I’ve just about recovered after leading a 54-strong group of Organ Club members on a grand organ tour of Greater Birmingham from September 13th to 19th. A total of eighteen organs were visited, and I’d like to offer my gratitude to all who made us so welcome. No door was closed in my face during months of planning, thus enabling us to visit three concert halls, two cathedrals, a school chapel (mine! Solihull School), the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and a host of churches. We used coaches for three days but managed the rest on foot. An outstanding event was Daniel Moult’s inspirational two-hour masterclass for five of our members on the new Flentrop (a Schnitger copy) in the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where the audience learnt every bit as much as the players. Favourite organs? I think Birmingham Town Hall came out top, perhaps equal with St Chad’s Cathedral, where David Saint’s luminous performance of the great solo violin Chaconne of J.S.B. (arranged W.T. Best) ended our day in heavenly fashion.
The Solihull School chapel Nicholson delighted and surprised everyone as it sounded so splendid;
it was eclipsed on the Sunday only by Pearson’s glorious Birmingham church of St Alban the Martyr, where a haze of incense greeted us along with the extraordinarily effective sounds of its modest size organ.
The Willis I, excellently rebuilt by Michael Farley at St Peter’s Wolverhampton was another hit, as was the stentorian Willis III in Emmanuel, Wylde Green. Other than a touch or two of Covid, all went without a hitch and it was a happy and contented crowd that left Birmingham with a distinctly enhanced idea of the hidden qualities of Britain’s Second City.