The Organ - 2003 onwards

Article Index

2003 Onwards

In 2002, following on from a year of study and investigation, the PCC agreed to a number of improvements and extensions to the organ. The Diocesan Organ Advisor was consulted and a faculty obtained. The work was completed in March 2003.

Why did we do it?
The rebuild of 1977 was a generally good compromise between size, cost and flexibility and gave us the organ we had up until this time. Although the organ had a relatively small number of stops, the majority are of excellent quality and very well voiced.
However there were also a number of shortcomings. The pedal department was very basic having only one rank of pipes. Although they do their best, they obviously could not balance everything from pp to ff. Secondly, there was a lack of power for leading large congregations. Thirdly, there was a lack of variety in the available soft stops especially on the Great. Lastly, there were no modern playing aids such as adjustable thumb and toe pistons.

What have we done do?
As a result of this, our intention was to improve significantly the pedal department, to add to the flexibility of both manuals with a few well-chosen stops both loud and soft and to add modern playing aids. The aim was to enable a proper balance of sound between manuals and pedals at all volume levels. We were not trying to emulate a cathedral organ, only trying to bring the size and flexibility of the organ (acoustically) into keeping with the size of the building and of the congregations.

How did we do it?
The current cost of pipe organs is very high. However the development of hybrid organs is becoming increasingly popular - This approach adds stops that are electronically created to the existing pipe stops. Even large organs such as that in Blackburn Cathedral are using this approach to add the sound of very expensive deep pedal stops. Apart from the lower costs, there is also the advantage that one is not affecting the original pipe organ - it remains unchanged. A proposal was put together by Steve Goodwin, the Director of Music, in consultation with both the late Dr John Sanders (then Diocesan Organ Advisor) and David Briggs (Organist Emeritus of Gloucester Cathedral), both of whom had been to Amberley to play and listen to the organ.
Hugh Banton, who already has a considerable number of such hybrid instruments to his credit, undertook the work.

We are extremely pleased with the results, but don't take our word for it - come and hear for yourselves!

The specification is given below - additional stops are in italic

Great 
Open Diapason 8
Hohl Flute 8
Dulciana 8
Principal 4
Nason Flute 4
Nazard 2 2/3
Fifteenth 2
Mixture IV
Clarinet 8
Trumpet 8
   
Swell to Great  
Great to Pedal  
Swell
Quintaton 16
Open Diapason 8
Rohrflote 8
Gamba 8
Voix Celeste 8
Flute 4
Gemshorn 4
Fifteenth 2
Larigot 1 1/3
Tierce 1 3/5
Mixture II
Fagotto 16
Oboe 8
Cornopean 8
Solo Tuba* 8
   
Tremulant  
Super Octave  
Swell to Pedal  

Pedal 

Open Wood 16
Bourdon 16
Octave 8
Bass Flute 8
Flute 4
Fagotto (from Swell) 16
Trombone 16

5 thumb pistons to Great - 5 thumb pistons to Swell
5 general thumb pistons
Reversible thumb pistons for all couplers
Reversible thumb pistons for Trumpet and Tuba
Capture and cancellation thumb pistons
8 piston memories
Automatic temperature-compensated pitch matching
Full MIDI In and Out functionality

* The Solo Tuba is played from the Swell manual. When it is drawn, only the tuba plays from the Swell manual, however any other stops drawn on the Swell will continue to play through the Swell to Great and Swell to Pedal couplers.

The rebuild was completed in March 2003 at a cost of slightly less than £12,000 and the reopening concert by David Briggs took place on 6th June 2003. David returned to give another recital on 16th July 2010.

org-current

As of 2018, it is sad to report that the condition of the organ is deteriorating quite badly. The keyboards and pedalboard are on their last legs with an increasing number of 'sticky' notes. The action has become very noisy as the leathers harden and maintaining tuning is ever more probelematic. All of this is of course down to age - the soundboards are now over 100 years old and the leatherwork nearly 50. 

We are reviewing the future...