Cumbrian Society of Organists

Review : Visit to Lancaster Priory : 23 April 2022

A number of members attended the planned CSO visit to Lancaster Priory. The organ, completed in 2012, is a magnificent combination of a 1905 Harrison and Harrison 2 manual instrument from Blackburn Girls’ School, and a 1915 Henry Willis III 3 manual instrument from St John the Evangelist Church in Blackpool. The Harrison and Harrison ‘division’ is located in the North Chancel, the Willis ‘division’ on the West Gallery. Both are played from a modern mobile console in the North choir aisle. The two divisions can be used separately or in combination by switching at the console, where the stop layout also enables the player to select ranks by location when both divisions are enabled.

On arrival we were warmly welcomed by representatives of the Priory with offers of mugs of tea and biscuits. Ian Pattinson the organist (and a CSO member) then gave a demonstration of the range of the organ, from the subtle tones of the North Chancel division to the power of the Duchy of Lancaster Trumpet and the 32’ Double Ophicleide, both ranks being added when the instrument was installed in the Priory. Ian then performed a number of pieces to demonstrate the moods of the instrument from the ‘Trumpet Voluntary’ to demonstrate the fanfare, used at formal occasions in the Priory, to more measured tones expressed in Bach (BWV 736 ‘Valet will ich Dir geben’) and pieces from Walton’s Henry V Suite.

Members were then given the opportunity to play the instrument, which they did across a range, from more mighty works to more intimate pieces which were admirably suited to the beautiful, subtle tones of the North Chancel ranks. A thoroughly enjoyable visit in every respect.

The Priory hosts a considerable programme of musical events and recitals. Ian is due to give an organ recital in June, as part of the Priory’s ‘Gaia 2022’ festival (June 24th-July 17th).

National Pipe Organ Register Links

St. Mary's Priory Church, Lancaster