A visit to St Luke’s Hillyfields Enfield on 20/02/2016 by David Sutton
It was a very wet day with, sadly, a bucket or two positioned strategically on the floor of the nave to catch the drips. Fortunately no drips seemed to be aimed at the organ in the south transept. This resplendent looking instrument of three manuals with its highly coloured front (decorated by the churchwarden who was a sign-writer and artist) was built originally by Bishops in 1906 and tonally adjusted by Walkers in 1963. It has been restored by Tarquin Wiggins to its original glory but now equipped with electro-pneumatic action and a midi facility (which will be explained in a moment).
We were met by the organist and a friend in the church who had set up an audio/visual presentation of the restoration process. This consisted of a film and other material which explained the organ’s history and how things had been done. At the same time we were provided with tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits. The presentation showed how this project had gained the interest of local schools, and how the church had been visited several times by schools to view things which had proved to be a lively educational contact.
The presentation finished with ‘a first’ for CLESO (I think). We had a demo played by the midi facility. This can play back performances when an organist is unable to be present. In this case we had a bravura rendition of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor played by Peter Holder (of St Paul’s Cathedral in absentio). The midi recording reproduces everything including all registration changes. I leave the reader to surmise and conjure a future where organs equipped with this facility can import performances of the highest calibre (perhaps with an app online?) It would be rather like an up-to-date pianola roll!
The casework doors were open and we had the opportunity to view the phantom organist at work and witness the clean neat interior of the chamber now bereft of miles of lead tubing and other assorted paraphernalia which powered the original pneumatics.
Although somewhat tucked away in the south transept the organ gave a good account of itself in the main body of the church. All who played the organ enjoyed the experience and CLESO’s thanks is extended to the church and John Wright et al for allowing us the privilege of coming, and for the lovely refreshments so welcome on this winter’s afternoon.