In the third week of May I had the great good fortune to travel to 3 marvellous locations in Ireland and Eire. With me was my great friend Dr Joseph Nolan, who is an amazing musician. We visited three of our larger church installations to play recitals by way of a thank you to these communities for having chosen a Viscount or Regent Classic organ to maintain their worship.
Organ Stop number one – Belfast
We flew into Belfast from Birmingham on a sunny Tuesday afternoon well ahead of the first concert the following Wednesday evening at Crescent Church Belfast. This was once a Presbyterian church but some 30 years ago was taken over by a non-denominational Christian group. Our instrument, a Regent 356 tab stop replaced an Allen organ that had long since taken over from the substantial pipe organ, the facade of which you see remains in the church.
This is a huge space with upper gallery so typical of architecture for the late 1800’s. Crescent Church have recently vastly improved the entrance lobby and the new organ was part of this building refurbishment scheme. They are also fortunate to have a very accomplished organist Gareth Lewis who when not playing for the church is a consultant nephrologist in Belfast.
We were joined on the night by our local Belfast dealer David Martin of Keynote Organs and also by David Jeffers all the way from Bandon in the South who was delivering a brand new home instrument for Gareth the following day.
As ever Joseph played out of his boots. You may care to listen to part of the recital, Boellman’s Suite Gothique below.
Below is also video taken in Crescent Church as Joseph was preparing for the Recital.
Organ Stop two – Dundalk
The following day we moved to St Joseph’s Redemptorist Monastery in Dundalk. Just over a year earlier our sister company Regent Classic Organs had installed a 3 manual custom drawstop instrument in this church.
Here we did replace a 2 manual pipe organ that required massive repair and restoration work that was financially beyond the Monastery’s budget. The pipe organ work had been costed at near Euro 700,000. For much closer to Euro 200,000 a new 3 manual instrument was accomplished but also a massive redesign of the gallery to allow for almost trebled choir seating and a decorative pipe façade concealing speakers constructed high above on the west end wall.
You can hear 3 movements for Rawsthorne’s Dance Suite played by Joseph below.
Final Organ Stop – Cavan
Finally we moved even further south to the small town of Cavan which is blessed with a marvellous and substantial Cathedral built in the early 1940’s. This is a huge building with seating for at least 500 and with an acoustic to match. The building is also richly adorned with marble columns and floors. Not at all what you expect to stumble upon in what in many other respects is a modest rural Irish town.
The acoustic here forced a much slower pace of playing. You can hear the J S Bach Passacaglia below.
This concert over we adjourned into town for a delightful meal. Next day we drove back to Belfast for a late afternoon flight back to Birmingham with just one concert remaining at St Mary’s Witney before we could put Joseph safely back on the plane to take him back to his home in Perth Western Australia.
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.