For Gary Tollerfield, organist of St. Mary's Church, Platt, his new stop was to be a Trompette en Chamade as he had always admired St. Paul's Cathedral's dazzling West-End Trumpets.
Whilst the church was considering this proposal, amongst others as a project to mark the millennium, no one could have expected the sudden death of John Collings, father of our member Julian Collings and St. Mary's Church Treasurer.
It was the family's wish that a truly fitting memorial to John Collings would be the addition of a Trompette en Chamade stop to the organ sited on the West tower gallery. With the blessing of the Vicar and PCC, formal Diocesan faculties were obtained and work put in hand.
Naturally, the design of this new stop had to be just right, suitably scaled for the building and, especially, tonally balanced for the organ. Many en Chamades can be uncomfortably sharp-edged in tone, which would be anathema in an organ containing early 19th century pipework; a sympathetic, but no less exciting, tonal design was required.
The position chosen for the new stop was to be the West gallery, which was ideally suited having a balustrade on which to mount the Trompette's wind chests. Seeming to defy gravity, the pipes project impressively out into the church, but they are in fact hung from a supporting frame, which in turn is suspended on ten invisible wires securely fixed to the roof timbers of the church.
St. Mary's Platt is a very lofty building and it was a courageous organ builder who climbed the scaffold and ladders to reach the roof. As he set off it was with a genuine air of bonhomie, but on gaining height his smile became decidedly stretched and unconvincing, like that of a gala concert-goer with ferocious indigestion; evidently, St. Mary's, which looks only moderately high from the ground, looks like the north face of the Eiger from the top.
As the new stop's wind chest has electric action, and with the addition of twelve top-note flue pipes, the Trompette is playable at both 8ft and 4ft pitch. The organ was originally a two-manual and pedal instrument, but the luxury and extra flexibility of a Solo manual from which the new stops, including the Great Trumpet, could be played was an addition which provided that extra frisson to this already exciting project.
The installation of the new keyboard required the complete remodelling of the console, extending the stop jambs and remaking the music desk. The scheme also included new solid state actions and complete rewiring of the console.
This has been an adventurous project, which has greatly enhanced an already fine organ. Julian Collings and Gary Tollerfield - always a man of youthful enthusiasm - now display a joie de vivre which is equally reflected in the faces of their listeners.
Regrettably, I was unable to attend the opening recital by Julian Collings last December and it was not until April of this year when Paul Hale, from Southwell Minster, arrived to put the instrument through its paces, that I fully experienced the new stop away from the console.
His recital, on Saturday 6th April, was the day following The Queen Mother's stately and momentous funeral procession from Queen's Chapel, St. James' Palace to Westminster Hall where she lay-in-state, mourned by the nation. Thoughtfully, Paul had changed his programme to fit the occasion, concluding his recital with William Walton's Crown Imperial, composed for George VI's Coronation service in 1937.
Paul Hale's sensitive yet unashamedly bold playing displayed the full tonal richness of the organ, and with the pomp and pageantry of The Queen Mother's lying-in-state fresh in our minds, together with the sheer majesty of Walton's music, shimmering with Trompette en Chamade flourishes, there was a tangible air of national pride rippling through the audience.
Other recitals have followed, with Roger Sayer in June and Julian Collings in July, for our Association's AGM. Each organist has revealed different and varied facets of this fine English organ, now graced by a Trompette en Chamade whose English credentials, in spite of its French name, can never be in doubt.