At the end of May, Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic School held its first open house since before Covid. Immediately following the open house, the school also hosted a free organ concert, featuring renowned organist and conductor Syd Birrell.
Based upon the rave reviews, both events were a wonderful success.
On the day of the open house, some 50 people, including parents and children from interested families, as well as different supporters and members of the community, arrived at the school, where they first received a tour of the building.
After the tour, attendees listened to a talk from our headmaster about Wayside’s joyfully Catholic and rigorously classical model of education.
After a light lunch, attendees then changed venues to Murray St. Baptist Church for the free organ concert, where they also got a little taste of Wayside’s renowned choral program.
During the concert, Birrell, the artistic director of the 100-voice Peterborough Singers, played some of the greatest music ever written for the organ, including Bach’s Toccata & Fugue.
Throughout the concert, Birrell explained various features of the organ, the “king of the instruments,” beginning with a memorable (and loud!) demonstration of the original meaning of the phrase “to pull out all the stops.”
To demonstrate better the incredible complexity of the instrument, cameras projected close-up, live shots of the organ console and foot-pedals as Birrell played.
At one point, Birrell also showed a video of himself climbing into the loft where all the organ pipes are located, showcasing the thousands of different pipes and explaining the process by which each pipe is individually tuned.
The event concluded with the Wayside choir singing several beautiful pieces of sacred music, including Adoramus te Christe, Ave Verum Corpus and a powerful congregational sing-a-long, O God Beyond All Praising.
Thank you to all the volunteers who made both events possible!