The Organ at St Mary the Virgin

The organ was built by Peter Collins one of the leading organ builders in Britain and with a truly international reputation for building mechanical action organs throughout the world, where the player is in direct connection with the pipes.

The specification of the organ follows the principles of modern European Organ building best practice, this instrument was built in 1974.

Several Recitals have been given, including visits by Hans Fagius (Sweden) Margaret Phillips (Professor RCM), David Titterington (Professor RAM ), Martin Baker, (Westminster Cathedral), James McVinnie, (Assistant Organist,Westminster Abbey) David Briggs, International recitalist) Daniel Cooke (assistant Salisbury cathedral, now at Westminster Abbey) Matthew Owens, (Wells cathedral) Several other European and North American organists. This short list demonstrates both the design and quality of the instrument, one of two built in the County Town, a third has recently moved to a new home of a young professional organist in the North of England. Next year the organ will be 40 years old and we shall have to consider rebuilding and refurbishing it due to continuous use.

When approached by the Diocese to be a centre for young organists to practice and receive instruction under a scheme established by the Diocesan Music Committee, of which John Lock is a member, meeting under the chairmanship of Archdeacon, Paul Taylor, and organised by Robert Fielding, (organist, Romsey Abbey) with Richard Godfrey acting as tutor in Dorchester. Over 8 years, with positive encouragement from St Mary's an average of 10/12 students, ranging in age from 7 to 18, plus a few older players, have free access to the organ on two afternoons a week; plus the weekly Saturday teaching sessions.

Three years ago we renewed the electronic registration mechanism with a Pipe Net system, similar to that fitted in St Paul's & Worcester Cathedrals, which allows the whole organ to be controlled at the press of a button. The system has 200 levels and we are able to allocate 10 pistons to each student. In the future we hope to add a reader for either removable memory cards or sticks so that students may have their own registrations for pistons and recall at anytime. It is possible, with the necessary electrical contacts to fit a recording device into the console, enabling a student to replay their performance and experiment with registration. We follow closely developments in the computer world such as free music from the Internet which can be viewed on an iPad or other device. Organ Music is expensive and a small library of core organ music is being catalogued at the moment for use. In this way the instrument serves and expands the interest, knowledge and enjoyment of the local community.