St Catherine’s Bramley was surprised and absolutely delighted to be approached by Mrs Evelyn Greaves at the end of the Spring Term this year with a most generous offer to donate her three-manual organ to the school. Evelyn Greaves was a latecomer to the organ, having studied the piano in her teenage years. Her natural talent for playing the organ was recognised when she achieved distinctions in the four highest grades of ABRSM examinations. Evelyn is passionate about introducing youngsters to organ studies, but also wishes to remind those of a more mature age that it is never too late to consider taking the organ up.
Having accepted this very generous offer, the school then arranged for the organ to be relocated from Mrs Greaves’ Hertfordshire home to the hall in St Catherine's Prep School. Mr Vincent Woodstock designed and built the organ for Mrs Greaves, completing it in 2006. Fortunately, he was available to accept the challenge of dismantling and then rebuilding the organ in it’s new home. The rebuild took place over several months and was captured in a wonderful time-lapse recording.
Matthew Greenfield, Director of Music at St Catherine’s School said, “This is an extraordinarily generous gift from Mrs Greaves that will benefit generations of girls for the future. When they first saw and heard it played, the looks of amazement on the faces of the Prep School girls spoke volumes: the organ will be an inspiration to many a budding musician as we encourage more girls of all ages to learn to play this king of instruments.”
Girls as young as four have already shown their fascination for how the instrument works. Our current Jennifer Bate Organ Scholar, Imogen Morgan, played for the first time in school assemblies at the beginning of this Autumn Term. She said, “I cannot believe how fortunate we are that such a wonderful instrument has been so generously given to us. To have direct access to two organs of different styles for different repertoire is a fantastic facility for the young organists of St Catherine’s and the Jennifer Bate Organ Academy. I particularly enjoyed demonstrating the instrument to the girls in the Prep School; I know that this instrument will inspire generations of girls for many years to come. We are all most grateful to Mrs Greaves for her exceptional generosity.”
Organs are so often hidden away out of sight and this location places the organ in such an accessible spot presenting a wonderful opportunity to inspire the girls in many ways. St Catherine’s is confident that they will see budding musicians, perhaps even sound engineers, as a result. No one is too young to play a line of a simple melody and explore the many different and curious sounds—and volumes—that can be created.
St Catherine’s is incredibly grateful to Mrs Evelyn Greaves, Mr Vincent Woodstock and Dr Jennifer Bate for this most generous gift and for making the next level of organ playing possible at St. Catherine’s.