No. 188

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  Autumn 2015


Peter Lord (G 58-62) has written:

“The recent photos of the new chapel organ certainly brought back memories to me. If I remember correctly, during my time as a treble in the school choir and not being one of the lead singers, my role at chapel each morning was to sit next to the organ console. For two years or more, I was one of Donald Leggat's piano pupils and he seemed to think it beneficial for me to look up the hymn and chant numbers etc. each day. This was to ensure all was ready for the ‘master’s’ arrival to play the organ. He would normally role up with about five minutes to spare and then quickly launch forth into a brief but dramatic improvisation. Minutes later the Head and the Chaplain took their places.  Although in itself a straight forward job, on occasions, mistakes were made either by me or in the written instructions previously given to me. Needless to say confusion could erupt without warning and either way I frequently sat in fear and trembling of Donald's early morning mood, not knowing if all was well until the service was effectively over! I am sure he would have admitted to ruling with a rod of iron and not being known for his patience!

Also, as I may have mentioned in years gone by, in due course I had a brief spell studying the organ with Donald. I was by no means his star pupil, but do remember D. J. Frith (F 60-63), a fellow chorister and organ pupil. He made great progress with the instrument and at the end of the services would frequently take over from Donald and play the closing voluntary. Perhaps a Bach prelude or fugue was not unusual.  I have often wondered how his musical life developed after St Bees. However, as far as I was concerned, thankfully Donald Leggat helped me make a start and I have been playing the instrument ever since.

Throughout my adult life, I have been fortunate to have held several posts as a parish church organist in the UK and for the last four years have played regularly for Heswall United Reform Church in the Wirral, which is where I now live.
I was particularly interested to read that the chapel organ had been modernised and upgraded by Makin - a renowned UK digital organ manufacturer. My memory is of a two-manual pipe organ and now it appears to have three manuals - but how many pipes? Is the instrument now 100% digital and no longer a conventional pipe organ?  

My musical education at St Bees was varied but moderate in its success, but I have always been grateful for it. It enabled me to have years of musical enjoyment in the time that has followed; probably more by watching and listening rather than straight forward tuition. Donald taught me more than he will ever know and I have long been thankful for this.”



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