A special service was held in St Patrick’s Parish Church, Jordanstown, on February 19 to dedicate the church’s new digital organ.
The instrument, a Sonus Overture from Viscount Classical Organs, was dedicated by the rector, the Rev Canon Nigel Baylor, and during the service, parishioner Claire McCollum, a well-known broadcaster, interviewed Matt Greer, organist, about the organ and his plans for the future.
The choir sang a special anthem composed for the occasion by Matt, who gave an organ recital, Fanfare by CS Lang, demonstrating the versatility and range of the organ. (You can hear the organ in action on the parish Facebook page).
The old organ at St Patrick’s had served the community since the electronic console was installed in the 1960s. Over time, however, the organ began to have numerous issues such as problems with the wind chambers, electronics and key mechanisms.
After deliberation with the Select Vestry, organist and rector, the decision was taken to install a brand-new digital organ, made by Viscount Classical Organs.
Matt said the Viscount Sonus Overture is very much an upgrade. “The previous organ housed 12 stops over two manuals, whereas the new organ contains 56 stops over three manuals,” he explained. “As a top of the range instrument, we also decided to purchase a state-of-the-art speaker system which recreates antiphonal sounds between different organ divisions.”
Matt said the organ has numerous benefits in aiding worship. “Foremost, the previous organ was consistently stated by various members of the congregation and choir to be too loud,” he said.
“The benefit of the new organ is that the dynamic range of the instrument can go from extremely soft and almost inaudible – fantastic for light choral accompaniment – to a very loud and majestic sound,
complete with multiple ranks of
trumpets and reeds.
“Also, there are 44 more stops than on the previous instrument which allows for a greater variety in sound and tone.”
The previous organ had various tuning issues which were exacerbated by existing problems, he added. “The old organ had close to 1,200 individual pipes which all needed maintenance. As the new organ is digital, the instrument will not fall out of tune, even if there is cold or hot weather, and the general maintenance needed will be extremely sparse and much cheaper.”
Restoring the old organ would have left St Patrick’s without an instrument for a considerable amount of time which Matt said would have greatly restricted the music ministry and evangelism through music which goes on at the church.
Matt is in the process of reinstating the junior choir and plans to grow the existing four-part choir are well underway. “The digital instrument offers a recording and playback function for both when the organist is away or needs to conduct the choir,” he said.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to develop the choir by having a conductor and allows the possibility of quick adjustments to the musical accompaniment. Overall, the church is delighted to have installed the new instrument.”
Photos by John Lendrum