Fundraising Drive Will Keep Church Organ Playing Into The Future

julia mackenzieThere’s going to be a fundraising drive to help keep the Parish Church organ in good playing condition. Next year it’s 175 years old.

Organist Julia Mackenzie says if the organ was in a church on the mainland, the leather bellows would have been replaced by now.

It’s a ‘Father Willis’ organ. The London-based manufacturer was thought to be the best during the Victorian period and Julia agrees that it’s “a gem.”

The organ tuner will handle the refurbishment, which will mean it could be out of action for a short time.

The work will cost around £10,000, but there’s money put aside.

Both organists, Julia and Ken Christopher, have chosen not to claim their playing fees. Instead their payment has been placed in a music fund and Julia hopes that will go a long way towards the costs.

A recent concert also boosted the fund by £595 and there could be more.

Renowned French organist Francis Chapelet “just turned up” at the Church earlier this year and Julia says it was “providence” that she was present.

He played an improvised session for 40 minutes.

Francis, who has played all over the world, intends returning for a concern in May next year and that could further boost funds.

Julia has been one of the St Mary’s Church organists for 50 years and has recently reduced her workload. But she wants to address the rumours that she’s retired as organist.

Julia says she’s no longer playing at weddings because at 75, she wants the flexibility to attend mainland music functions and events at weekends, which isn’t so easy if she has to be back for a ceremony.

She’s still playing on Sunday’s when she’s here and at funerals.