|27 Nov 2020
A short film produced by the Music Department has been made to support the new campaign for a digital organ, including, a socially distanced, rendition of Hereos. Please take a few moments to view it, click here.
The Memorial Hall, a steadfast presence in College pupils' lives throughout the last nearly 100 years, stands central and iconic on campus. Erected as a monument to the 62 College men who fell in the Great War, building work began in 1921 and finished in 1922. Central to the Memorial Hall is the majestic organ, its installation completed by Cartwright & Son Ltd of Harringay, in 1927.
The Memorial Hall has hosted every Carol Service, Remembrance Service, Harvest Service and Spring Term Choral Concert, not to mention countless assemblies, with singing accompanied by the organ over the past 93 years. Every pupil, Old Stortfordian, parent past and present, and every member of staff will have memories of singing along to the notes of this magnificent piece of musical engineering.
With the passing of nearly a century, the organ is now sadly ageing apace, and it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with repairs. The College has grown significantly over the years from 100 pupils to now well over 1,200. With increased numbers comes increased usage, leading to wide fluctuations of humidity and temperature in the Hall, both of which are causing significant damage to the organ; troubles include pipes out of tune, cyphers, and an erratic piston function, all now sadly recurring issues.
All this deterioration has led to grave concern on campus about the future of the organ. Costs of the repairs that are now needed are estimated to be tens of thousands of pounds, and in the next ten years even more work will be required to extend the life of the organ resulting in further cost; this would be a case of ‘sticking on plasters’ to patch up problems which ultimately will become too expensive to repair and the College would then no longer have a useable organ.
A disastrous problem could strike at any moment should the organ languish further. Our services and assemblies, giving all in our community an opportunity to come together, to celebrate, to give thanks, to remember in the Memorial Hall, could lose the sound of the organ altogether.
The cost of a new comparable organ has been professionally estimated in the region of £500,000, which is out of our reach at this time. Our resident organist has, however, found an alternative solution with the proposed purchase of a digital organ. We know the organ is a mighty piece of the College’s history but with the cost of preservation or replacement so high, and the sound system now profoundly out of date, it is time to look to the future to ensure the continued use of the Memorial Hall for all our annual services and assemblies.
Advances in technology means it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a traditional and a digital organ. A new digital organ can be housed easily at the front of the Hall and provide volume to support the congregational singing with speakers at the back and front, with additional benefits being no maintenance or tuning costs and a console at the front making it easier to see the conductor and accompany the choir in services. The original organ would remain in-situ to preserve its place in the Hall and our history, displaying its fine set of pipes and oak casing with the College motto.
The cost for purchase and installation of a digital organ suitable for our needs, including a new and fit for purpose sound system, comes in at £50,000. This investment will save a considerable amount of money in the long run and secure our ability to provide services with music and song in the Memorial Hall for all in our community for generations to come.
Your gift, no matter what size, towards this project will be gratefully received, not just by the Music Department but by every pupil, parent, Old Stortfordian and staff member who go on to enjoy services in the Memorial Hall. You can easily make a donation to this fund by clicking on the Support Us tab above.
If you would like further information on this campaign please do not hesitate to contact a Foundation team member by clicking here where we will be glad to discuss this further.
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