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May 1st, 2016 - David Pipe begins work in the Diocese of Leeds
David Pipe begins work in the Diocese of Leeds

Newly appointed Cathedral Organist and Director of the Diocese of Leeds Organists Training Programme writes:

I started work in the Diocese of Leeds Music Team on 1st May after almost eight years at York Minster, where I was Assistant Director of Music. The bulk of my work involved accompanying the Minster Choir for daily services, though I assisted the Director of Music, Robert Sharpe, with morning chorister rehearsals throughout the week. Work at York offered me many opportunities: we broadcast annually on BBC Radio 3, made regular recordings, and I had the privilege of playing for the Royal Maundy service in 2012. I enjoyed getting to know a wealth of Anglican repertoire, and look back on my time there very fondly.

Alongside work with the Minster Choir, I was asked to co-lead the Minster’s Choral Outreach programme, which was initially supported by the Government’s ‘Sing Up’ campaign. Though this was nowhere near the scale of the Schools Singing Programme in numbers, I enjoyed leading weekly sessions in local primary schools, which led to an end-of-term concert in York Minster. It was always really encouraging to watch the pupils become increasingly confident with their singing as the term’s sessions progressed.

Throughout my time in York, I worked as a peripatetic piano and organ teacher. I was fortunate to have some very gifted organ students, two of which were awarded organ scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge universities. I’ve always enjoyed one-to-one teaching, and so was immediately attracted by the new post of Director of the Organists’ Training Programme in the Diocese of Leeds.

The new Programme has vast potential in the Diocese and further afield. There is now an acute shortage of school-age organ students, and this is a perfect opportunity to try to redress that balance. A core aim of the Programme will be to give pupils the confidence to play for services in their local churches, but also to enable some to apply for university organ scholarships. I’m looking forward to working with existing students in Huddersfield (with the fine organ in St Patrick’s), and will soon be going to Harrogate to discuss plans for students at St John Fisher. A middle-term goal for me would be to send off at least one university Organ Scholar each year, and I’m confident that we can achieve this!

We’re privileged to have support from the Royal College of Organists, and it’s a pleasure to be able to work closely with their Chief Executive, Philip Meaden, who’s already offered me plenty of friendly and wise advice. The RCO’s network, nationally and internationally, will offer the Organists’ Training Programme the chance to promote events on a significant platform, and the Programme hopes to work closely with the RCO to provide exciting and stimulating events in the coming months.

I’m really looking forward to the great opportunities that lie ahead of me in this job. I feel lucky to have been offered several strings to my bow, so will also be working as Cathedral Organist as well as leading singing sessions in some primary schools. Coming from a much smaller city, I’m very excited about getting to know Leeds better, and look forward to making the most of all the musical activities on offer here.


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