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New music for a unique organ

London’s Organ Reframed festival will feature newly commissioned works by Tim Hecker, Phill Niblock, Mira Calix, Emily Hall and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

This autumn London Islington’s Union Chapel will host a special three day festival that issues a challenge to musicians and audiences alike to rethink the organ. The festival has commissioned a number of artists to compose new works for the chapel's organ, which was built specifically for the space by Henry Father’ Willis in 1877, and is the only organ in England with its original (and functioning) hydraulic bellows. Their one mandate is to “release the organ from its traditional roots”. Composers include Tim Hecker, Phill Niblock, Mira Calix, Emily Hall and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and the festival will feature performances by Low, Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie of Stars Of The Lid, Claire M Singer, Gordon Monahan, James McVinnie and London Contemporary Orchestra And Choir.

“To have the opportunity to build on the organ’s rich history and bring it to the attention of a new generation of artists feels important,” says composer and festival curator Claire M Singer. “It may not be the most portable of instruments, but like any other it deserves a life. It deserves that life to be continued and its music to be developed, and that’s what I’m trying to do over three days with Organ Reframed.”

Organ Reframed will run from 13–15 October. You can watch a video of Singer performing at the Chapel, below: