Abbey hosts visit of American organists
No tour of the churches in the south and west of England would be complete without taking in a visit to Romsey Abbey, which boasts some of the finest Norman architecture in the country. Given that the party of Americans who came recently were all organists and organ aficionados from the Organ Historical society, based in Richmond, Virginia, there was even more reason for ensuring that the abbey and its historic Walker organ featured on the group’s itinerary.
The group of some fifty members, mainly from drawn the USA but with some from Australia and Europe, spent an hour and a half at the abbey being entertained by Jeffrey Williams, the former abbey organist. He talked briefly about the history of the 1858 instrument as well as the 1999 nave organ, before treating the visitors to a 45 minute recital of music by Bach, Howells, Franck and Reger that put both instrument and player through their paces.
Afterwards, members of the group, some of whom were concert organists and academic professors, were invited to play the organ for themselves. Many more would have liked to have played, but were beaten by time. However, all marvelled at the beauty and versatility of the instrument’s pipe work – something that is widely acknowledged and which rates it as one of the most significant organs in the country.
Prior to the group’s departure many took the opportunity to purchase Jeffrey Williams’ CD recording and book, profits from which go to the Abbey Organ Fund.