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Merton College Oxford is currently celebrating its 750th anniversary, and a main focus for these celebrations is the newly-constructed organ in the college chapel by the US-based firm Dobson, the subject of major articles in Organists' Review by Stephen Smith and Paul Hale (the latter acting as consultant). The opening recital and dedication recently took place over the weekend of 26th/27th April.
Three members of BOA (including your Webmaster) were present at that opening recital of this important instrument, only the third US-made organ to be installed in England since World War II. It was given by John Scott (left), DoM at St Thomas' Church, Fifth Avenue, New York.
The organ employs mechanical key action with electro-magnetic stop action. The tonal scheme is eclectic with complete principal choruses in all three divisions, flutes of many different types, two sets of strings, and a variety of wide- and narrow-scaled mutations. The dominant solo reed (Major Trumpet) is on 10in wind pressure and the ensemble - visual and aural - is topped by a gilded Zimbelstern at the apex of the central tower.
A great many photographs of the construction and installation of the organ may be found via Dobson's website and the programme of recitals continues until November, including weekly lunchtime recitals on Thursdays during May and June (BOA hon member Dr Roy Massey gives a recital on 12th June). BOA members have the opportunity to visit the college chapel to see, hear and play this spectacular instrument in July - check your email for details later!
You can listen to a selection of excerpts from a new CD of this organ as May 14's Music of the Month