He started playing the organ when he was 12, became the organist at St Nicholas Church in Elstree just one year later, and has loved playing the instrument ever since, so when he heard about the Royal College of Organists’ 150th anniversary challenge, 19-year-old Damon Ying from Elstree jumped at the chance to take part.
He is taking part in the 150 for 150 Recital Challenge, which will see organists from across the world playing in a year-long series of at least 150 recitals to celebrate the organisation’s special anniversary.
Damon got in touch with the college to volunteer himself for a concert in Barnet, which he’ll be performing next week.
“This is a great opportunity for me to play music in front of an audience,” says Damon, a former Dame Alice Owen’s School pupil, who is also a member of Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra, “and it’s music that anyone can enjoy.”
The programme for his recital, which Damon chose himself, will include music by Bach, Franck, Vierne, Glass and others.
“I wanted a flowing programme with great balance,” explains Damon, who has just finished his first year at University College London where he is studying maths. “I chose a well-known piece for the beginning, Bach’s ‘Little’ Fugue, as I thought it would be a good introduction. And the whole recital is a progression, it builds the atmosphere of sound to a climax.”
From September, Damon will be taking up the post of organist at St Mary-at-Finchley for one year, where he has received an organ scholarship, and hopes to pursue a career as an actuary, but will continue playing the organ – not to mention the piano, violin and trumpet as well – for pleasure.
“Bach is probably my favourite composer for organ,” he says, “and my favourite piece to play is his Great Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor. The nature of the word ‘great’ means it’s a very full piece, and it’s very difficult to master, but it’s something that everyone can listen to and enjoy.”
Damon will be performing his recital at St John the Baptist Church, Wood Street, Chipping Barnet, on Saturday, August 30 from 11am. Details: rco.org.uk