The Walker at 30

Celebrating the Cathedral’s J.W. Walker Organ

On Thursday 1st February 2024 St Chad’s Cathedral welcomed people from across the Archdiocese and beyond to a special organ recital, part of the monthly Thursday Live series, which on this occasion marked 30 years since the inauguration of the Cathedral organ.

The inaugural recital on Thursday 3rd February 1994 had been played by Nicolas Kynaston, organ consultant for the installation of the then new J.W. Walker organ in the newly constructed gallery at the back of the cathedral.

Thirty years later the anniversary recital was given by the four regular organists. Professor David Saint opened the programme with a piece by Classical French composer Louis Marchand – the same piece which began the recital in 1994 – demonstrating from the first arresting pedal note this instrument’s wonderful ‘clang’ which was a key characteristic in Nicolas Kynaston’s vision for this organ. 

Other pieces from the 1994 inaugural recital programme were included: César Franck’s Choral no.3 in A minor, played by David Saint, and J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor, along with Marcel Dupré’s Final from Sept Pièces, played by Paul Carr.

Nigel Morris played Jan Zwart’s Toccata on Psalm 146 and demonstrated the organ’s ability to crescendo from ethereal whisper to grand roar in Lionel Rogg’s La Cité Céleste.

During the recital David Saint spoke to the audience about the recent installation of an organ in the gallery at the front of the Cathedral; an instrument built by Lloyd of Nottingham which has come from a redundant church in Scotland. John Pryer then demonstrated this instrument with an improvisation on a theme by Sidney Campell.

At the conclusion of the recital Mgr Tim Menezes, Cathedral Dean, thanked the organists and other members of the music team and presented gifts. Everyone present at this wonderful celebration was given a commemorative bookmark which included a picture of the organ’s beautiful case.

Photos: courtesy of Andrew De Valliere

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