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Newcastle Cathedral


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I hear that the organ at Newcastle Cathedral has been coaxed back into life recently.  I learnt this from a Facebook post which was basically suggesting that the Phoenix organ is up for sale.  I think the intention is still to replace the Harrison/Nicholson organ.  Nevertheless it's good to hear that the pipe organ has been reinstated, albeit for the time-being.

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That is good news. It brings back good memories of when I went to most of the Bank Holiday recitals in Tim Hones time there (as was self employed and they were the only ones I could attend).

A friend of ours, a Colin Wood of Sunderland allowed me to make one of my first recordings there, on an old reel to reel in 1986

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It's been going for some time, happily. I went to a number of lunchtime recitals there in 2019 whenever I was in town, and they were gradually fixing things. Obviously, I haven't heard it this year. But as I said in an earlier post, the cathedral itself is undergoing a major restoration, and any significant work on the pipe organ must necessarily wait.

Being fair, as I also mentioned before, the Phoenix is good, having heard that at several lunchtime recitals as well. It does sound rather 2-dimensional, mainly because of speaker placement. I was thinking about this while at a concert on the Willis at the Hooglandse Kerk in Leiden over the summer. That organ is on the floor in the north transept, which is very high. This gives the pipes placed further back in the organ the freedom to speak up and around, rather than just through the front pipe rack. The effect is a rich sound where you can almost hear, or imagine you can hear, each pipe speaking from a single point. To an extent, a similar but less pronounced effect is noticeable from the de Swart/van Hagerbeer organ high up on the west wall, but this is different, being a much older, gentler instrument which sings out so clearly from this position.

I've not heard both of the Toon's organs playing at the same time. It could be a fun experiment, while they're both still there.

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