Henry Willis, 1876
Harrison & Harrison, 1905,
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IAO president (2013-5)
Dr JAMES LANCELOT
is Master of the Choristers
Durham Cathedral was "home" to the 2014 IAO Congress and, seated in the quire (as many delegates were during the opening Choral Evensong), one feels surrounded by organ, of which the left photo gives but a very limited glimpse. This justly famous, huge instrument of 98 speaking stops and 5746 pipes was a natural choice as we reach Organ of the Month 150.
"Father" Willis built the instrument in 1876, replacing a three-manual instrument by Bishop dating from 1847, but placing it on both sides of the quire stretched the technology of the day to the limit.
By 1905, when the first H&H rebuild was commissioned, much of the north side (opposite the console) had become unplayable. Considerable revoicing took place, as well as preparing for various additions that were not completed (because of financial constraints) until 1935.
Following the fashion at the time, the 1970 rebuild added a Postive division, placed behind the south choir stalls, and other mutations to the Choir. A new piston capture system was installed in 1982 and further minor changes followed in 1996.
You can listen to James Lancelot playing the cathedral organ as December 14's Music of the Month