Music at Queen's Cross Church

The Master of Music | The Organ | The Choir | The Annual Charity Concert
| Other Activities


The Master of Music


Geoffrey Atkinson is a music graduate of the University of Aberdeen and has been Master of Music at Queen’s Cross Church since 1977. He has been able to continue and develop the strong music traditions of this church, notably in the establishment of the Charity Concert series with its wide-ranging and adventurous programme policy. He is a prize-winning composer of church music, and arranger of folk songs, and is also an editor of old English organ music. He has many successful publications to his credit and now runs his own publishing enterprise. He has edited and published a twelve volume series of the complete organ works of Samuel Wesley as well as editions of similar music by William Russell, Thomas Adams and several others.

The Organ

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It is clear that right from its opening in 1881 the members of this splendid new church in Aberdeen ’s west end were prepared to take music seriously. There was a choir from the very beginning but there being no organ the music was led, as was the then custom by precentors whose job was to prepare the choir and to train the congregation in the art of unaccompanied singing.

By 1887 there was strong pressure for the installation of an organ, for which most of the money was raised by subscription. Showing great good sense the church commissioned Henry Willis I (Father Willis) to construct the organ. He was the foremost builder of the day and his instruments have always been prized - in Aberdeen his work can also be seen and heard in the Music Hall, St Machar’s and Rubislaw. This was an interesting and intelligent move. There must have been other firms tendering for the contract, who would have doubtless been offering to provide larger instruments at the same or less cost. But in 1887 the church went for quality, with two consequences, firstly the instrument has lasted well and still sounds thrilling, and secondly, for over 100 years Queen’s Cross organists have been regretting that there was never a third manual, which is something one would expect in a church of this size. The third manual was ‘prepared for’ - you can see the third keyboard in old photographs, the idea being that, when funds allowed, pipes and action for this third manual would be installed. Naturally we are still waiting, though when the instrument was rebuilt in 1955 the dummy third manual was removed, since then, as now, the notion that such an extravagance would be vouchsafed was plainly ridiculous.

The 1955 re-build repositioned the instrument in the west gallery where it speaks clearly into the body of the church. The work was done by Rushworth & Dreaper and included the adding of a fine set of high pressure reeds for the Great and Pedal.

A renovation of the interior was undertaken for the church’s centenary in 1981, and one of the features of this was to bring the choir downstairs so that they could properly be heard and more effectively lead the singing. The console thus had to come downstairs too, since the organist has to be in close contact with the singers. The main problem with the present arrangement is that there is an acoustic delay between pressing a key and hearing the sound, which is not insignificant, and which can cause problems for players not used to it. Indeed some music with very rapid figurations or complex rhythms remains difficult even by expert players.

Specification of the Organ

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Great   Swell  
Bourdon 16 Open Diapason 8
Open Diapason 8 Lieblich Gedeckt 8
Gamba 8 Salicional 8
Claribel Flute 8 Viox Angelica 8
Dulciana 8 Gemshorn 4
Principal 4 Fifteenth 2
Harmonic Flute 4 Mixture III
Fifteenth 2 trumpet 8
Larigot 1 1/3 Contra Oboe 16
Tromba 8 Tromba (Gt) 8
       
Pedal   Couplers  
Open Wood 16 Great to pedal  
Sub Bass 16 Swell to pedal  
Bourdon 16 Swell to Great  
Octave 8 Swell Octave  
Bass Flute 8 Swell Unison Off  
Fifteenth 4 Swell Sub-Octave  
Trombone 16    
Tromba 8 Tremulant  
Clarion 4    


The Choir

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The choir contributes to the 11.00 am service each Sunday from September to June each year. During the Summer a less formal group sings a simple anthem for the single 10.00 am service.

Choir rehearsals from September to June take place in the Session Room from 7.30 pm - 8.30 pm each Thursday evening, and from 10 am - 10.45 am each Sunday before the 11 am service.

We will always welcome new members. We have good coverage in all parts so newcomers will not be exposed, and you will be assured of a friendly welcome.

The Annual Charity Concert 1981 – 2008

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It is believed that the concept of a long-running series of large-scale annual charity concerts has been unique in Scotland, and possibly in the UK. There were a total of 28 choral and orchestral concerts during this period running from 1981 to 2008. The programming was innovative and introduced many works which were receiving their first Scottish, or Aberdeen, performances.

No one taking part in any of these concerts received a fee - soloists, choral singers and orchestral players all performed free for the charity we were supporting and we were also given valuable sponsorship by the business community. Queen’s Cross Church is proud that this concert series has, over all these 28 years, raised a grand net total of £74,530 which has helped so many local charities fund the basic and practical needs which are essential to their work.

This venture has now come to an end, but we still wish to express our grateful thanks to all those who contributed in any way.

 

Other activities

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We continue to run informal recitals in our Sunday @ 6.30 series from September to June.

These last about an hour and conclude with the audience joining the performers for a glass of wine or juice at the back of the church.

We like to provide a platform for good local musicians of all types, including jazz, and if you would like to be considered for inclusion in the schedule please contact Elspeth Mogendorff on 581557 (elspeth@mogendorff.freeserve.co.uk)

Details of these recitals, and other musical events, are included in Musical Events on this Website.