Sunday 30th July
Last week I spent two enjoyable days conducting organ surveys in Northern Ireland - a large 1963 Walker rebuild at Holywood (near Belfast) and the famous 1914 Hill at Londonderry Guildhall. The Guildhall is an ornate 'Gothic' building which wouldn't be out of place in Glasgow. Recently sumptuously restored, it has benefited from the organ's front pipes being beautifully and tastefully painted. They were plain, dull, oxidised zinc in appearance before - really gloomy. Behold them now!
Monday 17th July
Most enjoyable day yesterday, revisiting St Mary's, Kidlington, where in 1974-6 I helped Richard Vendome build an organ at the west end, based on the Fr Willis previously in the north transept. It has choruswork made for us by Giesecke, who also made the spectacular horizontal trumpet. The late Martin Goetze and Kenneth Tickell did most of the voicing. David Hewett, Richard and I played, as did George Inscoe, who gave the world premiere of Richard's "Eclats", specially composed for the event. Amazing to think that forty years has passed - my entire working life. The organ sounds as good as ever and works well. Very happy about that!
Friday 14th July
Just back from a highly enjoyable couple of days at Aylsham in Norfolk, where last night I gave the third recital in the re-opening series on a remarkable 1911 Norman & Beard. Henry Willis & Co has recently completed an immaculate restoration, including its complex pneumatic action and its rare push stop/button console, as designed by the blind Alfred Hollins. It sounds a treat.
Tuesday 4th July
Thanks to the enormous help of Jonathan and Paul of Henry Groves & Son, our Nottingham organ-builders, my house organ is installed in our new music room. It is now playing and almost complete, with just the piston system to install now; more updates when all is done.
Saturday 1st July
This past week I have surveyed and written up two fine Edwardian three-manual organs by first-class Northern makers: one by Albert Keates of Sheffield, the other by Ernest Wadsworth of Manchester. Both are under threat, one for financial reasons and one through congregational apathy. Nothing new there, of course, but in looking at the quality of materials and construction of these organs and thinking just how many like them are threatened with removal, I felt I must do all I possibly can to inspire the churches to keep them. But you can't win them all.