News posts in 2020
Sunday 15th March
Just back from a most enjoyable trip to Potters Bar, where I gave the inaugural Gala Organ Recital on an organ newly installed in St Mary's Church. Interestingly, the instrument is a transplant - made by T. C. Lewis for the old St Alkmund's church, Derby, and rebuilt in 1972 for the new St Alkmund's building, this fine 3-manual had seen scarcely any use as the church's worship style evolved away from the organ. It proved the perfect fit for Potters Bar, once reconfigured and fully restored and updated by Henry Groves & Son, sounding cathedralesque in a fine acoustic. A large and supportive audience turned up - despite the coronavirus - and a good time was had by all - especially by me. See my Published Books page for a booklet about this organ.
Thursday 20th February
I spent a stimulating (if freezing cold) couple of days this week in the great Minster Church of St Nicholas, Great Yarmouth - the largest parish church by volume in the UK. The task was to undertake tonal regulation of a new, if temporary, 'Hauptwerk' installation which will be in use until the famous Hill/Compton is rebuilt. A huge audio system with 48 channels/loudspeakers and 4 sub-woofers creates a remarkably effective sound in the building, using the sampled Peterborough Cathedral organ, in a reduced stop-list. Paul Stringfellow made the organ, fitting a redundant Rodgers console with Comptonesque luminous stop touches.
Saturday 25th January
In 1963 I started at Solihull School as a grade 5 pianist and took piano lessons from the young Jill Godsall. Jill sorted out my technique and even tolerated my falling in love with the organ a year or two later. Jill had started teaching at Solihull in 1959 and remained teaching and playing there for an astonishing 60 years. Today this was celebrated as the Recital Hall in the David Turnbull Music School was renamed in her honour. 130 former pupils and friends gathered for this very happy event, including some mentioned on the 1970s Oxbridge Music Awards honours board I spotted alongside others on the wall [see below]. The school has an enviable record of success in educating fine musicians - long may it continue to do so, and long may the ever-vivacious Jill continue to pop in with helpful advice!
Saturday 18th January
Speaking at the annual lunch of the Coventry & Warwickshire Organists Association today took me right back to my earliest days learning to play the organ, as a Music Scholar at Solihull School. Watching Nicholsons build and install the Chapel organ during 1965-1966 inspired my love of organ design and construction, which has gone hand in hand with playing ever since. Members of the Coventry & Warwickshire Organists Association (including the late Stephen Ridgley-Whitehouse, then the same age as me - 16) visited the new organ in 1968, an event I clearly recall. Speaking at their annual lunch I discovered that one member at the lunch had also been present in 1968. The intervening 52 years seemed to fall away!