La Révolte Des Orgues, composed in 2007, originates from Jean Guillou’s conceptual design for an organ in the new concert hall in Tenerife (completed 2003). The composition came into being when he devised the distribution of the organ pipes among multiple cases arranged around the audience.
The formal go ahead for this UK production of a rarely performed piece finally arrived in late June 2019. It had been mooted for a performance in 2018 but the complex financial arrangements were never concluded for that date so we were ‘let off’ the undertaking we had pencilled into our diary.It will be performed in a concert starting at 7.30pm on Wednesday November 20th.
Watch a small part of the piece in the YouTube video below.
Two pipe organs and seven Viscount digital organs
The delay was not long and we are now delighted, if also a little daunted, by the requirement to set up seven digital organs for the first UK performance of La Révolte Des Orgues and only the 14th since it was first performed. These instruments will join the mighty West End Organ and the Apse Organ to make up the full complement of nine required by the piece. The Apse console shown on the link above which allowed a detailed play of the West End instrument is sadly long gone. It has been replaced by the much smaller console you see below which also plays the West End organ. Stop management however, is only possible by pistons controlling the West End organ settings.
Carlo Curley told me that he considered the Cathedral West End organ as one of the finest in the UK. Perhaps because there is no pipework visible it is under-publicised? Certainly, it can never be seen in impressive ‘pipe case’ photographs. It is a huge Willis organ with just about every conceivable stop you could ever wish for. Take a look at the NPOR entry HERE.
The concert programme has yet to be finalised but it will include other music including pieces for multiple instruments to show off their characters more conventionally.
This performance is being organised by Westminster Cathedral in association with the Royal College of Organists and Viscount Organs. The aim is to raise funds in support of the music in the Cathedral and for a new outreach campaign by the RCO.
Setting up nine organs for the concert
The ‘set up’ will take place after mass on Sunday November 17th to allow a number of rehearsals. Our seven Envoy 23-S consoles will be set around the nave, four on the north side and three on the south. Each will play through four external speaker cabinets placed high above on the triforium walkways. A percussion section also needed for the performance will be placed near the centre of the nave below the choir steps.
The ‘Viscount team’ will have the job of coordinating three separate vehicles to offload in a limited parking space and then transport 28 speaker cabinets and cables up various staircases to the triforium levels. Cables and power supplies will then be dropped down to the organ consoles below. This exercise being reversed on the day after the performance.
So the sound will come from nine quite distinct locations in the building adding to the drama of performance. I have no doubt this will be one of the ‘organ events’ of the decade and if you miss it, it may be many years before another opportunity to hear the piece presents itself.
So provided we get our job right we look forward to seeing you at the cathedral on the 20th. If we fail in the task you may well find us hiding in the crypt!
La révolte des orgues – Concert details
Wednesday 20th November 2019 (19:30 – 21:00)
Westminster Cathedral, Francis St, London SW1
More details and background on the concert is available on the RCO website.
We hope to see a great many musicians and organists at the event.
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.