The future of music in our churches and cathedrals is very much in the hands of young musicians for whom the organ as an instrument has become a passion, and it is the responsibility of all of us to promote and encourage the learning of the organ as far as we can. In doing this, it is important to remember that the instrument is not only a 'church' instrument. It is a solo instrument in its own right, and its increasing prominence in the life of our concert halls is an encouraging sign.
I do hope that any young organist (or teacher of one) reading this will bear in mind that the Bristol and District Organists Association has a fund which can assist young organists (up to age 21) with organ lessons or the buying of music. These are generally 'one off' grants, so please do apply to the Association if you are interested.
At the time of writing this, I am preparing for my move to London where, in September, I will succeed John Scott as Organist and Director of Music at St. Paul's Cathedral. I am delighted that, despite the move, I can retain the Presidency of the Association, and, in due course welcome them to London for a day at St. Paul's. I very much hope that this year's programme, which includes visits to Oxford, London, Holland and Liverpool, will provide an active stimulus for present members, and that the excellent work of the Association in promoting the 'King of instruments' will encourage new members to join.