Musical Appreciation for the Masses

Cape Times (South Africa), November 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

Musical Appreciation for the Masses


David Orr, 30, is the new Director of Music at St George's Cathedral. He was awarded the Charles Bryars Organ scholarship to study BMus at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, where he majored in Organ Performance, Musicology, Analysis and Composition.

In addition to completing three other diplomas, he was awarded two further scholarships and completed an MMus degree in Organ Performance. He has been teaching music in KwaZulu-Natal for the past seven years; most recently at St Anne's Diocesan College in Hilton, where he was choirmaster, chapel organist and Subject Music teacher.

What are your responsibilities as Musical Director ?

I oversee all the music in the cathedral, but my principle responsibilities are training the choirs and helping with the planning of liturgies of music for the services.

What's first on your agenda?

Both of those things are. What's attractive about the job is the choir training aspect and making music with other people. On a regular basis one is choosing music for Sunday worship.

There's a morning choir which is a mixed choir of men and women. On Sunday evenings we have an evensong choir which is boys from the St George's Grammar School, and men.

In addition, the Cathedral has a fairly well-established tradition of providing special music at a month-end Mass, and that's often an orchestral mass. Those are three very distinct groups of people.

Who assists you?

I'm the only fulltime music person here. There's a part-time organist and I work very closely with the Canon Precentor, who's the priest in charge of liturgy. When it comes to planning music, it's the two of us who do it.

You play the organ; do you play any other instruments?

I also play the piano, but I'm not employed as an organist here. I'm here as a choir director and a director of music. There's a part-time Cathedral organist as well.

How are you going to keep your hand in?

I'm going to have to create a space so I can play as well, because I am a performer and I like accompanying choirs. Once I've got used to what I'm doing here, I will build practice time into my routine.

Tell me about your compositions.

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