New East End Organ Project Begins With Ground Surveys

We are excited to take the first steps of a long-term project to commission a new organ for the Cathedral's East end.

The new instrument will be designed to accompany the choir during worship and concerts as a complement to the Rieger organ at the west end, which will continue to be used for congregational singing and solo pieces. The commissioning process will begin next week with floor surveys of the proposed location for the organ. Our current chancel organ, rented from charity Pipe Up For Pipe Organs, will be removed to allow this critical step to take place. We are all looking forward to working with the new Organist (following their appointment later this year) to move forward in acquiring a fantastic new instrument that will elevate our choral worship and world-class music.

Our need for a second instrument is a result of the unusual geography of the Cathedral, itself a product of the college’s 19th century statutes. At that time, all students were required to attend daily worship and sit in the chancel. In order to accommodate the college’s growing population, in 1884 the screen, organ and choir were moved to the west end of the building, expanding the liturgical 'chancel' to encompass the whole Cathedral. This had the unintended result of creating an acutely challenging set of acoustics for choral worship, particularly for the congregation seated in the north and south transepts.

The choir returned to their original position in the chancel following the pandemic - but the distance now placed between the singers and the organ means it can no longer effectively accompany them. A new second instrument located at the east end will complete the restoration of the Cathedral's natural layout and allow all members of the congregation to connect fully with the music, text and liturgy of our worship.

The outgoing Nelson chancel organ was made available to us through a scheme from builder Martin Renshaw’s charity Pipe Up For Pipe Organs. The group save unwanted instruments from closed down churches by repairing them and renting or selling them on to new homes ranging from churches and community venues, to London Bridge Station and the Whitgift Shopping Centre in Croydon. It will be temporarily replaced by a Viscount digital organ while the project proceeds. This will then serve as a private practice instrument for our organists once the new organ has been installed.

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