Patterdale “The local organist entertains”

Patterdale “The local organist entertains” concerts have been running for a few summers now, featuring the William Hill organ, reinstalled and rebuilt in 1906 by Wilkinson and recently enlarged and rebuilt by Andrew Carter of Wakefield.

Mike Town presented a programme with a summer feel for the first day of June. The brisk wind and driving rain outside was easily forgotten by the committed audience as the first chord of the 2015 series – starting an unchurchy circus style march by Dando – sounded on the stroke of the church clock.

Arthur Sullivan’s “The Lost Chord” followed, showcasing some more subtle concert voices of the William Hill organ; the rain lashing the strained glass, illuminated from outside by a weird green storm light even at nine in the evening; a reminder that, despite the weather, there are only a few days to the summer solstice.

Then an entertaining but surprisingly refined rendition of Scott Joplin’s ragtime classic “The Entertainer”, to my ear more Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham than St. Louis, Missouri. Closely followed by Debussy’s “En bateau”, of roughly the same chronological era but entertainment of a totally different genre.

Mike the ex-schoolmaster also gave us a useful introduction and demo of some organ pipes so those present have no excuse for confusing an open diapason with a stopped diapason or a flute.. He even blew the demo pipes with his own breath. Also a hearing test with a tiny pipe equivalent to the smallest pipe in St. Patrick’s church organ.

Having done the rounds on the church’s eight-bell carillon, the piano, electronic pipe organ (the sampled organ timbre suiting the throne room march from Star Wars, much requested for weddings these days it seems) and an electronic harpsichord, Mike returned to the pipe organ to end with a rousing performance of Widor’s ever-popular Toccata from his fifth symphony which will have certainly woken any remaining mice in the Patterdale church organ.