Shared love of the pipe organ

By Staff Reporter

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Margaret Thompson at the St Stephen's Church organ.
Margaret Thompson at the St Stephen's Church organ.

A group of organists from Marton is coming together for a special concert in early September at St Stephen's Church in Marton.

No two pipe organs are the same, and this organ is no exception, being an historic mechanical action instrument made by English organ builders Norman and Beard dated 1909.

The performers - Alison Stewart, Diana Howard, Richard Peirce, Rima Tamaiparea-Puki and Margaret Thompson - will present a range of music, from the 'arty' (The Hanging Garden), the 'aristocratic' (works by Handel and Greene) to the 'awesome' (toccatas) and the 'amazing': (a Sousa March).

Alison Stewart, well-known musician in the Rangitikei and Manawatu, first learned organ at primary school from Sr Colleen Morey, at secondary school from Anita Banbury, and later while at university in Palmerston North from Donald McIver. She is music director and chaplain at Huntley School, and has played the organ there daily for 22 years.

Long-time Rangitikei residents Diana Howard and Richard Peirce also had the experience of starting playing organ for school. At the age of 10 Mr Peirce was invited to play a hymn for the evening service at prep school in England. He chose Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear to the tune Horsley, because so many of the chords were repeated. Ms Howard started playing the chamber organ at Waikato Diocesan School, having lessons from the parish organist. The two have continued to play for services over the years in many churches.

Rima Tamaiparea-Puki listened eagerly to organ playing on television and couldn't wait to get his hands on the real thing. His idol was Dr Clay Christiansen, organist for the Salt Lake Tabernacle organ, in Utah. He went on to organ-playing positions in Hamilton, Auckland and Whangarei. Tamaiparea-Puki has recently returned to Marton and is playing the organ at St Martin's, Pukepapa Rd.

Margaret Thompson heard pipe organ played in church at Foxton from a young age and badgered her parents until she could have lessons, starting in Palmerston North, and then with Anthony Jennings at the University of Auckland while completing a music degree. She has played for churches in Dunedin, Christchurch, Levin, Stratford and New Plymouth during her music teaching career, and recently retired to Marton where she is enjoying playing the St Stephen's organ.

This concert will be held at 2.30pm on September 4 at St Stephen's Anglican Church in Maunder St, Marton. Afternoon tea is included in the cost; $10, $15 for two, under 15yrs $5, with the proceeds of the concert going towards the upkeep of the organ.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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