2019 was a momentous year and as I sit typing this account, I am not quite sure where to put the emphasis. The beginning of the year was understandably focussed on some staff changes.
Our new sales manager Richard Patt had just joined and we were also making plans for long term friend and colleague Jeremy Meager to move from his role of Managing Director to a new life as an independent Viscount dealer trading as the Cotswold Organ Company.
By summer we were joined by Richard Goodall who had many years’ experience with Church Organ World and the planning for the first UK performance of La Revolte at Westminster Cathedral later in the year was well in hand. This involved the provision of 7 temporary instruments to join the 2 cathedral instruments and percussion in performance of this most unusual work.
Regent Classic Organs continues its international expansion
2018 ended with a request to provide an organ in Abu Dhabi for the Papal Mass at the Zayed Stadium. Many days were taken up arranging the logistics of people, packing cases and paperwork required to make that happen. And so it was that in February I found myself setting up the Regent Classic Skinner instrument in preparation for the Papal Mass attended by over 100,000 people.
Only weeks later we had a request for the hire of a ‘positive’ style organ for a baroque concert in Istanbul. Even I had to admit failure on this front and advised the customer to approach local museums as a possible source of such a rare instrument. Some weeks later and in true desperation the client returned to agree to a substantial bill for our chamber organ to fly out for the event. And so before mid year was on us we had carried out 2 major overseas events.
Viscount Classical Organs international presence also grows
In the summer we (Viscount) also had the opportunity to establish a sales capability in Australia so I found myself in October travelling to Perth for our launch event at St Hilda’s School Chapel. This was a second visit to Western Australia but this time for a busy week of work which I am pleased to report has already lead to two sales there.
In fact our international sales generally are growing and towards the end of the year we saw our first sale in Nairobi Kenya. A 3 manual Regent 356 D in a very large modern church that seats well over 1000. The installation was carried out by our partner based in Abuja Nigeria who travelled there just before Christmas and managed a great installation for a now very happy customer.
Support for Schools and young organists
We then had our second practice instrument delivered to Kings College Cambridge so now both organ scholars in residence have instruments in their rooms.
Our support for teaching young organists was extended by the provision of new loan instruments to St Edwards College Liverpool and another at The Cherwell School Oxford will follow shortly.
Exceptional demand for our organs and hire instruments
We also completed a rather rare request to add a digital 32ft flue to one of the newest UK pipe organs recently commissioned. This was the very fine Ruffati pipe organ at Buckfast Abbey. Despite the vast budget allocated to this magnificent instrument space could not be found for a full rank of 32ft flue pipes. We were delighted to be called upon to make this addition and working with the Abbey and Ruffati we overcame the technical issues involved so the instrument can now gently rumble away as it needs to from time to time.
Another major pipe organ rebuild by Harrison & Harrison for Edinburgh Episcopal Cathedral meant we added another magnificent venue to our hire customer group. A Regent 356 was installed there in September with the triforium ledges providing a high ‘purpose made’ speaker location for us.
As is usual the run up to December is our busiest time of year and 2019 was no exception. We managed to deliver and install no less than 18 instruments in November, almost one a day which I have to say did stretch us to near the limit! It was our best month ever and heralded a great end to 2019 which also turned out to be our best ever year.
What will next year bring?
We can only imagine what 2020 will bring but you can be sure we are prepared for whatever will be thrown at us and will be looking forward to the challenges as they arise.
Thank you, all customers and dealer partners for continuing to support Viscount. None of this would be possible without you.