“A real triumph! Wolverhampton classical music fans can finally see the Organ Symphony after £350,000 restoration

Saint-Pierre collegiate church hosts a concert

Work has been carried out to the tune of £350,000 on the instrument at the city’s oldest place of worship before the coronavirus lockdown and hence plans for a major celebratory concert to feature the 1860 organ have been suspended until now.

Around 150 people attended the delayed event which was held at the Lichfield Street venue on Sunday.

They were there to hear a 65-person orchestra led by veteran conductor and organist Peter Morris alongside church music director Callum Alger, who played the organ for the performance of the Organ Symphony by Saint-Saëns and Handel’s Organ Concerto in F.

Callum Alger, musical director of Saint-Pierre collegiate church, plays the restored organ

St Peter’s team rector, the Reverend Prebendary David Wright, said: “It was absolutely superb and a dream come true for us. The music was amazing and we had a very full house. It was a real triumph.

“Peter did a great job putting together a great orchestra which, together with our musical director, played for free.

“This was a concert we had planned once the restoration work was completed in December 2019. Due to the lockdown in March 2020, we haven’t heard the organ play for ages.”

The orchestra at the celebration event

The event was also dedicated to the memory of the late Wolverhampton educator and priest, the Reverend Eddie Brookes, who died in July. Around £900 from ticket sales will go to the organ maintenance fund.

Mr Morris, who helped organize the catering appeal, said: “The concert was really exciting and fabulous. It was wonderful.

“I was in charge of rebuilding the organ and fundraising and everything went as we hoped.”

The participating musicians were mainly members of the Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra.

Veteran conductor and organist Peter Morris

St Peter’s has also launched regular recitals on Fridays at 1.15pm, except during school holidays, which provides a platform for young musicians to perform and for the community to appreciate the art. Admission is free, but the public is welcome to donate.

The organ designed by Henry Willis cost around £350,000 to repair after a decade of fundraising and the sound has been restored to its former glory.

The Organ Symphony also known as Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 was completed by the French composer Camille Saint-Saens in 1886 at what was probably the artistic height of his career. Handel’s Organ Concerto in F is one of six he composed for chamber organ and orchestra in the 1700s.

Mr Morris, who is also conductor of the Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra, added that this was the second major concert the member had taken part in in recent weeks. The orchestra and a German choir helped raise money for the town’s food charities Good Shepherd and The Well at a recent concert at St Michael’s Church in Tettenhall, Church Road.


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