The Longest Marathon Church Organ Playing Record Attempt
In April 2016, Ashley Valentine was due to attempt the Longest Marathon Church Organ Playing world record. The record had stood at 40 hours and Ashley was due to attempt 48 hours. Then everything changed… the original record holder from Norway completed 60 hours!
Due to the logistics involved, our attempt has been postponed…for now. The plan is still to ‘have a go’ at 60 hours and help towards raising the £500,000 needed in order to restore the 19th Century Organ at St Giles’ Church. We’ll keep you posted on all the latest developments but in the meantime, we hope to use the organ for some interesting and unique events at St Giles’ to draw attention to the restoration campaign.
The organ at St Giles’ is beginning to show its age and in need of restoration. It was built in 1844 by Bishop & Son organ builders and designed by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, who was a previous organist at St Giles’. Wesley was a superstar performer and composer of his age and took the time to design the organ at St Giles’, which makes it a very special example of British organ design and construction.
170 years of pollution, dampness, temperature changes and heavy use have taken their toll on this magnificent instrument. Although it has had two major restorations in its life, the last in 1961, the organ is in serious need of an overhaul. To kick off our campaign to restore the organ and begin to raise the £500,000 needed to repair it, we are going to attempt to break the World Record for Longest Organ Marathon.
- Pieces must be at least two minutes in length
- Every piece played must be a published composition (no improvising or busking)
- There is a maximum of 30 seconds allowed between each piece
- The attempt must be filmed
- The pieces have to be played to a good standard
- Two independent observers must be present throughout the attempt as well as two organists/university lecturers
How can you help?
This will be a major record attempt which will raise the profile of St. Giles’ and Camberwell, generate national interest in local arts and music-making, and most importantly, kickstart the fundraising campaign to restore the organ to the best possible condition. In order to meet demanding scrutiny and ensure that over 60 hours of continuous organ playing becomes the new Guinness World Record, we will need to humbly appeal for help from individuals who would like to play a part in this momentous event. Personnel required for the record attempt include:
- Professional Time Keepers with accurate stop watches to work
- Music Professionals including Music Teachers to act as professional witnesses
- Willing Music Page Turners
- All manner of other assistance including fundraising, food & drink, help on the door, and moral support for Ashley over a 60 hour + period
If you are interested in volunteering for one of the roles above in the future, please do get in touch. Include your name, contact details, which role you might be interested in volunteering for and your general availability. We require you to be available for a minimum of four hours.
Is it worth it…?
We really think so! As part of our research into grants, we know that it’s going to be important for the organ to be a community instrument – not just for use on a Sunday morning church service. We think we’re nearly there already – people come to St Giles’ to practice on it and the organ is heard and loved by many, whether that’s at carol services for staff and patients from local hospitals at Christmas time or playing scary silent movie music at Halloween. And of course, St Giles’ is the home to Organoke – an event which is taking on a life of it’s own! We think it deserves to survive – thank you for your support.