PLANS to restore an internationally-renowned Yorkshire organ to its former glory have moved a step closer thanks to a £30,000 grant from a church trust.
The money donated to the Selby Abbey Organ Appeal is one of the largest grants ever awarded by the John Pilling Trust, based in Blackburn.
It means the appeal has now raised nearly £400,000 and is closing in on the £575,000 needed for restoration work to begin. Abbey officials hope to have met the target by the end of this year.
Selby Abbey’s organ appeal was launched in June 2012 because the Edwardian-era instrument is in urgent need of careful restoration and could become unplayable within five years.
Some notes cannot be played in certain atmospheric conditions and repairs undertaken in the last 30 years have also impaired its sound.
It was designed and built specifically for the abbey in 1909 by leading organ builder William Hill. Officials say it is a masterpiece and the British Academy of Music’s patron, Carlo Curley, called it “an international treasure of commendable renown and one of Europe’s top sonic treasures”.
The appeal falls within the scope of the John Pilling Trust, which was set up in 1957 to support the musical activities of the Church of England and advance education.
John Engelhart, chairman of the appeal trustees in Selby, said: “We are immensely grateful to the John Pilling Trust for their very generous grant in support of the abbey’s organ appeal.
“The grant is a major fillip for the trustees and community at Selby Abbey as we start fundraising again for 2014.”
Many of the world’s leading organists have performed on the Selby Abbey organ including Jean Guillou, Titulaire of Saint-Eustache in Paris, Dame Gillian Weir DBE, Professor at the Royal College of Music and Carol Williams, Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.
In August last year, a remastered CD was released featuring a new compilation of works originally recorded at Selby Abbey between 1961 and 1964 by Fernando Germani, who was the Pope’s organist at St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Dr Simon Lindley, a Leeds-based organist and choirmaster, is a trustee of the John Pilling Trust and has helped out with the Selby appeal.