The London-based specialist construction company, ME Construction, has played a key part in the installation of a new 42-stop, three-manual symphonic organ which has been donated to the Royal Academy of Music by Sir Elton John and his long-time collaborator, Ray Cooper. The musicians played in two fundraising concerts for the Academy which secured the income to pay for the organ.
The impressive instrument, built in Switzerland by Orgelbau Kuhn and funded by Sir Elton John, a former Junior Exhibitioner at the Academy, has been installed in the Academy’s Duke’s Hall by ME Construction. This work involved conducting preparatory engineering work at the back of the Hall and underneath, constructing the infrastructure on which the organ rests its considerable weight and bulk.
The Academy’s Principal, Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, commented: “To witness the creation of a new, world-class, three-manual symphonic organ on one’s home soil is exciting to say the least. Over the past weeks, we’ve watched thousands of ’bits and pieces’, in all sorts of materials, being skilfully assembled into a beautiful whole. And, having seen the care taken by the masters at Kuhn at every stage of the process, we can be confident that the instrument, made to careful specification from the requirements of our professors and consultants, will sound at least as good as it looks.”
Pete Smith, the Academy’s Estates Manager, expressed a similar sentiment with regard to ME Construction’s part in the proceedings when he said: “We found ME Construction to be skilled and professional in conscientiously carrying out its duties and responsibilities on this project – as we’d expect of a high quality construction specialist. We’re delighted that the project passed off without a hitch.”
The first performances on the new organ take place this autumn and include ‘Bach Unwrapped’ recitals by Bine Bryndorf and Wolfgang Zerer.
ME Construction’s Operation Director, Dennis Barnard, said: “Being involved in this project, under the direction of the project’s managers, Davis Langdon, was both exciting and challenging for us – not least because it marked our debut in ‘organ construction’. Over the six years that ME Construction has been in existence, the company has been involved in a number of unusual and highly specialised construction projects – including working at Kew Gardens and Wembley Stadium – but this marks a ‘first’ for us in the music world.”
Sir Elton John studied at the Royal Academy of Music as a teenager and has regarded the training he received there as vitally important to the development of his career. He now supports the Academy not just by donating the new symphonic organ but also by supporting scholarships at the Academy – helping deserving young musicians to receive the same inspirational start. Sir Elton said: “I feel compelled to do everything that I can to assist the Academy in nurturing and developing these immensely talented, often impoverished, young people.”
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