Organists’ Guild Tour, days 7-9 〜 オルガニスト・ギルドイギリスツアー、7〜9日目

March 8 (日本語は数日以内に追加します)

Two words describe this day. Walking and organs. We began walking at 8:15 am and finished at 5 pm, having covering quite a bit of central London. Our guide for the day was Jonathan Bunney, organist and choirmaster at St Giles-in-the-Fields Church, London. Jonathan very kindly spent all day with the group, leading us through back streets, organ lofts, and on city busses. I have never seen so much of London on foot in a single day! It was really fun, and the opportunity to play so many different important organs was an incredible chance for the students. Here is a brief summary of the instruments seen.

1. St George's, Hanover Square. This was G. F. Handel's parish church (his home was just around the corner), and is an important musical center in the city today. Interestingly, the church chose the American firm of Richards, Fowkes & Co to build its new instrument several years ago. This organ is classically oriented (with 48 stops over three manuals), so anything from Bach to English voluntary repertoire sounds good on it. Richards & Fowkes built their new instrument in the existing case, so the organ looks the same as the last time I visited the church several years ago.

2. St Giles-in-the-Fields. The original organ here was one of the oldest in London, having been built around 1679. Many builders rebuilt and changed the organ over the centuries (including G P England, J. W. Walker, Gray & Davison), and by the the turn of this century the organ was in poor condition. The late William Drake was appointed to restore the organ, retaining all surviving 17th and 18th century pipe work, as well as most of the 19th century material. The organ was tuned in meantone, and has a truly authentic English character ideally suited for the voluntary repertoire, as well as other music of the period. Interestingly, the original key compasses were restored by Drake, so the manuals extend down to GG as they would have originally, thus allowing for the performing of period literature without compromise (see photo of the manuals).

3. All Saints' Margaret Street. This is another historic church of a rather different design and concept from the first two places visited. Established in the 19th century at the height of the Gothic Revival movement, and for the purpose featuring the Anglo-Catholic liturgy, it is a riot of color and ornament. The organ was built by Harrison & Harrison in 1910, and has been restored by them. It is an excellent early-20th century example of late-English Romantic organ building. The organ is arrayed on two sides of the chancel, and is very loud when heard up close, though it mellows out in the nave. Here, the music of Howells was perfectly at home.

4. Grosvenor Chapel. This intimate chapel resembles St Giles above, and was also built in the 18th century. The organ at that time was a 1732 Abraham Jordan instrument, but was so altered by the 20th century that a totally new organ was deemed necessary. William Drake built the present organ in 1991 in classical English style. We were fortunate in being able to hear a concert by Tom Winpenny of St Alban's Cathedral. The repertoire was all early English (Nares, Blow, Purcell, Byrd, Stanley and Handel), and perfectly demonstrated the instrument's clear, characteristically English sound. Mr. Winpenny, by the way, is a most elegant and spirited performer, really bringing the repertoire to life in a 40 minute performance. At her the concert the students were able to have the organ for an hour before we moved on to our last stop of the day.

Very surprisingly, Mark Stahl found this photo in one of the church offices – it's Rikkyo's PR poster! Small world, eh?

5. Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. Upon first glance, this instrument appears to be a smallish, nondescript instrument, particularly after the finely crafted cases of St Georges, St Giles, and Grosvenor Chapel. Looks are deceiving in this case, however, as a fine, large organ of considerable power is hidden behind the plain case and facade pipes. It has a varied history, but was basically rebuilt in 2006 with the addition of many ranks of pipes by Binns. Like that of All Saints, this organ is wonderful for the Romantic repertoire, and was a fine organ with which to close our day of organ visits. The students, their teacher Yuko Sakiyama, and I are extremely grateful to Jonathan Bunney for the planning and execution of this wonderful day, and for the informative handout covering the history of each organ (this blog post relies heavily on the information it contains). Here we are at the end of the day. Jonathan is in the upper right of the photo.

After we said our goodbyes to Jonathan, the teachers retired to a pub near our hotel to recuperate from the day, while many of the students dashed out to get half-price tickets to musicals, where they ended their fuller-than-full day. Here are the nearly rejuvenated leaders:


March 9

This was the final free day of the tour, so the students scattered far and wide, before returning to the hotel for a dinner party. I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum again, but will feature that in a future post.

March 10

This morning the students, Yuko Sakiyama and Mark Stahl left London for home in the early morning hours. My “the wife” and I remain a few more days in London, which is strangely quiet after three weeks of sharing hotels and facilities with Rikkyo students and staff. We miss you all, but soldier on. Don't worry, we rejoin you soon enough. Next post = 'how to enjoy London without really trying.'


This entry was posted in Church music ~ 教会音楽, England, Music - general ~ 音楽:一般, Organ ~ オルガン関係, Rikkyo ~ 立教. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Organists’ Guild Tour, days 7-9 〜 オルガニスト・ギルドイギリスツアー、7〜9日目

  1. M says:

    All safely returned and probably “snug in their beds” by now. I’m soon to hit the hay, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.