Just after Christmas and with minimal notice we were asked if we could supply our chamber organ for a performance of the Vivaldi Gloria and Handel’s Coronation Anthems given by the Kinder Choirs of the High Peak at Buxton Opera House.
Buxton Opera House – an architectural gem
I have never visited the venue but it is renowned as an architectural gem as our pictures show. It was built in 1903 and designed by Frank Matcham, one of Britain’s finest theatre architects. The Opera House gradually fell into disrepair. In 1976, it was closed and rumours circulated that it would never reopen. In 1979, however, it was restored and an orchestra pit was added to the original design. Since then it has enjoyed a busy and varied performance schedule.
This was a Sunday event with the instrument needed in place by 8.30 am rehearsal and afternoon performance. As ever with these challenges it is the logistics that add to the cost. To meet an 8.30 start from our Bicester base the instrument really had to be there the night before. So staffing it is a 2 day job and at weekend working rates. If anyone suggests it costs too much, they are often just looking at the few hours an instrument is used. Its all too easy to lose sight of the hours of travel and ‘idle time’ that cannot be avoided.
A real delicacy of sound
Our stalwart ‘organ mover’ David Wilkinson graciously accepted the job and so we were able to ensure that the back up ‘Clavinova’ remained under its dust cover. Can you imagine the lovely ‘Baroque’ works supported by the organ voice option of a Clavinova? Well better than nothing you might say but actually perhaps not!
A chamber organ has a real delicacy of sound that a large pipe organ usually gets nowhere near in available voices. The scale of the sound matches the scale of the pipes and in the chamber instrument they are necessarily all quite small. Building it was a challenge but with 2 outings now successfully completed I think we can allow ourselves a cautious tick in the box for a challenge met.
The first sale of a new instrument is in manufacture. We will tell you all about that in April.
I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Regent Classic Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.