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Church organists to show off their skills


Thursday 2 July 2015

Organists of world renown will put organists through their paces in a workshop and competition during the morning session of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) Hymnfest at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, on August 1.

Robert Boughen, for many years Brisbane Cathedral organist, and Ross Cobb, Sydney Cathedral organist, will hold a master class and then judge an organ playing competition, with cash prizes for the first, second and third placed.

With hymns still the bread and butter of the church organist, the RSCM saw the need for high-level guidance for many organists.

“The number of young organists is surprisingly strong,” says Philip Reichardt, NSW secretary of RSCM.

“They get taught to play very well but a lot of the focus is on the organ concert repertoire rather than guidance on how to play hymns well.

“So they can be brilliant at playing a Bach Prelude but the average person in the pew is going to judge you by how well you lead them through the hymns. This critical aspect is what we’re trying to address with this workshop.”

The RSCM exists to encourage and promote church music. This is its third Hymnfest, its first in Newcastle and its first in collaboration with Bible Society Australia.

In the afternoon, the cathedral will be filled with congregational singing of traditional hymns – and a couple of contemporary favourites – accompanied by the Newcastle Cathedral Choir.

“For older people, their corporate memory is singing hymns, whereas increasingly young people don’t get exposed to traditional hymns,” says Mr Reichardt.

“The modern ones are much stronger on rhythm, giving them that rock and roll appeal for young people, whereas the older ones are much stronger on harmony and arguably better on the tune.”

Admission to the afternoon Hymnfest session is $10. Admission to the morning workshop and competition is $20 for competitors and $10 for spectators.

Competitors should contact Philip Reichardt on


Other Hymnfests are happening around the country in August and September! 

Bible Society Australia will be singing their hearts out to God in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania throughout August, September and October. To find out if there’s a Hymnfest happening near you, click here.

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