Betty Has Left the Building!

Between the 23rd of February and the 12th of March Nicholson’s came to dismantle Betty and take her back to their workshop in Malvern. It took two solid days of dismantling, lifting and cleaning to get Betty out of her bed-chamber in the North aisle of St John’s Hyde Park and a couple of days to load her into the lorrie and driver her to the spa.

Decorative pipes removed, showing pipes behind.

Decorative pipes removed, showing pipes behind.

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The Organ in the Movies


11:30am at St John’s Hyde Park

The soundtrack to hundreds of movies and in particular iconic early horror films, the organ has a long history on the silver screen. Dr. Jeremy Barham guides us through the ages, looking at iconic movie clips and how the organ has enjoyed some unlikely appearances.

JeremyBarhamJeremy Barham read music at Durham University, where he was Organ Scholar at the College of St Hild and St Bede. Since the late 1980s he has worked as a freelance organist, playing in cathedrals and concert halls across the UK and Europe. Jeremy is Reader in Music at the University of Surrey where he specialises in the music of Gustav Mahler, film music, and jazz.  He is currently working on the book Music, Time and the Moving Image for Cambridge University Press.

Lecture – Music and the Spheres

‘The Music of the Spheres – inaudible harmonies and the music of the mystery of being’

21st June 2015 at 11:30 am at St John’s Hyde Park.

Music has been a powerful metaphor for centuries: for the universe, for humanity’s interior life and for the relationship of all things with God.  This lecture will explore something of these and for the way the language and experience of music and harmony can still articulate and inspire aspects of our human and communal experience.

andrewwalkerAndrew Walker is Director of the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre and also the Director of the London based three year Ignatian Spirituality Programme.  He is also a Psychosynthesis trained counsellor and Supervisor and a part time gardener.

Restoration of Wooden Pipes

WoodenPipesThere is an opportunity for volunteers to assist the restoration specialist, Elizabeth Holford, with the restoration of the large wooden pipes. Elizabeth will be on site from 19th March until Easter. A great opportunity to get involved in restoring our Betty but also to learn about the restoration of the design on these wooden pipes. If you have an hour or two to assist her, please speak to the Music Director.  All work will be done at St John’s, 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

An Impostor in our Midst


While Betty is at the Spa her surgeons, Nicholson’s, have provided a Wyvern Electric Organ. This two manual, 32 stop electric house organ will provide Betty’s community with musical accompaniment to weekly services, weddings, concerts and many other events. It is a poor substitute for Betty, but having bought in some amplification, this instrument will provide for the needs of Betty’s community while she is away.

Nicholson’s – Betty’s Surgeons

rowntreeAfter a extensive selection process Nicholson Organ builders were selected to restore Betty to her former glory. For over 170 years, Nicholson & Company has created instruments of distinction for cathedrals, churches, colleges, schools and private clients as well as undertaking the historical restoration and renovation of many hundreds of organs throughout the UK and overseas. At the same time that they are working on Betty, Nicholson is also working on an organ for Holy Trinity Cathedral in Aukland, New Zealand.

In March 2015 Nicholson’s came to St John’s and spent 3 weeks dismantling Betty and removing her to their workshop in Malvern where they will completely strip down, clean and restore her. They will also be changing the action from pneumatic to tracker, which is what it was when she was built in 1865. They will completely build Betty in their factory before dismantling and transporting her back to St John’s in the Summer, spending 5 weeks re-building her in her cosy bed-chamber.

During Betty’s visit to Nicholson’s clinic there will be an opportunity for a group from the community around Betty to go and visit her and inspect the progress of works.

Composition Commissioned

tomfloydComposer Tom Floyd has been commissioned to write a concerto for organ and wind orchestra lasting 15 minutes as part of the opening concert on 21st November once Betty has been restored and re-dedicated. Tom is a freelance composer who has received a variety of commissions ranging from film music, choral music, opera and orchestral music. He was awarded the Charles Lucas Memorial Prize (RAM) in 2013 for most outstanding achievements in composition, the Evans Senior Scholarship Prize (RAM) in 2012 and the Worshipful Company of Musicians silver medal in 2011.