Freemasons’ Hall Brings Some Early Christmas Cheer With Its First Virtual Organ Concert This December

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Freemasons are organising their first virtual Organ Concert, to take place on 9 December at 7pm. The event aims to showcase the magnificent Willis Pipe Organ, and will be streamed from the majestic Grand Temple in Freemasons’ Hall, London, an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1933.

The virtual audience will be able to watch Christopher Stokes, the present Senior Organist at the Freemasons, and organist and Master of the Choristers at Manchester Cathedral. He previously held posts as organist and Master of Music at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, and director of music at St Margaret's, Westminster Abbey.

Mr Stokes is a renowned soloist, but has also appeared with numerous orchestras, including the Hallé Orchestra, the Manchester Camerata, the Northern Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Golden Age.

The artist has selected eight memorable melodies to enchant audiences:

  • Sonata in G – Edward Elgar
  • Toccata Giocosa (William Mathias)
  • Psalm Prelude Set 1 No 1 (Herbert Howells)
  • Tuba Tune (Norman Cocker)
  • Chanson de Matin (Edward Elgar)
  • Tune in E, in the style of John Stanley (George Thalben-Ball)
  • Sonata in Eb, BWV 525(i) (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • Crown Imperial (William Walton)

Dr David Staples, chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England, commented: “The country has faced two national lockdowns in the past year, which has left many feeling isolated and lonely, at UGLE we wanted to spread some early Christmas cheer with a virtual concert to bring music and joy into people's homes. During the virtual presentation, the audience will have the opportunity to appreciate some of the stunning architecture of our Headquarters here in London at the same time.”

Freemasons’ Hall, was designed as a pentagon to suit the irregular area in which it is located. Built in the central courtyard of the splendid art deco building, the Grand Temple is rich in multicolored details of blue, gold and white.

Inside the Grand Temple, visitors cannot miss the majestic 1.25-tonne organ with its ornate pipes, the golden thrones and sturdy bronze doors, each measuring 3.6 metres by 1.2 metres.

The original organ was installed in 1933 by Henry Willis, the third generation of an extended family line of organ builders. It originally had three manuals and 43 stops, giving a total complement of some 2,220 pipes, and was the last big organ built by the Willis firm. After 80 years it was in need of a complete renovation, and this was carried out in Durham by Harrison & Harrison who designed the new case above the console to houses a further six stops (approximately 400 pipes) to enhance its sound.

To participate in the event, members of the public can book for free via: http://bit.ly/FMH-Concert-Dec-2020

Braham Djidjelli

Deputy Group Communications Officer
Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex