My old school Downside went on line for this year's Christmas Concert.



Audioholic Slumlord
I attended Downside School from 1960 to 1964.

Normally the performers travel to London to give the Christmas Concert in a London Church.

Covid-19 forced them on line from Downside School and Abbey this year. Downside is located at Stratton-on-the-Fosse, half way between he historic town of Bath and Wells. The Fosse Way, is the old Roman road between London and Bath. Bath has natural hot springs and has the best preserved Roman Baths in the world. Downside is located in the beautiful Mendip Hills of Somerset.

The filming is excellent and gives a good idea of the Abbey Church, the school and the surroundings.

The audio is variable, but they have to be given license as often the performers are in different locations because of social distancing. The school was historically boys only, but girls started to be admitted in my final year. Now there is a good mix.

The Abbey Architect was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed Battersea power station, now an art gallery just the other side of the River a little upstream from the Houses of Parliament. It is an iconic building.

The Abbey organ is unusual. It is the last surviving organ in original state of the Compton organ company. It was built in 1931. Compton organs were in the main theater organs. But no all. Its twin was in the BBC studios. The Compton Organs followed a plan of total enclosure. That is to say none of the pipes are visible, and are all in swell boxes giving a large degree of dynamic control. They used extensive borrowing, which is to say they added ranks stops, by borrowing pipes across divisions. This was a cost saving measure.
Dom Gregory Murray gave weekly organ recitals over BBC radio for many years before World War II.

There is one good commercial recoding of the organ on the Priory label. It is volume 3 of the works of Percy Whitlock. He hailed from my home town of Rochester. He liked Compton organs and composed with them in mind. Graham Barber who specializes in his works chose the Abbey organ for volume 3 of the series.

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