Unusually on a Sunday morning I was sat at home close to my phone when a Facebook Message popped up from Jonathan Eyre (Chapel Organist at Old Royal Naval College) asking if we could provide a hire organ in the Chapel the next day. That might be challenge enough for most companies but the next day was Bank Holiday Monday.
The magnificent pipe organ was playing up and ciphers fixed only the week before had returned to plague the instrument. Not in most cases a matter of crisis but the BBC live broadcast of Choral Evensong was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon and a rehearsal for the Bank Holiday Monday at 6.00pm.
David Wilkinson – one of the most experienced organ console movers
The Viscount wheels went into overdrive. We had a 3 manual Envoy 350-FV ready to go, that was the easy bit, but where would we get the staff to take the organ up two flights of steps into the chapel?
We are fortunate to work with one of the most experienced organ console movers in the world. I have no doubt he is the best in the UK and is always able to rise to a crisis. By about 2.00pm on Sunday we had a plan.
David Wilkinson would be joined by our own staff member Hugh Prior and an instrument would get to Greenwich by 3.00pm Monday allowing plenty of time to set up. Local help would be available for the great stair climb.
That at least was the plan but the extra muscle we needed failed to appear so plan B went into effect. There was a disabled lift large enough to carry a wheelchair and its operator. With a little bit of jiggling we managed to get the organ onto the lift and so the instrument was raised the 7 or so metres into the chapel.
Live broadcast featuring the Hire Organ
It was with a little anxiety that I tuned in to listen to the live broadcast and I have to say I was delighted with the result. The organ featured for a full 12 minutes at the end as Jonathan gave a full performance of a Bach Prelude and Fugue. The Choir is made up from members of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance
Here is the order of service:
- Introit: My soul, there is a country (Parry)
- Responses: Byrd Psalms 27, 28, 29 (Ley, Allwood, Attwood)
- First Lesson: Hosea 13 vv.4-14
- Office hymn: Now the green blade riseth (Noel nouvelet)
- Canticles: The Second Service (Byrd)
- Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 15 vv.50-58
- Anthem: Geistliches Lied (Brahms)
- Voluntary: Prelude and Fugue in B minor BWV 544 (Bach)
Ralph Allwood (Director of Music) and Jonathan Eyre (Organist). Broadcast from BBC Sounds not available anymore.
I hope you won’t mind a little self blown Trumpet at both 8ft and 16 ft pitch!. But who else could have pulled that off? Well done and a big thank you to the amazing team that works at Viscount.
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.