Anna Lapwood, a remarkable and multifaceted musician, released her much-anticipated album Luna at the weekend, courtesy of Sony Classical. The album exhibits her versatility and innovative spirit and promises to take listeners on a celestial journey through the realms of classical music.
Inspired by the stars in the Zambian sky
The 15 tracks of Luna include items from the classical repertoire, contemporary compositions, and film music transcriptions. The album was inspired by the trip Lapwood makes each year to teach in Zambia. She describes the awe-inspiring Zambian night sky filled with a tapestry of stars, each with its own unique luminance:
One of the highlights of my year is the time I spend teaching music in Zambia. I love it for the people, the music and the laughter, but I also always look forward to the first time I see the Zambian night sky again. You look up and it’s just completely full of stars. Bright stars, dull stars; some twinkling, some static; some glowing orbs and others dots smaller than pinpricks. With this album, I’m imagining we’re standing there, gazing at the sky, overwhelmed by the magnitude of what we can see. I’m imagining that as we stare upwards, our minds can almost take us there, travelling through the night sky and exploring individual stars with their unique personalities and characteristics.
Memories of Aldeburgh
As a child, Lapwood would introduce herself “My name is Anna Lapwood and I play 20 instruments”. She played the harp in the National Youth Orchestra, and family holidays in Suffolk frequently included walks on Aldeburgh beach. She started to switched her focus to the organ at about 15. When she recorded her 2021 debut solo album – which includes her own transcriptions for organ of Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes – she featured Maggi Hambling’s iconic Aldeburgh scallop sculpture on the album cover.
Anna’s present album Luna showcases her exceptional talent as an organist, and two of the tracks also offer a glimpse into her conducting role at Pembroke College, Cambridge. She had been the first female to be appointed organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, where she studied music. She then moved to her parents’ alma mater, Cambridge, when she was appointed Director of Music at Pembroke at the remarkably young age of 21. Her job involves teaching academic music in the college and conducting the college’s choirs.
Lapwood devotes much energy to promoting the participation of girls and young women in music. Earlier this year she gave the keynote speech and two masterclasses to young organists at Norwich High School.
She has been instrumental in demystifying the organ and propelling classical music into the digital age. With over 550,000 TikTok followers and now surpassing 1 million social media followers across all platforms, she is broadening the horizons of the organ and ushering in a new era of accessibility, inclusivity, and enthusiasm for classical music. Encouraged when younger to “play like a man”, she now tags her energetic social media presence #PlayLikeAGirl.
Having at first needed persuading to try the organ, Lapwood now actively promotes the playing and the visibility of women organists and the involvement of girls in music-making. Since 2018 she has run an annual event, the Cambridge Organ Experience for Girls, offering an encouraging and safe space for girls to explore the idea of being an organist, and she runs an annual Bach-a-thon, which helps to fund the Pembroke Choir work in Zambia: one year all contributors were women organists. She has also set up a Pembroke College Girls’ Choir for girls aged 11 to 18.
Mixing with the stars
In her role as Associate Artist of the Royal Albert Hall, she enjoys exclusive access to its magnificent organ. this has given rise to captivating impromptu collaborations, including a memorable encounter with electronic musician Bonobo, and to moments of musical fun with others working in the venue during her overnight practice sessions. On one occasion she sent England’s Lionesses her best wishes, and on another accompanied a record-breaking World’s Strongest Man contender singing Robbie Williams’s “Angels”.
Lapwood’s infectious love for the organ and for the joy of music-making is the driving motivation in her a role as an ambassador for classical music, for the involvement of girls, for women organists, and for the organ itself. As The Sunday Times aptly puts it, “She is much more than a gifted organist, choral conductor, and social media sensation … she’s a star on a mission.” The New York Times recognises her as “the world’s most visible organist,” and Gramophone hails her as “imaginative, open-minded, and a brilliant musician.”
Anna Lapwood’s website gives further information about her and her new album Luna.
This article is based on a press release from https://www.musicprods.co.uk/