Express & Star

'A real triumph!' Wolverhampton classical music fans finally get to see organ symphony after £350,000 restoration

It was a full house when delighted classical music fans flocked to Wolverhampton's St Peter's Collegiate Church to enjoy the sound of a popular organ symphony.

St Peter's Collegiate Church hosts a concert

Work was carried out to the tune of £350,000 on the instrument at the city's oldest place of worship ahead of the coronavirus lockdown and as a result plans for a major celebration concert to showcase the 1860 organ were suspended until now.

Around 150 people were in attendance at the delayed event held at the Lichfield Street venue on Sunday.

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

St Peter's Collegiate Church music director Callum Alger plays the restored organ

St Peter's team rector the Rev Prebendary David Wright said: "It was absolutely superb and a dream come true for us. the music was incredible and we had a very full house. It was a real triumph.

"Peter did a great job in bringing together a super orchestra who along with our music director played for free.

"This was a concert that we'd got planned once the restoration work was done in December 2019. Due to lockdown in March 2020 we didn't hear the organ played for ages."

The orchestra at the celebration event

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

Mr Morris, who helped to organise the restoration appeal, said: "The concert was really exciting and fabulous. It was wonderful.

"I was responsible for rebuilding the organ and raising the funds and everything went the way we hoped it would be."

The participating musicians were mainly members of Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra.

Conductor and veteran organist Peter Morris

St Peter's has also launched regular Friday recitals at 1.15pm except in school holidays which is providing a platform for young musicians to perform and for the community to enjoy the art from. There is no admission charge, but the audience is invited to make donations.

The organ designed by Henry Willis cost around £350,000 to repair following a decade long fundraising appeal and the sound has been restored back to it's former glory.

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

Mr Morris, who is also conductor of Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra, added that it was the second large concert that member's that taken part in recent weeks. The orchestra along with a German choir helped to raise money in aid of city food charities Good Shepherd and The Well at a recent concert at Tettenhall's St Michael's Church, in Church Road.