Organ Stops: Saving The King of Instruments



Shown on primetime BBC tv and at film festivals in the USA (Brooklyn, New Haven). This film follows the work of a group of eccentric British pipe organ enthusiasts rescuing beautiful pipe organs from closing churches. Refurbishing, repairing, re-homing and playing them – we learn how they work, and experience the wonderful music they create.

Organ rescuer Martin Renshaw travels northern England looking for endangered pipe organs.“At least one British church closes each week” he says, “and half their organs are worth saving”. Martin encounter sprightly 95-year-old Blanche Beer, a village organist from an old coal mining part of the UK. She’s played the organ at her local church for over 80 years. She tells us about the history of the village and its music as she plays the instrument for the last time. It’s a life and culture that’s all but disappeared. We also see Martin save a beautiful nineteenth century organ in one village and in another he rescues a large instrument whose “rebirth” in the heart of an an Afro-Caribbean inner city church becomes the redemptive story at the heart of the film.

The work of other pipe organ rescuers is also featured. Award-winning avant-garde musician Claire Singer is reinventing organ music and playing on an historic instrument saved by a secular charity. Marc Ogier’s a Mancunian sound engineer rescuing pipe organs by buying parts and rebuilding organs in his back bedroom. And famed in the organ world for saving near-dead historic instruments, we follow Dominic Gwynn as he resuscitates Dublin’s 1684 Trinity College organ.

With humour and compassion the film weaves together these narratives giving a voice to those left behind in the wake of rapid secularisation and change.

Year: 2021
Director(s): James Dawson
Runtime (minutes): 69
Rating: Not rated.
Color: Color

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