St Luke’s Parish Church
This fine drawstop organ has recently been installed for St Lukes Parish Church Milland near Petersfield, Hants. The organ has 38 stops (45 ranks) over three manuals, but also has two entirely separate specifications – British and German.
The organist, Leslie Lloyd takes up the story…
“As organists are by nature moody, melancholic individuals, many of you will have been surprised to see, shambling around Rake and Milland, a large organist wearing an uncharacteristic smile of beatific banality; Dear Reader, I am he. The cause of my happiness is the wonderful organ that has just been installed in St. Luke’s Milland; it is a real corker! – by an immeasurably large margin the best instrument I have ever played. I shall give a few details in a moment, but let me say now, not only does it sound splendid but it looks very good. The dignified and quite impressive console case in medium oak, with its three manuals and its engraved white ivorine stop knobs, is beautifully complemented by the artistically designed and skilfully executed cabinet work housing the speaker chamber.
The organ has been built by Wyvern, a well established English firm, who during the course of the contract have, by chance, moved their office and showroom to premises on the road between Milland and Fernhurst. The instrument is one-off, built to our specification and it has been notable that Wyvern have taken great pride in its design: one imagines that, so close to their showroom, we may well be a model installation for their clients to visit; that is to our advantage. Compared with the old organ’s seven ‘speaking’ stops, the new organ will have about seventy. Within each stop, extremely high precision samples have been recorded for each note from carefully chosen pipework in a variety of source – some of ours come from Chichester Cathedral. These samples are digitally encoded and stored within the instrument; when the organ is played, the computers inside draw out the requisite samples and blend and process them into chords etc, as the player requires and then generate sounds through the speakers, much as CD players do. The end product is that the air – and your eardrum – vibrates in exactly the same way as it would have done in the presence of the original pipes. I cannot tell the difference and I doubt whether any person of normal hearing and discrimination can.
Stops are drawn into play by drawing out stop knobs, of which there are thirty-six, down the sides of the manuals. A relatively unusual feature of this instrument is that it has a ‘dual specification’; each stop knob accesses two stops, one for each specification. The player can choose between specifications, one gives and organ of generally English/German style, the other gives a Romantic/French sound. Each specification gives a rich and luxurious range and depth of sound; to have the choice of two specifications is truly wonderful.
It is early days, but initial reaction to the new instrument has, so far as I am aware, been unreservedly favourable. Obviously it presents considerable challenges to the organist, mainly to exploit the capabilities and facilities of the instrument to make the music more expressive and more exciting than is ever possible with old small pipe instruments. Of course we must not get carried away and forget that the organ and music itself is only an aid to the congregation’s worship and spiritual life. Nevertheless there is no doubt that the careful choice and execution of good organ music can enhance an atmosphere of mystery and majesty, when necessary; that, at any rate, is what we strive to do.
My cordial thanks and congratulations to Sam Pope and Bob Ireland and their team, to Caroline Mercer and the architects, to the craftsmen at Coleborn’s, but, above all, to Graham Lord and his colleagues at Wyvern.”
Leslie Lloyd Organist, St Luke’s Milland & Rake, Hants