A short profile
ANDREW CESANA was born at Rochester on Wednesday 8th April 1964 amongst the dying embers of Sir Alec Douglas-Home's Conservative government. At the General Election, which quickly followed in October that year, a Labour Government was elected and Harold Wilson's "White Heat of Technology" was soon to sweep the nation. The new generation of young "swingers" had blossomed and "Beatle" mania was upon us, insidiously pervading the populace and ensuring the old order of country Squires, and old Etonians, were banished from public life to their rustic backwoods and dusty towers.
The poet John Heath Stubbs, reflecting in more recent times, was heard to remark: "And the hideous music of the Beatles was everywhere. It's not quite everywhere anymore, but it's just as hideous". Although opinions may differ, it was certainly a new and vibrant time. Perhaps one had to be of the right age to fully appreciate such things.
For Andrew, the nuances of the period remain veiled in history, although his own family history, in contrast, is not without interest. The name Cesana is Italian and the New Groves Dictionary of Music has a reference to the name "Cesana" dating from the 16th century. Andrew's great grandfather brought it to England from Milan in 1860 during the great political unrest in Italy at the time. Andrew's grandfather was born in 1893 and his father in 1924, both in London. Andrew's father settled at Plumstead, South London and specialised in jewellery and clocks, being a Fellow of The Institute of Horology. He was also in the Merchant Navy prior to the Second World War, but joined the Fleet Air Arm and was stationed in Egypt during the later part of the war.
Andrew's mother, by contrast, was born in 1922 at Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands. Her parents were Falkland islanders, although her grandparents were Scottish farmers who, in 1840, had bravely sailed, making the long and arduous journey through mountainous seas, to the Falklands taking with them a new stock of sheep; they founded much of the sheep farming on the islands.
However, Andrew's mother came to England just after the Second World War taking up residence with an uncle and aunt living at Charlton, South London. She found employment at the company of Joseph Rank of Leadenhall Street, in the City of London. Nearby was a shipping company where "Aunt Irene" (Andrew's father's aunt) worked and, on meeting Andrew's mother, responded as only aunts can - rather like Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha - and took charge. She introduced Andrew's parents and romance blossomed.
They married and subsequently moved to Rochester, from their home at Shooters Hill, London, in 1961. They had four children, two girls, and two boys, Andrew being the third of the four. He is now also a proud uncle, having three nephews and two nieces.
Andrew's primary education was at Warren Wood Primary School and then at St. Thomas More R. C. Primary School at Walderslade. His Secondary education was at Chatham Grammar School for Boys (which was then Chatham Technical High School for Boys) from 1975 to 1982.
Andrew's mother had always had an interest in the piano, having had music lessons as a girl in the Falklands, and she decided to take Andrew for a "musical assessment" to Rose Coulson, a notable musician in the Medway Towns. She was asked if young Andrew - he was ten at the time - had possible musical potential. His mother was assured he did and he started piano lessons with Kathleen Jasper, with whom he stayed for the next four years. Andrew was a model pupil who would joyfully practice, displaying an innate love of music.
Aged 14, Andrew transferred his tutelage to Robert Featherstone and he had his first organ lesson at St. John Fisher Church, Rochester. He also, later, played at Christ Church Gravesend, still remaining under the guidance of Robert Featherstone. In 1980, aged sixteen, he started organ lessons with Mr. James Levett at St. Margaret's Street, Rochester. Andrew was fascinated by Mr. Levett's three-manual and pedal "house organ", complete with 8ft Tuba. The following year, aged seventeen, Andrew joined our Kent County Organists' Association and attended his first meeting at All Saints Church, Maidstone.
Andrew continued his organ lessons with Mr. Levett until 1982 before transferring to Colchester Institute under Timothy Lawford. He graduated in 1985 with a B.A. (Hons) degree (with special studies in Christian Liturgical Music). Following this he was appointed Assistant Director of Music, 1985-1986, at Worth Abbey School, Sussex, which was run by the Benedictine Order. In 1989 Andrew became a freelance musician and teacher; he teaches the piano and is also a peripatetic organ tutor. He was the temporary organist, for six months, at St. Stephen's Church, Chatham before taking up the permanent position of organist at St. Nicholas Church, Strood where he remains to this day.
Andrew's enthusiasm for rugby at school was, unfortunately, not matched by success and quieter pursuits have taken preference. Local history, the history of Rochester Cathedral, and the Catholic Church in particular, have, for Andrew, an irresistible allure. His roots are in the Catholic Church, but playing the organ, as he does, at an Anglican church he naturally warms to the Anglo Catholic wing of the Church of England in preference to the Evangelical.
With his knowledge of organs, both at home and abroad, he has acquired an extraordinary, and vast, circle of friends and acquaintances throughout the organ world. He has visited and played organs the length and breath of the country and now, of course, extends his playing expeditions, travelling to notable continental organs.
Within our organ world, and especially with his long association with Rochester, Andrew has become a distinguished and much-loved "Pickwickian" figure who is always about to embark on an organ adventure, or has jus returned from one.
Andrew is every inch the English gentleman never given to undue ostentation or pretension. However, although he is indubitably a picture of gentlemanly sobriety, always respectably besuited, there is rumour that, although he may never wear an anorak, where organs are concerned, he has the look of a man who might.
Of course, we cannot possibly condone such rumours although perhaps, in truth, he does exude an impassioned enthusiasm for organs. It is an enthusiasm of academic refinement, carefully recording and detailing the specifications and construction of organs he visits.
With his endearing personal charm, together with his organ expertise, he has proved to be a most successful Association President since being elected in July 2001, and we are greatly indebted to him for the unbounded exuberance and time he lavishes upon us.