About us…Our Journey
This initial success was driven largely by price, which set a brand “perception” of value but not quality. As the organs were not ‘voiced’ to replicate the sound of a good English pipe organ, many prospective customers thought that the Viscount organs were good but clearly “not English” and this led many people to believe that the low price was the cause of this perceived “not English” fault in the instrument.
What also didn’t help draw organists to explore Viscount in the past was the fact that Viscount had also been a dominant supplier of ‘home entertainment instruments’ in the 1970’s and 80’s. These instruments could be perceived as juke boxes and no self respecting classical organist would rush to play one…so success in that market also did not encourage ‘Classical Organists’ to consider Viscount.
Our predecessor owner of Viscount Distribution in the UK was not an organist and made no determined attempt to improve the voicing even though the platform was more than capable. So the company continued to sell large volumes on value and did not take full advantage of the extraordinarily good sound system it inherently had.
A silent magnificent organ voice was lying in wait to be heard
In 2006 Jeremy and I bought Viscount. Jeremy has a classical organ training having studied the instrument since his days as a Chorister in St Albans Abbey. He later studied with Harry Bramma at Southwark Cathedral and at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. He holds the ARCO and LRSM Diplomas. He went on to become an expert in the understanding of digital church organs, working for many years with brand leader Allen Organs and later as Technical Director of Makin Organs, now Church Organ World.
I too have loved and played church organs since I was 12 years old. My Grandfather was an FRCO so the love of the instrument is deep in the genes somewhere. Since 1990 I have had home practice instruments, first Allen (from my friend Jeremy) and now of course Viscount but I also have a 2 manual Hill pipe organ. My study has more or less maxed out at Grade VII but time permitting I hope one day to add Grade VIII.
Our first order of business…
Clearly, when we took over the business – we could see that our first priority was to establish a good “English” sound – get the instruments to produce the sound, that we knew it was capable of. We achieved this (more or less) by 2007. Our enhancement work was based on the organs of Stowe School for bold fiery reeds and All Saints Hove for warm rounded diapasons. We also took inspiration from All Saints Leamington Spa and St Asaph Cathedral.
Our next step was to go online and in 2006 we also introduced our website.
The timeline of growth of the custom made instrument and sounds:
2007 – we built our first custom instrument and introduced moving drawstop instruments which, until then, had not been available in a Viscount instrument. This was the beginning of providing a ladder of different levels and enhanced instruments for customers to aspire to, which matched the choice offered by other competitors.
2008 – This year saw the introduction of the revolutionary physical modelling platform, Physis, to generate the organ sound. This took 5 years of development before it was ready for the launch in the UK by Carlo Curley. At this time we redesigned our UK instruments and to distinguish these from the continental models we use the names Cadet, Envoy and Regent. At the same time we carried out a complete literature overhaul. Physis offers the following benefits to all our instruments:
- Greater authenticity of sound
- Free of charge software upgrades to all instruments
- The same if not better voicing flexibility of a pipe organ
- Easy customisation of otherwise standard instruments
With the introduction of Physis, together with the custom building features – we saw a significant change in the venues that contacted us to select a Regent Classic, the custom built Viscount organ, as their new or first organ.
Some venues include:
- Yarm School brand new concert hall
- Guildhall School of Music brand new concert hall
- St German’s Cathedral
- Northampton Cathedral
- Highgate School Chapel
- St John’s Wakefield
2010 – We were chosen to provide the hire organ for the Pope’s open-air service for the beatification of Cardin Newman in Cofton Park Birmingham
2012 – Llandaff Cathedral hired a Regent Classic for 2 years while their pipe organ was rebuilt. Our organ hire business starts on its growth trend to this current day mots recently with an organ for Manchester Cathedral.
2013 – Our website was substantially improved – with more photography, and audio downloads. We engaged Jonathan Kingston, a professional organ player, to create a series of Tutorials playing magnificent pieces on Viscount Organs.
2014 – One of our Regent 356 instruments was hired for the 3 Choirs Festival. In June of this year, we launched our sister brand “Regent Classic” in the USA at the Boston AGO conference. We appointed our US partner agent, Whistle Music, later that year. 2014 was a bumper year for us:
- Selby Abbey choosing a Regent 356 to cover the 2 year period while their pipe organ was rebuilt.
- St Mary’s Nottingham added a Regent 356 to provide an English organ an addition to their continental pipe organ.
- St Mary’s Witney chose us to rebuild their early Bradford electronic organ.
This year we also undertook bigger opportunities to publicly promote the sound comparison between a Viscount digital church organ and traditional pipe organs in events like the Battle of the Organs in Dundee with Carol Williams.
2015 – Momentum growing rapidly and this year marks a big growth point in the wider professional organ community supporting what we have been saying since 2006 – Viscount Organs offer a magnificent opportunity for a true organ sound. John Scott Whitley and D’Arcy Trinkwon worked with us to produce DVD’s in Selby Abbey, playing our Regent 356. This was an effort to help the Abbey raise funds towards their pipe organ rebuild.
New venues to choose Viscount this year:
- St Peter’s Caversham chose Regent Classic to replace an old Copeman Hart
- Freemasons Hall (this is more than likely the largest ever single UK order for 20 small instruments to replace instruments in various rooms at the Central Grand Lodge in London)
- Manchester Cathedral have purchased an Envoy 350-FV to cover the pipe organ rebuild
- The Great Hall Swansea University
And our story keeps going….
Interested in trying one of our organs? Call me, David Mason, on 01869 247333 or drop me an email. We have various opportunities for you to test a Viscount or speak to an existing customer.
Keep up to date with what we get up to and the wonderful organ events (pipe and digital) we get involved in around the world – read our blog, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list by providing your details below: