Liverpool Organists’ Association made its first visit to The Blue Coat School to listen to and play on our two fine historic organs, on Monday 16th April.
Over twenty members of the Association enjoyed opening pieces played by member Andrew Sharples on our rare Father Willis organ in Shirley hall and the Walker organ in the Chapel.
Both organs were given a thorough work-out, although the main interest centred on our Willis organ, which is the subject of our Blue Coat: For All campaign in association with the Heritage Lottery Fund to raise £205,000 for its restoration.
Our 144-year-old Willis organ began life in our original city centre premises and was dismantled and re-erected in Shirley Hall at our present Wavertree buildings in 1906. The organ was gifted by the family of West Derby cotton-broker James Hardy Macrae in 1874.
The event was also attended by the Directors of Music at both Liverpool cathedrals, Lee Ward (Anglican) and Chris McElroy (Metropolitan), who are both Old Blues and Blue Coat: For All Ambassadors, helping to promote and advise on the Father Willis organ restoration.
Youngest member, Mark Jones, aged 11-years, of Aughton, impressed with his expertise playing pieces including Mozart’s Magic Flute. One of the more senior members, Peter Bellis played the Largo theme (Goin’ Home), from Dvorak’s New World Symphony, as an appropriate finale.
LOA President and Treasurer David Speechley said he was thrilled to hear the Blue Coat Father Willis organ at last: “Even though it’s in need of restoration, this is an amazing instrument with a beautiful, distinctive Willis sound.”
Member Paul Broadhurst said: “This is a very special organ as it’s practically unaltered since it was built.”