Almost a year to the day since vandals broke into Christchurch Cathedral, causing €300,000 worth of damage; one of the world’s great organ virtuosos put the magnificent Elliot-Jones Organ through its paces.
Australian Thomas Heywood, a musical prodigy since childhood, was like a kid in a candy store on Saturday evening last when sat before the organ, which was damaged during last year’s break-in.
Describing those responsible for the damage as “morons”, the reference to the break-in was the only glum-sounding element of an enchanting 100 minutes in his company.
Beaming more brightly than the beautiful evening sunshine that filtered into Christchurch, Heywood proved a most engaging performer with his audience, introducing each piece with Olympian levels of gusto.
He glided along the aisle between each supremely arranged performance, which included ‘The Magic Flute’ (Mozart), ‘The Unfinished Symphony’ (Schubert) and the ‘Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka (Johann Strauss Jnr).
Thanks to the benefit of a screen in front of the altar, the audience witnessed the spellbinding speed of Heywood in full flight.
With his wife Simone as ‘co-pilot’ during the performance, adjusting a camera and turning the sheet music to list but two duties, witnessing a world class musician in full flight was an education.
And he really was in full flight. With digits dancing between the different levels of keys within the stunning console, Heywood’s feet ghosted along its foot pedals with the grace of a ballet dancer and more precision than a ‘smart bomb’.
This was a demonstration of eye/hand/feet co-ordination that even the world’s greatest slalom skiers would struggle to match, as he summoned the most earthy and delicate of notes from this remarkable instrument.
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