A NEW three-part television documentary featuring the Edington Priory hopes to encourage younger musicians to take up playing the organ.

The feature-length documentary by Fugue State Films traces the history and development of the English organ and its music from c1550 to the present, showcasing its vibrant culture, music and social impact.

The English Organ, directed by Will Fraser, is presented by Daniel Moult, international performer and Director of Organ Studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Mr Fraser said: “What I found fascinating about this project was how it exists on two levels, the musical story that you would expect, plus also this new and quirky view of English history.

“Taken together I think this film will speak to anyone who is interested in either music or history, or of course both.”

Mr Fraser’s passionate presentation, knowledge and musicianship is evident as he effortlessly moves from one instrument or historical style to another.

The 4xDVD and 3xCD boxed set charts the history of the English organ, its design and cultural significance. Filmed across 40 locations in three continents, the set also features musical performances on each of the 33 organs featured, including the new organ at Edington Priory.

Made by Harrison and Harrison in Durham, the Edington Priory organ was commissioned in 2014 following a £437,000 fundraising campaign that lasted two years.

It is unique in that it has been built to cope with eight days of intensive use during the annual Edington Music Festival, which celebrates its 65th anniversary next year and is one of the oldest church music festivals in the world.

Anne Curtis, of Edington Arts, said: "The festival thought it would be good to give the church a new organ capable of coping with being played four times a day for eight days during the festival."

Edington Priory organist John Swain, 72, says the new organ is "very popular" with professionals and young players because it has 1,618 pipes and has tracker-action, which means they have greater control over the sound.

"The instrument is very popular with professional organists and youngsters. They love coming here to practice. It's a good size and has a great variety of sound."

The old Edington Priory organ, made by Henry Jones in 1905, was taken to pieces and shipped to The Gustavus Adolphus Grammar School in Tallinn, the oldest grammar school in Estonia, where it was re-assembled and is still being used.

The documentary film celebrates the arc and development of the organ in the UK, but also tells a broader story as the development of the organ exactly echoes the narrative of all the major events and epochs in our history.

These include the reformation, civil war, restoration, slave trade, colonial expansion, industrial revolution, democratisation, world wars, popular culture, religious decline and even Brexit!

The range and quality of the instruments is evident in the films, from the smallest example of Victorian mass production, via bespoke instruments for churches, cathedrals, concert halls and educational establishments to the biggest organ in the world at its time at Sydney Town Hall.

The English Organ includes a piece of repertoire and a demonstration of each of the 33 organs and the film-makers spoke to historians, organ builders and restorers, priests, professors, choirmasters and musicians.

They discovered that the organ and its music give a startlingly vivid portrait of the English quest for, and retreat from, identity. Like any cultural or technological artefact, the organ represents its time and the people who built it.

Filled with dozens of pieces of music, musical highlights within the box set include much-loved pieces by Handel, Parry, Stanford, Elgar, Howells and Whitlock, to name just a few.

The English Organ will not only entertain and inform organ and music enthusiasts, but hopefully break perceptions and outdated opinion of the organ as an unapproachable and unplayable instrument.

The once-thriving industry of organ building has seen numbers of employees drop in the UK from 6,000 just after the second world war to around 350 today.

It is also mostly the domain of male scholars and musicians but Mr Fraser and Mr Moult hope to inspire and encourage more female scholars and younger musicians in general to take up the organ.

The English Organ is available for Christmas pre- order now at https://fuguestatefilms.co.uk.