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'Our Škrabl organ has been a wonderful resource'

'Our Škrabl organ has been a wonderful resource' Click image to enlarge

The people of St Michael's Church in Lyme Regis, Dorset, have been celebrating the 10th anniversary of the installation of its Škrabl organ.

In a brochure published to mark the occasion, the church's organist and musical director, Alex Davies (right) wrote: "Since its installation our Škrabl organ has been a wonderful resource for Lyme Regis Parish Church and the wider community.

"It has been a great privilege to play this special instrument at church services, concerts and recitals, as well as to hear the other organists – at all levels of experience – who come to play it. 

"The organ’s design was ‘user friendly’; it can be colourful, grand and exciting but also gentle, warm and supportive.

"It can be played authentically in a wide range of styles, although to my mind the relatively dry, clear acoustic of the church allows the organ’s clean bright tone and mechanical action to excel most evidently in the music of JS Bach and his contemporaries. 

"The organ has enabled far more varied and interesting musical support at church services, weddings and funerals. Audiences have also enjoyed recitals by some of the very finest organists, including Thomas Trotter, Ian Tracey and Nathan Laube. 

"Since giving the inaugural recital in 2010, Philip Scriven has returned to perform and to lead the annual winter organ course with other eminent organists, several of whom have become associated with music at St Michael’s. Andrew Millington, for example, has also directed and accompanied Lyme Bay Chorale in a number of concerts featuring the Škrabl. 

"In the last few years the South Wessex Organ Society (SWOS) has helped to ensure the instrument is used to its fullest potential, both by continuing the work of the Lyme Regis Organ School and by organising a range of performances at which the Škrabl takes centre stage. 

"Clearly the organ has brought significant benefits to St Michael’s and its music. The superior Škrabl build quality seemed expensive at the time but this wonderful instrument has touched and enhanced the lives of people from near and far, and will continue to do so for many years to come. 

The Venerable Paul Taylor, Archdeacon Emeritus of Sherborne, wrote: "Sadly, new pipe organs are a rarity in the UK these days.

"The pipe organ building boom of the Victorian and Edwardian period has long since gone, and when instruments from this period get beyond repair, too often they are replaced by electronic instruments, which are inevitably much cheaper."

"However, although electronic organs are the pragmatic solution, they are in no way an adequate replacement for the pipe organ. The musical quality of a pipe organ, small or large, cannot be replicated electronically, and the durability is considerably less.

"It was therefore a real thrill when as Archdeacon I heard that Lyme Regis PCC were proposing to replace their 100-year-old organ with a new instrument, built by the renowned Slovenian organ builder Anton Škrabl.  This was a bold and ambitious project, but given the forward-sightedness of the then PCC, and the superb leadership of project coordinator Andrew Nicholson, the Škrabl organ became a reality. 

"The magnificent Lyme Regis organ now ranks among the finest instruments in the country. It not only enhances and graces worship but also provides a focus for organ teaching and music making, so has become a resource for the local and wider community. "