‘Pipe dream’ realised for St George’s Whyke

Father Stuart Cradduck. Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130850-1
Father Stuart Cradduck. Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130850-1

A CHURCH is now boasting ‘the finest organ’ in Sussex with the realisation of a £400,000 project – all in time for the Festival of Chichester.

Father Stuart Cradduck, Rector of St George’s Whyke, is delighted to welcome the new organ which has been painstakingly built by hand by Nicholson’s of Malvern.

As he says: “A pipe dream becomes a reality!”

The point is that Father Stuart and the church have resisted the trend and the temptation to go digital.

“Digital organs are not real. A pipe organ lives and breathes.

“A digital organ tries to approximate the sound, but it lacks depth and authenticity.

“We raised about £400,000 over two years. We didn’t waste time. We were left two substantial legacies from Iris Woodhams and Margurite Allen, and trust funds have given us money.

“The parish has also been working hard to raise the money. We have been successful.

“It has taken Nicholson’s three months to install, it is all hand-crafted. They started building it in October and then arrived on site at the end of March, beginning of April. Now it is fully up and running, and the sound is just amazing.”

The public will get the chance to enjoy it on July 5 for the Festival of Chichester when the 1927 Fritz Lang silent film Metropolis will be screened, accompanied on the new pipe organ by Simon Johnson, organist at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The concert will take place at St George’s Church at 7pm, tickets £10 at www.festivalofchichester.co.uk.

As Father Stuart says, the great thing is Simon will be improvising throughout.

“It’s just an unbelievably beautiful film about social struggle and love. Simon watches the film beforehand, and he makes notes and picks out themes. It’s fantastic what he does. Simon is world-renowned. He is top notch.”

Father Stuart added: “My hope for the new organ is that it will be a lasting legacy for future generations so they will see that the church is alive and well here and now in the 21st century, and that we were bold enough to install this fabulous instrument.

“Every piece, save 12 individual components, is hand made by the master craftsmen at Nicholson’s, including 1,500 pipes.”

One person who will certainly enjoy playing the new organ is Sue Howell Evans, who this year celebrated her 40th anniversary as musical director at St George’s.