Anne Lister’s Organ Sonata published for music lovers everywhere

An innovative organ sonata, celebrating the life of Anne Lister and recorded in Halifax Minster has now been published for music lovers everywhere to enjoy.

The ‘Organs of Anne Lister’ project premiered in Halifax Minster earlier this year and featured the specially written Anne Lister organ sonata in honour of the renowned diarist, traveller, landowner and businesswoman, best known for her diaries giving a detailed account of her complex life and lesbian relationships.

The sonata, composed by organist, Dr Rebekah Okpoti, was first performed by Rebekah, along with HerEnsemble, the UK’s first women and non-binary string orchestra to Halifax audiences during the Anne Lister Birthday Festival Week 2022.

But now, thanks to its publication by Yorkshire-based Tim Knight Music, audiences the world over will be able to enjoy this special piece of music.

Dr Rebekah Okpoti.

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    “I am absolutely thrilled and so excited that the Anne Lister’s Organ Sonata has been published as there aren’t too many female composers composing sonatas,” said Rebekah.

    “When we performed the sonata earlier this year during the Anne Lister Festival, it went down so well that I thought about looking into getting it published. There were a few rejections from music publishers to begin with but I kept trying. I am really grateful that Tim Knight Music have published it.”

    Rebekah added that she was inspired to write the Anne Lister’s Organ Sonata, after being asked to play for the memorial service of the famous diarist last year.

    “Anne really caught my imagination. She was so ahead of her time and more educated than most women of her time. I instantly wanted to learn more about her so I got hold of her diaries – the published transcripts – and I watched the Gentleman Jack TV series. I really felt I wanted to respond creatively.”

    She added that the sonata reflected Anne as well as Anne’s own love of music, the pipe organ and the fact that Anne herself played the organ in Halifax Minster.

    As a result the piece captures the places that Anne has visited and travelled to and is inspired by the features of pop music rather than by traditional organ composition features.

    “A traditional format of organ music would be a prelude and a fugue of around eight to 12 minutes, whereas with the pop inspired sonata, each movement is only around three to four minutes long with a catchy melody and a verse and chorus feel, making it purpose fit for contemporary listening” said Rebekah.

    The sonata features five individual pieces, all individually titled, with names such as Dear Diary and My Pleasure.

    Rebekah hopes the sonata will now inspire people to take up the organ.

    People can now buy the score just to play, perform, gift to an organist or of course to just listen to it. I would love for people to be inspired by the piece and think about learning the organ for themselves - especially women - and I’m hoping that it will be of interest to people who either have a background of music or just love Anne Lister.”

    The Anne Lister organ sonata is available from: either as a physical score or as a download.