Dr Steven Nisbet OAM has been playing the organ his entire life, with the retired maths lecturer now directing music for the Pilgrim People, a recognised faith community of the Uniting Church.
Beginning his organ studies at the age of 16, Steven learnt from the renowned cathedral organist Dr Robert Boughen OBE at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane.
Steven went on to serve through music at Wesley Methodist Church, Kangaroo Point, St Andrew’s Anglican Church, South Brisbane and was the organist and director of music at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane, from 1979 to 2020.
He is now the organist for the Pilgrim People congregation who meet at the Merthyr Road Uniting Church in New Farm every Sunday afternoon. They also live stream and record the services to be used in retirement and nursing homes.
Steven told 96five’s Alex Milne that he has been quite excited about the acquisition of a new organ at Merthyr Road, which has been put to good use in services.
“It’s an Allen G330 digital organ which has three manuals and pedals; because it’s digital it’s very flexible. I can have one setting where it can sound like an English cathedral, another setting that sounds like Notre Dame in Paris, or a German Baroque organ.”
“It’s like a big computer and all the sounds have been digitised from real pipe organs and the sound that comes out is truly wonderful! It’s very satisfying to play and the congregation just loves it; because we came from St Andrew’s they’re used to hearing a pipe organ and they appreciate good church music.”
The Merthyr Road church previously had a pipe organ, which was installed in 1923 as a World War I soldiers memorial. The organ was removed and relocated to the Beaudesert Uniting Church in the early 1990’s.
Steven said that that the Pilgrim People were especially interested in keeping alive the traditional hymns of the past.
“There’s some wonderful hymns that have been written over the ages, and we’re continuing the tradition of choral singing. Our Pilgrim singers have a wide repertoire of music from early church music all the way through to contemporary music.”
Listen to the full interview with Steven in the audio player above.