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A bit of background from my viewpoint: a cathedral-trained organist turned urban vicar after a 30 year career as a medical academic, now retired. The choral revival in the Church of England has lasted about 180 years. Together with other developments it’s provoked the evolution of the English organ. It's now waning. Some cathedral choirs are finding life difficult. Many (? most) parish church choirs have folded or are terminally ill. Congregations have been decimated. Hardly anybody under the age of 50, unless they've attended fee-paying schools, knows hymns other than Morning has broken, Sing Hosanna and Lord of all hopefulness (the Lord's Prayer too). The liturgy of the Church of England is changing. The need for organs to ‘paint the psalms’ has all but vanished outside (most) cathedrals. Many clergy are not interested in music that uses organs. Many clergy are not interested in the sort of liturgy that organs can enrich. Cathedral evensongs attract, but they’re now just an arm of the heritage industry for the middle classes who can afford to drive to them (fuel prices might have an effect there). Young people were never particularly keen to take up the organ. I attended state schools in the 1950s and 1960s and there were a few of us, even in Carlisle, but the situation is worse now, young organists coming almost exclusively from fee-paying schools. Any state school boy (I wouldn’t know about girls) interested in the arts is quite likely to have the ordure kicked out of him these days (I speak from personal and pastoral experience). It’s not kool or macho. Churches can hardly afford to keep the buildings going, let alone what’s in them. The average congregation numbers 27 and falling fast. The average age of a churchgoer is about 67 and rising fast—they’ll be dead soon. Churchgoing is just a hobby like hiking or climbing or knitting. The English public are not particularly interested in organs. Musicians tend to look down their noses at organs and organ music. So most organs won’t need to lead hearty congregational singing or paint the psalms. The English organ is, if you like, being freed from its churchy associations. What do you see as its future?
For some time I have been trying to dig up information regarding a proposal made by Jean Guillou for a modular pipe organ called L'Orgue a Structure Variable. Which if I'm correct had originated from a book he had written back in the 70's called L'Orgue, souvenir et avenir (The Organ, Remembrance and Future). Bellow I've included a video of an interview with Jean Guillou where he mentions this proposal and the reasons for this organ. Their isn't a great deal of information available regarding the design of this proposal such as the specification. But from what I know the organ would be made up of fifteen units electronically connected to a console with four manuals and pedals. Each unit would contain one or three ranks of pipes, an independent wind supply and keyboard. Their uses to be website dedicated to this project long gone but I have managed to successfully gain access to the site through an internet archive called the Way Back Machine which I have included a link to bellow. although their still isn't a great deal of information regarding the design of the organ. https://web.archive.org/web/20121115093815/http://osvguillou.pagesperso-orange.fr/index.htm As to where this project stands in development I think it is safe to say that it is pretty much at a stand still but I can't say for sure if it has been completely abandoned. But regardless of whether this organ will become a reality their has however been some development with organs like this. For example the organist Paolo Oreni has his own mobile pipe organ called Organo Wanderer, and Jean Baptiste Monnot for years has been working on a small but versatile organ called L'Orgue du Voyage.