Play the Canterbury Cathedral organ

Under 18s offered chance to play the Grand Organ in the Cathedral on Thursday 17 March, 6.30pm to 8pm.

Pulling out all the stops – a chance for young organists to play the Canterbury Cathedral organ

An opportunity to play the Grand Organ in Canterbury Cathedral is being offered to young organists within the diocese, under the age of 18, on Thursday 17th March, 6.30pm to 8pm. The event has been organised by the Cathedrals Second Assistant Organist, Adrian Bawtree, who is the regular organist for the Cathedral’s Girls’ Choir and plays for other services and cathedral occasions when required.

The aim is to encourage young organists and find out how the cathedral might be able to support their development. Adrian hopes the initiative will really appeal to local budding organists: “The acoustic in a cathedral is unique. For a young organist, it’s a great thing to be able to experience.”

“We want to find out what these young peoples’ musical expectations and aspirations are and how we might be able to help them. My intention is that this will be ongoing, and so this is also about us building relationships.”

As well as a chance to play a fine instrument, the evening is also an opportunity to learn more about the role of a church musician and what it has to offer. For Adrian, being a church organist opens the door to a varied and fulfilling career:

“You will have a very interesting time if you make the organ part of your life. The music leader in a church can often be quite an influential person and so it is a position that comes with real responsibility. It has so many transferable skills, which is very important, as you have to be able to manage people and relationships, and learn how to handle a variety of situations. As well as the playing, there are opportunities to compose music and conduct, and then of course there is the spiritual dimension to the job as well.”

Adrian’s own father was an enthusiastic amateur organist and so it was an instrument that Adrian was aware of from a young age. However, the epiphany moment came when he was nine year’s old and he heard the organ playing in the chapel of the school he attended, Christ’s Hospital:

“I remember there was light flooding in through the windows and the sound of the organ was travelling up the aisles. It was like a pair of octopus tentacles had grabbed me and said ‘I want you’. And that was it. It was quite a physical reaction and that has never left me.”

Adrian is aware that he was lucky to have supportive parents, and a local church organist willing to help him learn. He is keen to offer similar support to other young musicians starting out on their journey with the organ and share his passion for music-making in the Church: “There’s been an enormous growth in recent years in the idea of community music – the Gareth Malone effect. But that is something that churches have already been doing for centuries and I believe it is worth shouting it out a bit more and letting young people know that this is the kind of musical world you can be involved in.”

Anyone interested in taking part, or anyone who knows someone who could benefit from the opportunity, should contact Adrian via email on: All those attending will need to be accompanied by a parent, carer or guardian.