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Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

Oregon
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Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

I've searched the forum, but the results I've found so far either don't completely address my questions or are from 2015. My apologies if I've missed another, more recent thread.

Has anyone attended the Sunday 17.45 organ recital at Westminster Abbey recently? Is there limited seating for them? Are they particularly popular? What time are people wishing to attend allowed to enter? We're in town right now and thinking of attending this coming Sunday, but are unsure how much time to allow for advance arrival to secure a seat, or if we could end up standing outside for some time before being allowed inside. (Not knowing how the recital meshes with any previous services and such.)

Thank you in advance for any information shared.

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6 replies to this topic
Guildford, United...
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1. Re: Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

I haven't been, but would be very surprised if there was a problem getting in. It's a big place...

Oregon
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2. Re: Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

I'll answer my own question, as we just returned a few hours ago.

We arrived at approx. 5:05 and there were already easily 75+ people in the queue. It was quite long by the time we were allowed in (a little after 5:30.) You are asked to open any bags and let a guard inspect them as you enter the gates. Then you're directed inside by staff all along the way and told where you are to seat yourself. It is a big place, but there is a designated area of closely set chairs set out in sections along a main aisle with further side aisles. The chairs had information sheets placed on them, with facts about the organ, a play list for that recital, and a bio on the organist playing. I would guestimate there might have been easily been as many as 300+ people there in total. The section we were sitting in seated 4 rows of 10 chairs (not all sections were the same amount, but they looked similar in overall size) and there were at least 10 sections, mostly full. They started promptly at 5:45 after a short introduction speech and ended promptly at 6:15. They have another service right after, so they don't want you to linger on your way out. They were quite strict about no phones or photos, with one person who ignored the request being asked to leave. Over all, it was lovely and we greatly enjoyed it.

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

Thanks for that information, I've been interested in going myself. Can you give us a brief idea of the work performed?

Oregon
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4. Re: Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

It seems to be different for each recital, but last night's included two Bach pieces, two Herbert Howells pieces and a William Byrd piece.

It's well worth going (unless the weather is truly horrible, then the wait outside might not be much fun.)

If organ concerts are something you enjoy for their own sake, you might also check out what's on at Westminster CATHEDRAL. Those are not free, but they are longer and the setting is just as beautiful.

Guildford, United...
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5. Re: Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

I stand corrected, that's a bigger audience than I would have expected. Though I still doubt that you would not have been able to get in, but you might have missed out on good seats, the information leaflet, etc.

Oregon
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6. Re: Westminster Abbey Sunday organ recitals

We weren't in danger of not getting in, but as you say, the best seats were toward the front, closer to the organ. (And at high season, I would think you might indeed end up with a maxed out crowd for even the large area they were seating in. There was only so much expanding or adding of chairs they could have done in the space.) Although the acoustics would give you good hearing anywhere in the area. They did have staff monitoring the queue and making sure everyone knew they were in line for the organ recital, and not for visiting (as visiting is not possible on Sundays.) I would guess they might also have been monitoring for if they were going to need to set out more seats. The staff was pleasant, but also efficiently moving people along.

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