The CD will comprise choral favourites sung by the choir and accompanied by College organist Julian Littlewood, as well as the monumental Messe Solennelle by Louis Vierne, composed in 1899. This work features the chapel choir accompanied by both the restored Willis & Sons organ as well as the college’s Alexandre harmonium. An arrangement of Alexandre Guilmant’s Sonata No. 4 in D minor (1884) was also recorded, played by Wadham’s Director of Chapel Music Dr Katharine Pardee on the organ, and Professor of Harmonium Anne Page from the Royal Academy of Music.
The College purchased the 1869 Alexandre harmonium in 2015 while the 1878 Willis organ was being restored. “When the organ was returned to College we discovered that the sound of the organ and harmonium together was just fabulous and we did a concert with the two instruments together,” commented Katie.
“When Wadham alumnus Alan Green (Chinese, 1948) kindly provided the money for a recording, it made sense to do the Vierne choral piece for two organs and choir and the duet sonata by Guilmant, since both are from the era of these instruments, and both sound unusually well here,” she added.
Just prior to the scheduled recording, a drop in temperature caused concern to Katie. “The organ and harmonium are only in tune together when the outside temperature is within a certain range: the organ pipes expand and contract with changes in the weather, but the harmonium pitch stays stable. I couldn’t believe it when it started snowing!”
Fortunately by keeping the chapel doors firmly shut, the temperature in the chapel was maintained and the successful recording went ahead as planned.
Former members of the chapel choir returned to College for an intense period of rehearsals leading up to the recording.
“They worked so hard and it sounded fabulous – hearing Cameron Henderson-Begg (Oriental Studies, 2012) singing the solo in Loch Lomond transported me right back to the Library of Congress on the 2016 Chapel Tour,” said Katie.
The CD will go on sale later in 2018. Details coming soon.