Visit to Wiltshire – Saturday 25 February 2017
Six organists from SOCA visited 3 organs in central Wiltshire.
We started at St Andrews just off the Market Place in central Chippenham and were welcomed by the former organist David Dewar and the President of the Wiltshire and Bath Organist’s Association, Geoff Oldnall. David gave us a short talk on the organ and played a piece by Weelkes, and a Psalm Prelude by Howells to demonstrate the three manual instrument. The organ boasts a range of interesting colours and members were able to enjoy playing it.
Our next stop was 5 miles down the A4 towards London at St Mary’s Church in the little town of Calne. We were welcomed there by the organist, David Bevan. Over the lunch time period we were able to play the interesting 4 manual Conacher organ. This instrument had previously had 5 manuals. Although in need of some maintenance the organ is interesting and certainly more than adequately fills the church with sound.
Our last stop was a further 12 miles down the A4 at the Chapel of Marlborough College to see, hear and play the 2002 Beckerath organ recently installed there. We were welcomed by the Chapel organist, Ian Crabbe, who gave us a short talk on the instrument. The original organ had been on the rear gallery but the organ was moved to the chancel and the new organ is now located to the north side of the chapel in front of the chancel. Beckerath, who won the contract for the new organ, used about 500 of the original pipes in the new 5000 pipe, 4 manual instrument.
The original Bodiley Case was also retained.
Ian played for us the Bach Prelude in G BWV 541 to demonstrate the warmth of the principal chorus. He then went on the play Howells’ Psalm Prelude “Out of the depths” to demonstrate the English organ sound achieved by Beckerath. He finished with Guilmant’s March on a Theme by Handel played with a French flavour on the Swell which must have been close to what Guilmant intended. Members then enjoyed playing this magnificent instrument. One was so impressed by the touch that she was heard to say “this instrument teaches you how to leave a note”.
Report by Peter Cox