Jim Stewart – Director
Jim grew up in Lisburn and was a chorister in Lisburn under Choir Master Dr Desmond Hunter. His love of the organ stemmed from both watching and listening to Dr Hunter playing and from his frequent visits to the Wells Kennedy workshops organised by Philip Kennedy the partner of Christopher Gordon-Wells
His love of music took him down the choral route, singing in various groups throughout the province but his love of the organ and its workings always came to the fore.
Having received his diploma in the construction industry and specialising in estimating and contract management he finally received an opportunity to join the firm in 1992 (a late starter), where Christopher began training him in the art of tuning, maintenance, and voicing. David however felt that having someone who could be an all-rounder, along with managing contracts due to his knowledge within the construction industry would benefit the company better in the short term.
With almost 30 years of working closely together sharing knowledge, long trips, late nights and many fish suppers it almost felt like they became brothers. After David’s untimely passing it was Jim’s intent to carry on the tradition and vision set out by those who built the reputation and work carried out by Wells Kennedy.
With the help of Stewart Smith, a long-standing friend of David, Stephen Prosser son of the late Philip Prosser and other associates, the firm has continued to maintain the close relationship with most of its customers and aims to continue offering good customer service. The firm has continued to flourish with the help of many friends and colleagues and is looking forward to the challenges of an ever changing future and exciting projects on the horizon
Stewart studied Music at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown where he completed a BMus (Hon) degree in 1995. During this time, he also completed his LTCL organ performance diploma. In 2014 he further completed a Master’s degree in organ performance at Ulster University, Magee under the organ tutelage of Prof Desmond Hunter.
As a recitalist, Stewart has been engaged by the Ulster Organ Society, Ballywillan Summer Series and Christ Church, Londonderry. He has also performed for the opening recitals on two Wells-Kennedy Organs in All Saints Parish and Letterkenny Presbyterian Church.
He has fifteen years’ experience as Head of Music at secondary-level education and has spent eight years as Director of Music, All Saints Parish Church, Londonderry.
For the past 12 years, Stewart has been engaged as Chamber Choir repetiteur and organ accompanist for the Ulster University Choir. He has also worked as a part time lecturer on the BMus course teaching harmony, performance and musicology
He currently spends much of his time accompanying students at the Ulster University for their performance assessments.
Stewart has worked as an Advisor to Derry City Council regarding the Organ in the Guildhall. In this role he was instrumental in the running of the Organ Festival featuring the Organ. He often provides recitals for the council throughout the year.
He is currently Musical Director of The Britannia Concert Band and The William King Memorial Flute Band and has been Musical Director of The Walled City Tattoo on several occasions.
Stewart’s association with Wells Kennedy goes back to school days when he had the opportunity to complete his work experience with the company working on the Guildhall Organ which had been damaged by rainwater. He maintained a close relationship since that period. 15 years ago, Stewart began working with the company part time visiting many organs along with David who imparted as much knowledge as he could on each visit.
Stewart was involved in the rebuilding of All Saint’s Parish Church working with David to develop the new scheme and onsite during the reassembly process. He has also worked on Randalstown PC, Letterkenny Presbyterian and St Columb’s Cathedral.
Stewart as a player brings a different dimension to the team and works closely with Jim on advising clients on possible rebuilds or alterations.
As well as tuning Stewart has a keen interest in the electrical side of things having learnt so much from his father who is an electrician and from his own interest in recording music.
Stephen’s involvement with pipe organs started at a young age, holding keys for his father Philip during tuning visits whilst he was a young chorister at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.
He worked with Philip during summer holidays eventually joining the family business full time in 1986.
In 1993 he and Philip joined the staff at Wells-Kennedy for a 3-year stint helping during a very busy period for the firm before undertaking the cleaning and overhaul of the Grand Mulholland organ in the Ulster Hall.
Stephen’s forte is in the manufacture of organ components, having made parts for many of the leading organ building firms in Ireland including Kenneth Jones and Trevor Crowe and has been helping Wells Kennedy since the untimely deaths of both Philip Prosser and David McElderry.
Stephen’s continuing close association with Wells Kennedy Ltd will help to ensure the firms long held commitment to craftsmanship and professionalism in organ building.