Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Barney Life No.21

This is the organ which has stood in St Mary's Church for a very long time.  I do not know its full history, except that I have learnt that it was a gift to the church from one of the early parish priests of the church.  Since I arrived at this parish, the machine had had an annual servicing.  There is no doubt that it has been a very fine organ.  However, two years ago, the organ man suggested that the time had come for a complete overhaul - stops were sticking, slides were not sliding, all the gubbins behind the facade needed sorting out; an overhaul would mean dismantling everything, taking everything away, making the keyboard electronic, and so on and so forth.  The cost, plus VAT, would be £35,000.
When the Trustees of the church were informed of this choice, they were understandably horrified, and the  matter was dropped.  The organ continued to deteriorate, and for some months now I have been intoning the Sunday hymns (with varying success - sometimes too high, sometimes too low).
In the summer this year I was told about Ahlborn Organs by the son of one of the Trustees; the man who imports and builds them, Peter Lord, came to see me and he gave me a very attractive price for a Praeludium II - two manual, stops everywhere, foot pedals, the lot - £7,500 everything included (delivery, installation, VAT).
We agreed that it would not be necessary to touch the old organ, which would remain in situ, and the new organ would fit in the loft just by moving a bench out of the way.
The Trustees were suitably astounded at this news, but rather anxious on hearing that the sound came out of speakers, not pipes!  They asked me to arrange a visit to someone who had an Ahlborn Organ.
Yesterday (Monday), a group of Trustees and I visited Matthew Atherton, choirmaster at Barnard Castle School and a first-rate organist, in a nearby town, who kept a top of the range Ahlborn Organ in his living room.  For an hour or so, he kept us entertained by demonstrating the abilities of the Ahlborn Organ.  One feature which particularly amused us was the ability to make recordings of hymns and then to play them back when zapped by a hand-held zapper: no organist needed at the time of the service!
The Trustees were so impressed with the Ahlborn that they agreed it was the right and proper thing to do to order one for the church.
I did so straight away - before anyone had second thoughts.  Progress will be reported.

1 comment:

  1. I'm looking forward to hearing the new organ, Father.
    I still, however, prefer real pipe organs!