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Forth in Praise

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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

November 10, 2013

Our wonderful acoustic just got even better!

evelyn @ 7:16 pm

The church in which I play, St Michael’s in Linlithgow, has quite a large side-chapel.  You can see it from the outside in the photograph below.


Those of you who were at the singing day on 31 August might remember that the side-chapel was partitioned off. This was done about 25 years ago by the parish priest of the time. Last week our present parish priest had the partition removed. Here are my pictures before (from 31 August day) and after (today). Click on them to enlarge.

chapel_partition2 chapel_no_partition2

So now the area inside the church is as originally designed in the 1880s by the famous architectural firm of Pugin & Pugin, and the result is a much more spacious and elegant look.

What I didn’t expect (and maybe should have, as Pugin churches are acoustically renowned) was a marked increase in resonance, to the point of blurring speech a bit, even over the PA system.  This will no doubt be resolved technically.  The organ in the gallery, however, is positively revelling in the change, which is something new for it.


Most people think the organ came with the church in the nineteenth century, because it is so responsive to the acoustic.  In fact, our 1874 Hill organ, almost twenty years older than the church, didn’t arrive here until 1988, when it was bought and installed by the very priest who partitioned off the side-chapel.  Its original home was a Church of Scotland in the West.  I played it in its old location before it was taken down; the church had the typical C of S ‘square’ layout, and the organ was in a sort of alcove.  It sounded OK there, but once it arrived in Linlithgow – wow!  You could almost feel its delight as it sent the diapasons storming down the central aisle, making the most of the Pugin resonance, and sounding twice its size.  It’s a heritage instrument, one of the best in Scotland, and it lives in a heritage church which suits it beautifully.

And now it’s even more powerful.   Must go and find a toccata or two to practise  …

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