Wonderful Entertainment at Battle of Organs

‘Battle of the Organs’ style concerts at Holy Trinity Church, Southport (Saturday 8th June) and Leeds Minster (Wednesday 12th June) were a tremendous success with preeminent organists including Professor Ian Tracey, Dr Simon Lindley, David Holder, Ian Wells and Danny Bishop putting numerous instruments to the test in a very varied programme with well known and respected organ pieces interspersed with lollipops and special arrangements by David Houlder and Ed Marsh. Simon Lindley was compare for both concerts and provided his usual witty and knowledgeable commentary.

At Southport, the two resident Makin organs did battle with another Makin, a Copeman Hart and a Johannus instrument whilst in Leeds the battle was between the pipe organ, a Makin, a Copeman Hart and a Johannus.

The original ‘Battle of the Organs’ was a serious affair at the Temple Church, London in February 1683, when the treasurers of the two Societies of the Temple commissioned an organ from each of the two leading organ builders of the time, Bernhard Smith (1630-1708) and Renatus Harris (1652-1708). The organs were to be installed in the halls of the Middle and Inner Temple, to enable them to be played and judged. Smith was annoyed to discover that Harris was also invited to compete for the contract; he was under the impression that the job had already been offered to him. Smith petitioned the treasurers and won permission to erect his instrument in the church instead of in one of the halls. It was set on a screen which divided the round from the quire. This advantage was short-lived as Harris sought and obtained approval to place his organ at the opposite end of the church, to the south side of the communion table. Much skulduggery followed.

Battles today are friendly affairs although with the Liverpool/Southport vs Leeds interest, the ‘War of the Roses’ (1455 – 1585) also comes to mind! The brain child of David Houlder, this was the ninth annual event in Leeds with plans already being formulated for a very special tenth concert next year.