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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 28th April 2024 Posted on Saturday 27 April 2024

Our Grand Organ

As you may be aware our Cathedral was consecrated on 13th May 1967 and had the grand opening Mass the following day which that year happened to be Pentecost Sunday. The newly designed and built Cathedral organ was played in public for the first time at this Grand Opening Mass.

The organ was designed by the firm JW Walker and although the newly designed instrument had been gradually constructed in the workshop from 1962 the installation could only start on site from November 1966. In the six months prior to the opening the instrument had to be built on site and voiced which looking back seems an impossibly short timescale for the instrument to bed in and there were plenty of teething problems in the first few months of use.

However, the wonderful view of the organ pipes above the Blessed Sacrament Chapel with the gleaming trumpets protruding proudly became to this day a distinctive feature of the interior of our Cathedral.

Eventually after more than 50 years of operation the Cathedral organ was in major need of a major overhaul. This project to dismantle the organ, refurbish everything off site at the Harrison workshop in Durham, and then rebuild the instrument with certain improvements to the layout and the console began in 2020 and has taken over two and a half years to complete. After a considerable bedding in period the organ is now sounding as good as ever and this month we are holding a special service of Choral Evening Prayer on 12th May (the day before the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral) to re-dedicate the organ now that all the work is complete.

Members of the Chapter of Canons will join us on this special occasion. This will be followed by an inaugural recital by Martin Baker, former Director of Music at Westminster Cathedral and Past President of the Royal College of Organists. Prior to the service at 3pm our first Cathedral Organist, Terry Duffy, and Professor Rowntree will give a talk on the organ and its significance from 2pm in the Gibberd Room. A date for your diaries for all lovers of Cathedral Music.

Canon Anthony O’Brien