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New Organ in Westminster Abbey

Martin Owen

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I was privileged to be asked to the Dedication of the new Mander organ in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey yesterday evening.


For those who don't know, the organ was commissioned by The City of London as a gift to Her Majesty to mark her jubilee and for the last few months it has been in the Mansion House.


The Queen (in the person of The Earl of Wessex) has presented it to The Abbey and after the Dedication James O'Donnell gave a brief recital to demonstrate its considerable versatility.


It sounds very good indeed in its new, somewhat more sympathetic, setting.


Hopefully there will be some recitals on it in the not too distant future.

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Guest Geoff McMahon

For those who don't know the organ, here is a description which was in the service notes:



The organ was commissioned by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Roger Gifford, and the City of London Corporation, in collaboration with the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. The brief was to produce an interesting instrument within the confines of the dimensions of its temporary position in Mansion House, where the organ has spent the first ten months of its life, and its permanent position in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey, where it is principally required to play for small-scale services, including weddings. To suit both locations it had to be of bold character, but not shrill. Manual I comprises a Principal Chorus up to Mixture, but also with an English Stopped Diapason with the typical gentle quint. Owing to the restrictions on height, the Open Diapason borrows its bottom octave from the Stopped Diapason. Manual II has a Sesquialtera, scaled as a mixture, and can be used in the chorus, as well as making a Cornet, and generally adding colour to the sound. The Trumpet is on Manual II so that it can be used as a solo stop against the Chorus on Manual I. The internal layout is: Manual I at the front; Manual II behind it; and the small-scaled Bourdon 16 of the Pedal at the rear.


The Nightingale and Thunder were the organ builder’s ‘surprise’ additions to the scheme. The Thunder Pedal, which can also be used as a drum roll, plays the lowest six notes of the Pedal Bourdon, progressively adding them as the pedal is depressed. The Nightingale is the usual inverted pipes in water, with the unusual feature that the birds pop out of the top of the case and revolve. Many ancient organs in Italy, France and Germany have such stops, often both, and there is plenty of literature which calls for them. But they are a most unusual feature of contemporary organs in England.




Manual I Manual II


Open Diapason 8 Gedackt 8

Stopped Diapason 8 Chimney Flute 4

Principal 4 Recorder 2

Fifteenth 2 Sesquialtera II

Mixture II Trumpet 8




Bourdon 16


Thunder or drum pedal

Nightingale with revolving birds


Couplers: II/I, I/P, II/P


The Open Diapason, Stopped Diapason and Gedackt share the bottom octave. The front pipes are the Principal 4. All the pipes are made of a mixture of tin and lead, with exception of the Stopped Diapason and Bourdon, which are of pine. The instrument is tuned to Kellner's temperament.

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