Rhinegold Photo credit: 2019 Chapter of Canterbury / Adrian C. Smith
The new organ will have over 6,000 pipes

Harriet Clifford

Voicing at Canterbury

12:29, 7th January 2020

Voicing is underway at Canterbury Cathedral, with the Harrison & Harrison new Quire Organ project set to be completed this Easter.

From 6 January to the end of February 2020, voicing will take place every day from 1pm to 1am, except on Sundays. Having begun at the end of 2017, the project largely replaces the 1886 Father Willis organ, which was originally designed with a pioneering form of electro-pneumatic action. Since then, the organ has been altered by Norman & Beard and Henry Willis & Sons, with a more significant rebuild taking place in 1979 by N.P. Mander.

Some of the original Father Willis pipework remains on the south side of the quire, and will form the backbone of the new four-manual instrument. Work on the south side began in summer 2019; new pipes were installed on the north side the previous summer. A new console will be situated in a new organ loft in the north quire aisle, which also presents an opportunity to repair historic stone, timber and stained glass in the quire.

The new organ will have over 80 stops and more than 6,000 pipes, making it one of the largest cathedral organs in Europe. Its six organs will include the pedal, choir, great, swell, solo and transept. Managing director of Harrison & Harrison Andrew Reid told C&O, ‘We look forward to completing the Quire Organ of Canterbury Cathedral, giving voice once again to the historic Father Willis pipework within a broader scheme of 83 stops, complete with three 32ft ranks, a new transept division and largely new choir and enclosed solo organs.’

Dr Robert Willis, the Dean of Canterbury, said, ‘This project will not only restore the Cathedral organ, but also bring back some of the quality and beauty of the original Henry Willis instrument.’

With funds being raised by the Canterbury Cathedral Trust, the project takes place between two milestones for the cathedral – its 30th anniversary as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018 and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in July 2020



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