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Trian - Claire M Singer

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Listen While you read:

Not everyone can say that the Pipe Organ as an instrument they are familiar with - just by its sheer size and complexity it is an instrument that it is designed and built to be an immovable part of a specific edifice, generally a religious one, with its modern usage little more than ceremonial. As the congregations to these edifices have declined, so has people's contact with this unique musical instrument diminished along with any familiarity or knowledge of the music and composers associated with it.

As a child regularly attending church I grew up with the sound and was often in awe of the power of the instrument, none more so than when listening to a rendition of Charles- Marie Widor's Toccato at the end of a service. Now much of what we encounter is cliched interpretations of classics for those "never to be forgotten" wedding ceremonies.

But beyond this familiar classical organ tradition lies a new and modern approach to the instrument and Aberdeenshire born Claire M Singer has made this her world. Now Music Director at the Union Chapel in London she is a leading modern composer for organ. where there is not a lot of contemporary composing happening. The Pipe Organ offers to the musician an almost infinite combination of sounds and tones with different simultaneous manipulations of keyboards, pedals and stops, as well as the different methods of pushing air into the pipes either by mechanical or electronical means. She has made it her task to explore the "delicate harmonics" these manipulations can produce and the resulting works are stunningly mesmeric. She can be described as being both a mechanic and musician at the same time, as she fine tunes the sounds the instrument produces.

Claire M Singer

Her Album - Trian (Gaelic meaning "Third" released at the end of 2019) is what used to be called a double album(a double vinyl limited edition is available as is a digital version on most streaming sites) and brings together a collection of 7 of her most recent works.

The complete album is just over an hour long and requires the listener to log off and devote the entire self to travelling along the melodies and harmonics of each composition. The Gaelic names of each of the tracks are a clue to where you should expect to travel - Ceò - Fog, Solas - Light, Eilean - Island & Fairge - Ocean, the music conjuring you into an interpretation of these themes.

And for anyone unsure - this is not classical church organ but a uniquely contemporary acoustic experience.

It is clear that Singer's music will be well suited to cinema and she has already finished her first Score for the film "Tell it to the Bees" (Annabel Jankel 2018). It will not be her last.

Further evidence of Singer's rising stock came just a week ago with her nomination in the Large Chamber Category of the annual Ivors Composer Awards for her work most recently commissioned piece “Gleann Ciùin”.

Further Reading & Links:


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