organ162 - Birmingham Organists' Association

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organ 162

December 2015

4 manuals
59 speaking stops

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Cathedral Church

 of St James

Bury St Edmunds


Walker, 1864

Norman & Beard, 1914

Nicholson & Co, 1970

Harrison & Harrison, 2010

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A church has stood on the site of the present cathedral from pre-Norman times, with rebuilds in the early 12th century and in 1503.  The diocese of St Edmundsbury was created in 1914, and St James Church became the cathedral.  From 1960 onwards, much building work took place to transform the former parish church into the cathedral as it is today.

The organ began life as a 3-manual in the 1860s, but was enlarged to 4-manuals at the time of the church's redesignation as a cathedral in 1914.  The extensive rebuild in 1970 by Nicholson & Co added mutation work to the choruses and an entirely new Positif section comprising pipework of Dutch origin, playable from the Choir keyboard.

Following a fund-raising appeal which began in the 1990s and raised over £1 million, the present instrument was built by Harrisons in 2010 using some pipework from previous rebuilds but with 23 entirely new ranks.  No less than eight different wind pressures are employed, ranging from 3in (Choir) to 15in (Solo Tuba and Orchestral Trumpet).  The organ is situated in a chamber overlooking the North Transept and the Quire, with two cases containing pipes from the Great and Choir divisions.  The action is electro-pneumatic.

Congress delegates were able to hear the new organ during a recital by the Cathedral Organist, James Thomas, in a programme ranging from J S Bach to Messiaen.

You can listen to this organ as December 15's Music of the Month.

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