Elphinstone's original bell comes home
he last surviving original bell from King's College Chapel will ring out to welcome in the 500th year of the Chapel. The bell, which was only returned last year after 234 years at Tough Church, forms part of a special Foundation Day Service in the Chapel on 2 April.
Bishop Elphinstone left money to provide the Chapel with a magnificent peel of 12 bells. They were not finally installed until after 1519, when the Crown Tower was just reaching completion. The sweet sound they made could "call the very stones to prayer".
The large bells all had names: Trinity, which was in the largest in Scotland being 165cm across the mouth, Gabriel, Raphael and Maria.
Jane Geddes of the University's History of Art Department said: "After the Reformation they fell out of use, and gradually the temptation to melt down the metal for the cash. They started to go in 1700 and the last were smashed up in 1823.
"But one little bell bought from William Culverden of London survived. We know this is one of the original bells because his rebus, stamped on the bell, shows the culver or pigeon with the letters 'den'."
Dr Geddes said that when it was lying in the breaker's yard in 1736, the minister of Tough Church offered to buy it for his parishioners. "The local subscribers for the bell fund were asked to exercise restraint in tolling the bell at funerals: the minister considered their enthusiasm to get their money's worth dangerous and excessive," she said.
"In the event the bell cracked and hung useless in the bellcote at Tough
until last year when thanks to a generous donation by Dr Ronnie Scott
Brown, the Chancellor's Assessor, it was repaired and returned to its
rightful home. And Tough received a working nineteenth century bell from
A selection of publications and recordings made in or about King's College
Crown and Gown:
Illustrated History of the University of Aberdeen, 1495-1995
and the Kingdom of Scotland, 1431-1514: The Struggle for Order
Chapel, Aberdeen, 1500-2000
at Blackwell's University Bookshop (01224 486102) Salve Regina, A Sacred or Secular Adoration? Music from Kings
- Volume IV Six 18th Century Organ Concertos Music from Kings - Volume VI Quartets from King's Music from King's - Volume VII John McLeod Piano Music Music from King's - Volume VIII Celebrations at King's
Salve Regina, A Sacred or Secular Adoration? Music from Kings
- Volume IV
Six 18th Century Organ Concertos Music from Kings - Volume VI
Quartets from King's Music from King's - Volume VII
John McLeod Piano Music Music from King's - Volume VIII
Celebrations at King's
direct at University Music
or King's College
Conference Centre Shop
Aberdeen launched an exciting fundraising drive in April 2000 to replace the organ at King's College Chapel. Originally, around £200,000 was needed to replace the Organ. Since then, however, having raised over £220,000 from various sources towards the cost of the new organ we have an opportunity to upgrade the instrument from a two-manual to a three-manual. Most of what has been raised so far has been due to the enormous generosity of the many individual graduates and friends of the University, for whom King's College Chapel and its music has a very special place.
The purchase of a new organ will provide a unique resource not just to the Chapel and University but to the City of Aberdeen and the rest of Scotland. Our new organ will help produce a greater number of skilled organists to meet the current shortage in Scotland and promote the organ as an instrument of variety, colour, responsiveness and excitement. It will also expand the community's use of the Chapel through an increased number of recitals, concerts and ceremonial events. The Chapel will have an organ worthy of the building's architectural magnificence, in keeping with our founder Bishop Elphinstone's vision.
The commission for building the new organ was put out to competitive tender in 2001 and has been awarded to Bernard Aubertin, one of the world's leading organ builders. Six years ago the French Ministry of Culture conferred on him the title of Maître d'art Facture d'Orgues the highest accolade ever given by France to an organ builder. Although Aubertin's work is to be found in many countries, this will be the very first Aubertin organ in Scotland or indeed in the United Kingdom.
In his design for our new instrument Aubertin has given us the option of converting the two-manual organ which we have commissioned to a three-manual one. The additional keyboard and stops will not only widen the repertoire and flexibility of the instrument, it will give us one of the most original and outstanding organs in Scotland. Having successfully hit our original target, it is worth lifting our sights and aiming to raise the extra £30,000 we require to take up this exciting option. We have until the end of August 2002 to complete this task.
The Patrons of the Organ Appeal had arranged a special concert to mark the commissioning of the new organ and to thank all those who had contributed to the appeal. This was held - appropriately - on Founder's Day, 10 February 2002, in King's College Chapel - where Fiona Kennedy and John Wallace, who are no strangers to the University, were joined by some of our rising student stars. The Concert was a resounding success and those who had the chance to meet Aubertin, to view his plans for the new organ and hear him speak about his work were most impressed with the project.
If you would like to contribute in any way to the musical future of the Chapel please contact Judith Rea, University of Aberdeen Development Trust, Tel: 01224 273232, Fax: 01224 272271, Email: email@example.com
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