Rhinegold Photo credit: Chris Christodoulou

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Royal College of Music to unveil new Flentrop organ

12:21, 17th November 2017

The Royal College of Music (RCM) is to unveil its new organ in spring 2018.

Custom-built by Flentrop Orgelbouw, with 34 stops over three manuals and pedals, the instrument was designed with an emphasis on beauty of tone and voiced for the particular acoustic of the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall.

Its aesthetic is in the Dutch and North German traditions. The instrument has a case of Limousin oak, with gilding to echo the decoration of the hall. The keyboard has a suspended mechanical action and the sound is fed by two large V-fold bellows with a relatively low wind pressure to achieve ‘a warm, prominent tone’.

The new organ replaces an instrument which saw a century of service. A committee chaired by RCM artistic director Stephen Johns and also including professor in-charge-of organ David Graham, organ professor Margaret Phillips and academic programmes professor Andrew McCrea, unanimously agreed to engage Flentrop Orgelbouw to design and build the new instrument.

Flentrop’s organ builder Frits Elshout and general director Erik Winkel designed the organ in collaboration with their staff. Elshout, who has been with the company since 1971, is overseeing the voicing of the organ.

The conservatoire is hosting an organ festival on 25 February 2018 to celebrate the new instrument. This will include performances of works by RCM alumni including Vaughan Williams, Parry and Stanford alongside new works by RCM composers. Experts from Flentrop will be in attendance to provide insights into the building of the organ, and the day will conclude with a recital from Thomas Trotter, with the programme including Parry’s Fantasia and Fugue in G major.

Professor Colin Lawson CBE, director of the RCM, said: ‘I am overjoyed at the results of Flentrop Orgelbouw’s expert craftsmanship and their success in turning our vision for this new instrument into a reality. The College’s ongoing mission is to enhance our students’ experience and I know every musician here will enjoy and learn from our new organ.’

Part of RCM More Music, the new organ is in recognition of James Zheng Huang HonRCM, and is supported by the Kingdom Music Education Group, Sir Anthony Cleaver FRCM and Lady Cleaver, The Hon Richard Lyttelton and Romilly Lyttelton, Jane Wilson and John Ward.

RCM organ students currently have access to a further six organs, which include three mechanical action instruments, and also have opportunities to play and learn at numerous locations across London, including the Royal Albert Hall, St George’s Hanover Square and Christ Church Chelsea.

Applications to study at the Royal College of Music will open in summer 2018 for entry in September 2019.


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