THE LOST CHORD
Newly refurbished as a recital instrument, London's Royal Festival Hall organ was re-launched on 19 October. SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE was there and was in for a big surprise.
Completed in 1954, the 4-manual organ in the Royal Festival Hall is a
unique creation of its designer the late Ralph Downes and the organ-builder
Harrison & Harrison Ltd of Durham. Lying silent as a recital instrument
for many years, Harrison & Harrison were given the task to dismantle
the console for its first major overhaul. In close consultation with its
present curator Willam McVicker, it was decided to preserve the appearance
and integrity of the organ. Changes have been minimal although modern facilities
supplied by Solid State Logic have been added.
Many of us who have been despairing of the state of organ recitals in
this country have had our views confounded. The highly energetic team at
the RFH produced a capacity audience by judicious marketing. An exhibition
was mounted with many of the organisations connected with the organ world
present. I was there with my colleagues from Choir & Organ and
copies were disappearing like the proverbial 'hot cakes'. Of course it does
help to have an international artist such as Simon Preston to open the re-launch
of the recital series.
Preston gave a fascinating pre-concert talk with interviewer Lynn Walker
about his life and his Bach series for Deutsche Grammophon.
Copyright © 29 October 2000
Shirley Ratcliffe, Norfolk, UK
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