WORLD-class organists will help a school community celebrate an important moment in the history of their chapel.
Musical director of Pembroke College, Cambridge, Anna Lapwood and organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, William Fox will play the historic Henry “Father” Willis organ in the chapel at Barnard Castle School, during a 90-day performance minutes on February 5 at 7 p.m.
They will also play the brand new digital organ acquired by the school to encourage young people to start learning the instrument.
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The chapel organ was originally assembled in 1860 by the famous organbuilder Henry Willis, a 26-stop instrument, three manuals and a pedal, with an ornate case that would have been displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
It was built for the home of Willis’ main patron, Sir James Tyler, of Hertford, who died in 1890 when the organ then became a stopgap for the local church. It was then stored at Hertford Castle until 1911, when it was purchased by Darlington colliery manager, music teacher and organist Frederick Jennings.
Too big to fit in his house, he had a new accommodation built to accommodate the instrument to which it was also enlarged by 11 stops. When he died, his son Arthur, an Old Barnardian, sold him to the school.
It was said to be “lacking in wind” as it was designed for a home and was not suited to the acoustics of the chapel, proving too quiet to accompany a large school hymn singing.
In 1956, school governors considered replacing it with an electronic version, but instead rebuilt it at a cost of £2,770.
In 1983 a major overhaul was carried out by organ builder Nigel Church, of Stamfordham, incorporating Willis pipework and restoring the ornate case.
In 2008 further work was carried out by Principal Pipe Organs of York. The casing pipes were repainted gold, the organ console restored and worn parts replaced, resulting in a huge improvement in sound quality.
Anna and William will perform: Gower’s An Occasional Trumpet Voluntary; A Fancy for Two to Play by Tomkins; Toccata and Fugue in C by JS Bach; In Paradisum by Reece-Trapp; cocker spaniel air; Arakelyan’s Star Fantasy; Moore’s Fantasy on Greensleeves; Schumann’s Allegretto from the four studies for pedal piano; Widor’s Andante Sostenuto from the Gothic Symphony; and the transcription of Giuseppe Canneti Finale a due Organi nell’opera Aida by Verdi.
For Barnard Castle students, this will be an opportunity to experience some of the best organ recitals in the world.
Anna Forbes, 17, from Crook, said: “To have musicians of this caliber playing our school organ will be absolutely amazing.
“It’s an amazing instrument to play. It resonates through your body and you can feel its power.
Tom Chisman, 12, from Wolsingham, said: “We watch the organ every day, so to have the chance to play it is amazing.”
Bleddyn Davies, 18, from Barnard Castle, added: “Playing the organ is completely different from other keyboards.
“It’s more subtle and requires a delicate touch and it responds in kind. You can make it sound completely different using the games and we’re all really looking forward to the gig to see how it sounds under the touch of musicians from world renown.”
Tickets are available through Eventbrite at eventbrite.com
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