ORGAN OF THE MONTH 22: April 2004

Great Hall, University of Birmingham,
(Norman & Beard 1906; Hill, Norman & Beard, 1967)

Click on the thumbnail to obtain a full-size image


In a departure from tradition, the association's Annual General Meeting was held this year on a Saturday morning, and was followed by lunch and the Annual Recital.  On an afternoon when some of the strongest winds in recent times were recorded across Birmingham (fallen trees blocked Bristol Road after the recital!), members heard Alexander Mason (assistant organist, Lichfield Cathedral, see rightmost photograph) put this large, originally Edwardian, instrument through its paces in a programme that ranged from Bach to Walton via César Franck.  He concluded with an Improvisation on a theme submitted by BOA council member Paul Carr.

The organ stands without casework on either side of the stage in the Great Hall, with the huge metal pipes of the 32ft rank adding to the grand effect of this imposing building.  The sheer scale of the instrument can best be judged from the leftmost photograph by comparing the pipe-work with the size of the console (centre stage) or the recitalist (seen in the photograph to the right).  Although the chorus work and reeds are typically English, there are some interesting continental touches dating from the 1967 rebuild such as the unenclosed Choir division (really a Positiv with mutations and high-pitched Zimbel) and the Krummhorn on the Solo organ.

Some of you may recall that this was the instrument chosen by EMI to record the ''organ'' symphony of Saint-Saëns played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Louis Frémaux, with organist Christopher Robinson, in 1973.




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Last modified: March 29, 2004