Composition Competition – Winner Announced

The winner of the Choir and Organ Composition Competition is George Richford. He has just been appointed Director of Music at Romsey Abbey. He recently won the Three Choirs Festival Composition Prize.
George says of his piece, “It has many contrasts and shows off the different colours of the organ. A new hymn tune, ‘Betty’ is the centre piece of the anthem – something that is communal, and unites the choir, organ and people of the church, and a staple of the Victorian instrument. The piece looks difficult. in truth it is only the organ part that has taxing moments. The piece is tonal, with carefully considered dissonance and rhythmically frenetic. But it is performable within a modest rehearsal time. The texts are similarly eclectic – some short phrases are almost common church ‘parlance’ and theses are intertwined with familiar texts from Ireland and america, perhaps reminding us of the global proclamation of Christ as King”.
The piece was chosen for it’s melodic qualities and it’s use of the chosen text. The piece incorporates a hymn tune especially written for us at St John’s, which makes it personal.
Robert Greenhill, Director of Music at St John’s Hyde Park writes:
“In this piece George uses the choir and especially the organ to great effect. I am looking forward to performing it at the dedication service at St John’s, sometime in October.”

An Organ Apprentice’s Experience

As part of Saving Betty, the project has worked to help build up the skills necessary to maintain and build pipe organs for generations to come. Alistair Curtis was hired as an apprentice to work with Nicholson, the organ builder, on Betty’s Restoration. He has written the following report of his experience.


Alistair and the team from Nicholson’s Organ Builders

Living in the south east, there are not many sizeable organ building firms with which to train as an organ builder, so I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to work for Nicholson’s during the restoration of the organ at St John’s. For the first part of the project, based in the church, I was able to come up to London by train, keeping my tool box close at all times. I met the men from the factory when they arrived at the church, and we unloaded the van, including a very heavy electronic simulation organ to be used temporarily. We were very careful to cover the floor, and put blankets against the walls. Richard, the pipe maker and I set up the scaffold tower at the front of the organ to carefully remove the 1865 painted pipes which are of the Great Open Diapason and Double Diapason. Later in the week we took them outside one at a time, so that they could be cleaned and checked for broken tuning flanges, and bruising. One pipe had been badly damaged in the past, and the back had been cut and bent out, to push the dent out from behind. This had worked to an extent, but rather than re-soldering, tapes had been glued on the back. Richard set about cleaning the joints and soldering them up with his usual magic.

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