About the brand
Our instruments have always had first class engineering at the heart of their make-up and Viscount has, from its inception, dominated the UK market for good value home practice organs.
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 encourage organists to explore Viscount in the past was the fact that Viscount was also 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 the ‘Classical Organists’ to consider Viscount.
The initial 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.
Our business today…
In 2006, Jeremy Meager and David Mason bought the UK Distribution rights of Viscount and founded Viscount Classical Organs Ltd. Jeremy has a classical organ training background, 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.
David too has loved and played church organs since he was 12 years old. His grandfather was an FRCO so the love of the instrument runs deep in the genes. Since 1990 David has had home practice instruments: first an Allen (bought from his friend Jeremy) and now of course Viscount. He also has a 2 manual Hill pipe organ set-up in his converted barn which acts as a home recital venue. His organ tutelage level sits at Grade VII but time permitting, he’d like to one day progress to Grade VIII.
A timeline of our journey…
2006: Bought the business and launched our first website
- Establish a good “English” sound for our instruments with enhancements 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.
- 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.
- 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 at Romsey Abbey 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. Read more about Physis here.
- With the introduction of Physis, and the introduction of 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 included: Yarm School brand new concert hall; Guildhall School of Music brand new concert hall; St German’s Cathedral; Northampton Cathedral; Highgate School Chapel; and St John’s Wakefield.
- 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. The ceremony was attended by more than 50,000 people.
- Llandaff Cathedral hired a Regent Classic for 2 years while their pipe organ was rebuilt. Our organ hire business gains ground.
- We refreshed our website with more photography, and audio downloads.
- We started to work with Jonathan Kingston, a professional organ player, to create a series of musical tutorials – playing magnificent pieces on Viscount Organs.
- One of our Regent 356 instruments was hired for the 3 Choirs Festival (a week long festival for all things choral, organ and chamber music orientated)
- We welcomed new clients:
- United States Launch of Regent Classic, our sister brand, at the Boston AGO conference.
- Appointment of our US partner agent, Whitesel Music.
- 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.
- 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.
- We welcomed new client venues like: 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 purchased an Envoy 350-FV to cover the pipe organ rebuild; and The Great Hall Swansea University.
- We provide a free years RCO membership to all customers buying a new home practice instrument to help increase RCO membership and finance a greater range of teaching options.
- We launched our very popular Hymn of the Month musical tutorial series (in collaboration with Jonathon Kingston).
- We held a large scale organ quiz competition to give away a £10,000 instrument to the winning entry. Through this campaign we gained ground in demonstrating the audio magnificence of the digital church organ rivals that of the pipe. You can read the story about the 22 year old organ player who won the organ for his parish church.
- Regent Classic Custom organs were installed in St Mary Chagrove, Normanton Baptist Church and St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church Dundalk.
- International Concert Artist Joseph Nolan does a UK tour playing 6 of our organs and a DVD on a custom instrument in Selby Abbey.
- Envoy and Regent organs features explained on in online video tutorials
- We support the London Organ Outreach Programme delivering the first 3 of 5 long term loan instruments into East End London Schools to allow access to the organ to pupils that would not otherwise have a school instrument
- Launched our own series of organ speakers and speaker casings
- Improved Chorum range of sampled sound instruments introduced to replace Cadet.
- Chethams School Manchester orders a Viscount Organs for its new Stoller Concert Hall
- The Royal Northern College of Music order a new Viscount to add to their teaching facilities.
- New Regent Classic instruments ordered by the Leys School Cambridge and the United Grand Lodge of England for Room 10 in London
- St Mary’s Melton Mowbray hire and Envoy 35-F to cover their pipe organ rebuild, part of a £1 million refurbishment
- Tewksbury Abbey hire an Envoy 35 to cover their pipe organ repair period.
- Wells Cathedral hire an Envoy 23-S needed due to organ blower repairs.
- Canterbury Cathedral hire a Regent Classic instrument for 2 years while the pipe organ is rebuilt.
- Wellington Cathedral New Zealand order a 4 manual Regent Classic instrument to replace the pipe organ destroyed in the 2016 earthquake.
Interested in trying one of our organs? Call David Mason, on 01869 247333 or drop him an email. We have various opportunities for you to test a Viscount or speak to an existing customer.