Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gloucester Cathedral organ

The Cathedral Organ

The firm of Nicholson and Co (Worcester) was chosen in 1999 by the Dean and Chapter to carry out a full restoration of the Gloucester organ.
The intention was to maintain the wonderful integrity of the instrument as designed by Ralph Downes and John Sanders in 1971, when the tonal scheme adopted a much more classical approach.
This rebuild was a very controversial one, but one which we believe was very forward looking and one of the best examples from the 1970s.

Gloucester Cathedral organ
The oldest part of the organ case at Gloucester dates from 1579
and it is the only English cathedral organ from before
the Restoration to remain in its original position.

A synopsis of the work carried out between April - October 1999 is as follows:
The ingenious electro-magnetic action, designed in 1971 by John Norman, has been fully restored, using the most modem, silent components
The soundboards have been renovated
The pipework has been cleaned and fully re-regulated
A new solid state transmission system has been installed
A replay system, based on a standard IBM compatible computer, will be included at a future date

The console technology has been upgraded, to included a stepper, 384 levels of general pistons, 64 levels of divisionals, pedal divide etc
New drawstop solenoids have been fitted
A Swell Sub Octave stop has been added
A new 32' Bombarde has been placed within the screen, with half-length zinc resonators for the bottom octave
The pedal organ has been augmented by a 32' "Cornet Separe" (a la Cavaille-Coll), to include a new Quint 10 2/3', Tierce 6 2/5' and Septieme 4 4/7' (big scale, metal pipework, tuned in mean temperament, voiced with very few harmonics and placed on a new soundboard within the screen)
The roof of the organ has been removed, thus allowing the nave vault to act as a sounding board (as it did 1717-1971!) thereby considerably enhancing the power and fullness of the instrument

Toccata by Jon Kristian Fjellestad,
David M. Patrick is playing the Gloucester Cathedral Organ.

l Herbert Sumsion's iconic recording of
Edward Elgar's Organ Sonata in G Op.28.
Recorded in a single take on the 1922 Harrison & Harrison organ
of Gloucester Cathedral in 1967.

ll Herbert Sumsion's iconic recording of
Edward Elgar's Organ Sonata in G Op.28.
Recorded in a single take on the 1922 Harrison & Harrison organ
of Gloucester Cathedral in 1967.

lll Herbert Sumsion's iconic recording of
Edward Elgar's Organ Sonata in G Op.28.
Recorded in a single take on the 1922 Harrison & Harrison organ
of Gloucester Cathedral in 1967.

Elgar - Organ Sonata in G Op.28 4. Presto Herbert Sumsion

Herbert Sumsion plays Wesley - Choral Song & Fugue

History Gloucester Cathedral Organ

1666 Thomas Harris
1831 Bishop and Son
1847/1889 Henry Willis
1920 Harrison and Harrison
1971 Hill, Norman and Beard
1999 Nicholson 

Nicholson 1999

The Nicholson rebuild of 1999 was overseen by the following personnel:
Managing Director: Andrew Moyes
Head Voicer: Guy Russell
Consultant: Ian Bell
Organist of Gloucester Cathedral: David Briggs


1971 Hill, Norman & Beard

1999 Nicholson Malvern
action restored, soundboards renovated, pipework cleaned
and re-regulated, new solid state transmission, replay
system prepared for, console upgraded, sw-so coupler added,
new 32' Bombarde, Pedal organ augmented by a 32' 'Cornet
Separé', roof of organ removed; new couplers:

2000 Nicholson Malvern
West Positive Larigot replaced with Septième;

2003 Nicholson
32' Pedal Bombarde revoiced louder;
UndatedPosition Screen Type Architectural
Chaire case in choir thought to date from 1579;
Stop type drawstop Pedalboard radiating concave
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great
Swell to Choir
Swell suboctave
Choir to Great
Choir to Pedal
Great to Pedal
West Positive to Great
Manual IV to Pedal
West Positive to Choir
West Great flues Sub Octave
West Great Flues on Man IV
Great Reeds on Man IV


Key action El Stop action El Compass-low C Compass-high g1 Keys 32
1 Flute 16
2 Principal 16
3 Subbass 16
4 Octave 8
5 Stopped Flute 8
6 Choral Bass 4
7 Open Flute 2
8 Quint 10 2/3 new 1999
9 Tierce 6 2/5 new 1999
10 Septième 4 4/7 new 1999
11 Mixture IV
12 Bombarde 32 new 1999
13 Bombarde 16
14 Trumpet 8
15 Shawm 4

Key action El Stop action El Compass-low C Compass-high a3 Keys 58

16 Stopped Diapason 8
17 Principal 4
18 Chimney Flute 4
19 Fifteenth 2
20 Sesquialtera II 19.24 at C
21 Nazard 1 1/3
22 Mixture III
23 Cremona 8
24 Tremulant

Key action El Stop action El Compass-low C Compass-high a3 Keys 58

25 Gedecktpommer 16
26 Open Diapason 8 West
27 Open Diapason 8 East
28 Spitzflute 8 West
29 Bourdon 8 East
30 Prestant 4 West
31 Octave 4 East
32 Stopped Flute 4 East
33 Flageolet 2 East
34 Quartane II West
35 Mixture IV-VI East
36 Cornet IV mid C, mounted
37 Posaune 16
38 Trumpet 8
39 Clarion 4

Key action El Stop action El Compass-low C Compass-high a3 Keys 58 Enclosed

40 Chimney Flute 8
41 Salicional 8
42 Celeste 8
43 Principal 4
44 Open Flute 4
45 Gemshorn 2
46 Nazard 2 2/3
47 Tierce 1 3/5
48 Mixture IV
49 Cimbel III
50 Fagotto 16
51 Trumpet 8
52 Hautboy 8
53 Vox Humana 8
54 Tremulant

Key action El Stop action El Compass-low C Compass-high a3 Keys 58

55 Gedecktpommer 8
56 Spitzflute 4
57 Doublette 2
58 Nazard 2 2/3
59 Tierce 1 3/5
60 Septième 1 1/7 replaced Larigot 2000
61 Cimbel III
62 Tremulant


Blowing electric
6 pistons Choir, 8 Great, 8 Swell, 4 West Positive
8 toe pistons Pedal, 8 duplicating Swell
reversible thumb pistons W Pos-Gt, Man IV-Pd, sw-gt, sw-pd, ch-gt, gt-pd;
8 general thumb pistons
general cancel setter
Great and Pedal combinations coupled
Generals on Swell toe pistons
Pedal Divide (new 1999):-
below adjustable dividing point: all pedal stops and couplers;
above adjustable dividing point: 4 illuminated controls (Ch/Gt/Sw/W Pos);
all Tremulants fully adjustable
16 levels of divisional pistons (new 1999)
384 levels of general pistons (new 1999)
4 stepper pistons (2+ and 2-)(duplicated by foot pistons)(new 1999)

Further information

from leaflet for the re-opening of the Cathedral Organ, January 2000;
Great Stopped Flute 4 missing from list in above (DBe)

West Positive played from manual IV

The known organists of the cathedral are listed below. In modern times, the most senior post has become known as Director of Music; only these names are recorded here.
1582 Robert Lichfield
1620 Elias Smith
1620 Philip Hosier
1638 Berkeley Wrench
1640 John Okeover
1662 Robert Webb
1665 Thomas Lowe
1666 Daniel Henstridge
1673 Charles Wren
1679 Daniel Rosingrave
1682 Stephen Jeffries
1710 William Hine
1730 Barnabas Gunn
1740 Martin Smith
1782 William Mutlow
1832 John Amott
1865 Samuel Sebastian Wesley was an England organ and composer. He was born in London, the son of the composer Samuel Wesley and Sarah Suter, and grandson of Charles Wesley....
1876 Charles Harford Lloyd
1882 Charles Williams
1897Herbert Brewer Sir Arthur Herbert Brewer was an England composer and organist. As organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1896 until his death, he contributed a good deal to the Three Choirs Festival for 30 years....
1928 Herbert Sumsion Herbert Whitton Sumsion was an England musician who was organist of Gloucester cathedral from 1928 to 1967. Through his leadership role with the Three Choirs Festival, Sumsion maintained close associations with major figures in England's 20th-century musical renaissance, including Edward Elgar, Herbert Howells, Gerald Finzi, and Ralph Vaugh...
1967 John Sanders (musician) John Derek Sanders OBE, Master of Arts , D.Mus , FRCO, ARCM, RSCM, was a celebrated United Kingdom organist, conductor , choir trainer and composer....
1994 David Briggs (musician) David J. Briggs is an England organist and composer....
2002 Andrew Nethsingha Andrew Nethsingha , Master of Arts , Royal College of Organists, Royal College of Music, is an English choral conductor and organist. He is organist and Director of Music at St John's College, Cambridge, where he was previously organ scholar....
2007 Adrian Partington

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