NO-ONE can provide an accurate tally of the number of hymns played or the number of services uplifted by the incomparably graceful notes delivered from the grand pipe organ in Pollokshields Church on the southside of Glasgow.
But that’s not surprising as the magnificent Harrison and Harrison Organ there is celebrating its 100th birthday this year and two celebratory recitals – one tomorrow (June 7) and another in September – will mark the centenary.
The Pollokshields Church organ received its inaugural recital on September 27, 1913, which was also the year that potato crisps, stainless steel and the zip fastener first appeared.
This was the year when Danny Boy, You Made Me Love You and When Irish Eyes are Smiling were topping the charts, D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers was giving scandal in the aspidistra belt and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was causing a public riot in Paris.
Despite the war clouds forming the uncertainty of the era, the good burghers of Pollokshields went ahead with their decision to commission a new pipe organ from one of the greatest of British firms, Harrison and Harrison of Durham.
“It is a tribute not only to the vision of the members of the church then but to all the generations since, that the organ is still in such a glorious condition and celebrating its 100th birthday in style,” said the Church’s current organist, Liam Devlin.
“The organ is a joy and a privilege to play. It sounds wonderful and dramatic.”
Church Minister, the Rev David Black, agreed.
“The sound fills the building beautifully and it does make you think of how many times it has been played through Sunday services, weddings, funerals and special occasions,” he said.
Six lunchtime concerts, each for a different combination of instruments from brass ensemble to chamber orchestra, have been held so far, raising around £1,800 for a range of charities.
These have helped set the scene for two Centenary Celebrity recitals by organists of international reputation.
Ian Hare, of Lancaster University will play at the Church on June 7and John Scott Whiteley, formerly of York Minster but now better known for his 60 television programmes on the organ for BBC2 and Channel 4, currently re-showing on SkyArts 2, is giving a recital on September 27, the 100th anniversary of the inaugural concert.
Celebrity Organ Recitals:
Ian Hare, Friday, June 7, 2013 at 7 p.m
John Scott Whiteley, Friday, September 23, 2013 at 7 p.m
Tickets cost £10 and include a glass of wine.
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