On the 13th March at 3 o’clock the Director of Music at St John’s Hyde Park and Nick Miller, Organist, took a group of 12 volunteers through their paces as he prepared them to sing Handel’s Messiah with the St John’s Choral Scholars. At 6 o’clock the lights went down and the performance began. It was a wonderful evening for all those who took the opportunity to sing and those who had the benefit of hearing them. The performance was augmented by a series of backgrounds taken from frescoes by Fra Angelico.
Betty has had a tremendous series of events recently. On the 20th October St John’s was transformed into an intimate dance venue. Betty’s friend Fernando Montaño, visiting from Colombia where he is a judge on the local version of Dancing with The Stars, performed a dance to a solo from act 2 of Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky and with Children Change Colombia auctioned an artwork (called Signapura) he had created with Luis Casanova Sorolla in aid of the Children Change Colombia.
Also joining Betty on the evening were Stefan Lehner and Axel Zischka, 2015 European Champions in same sex dancing, who performed a Tango to Bizet’s Habanera from Carmen played on Betty by Nick Miller. Along with visual art, dance and music there was also the screening of a film on the creation of Signapura artworks and Fernando’s film, Narcissus. The evening was a great success – people really enjoyed the intimate in-the-round set up and loved the mixture of of music and dance.
A new video, using time lapse cameras, of Betty’s return to St John’s.
Betty’s invitation to her opening recital has been sent out to lots of people who have been involved in her restoration along the way. You too are invited to come to this world premiere of a new Organ Concerto being played by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of Choristers at Westminster Abbey.
On Sunday Eizabeth Holford (of Elizabreth Holford and Associates) visited St John’s to carry out a couple of Stencilling Workshops and to talk aboutthe work carrie out to restore the decoration on Betty’s wooden and zinc display pipes. Initially, during the Sunday morning service, she joined the BLAST children (aged 8 to 13 years) to show them how to make pictures using stencils which Elizabeth Holford had made from the stencilled images found on Betty’s zinc display pipes. The group leader also talked to the children about organs and showed them images of different pipe decoration. At the same time the younger Kids’ Club groups (Pebbles, Sand and Gravel) also did stencilling relating it to the story of the day. Continue reading
On Sunday Betty took over from the imposter at the end of the first verse of the first hymn. It’s great to have a member of the family back with us.
A prayer of thanksgiving for Betty’s restoration:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who before your dying and being resurrected sang a hymn of praise with your disciples, we thank you for the safe return of Betty, who has also been resurrected from her perished state. As we are stirred up by Betty’s uniting of many voices together in one song, so may the Holy Spirit unite us with you in songs of praise and glory to God the Father Almighty. Amen.
Today, after 66 days re-installing, 220 days after Nicholson’s team arrived at St John’s Hyde Park and 150 years after originally being installed into the West end gallery at St John’s, Betty is ready for playing again. Andrew Moyes, Managing Director of Nicholson, was on site today, with the Organ Consultant, Dr John Rowntree, to review the installation and handover the keys to The Reverend Stephen Mason, Vicar of St John’s Hyde Park.
Over the next 30 days before the organ is signed off, Betty will be put through her paces, and a detailed log of any snags or faults kept. The Nicholson’s team have been extremely helpful and commented regularly on the quality of the sound the instrument provides. If you are an organist and interested in putting your hand to Betty, contact the Music Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There has been loads of progress on Betty this week, probably most obvious (as the organ builders are still working on balancing the sound, etc.) has bee the return of the decorative zinc pipes on Betty’s South side, facing the chancel – but they probably warrant a post in themselves – to follow.
During the rebuild, I saw the organ builders playing with what looked like square beads for threading onto a child’s necklace. That or they looked like the corks jackaroos are supposed hang from their hats to discourage flying insects from swarming. Continue reading
Nicholson’s team has been making fantastic progress and having started groaning into life a week ago, she is now making lots of interesting sounds. The voicing specialist is expected next week to do some work on the voicing of the organ, but first the installation team had a couple of important jobs to do. Continue reading