Church organist tuning up for 12 cathedrals fundraising challenge

Organist Elise Crean and husband Dessie Moorcroft prepare for a 270-mile dash playing 12 organ recitals in 12 cathedrals across Northern Ireland. Pic by Liam McArdle
Organist Elise Crean and husband Dessie Moorcroft prepare for a 270-mile dash playing 12 organ recitals in 12 cathedrals across Northern Ireland. Pic by Liam McArdle

A motorcycle-loving church organist from Co Armagh is getting ready to take to the roads in a race against the clock as she bids to perform 12 concerts in 12 cathedrals in just one day.

Musician and keen biker Elise Crean will don her leathers for the unique challenge, which will take her to venues across Northern Ireland, on July 21.

Organist Elise Crean gets in some practice ahead of her 12 organ recitals in 12 cathedrals fundraising challenge. Pic by Liam McArdle

Organist Elise Crean gets in some practice ahead of her 12 organ recitals in 12 cathedrals fundraising challenge. Pic by Liam McArdle

Helping Elise make the 270-mile dash around the 12 cathedrals will be her husband, Dessie Moorcroft, who will be giving her a lift on the back of his powerful Suzuki motorbike.

Elise, 35, from Darkley, the resident organist at First Armagh Presbyterian, is aiming to raise money towards the £70,000 required to rebuild the church’s historic organ.

Members of public are being invited along to each of the concerts, while bikers are being encouraged to ride alongside Elise and Dessie on all or part of their journey.

“This may be the first time a church organist has been seen in motorcycle gear and I am hoping that a combination of curiosity and generosity will help generate audiences for each concert,” Elise said.

“Each stop will be exactly 30 minutes long. We have to stick very strictly to the schedule so that we can complete the round trip through each of the six counties on time.

“I think it is going to be a challenge, but as an organist it is a fantastic opportunity to get to play some of the finest instruments in the Province.”

Elise, who has already been practicing on the various organs that she’ll encounter on the day, will be playing a programme of favourites from across the centuries including Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Elgar’s Nimrod. Each concert will also feature an organ and bagpipe duet of Highland Cathedral.

Anyone who would like to support Elise in her fundraising effort can make a donation online at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/firstarmaghorgan

• 12 concerts on July 21...

0700: Armagh – St Patrick’s RC Cathedral

0800: Newry – Cathedral of St Patrick and St Colman

0925: Downpatrick – Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity

1030: Dromore – Cathedral Church of Christ the Redeemer

1115: Lisburn – Lisburn Cathedral

1205: Belfast – St Anne’s Cathedral

1345: Belfast – St Peter’s Cathedral

1545: Londonderry – St Columb’s Cathedral

1625: Londonderry – St Eugene’s Cathedral

1840: Enniskillen – St Macartin’s Cathedral

1945: Clogher – St Macartan’s Cathedral

2100: Armagh – St Patrick’s COI Cathedral