Svenska kyrkan

Ten-year plan to recruit church musicians

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By 2030, the Church of Sweden will need to have recruited 700 new organists and cantors. To achieve that goal, the Church of Sweden is now launching a national action plan to further cultivate interest in the profession and in the organ as an instrument.

Church of Sweden is planning a variety of initiatives and activities to encourage the interest for the organ as an instrument and for the profession as a church musician. Photo: Alex Giacomini/Ikon.
Church of Sweden is planning a variety of initiatives and activities to encourage the interest for the organ as an instrument and for the profession as a church musician. Photo: Alex Giacomini/Ikon.

There are currently around 3,400 organs in Swedish churches, which makes Sweden one of the most organ-dense countries per capita in the world. This is a unique cultural heritage that is maintained and developed by the country’s 2,000 church musicians. However, ever fewer students are applying to the country’s church music courses of education, and many church musicians will be retiring in the coming years.

To meet the need for new recruits, the Church of Sweden is now launching an action plan, called Organists at the leading edge (Organister i framkant). It is a ten-year plan that will include a variety of initiatives and activities.

Three objectives have been defined:

* Each parish in the Church of Sweden shall invite all the nine-year-olds in the area to organ experiences.
* The church musicians in the Church of Sweden shall instruct an average of one organ student each.
* Each parish shall invite people to organ-related activities, to demonstrate the possibilities offered by the instrument.

The three objectives must be met each year during the project duration. A network of committed church musicians has been formed in the dioceses to provide support and inspiration to the parishes.

A new website is also being launched, with the aim of creating an increasingly comprehensive resource bank regarding organ playing and teaching.

The Organists at the leading edge project is being carried out in collaboration with the Göteborg International Organ Academy, which has worked to create stimulating interaction with organs for several years.

One such method is the DO organ, a concept originating from the Netherlands, which involves children building their own organ in an hour or so and then playing it. More than 2,000 children in western Sweden have so far become acquainted with the organ in this way. The Church of Sweden has purchased around ten more DO organs to spread the concept across the country.

Other successful examples include combining organ music with a massage, and the Go Bach to sleep concept, where participants can simply lie down with a blanket in the pews and snooze to the sound of Bach. The Church of Sweden now wants to spread such initiatives around the country, thereby encouraging interest and demonstrating the organ’s richness of possibilities.

“We know that there is a great interest in and considerable fascination about organs, but also great respect and perhaps a degree of uncertainty regarding the fact that the instruments are so clearly associated with churches. With Organists at the leading edge, we will invite people to get to know the organ in new ways as well as highlighting being a church musician as a career choice of the future with very good opportunities”, says Marit Torkelson, Project Manager and Church Music Administrator at the Central Church Office in Uppsala.

More information:

www.organisteriframkant.se/

www.svenskakyrkan.se/kyrkorgel

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Church of Sweden is planning a variety of initiatives and activities to encourage the interest for the organ as an instrument and for the profession as a church musician. Photo: Alex Giacomini/Ikon.
Church of Sweden is planning a variety of initiatives and activities to encourage the interest for the organ as an instrument and for the profession as a church musician. Photo: Alex Giacomini/Ikon.
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https://www.svenskakyrkan.se/

The Church of Sweden is a national church, open to everyone living in Sweden regardless of nationality. It is a place for church services, meetings and dialogue. The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran church with 5,9 million members. There are 3500 churches in Sweden, and 13 dioceses.

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Collaborating and cooperating with other churches and organisations is at the core of the Church of Sweden´s international mission.  As a church, we are part of the worldwide community of churches.

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