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BARBICAN LIFE


As an older, more experienced and well qualified music student (also teaching young piano pupils) Anne received many professional opportunities while at the Academy, including playing at The Royal Festival Hall to celebrate the Queen and Prince Phillip's silver wedding anniversary. As one of three beginner level harpists the Academy’s First Orchestra recruited her to perform with them. This was initially very daunting but everyone else seemed to have confidence in her ability and so she got on and did it. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, with its prominent harp part, always prompts fleeting inner echoes of this fear. After graduating in 1974 Anne continued with her own


international rehearsal, performance and master class schedule under the tutelage of Dame Gillian Weir. She recalls ten days in Tokyo: “The students were almost entirely women - quite unlike the situation here where men greatly outnumber women. The Japanese women were incredibly focused and responsive, both technically and musically. One of them explained to me that in that very ordered society music gives them a rare chance to express themselves as individuals. They were also puzzled by the fact that my husband allowed me to leave him for two weeks to work abroad”. She also travelled widely as an examiner for the Royal College of Organists and the Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music.


During these years Anne also taught A level music, piano, organ and harp part-time in main stream secondary education for one year, then for seventeen years at the Arts Education School in Tring. She was also part-time Assistant Organist at City Temple church (changing to St Giles’ in 1982) and a council member of the Incorporated Association of Organists and Royal College of Organists. Her professional organ teacher at the Academy had been a revelation,


further emphasising Anne’s concern about the amateur nature of organ teaching in this country. Not only was organ teaching generally poor in quality, student numbers were falling and finding teachers could be difficult.


Important changes could be made, Anne felt, provided the many different organ bodies worked together and co-ordinated their diverse support and activities. In the late 1980’s the well-connected and charming Dr Lionel Dakers, ran the Royal School of Church music. He whole-heartedly backed Anne’s recommendation to hold a National Learn the Organ Year in 1990. Sponsorship came from organ builders such as Manders - builders of two of the three St Giles’ organs. It was a huge undertaking to organise and took three years and all of Anne’s vision and skills. Anne and Lionel also started the National Organ Teachers Encouragement Scheme. Following these successes and seeing how many organ students Anne was attracting, the Rev David Rhodes (St Giles’ Rector until 2001) suggested that she set up an organ school in St Giles’. Students could then be matched with teachers and improvements made in all aspects of training. In 1997 Anne additionally took up the Royal School of Church Music’s invitation to design and direct a residential summer course for organists in the City of London, which she has run annually ever since.


The Organ School has gone from strength to strength and 2008 saw Anne collaborate over marketing and administration with the Royal College of Organists in order to expand the capabilities of the school and allow her more time to focus on music.


Anne moved to Gilbert House, Barbican, in 1992 where she lives with her husband, composer Brian Solomons.


She told me that she would want to be remembered “for putting organ


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teaching onto a professional level, especially in the UK, enhancing the status of organists, and providing wonderful music at St. Giles”. Judging by the 300 or so organists taught by the Organ School, her 14 books still in print, the crowd of around 70 organists from all over the world who attend the annual summer course she directs in the City of London, and the rich programme of music at St. Giles’, she has already gone a long way towards achieving that target.


The chancel organ in St. Giles Cripplegate. Photo by Ravi Juneja


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