We are pleased to have been commissioned to refurbish and renew the famous organ of Gloucester Cathedral. Work will commence in 2024, to be completed in time for the Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester in 2026.
The organ that Thomas Harris built for Gloucester Cathedral in 1666 has been rebuilt over and over again, each time reflecting different musical emphases. Sometimes these have reflected the changing musical needs of the cathedral, and sometimes wider trends in organ design.
The form of the forthcoming project to refurbish and renew the instrument has been reached with the hope that the instrument will provide inspiring support to the sung worship and liturgy of the cathedral today and in the future, and be wholly reliable.
Mechanically, the instrument will be entirely new: soundboards, chests, wind system, console, expression box, and so on. This will allow the tight internal space to be used most effectively. Replacing 140-year-old much-altered soundboards with new will make the instrument much more resilient to changes in humidity and will simplify the organ’s mechanism considerably from the innovative but complex mechanism introduced in 1971.
Carefully refurbished, the ancient façade will retain its present proportions as restored in 1971, and its restored Harris pipes will continue to sing into the cathedral. Renewal of the organ’s mechanism facilitates re-planning of the tonal scheme: most of the internal pipework, much of it revoiced many times in different guises, will be replaced by new pipework, in a scheme developed over a long period of discussion with the cathedral musicians. The surviving internal Harris pipes, much-altered, will be retired, documented and placed on permanent display in the cathedral.
The tonal scheme has been developed with the cathedral’s liturgical needs as the top priority: from accompanying a Tudor verse anthem or a modern set of canticles, or colouring the psalmody, to supporting any size of congregation in hymnody. We believe and hope that the resulting instrument will still be one that is stirring both to listen to, and to play.