Malcolm Gibbs - 2013

Welcome to the website of the Bristol and District Organists Association.  We consist of professional and amateur musicians, Cathedral, church and chapel organists and those interested in the organ.  You do not have to be an organist or professional musician to be a member – all are very welcome.

We are a very active and friendly association - enthusiastic about the organ.  One of the great strengths of the association is the support given to young musicians and we currently have a good number of student members.  Membership is Free to students for the first year, and then it’s just 50% of the annual fee for them for as long as they are in full-time education.  We also have some funds available to help organ students for various aspects of their studies (short courses, Masterclasses, lectures, special tuition, etc).  We have had some exceptional students in recent years who have gone on to become organ scholars in some of England’s finest Cathedrals, and some now hold significant positions in the organ and choral world.

It is an honour to have been chosen as President of the association especially when one looks back at the list of my eminent predecessors.  My immediate predecessor (Philip Wilby) is a Professor of Music, a well known composer of brass band, organ, choral and other music, and an excellent organist.  I, by complete contrast, am an engineer and non-musician, but with a life-long enthusiasm for the organ.

My interest in the pipe organ was mainly generated by two people - the first being my father who was a serving Army Officer but also a talented amateur musician. He did not hold a church position but would step in when there was no organist at a church service.  The second person was Trevor Doar who was Director of Music at Milton Abbey School in Dorset where I spent four happy years as a pupil.  I failed as a music student but these two people instilled in me a love of church music and the organ in particular.  I was always interested in how the pipe organ worked and in my youth had a reputation for fixing instruments that refused to work in and around the school as well as in the Army.  After school I served a five year apprenticeship with Westland Helicopters studying Mechanical, Production and Electronic Engineering, and finished my working career with that same company managing Computer Aided Design Systems for large mainframe computers.  Having retired over ten years ago, I now spend some of my time helping a Dorset organ builder friend (Derry Thompson) with designing and installing electronic control systems for pipe organs.

One of the things I enjoy doing for the B&DOA is providing cameras along with a media projector and a large screen at recitals, so that the audience can see the organist at work at the console.  As most of the general public have little idea what managing four keyboards, pedals and seventy or more stops involves, they are amazed when they can see it all happening on the screen!

The B&DOA arranges trips to various churches in and around Bristol as well as one ‘away organ tour’ once a year. In recent years we have been to Paris, Switzerland, France (Toulouse), and Holland, and within the UK we have been to Edinburgh, Swansea, Manchester, Liverpool, Suffolk, Berkshire, etc. The next tour will be in May 2014, centred in Bournemouth.

One highlight of each year is the annual free organ concert at Colston Hall, which is centred around promoting the organ and its music to the general public.  This has increased in popularity over the years, and last year over 750 people attended the concert.  A splendid evening is presented with both serious and fun pieces being played on the very fine four manual Harrison and Harrison concert organ there.

This website contains more information about our monthly events and our Secretary also sends out a Diary of Musical Events (DoME) which is extremely useful as it gives a day to day list of concerts, recitals and musical events in and around the Bristol area.

If you would like to join our association or would like more information, please let us know by email.

We currently have over 150 Full Members and 15 Student Members of differing backgrounds and abilities as well as non-playing enthusiasts. We would be delighted if you would join our Association.  As I mentioned earlier, we are a friendly bunch, and our yearly programme always includes many interesting events.

Part of the membership subscription entitles you to the full colour quarterly magazine ‘Organists’ Review’ which has many interesting articles about organs and organists, both here and abroad.

We look forward to meeting you at one of our events.

With best wishes,

Malcolm Gibbs

Bristol and District Organists' Association

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