Archbishop unveils new organ in Glasgow

The organ of St Aloysius' Church, Glasgow
The organ of St Aloysius' Church, Glasgow

The Archbishop of Glasgow, Rt Rev Philip Tartaglia, has unveiled a new Van den Heuvel organ at a special Mass of Dedication in St Aloysius' Church in the city. The organ was played by guest organist, Martin Baker, Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral. The organ, a Van den Heuvel ‘Cavaillé-Coll’, built in the 19th century French symphonic tradition, was installed in the church on Rose Street, Garnethill as the result of a joint venture between the St Aloysius’ Parish and St Aloysius’ College.

The purchase of the organ was made possible through donations from parishioners, former pupils (Old Aloysians) and friends of the college and parish. A significant gift from Maurice Taylor, former pupil of the College turned renowned restauranteur and hotelier, made the project viable and for this reason the organ is now called The Taylor Family Organ.

The best possible sound

Originally built in 1993, the organ was installed in the Duke’s Hall of the Royal Academy of Music in London under the tenure of Sir David Lumsden, a former Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, located in Glasgow city centre. The purchase of the organ was agreed between the church and college in 2013 and has been installed by many of the same team responsible for its construction. The new organ is now in the top gallery at the back of the church, unlike its predecessor, which is in a gallery to the side of the church.   After a series of experiments, it was found that, because of the church acoustic, having the organ and choir in this location provides the best possible sound.

As well as being a fitting addition to a building of architectural interest and heritage, the installation of the Taylor Family Organ links to the launch of the St Aloysius ScholThe dedication Mass for the new organ at St Aloysius Church, Glasgowa Foundation. Established with Trustees from the church and college, the Foundation has been formed to ensure the organ is used for the wider community and is maintained for future generations, providing a lasting legacy for the City of Glasgow. The Foundation will also promote musical outreach.

A living musical tradition in Glasgow

Head Master of St Aloysius’ College, John Browne, commented: “We are deeply grateful to the Taylor Family for their generous contribution, as we are to all those who have supported the installation of this magnificent instrument – both from St Aloysius' College and the parish. As we develop links around the city, we also intend to work with organ students from the Royal Conservatoire for teaching recitals and masterclasses, thereby maintaining a living tradition of expert organ playing in Glasgow.”

Fr Tim Curtis, Parish Priest of St Aloysius’ Church, added:  “I am excited by the outreach work of the foundation (which) will bring the treasure of church music to the wider community.   We are proud to have such a fine instrument in the church.”