Our latest CD release is Organ Masterpieces from the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey, which features James O’Donnell playing a recital programme of Bach, Purcell, Handel and others on the Queen’s organ at Westminster Abbey. This is the first time that a recording has been made of this organ, one of the newer additions to the Abbey.
The 13-stop organ, commissioned by the Lord Mayor of London and the City of London Corporation together with the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, was made by Mander Organs. The organ was commissioned to first sit within Mansion House during Sir Roger Gifford’s tenure as the Lord Mayor of London, before being given to Westminster Abbey in honour of the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. At the Queen’s pleasure it was permanently installed in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey in November 2013.
The brief was to produce an interesting instrument that would fit within the small space it would inhabit within Mansion House, where it would spend the first ten months after being built. It also needed to fit within the space it would inhabit in the Lady Chapel when it moved to its permanent home. The pipe organ has “surprise” additions including nightingales, which pop out of the top of the case and revolve, and thunder pedals. The organ was preceded by a smaller organ in the Lady Chapel, made by John Snetzler.
Although the Abbey already has an organ within the nave which is world renowned, the Queen’s organ still makes an important contribution to worship and services at the Abbey. Throughout the year many weddings take place in the Lady Chapel for members of the Westminster Abbey community and the organ is used to accompany these.
James O’Donnell is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey and is internationally recognised as a conductor and organist. He took up his present appointment at Westminster Abbey in January 2000. In his role as music director and principal conductor, he directs the Abbey Choir in its wide range of performing activities and is responsible for the music at all the great services and occasions which take place in the Abbey.
To buy this, and other CDs featuring the Abbey’s organs and choir, please click here.