Tuesday 16 July 2013

Union Chapel Organ Project

Henry (Father) Willis Organ at the Union Chapel (c) Daniela Sbinsy
The Union Chapel in Islington is celebrating the completion of restoration of their remarkable 1877 Henry Willis organ with an week of events in which the organ takes centre stage. The events started on 14 July and continue until 20 July. Tonight, 16 July, the Norwegian film-score composer Rebekka Karijord will be joined by the Icelandic record label/collective Bedroom community, Swedish fantasy-pop cellist Linnea Olsen and Small Feet. Wednesday 17 July sees the organ used as accompaniment to a screening of Carl Dreyer's 1928 silent film, the Passion of Joan of Arc,  with new music by Irene Buckley plus soprano Emma Nash and James McVinnie at the organ. Then on 18 July there are the London premieres of new organ works by John McLeod, Paul Mealor and Bill Thompson plus music by Judith Weir, James MacMillan and Ligeti, played by the Aberdeen based organist Roger  B Williams. Finally on 20 July the Paradisal Players, comprising members of top London orchestras alongside brilliant amateurs conducted by Samuel Burstin, play music for organ and strings including a new work by Claire M Singer, the music director of the Union Chapel organ project.

This is a highly eclectic programme which takes the organ way beyond what I imagine that Henry Willis envisioned for it. The organ was designed integrally with the architecture and installed behind the screen so that the source of the sound is not visible but is diffused into the chapel. It has an important surviving mechanism which include a rare hydraulic blowing system, which had not been used since the 1930's

 Further information from the Union Chapel website.

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