organ181 - Birmingham Organists' Association

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organ 181

July 2017

3 manuals
32 speaking stops

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St Stephen's




Henry Willis, 1880, 1956
Harrison & Harrison, 1980
Forth Pipe Organs, 2010

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Organ of the Month archive
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On 10 November 1880, no less than two thousand people crowded into St Stephen's Church to hear the inaugural recital by Dr Albert Lister Peace on the new 'Father' Willis organ.  In October 2016. rather fewer OrganFest-goers assembled there (in what is now the St Stephen's Stockbridge community arts venue) to hear a recital by Edinburgh City Organist John Kitchen that began, appropriately enough, with Andante in B flat by A L Peace.

The organ was originally used only to accompany services: voluntaries were not permitted!
Notwithstanding a major reconstruction of the building in 1955, during which the organ was dismantled, it was later re-erected in the new sanctuary without significant modifications (a balanced Swell pedal replaced the centrally located lever pedal) and even today the organ remains, tonally, essentially as 'Father' Willis left it.  It has thus been awarded a Grade I historic organ certificate.

There is only one (tierce) Mixture and only three Pedal stops but the organ has great versatility and is tonally satisfying, as was demonstrated in John Kitchen's recital.

You can listen to John Riley improvising on this organ as July 17's Music of the Month.

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