By chance in Spring 2009, Professor George Pratt discovered the House Organ at Powderham Castle (ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Devon ) near Exeter and, despite its poor condition, was so impressed that he arranged a concert at the Castle – ‘The Powderham Organ Revealed’.
The organ was built in 1769 by Brice Seede of Bristol, but for the last 70+ years had lain almost silent. A few years earlier, some essential repairs had been carried out making the organ just playable, but only to a very limited extent.
At that spring 2009 concert Professor Pratt met Dr Adrian Huxham, a friendship developed and they determined to raise adequate funds to completely restore this unique and historic organ.
In September 2010, this organ was ‘listed’ by the British Institute of Organ Studies in its Register of Historic Pipe Organs as being, ‘an instrument of importance to the national heritage and one deserving careful preservation for the benefit of future generations’
Funds were raised and this organ was professionally restored to its former glory at a cost of approximately £43000. Success of this project was celebrated by a ‘Restoration Concert’ held on Friday 17th May 2013 in Powderham Castle’s beautiful and impressive James Wyatt Music Room. This concert was immensely enjoyed by a capacity audience and all proceeds from ticket sales (approx. £1700) were donated to the Exeter Cathedral organ appeal.
Experience since 2009 has indicated that solo and chamber music, performed in this beautiful and historic location, is intoxicating and creates a market for tickets.
Having established that market, trustees now believe the time is right to launch a new and unique initiative into the region, which will not only satisfy an existing supporter base but open it up to a wider audience.
At least six concerts are held each year.
During their final year in Higher Education, all UK Conservatoires, Universities and Specialist Music Schools are keen to identify quality concert locations for their best graduate instrumentalists and opera students.
For at least two concerts each year, Powderham Castle’s very impressive James Wyatt Music Room is now being used as a Concert Hall Launchpad for the very best instrumental and opera students – performers of a standard associated with BBC TV’s Young Musician series or BBC3’s ‘New Generation Artists’ programmes.
All UK Conservatoires & Specialist Music Schools have warmly embraced this initiative.
Afternoon concerts for senior pupils of local schools and colleges are also being held. These are wonderful opportunities for young people to experience live classical music in a beautiful historic location, and performed by students not much older than themselves. For comments and reviews from recent youngsters about these concerts, please see our ‘schools’ page.
By encouraging gifted young instrumentalists from across the UK and abroad, these special concerts will play an important part in ensuring the future of classical music!