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Organist’s space: events, organ travels and player stories

Our Regent 356 in Ely Cathedral for Advent

Ely Cathedral

In late October the Kings School Ely lent their Envoy 350-FV to the Cathedral for a performance of the Widor Mass for 2 organs.  The instrument so impressed the Cathedral Music team that they approached us for an instrument to add flexibility to their Advent music programme.

As you can see from the pictures below Ely is a wonderful building and has a fine pipe organ:

Ely Cathedral - Pipe Organ case

 Ely Cathedral’s pipe organ case

Pipe organ console

Ely Cathedral’s pipe organ console

View up nave

View up nave – note where I’ve marked where the pipe organ is situated

Ely Cathedral - Corner column and stairs
From the plan you will see the organ pipework sits directly above the choir:

Ely Cathedral floor plan with speaker positions indicated

Ely Cathedral floor plan with speaker positions indicated

The organ pipework is in 3 chambers that only speak into the choir, there being no pipework facing into the nave or north transept. Consequently the organ needs to be at full tilt to be heard well down the nave. As the organist sits right beside the pipe chambers he or she can only hear the choir by using headphones such is the volume of the organ in the loft.

This was my first visit to Ely and, as ever, a great privilege to be able to see spaces not on view to the regular tourist. So in late November we set our instrument up placing the speakers high in the Triforium near the crossing with the main objective of making the digital organ sound well into the nave. You can also see on the plan where we set up our speakers to achieve this but also providing sound directly into the crossing as for many services the choir would sit there rather than behind the screen.

As you would expect the Triforium is very exposed but visitors are allowed up in guided tours.

Great speaker on North Triforium

Great speaker on North Triforium

Setting up the speakers as we did in the Triforium was not a job for anyone with vertigo but a good barrier at the edge gave confidence that we would not come to any harm. The Triforium area is also huge, one could easily play football up there but some of the line side throw ins might be testing and a good kick would require a long walk down and back to recover the ball.

On first switching on 9 of 10 channels worked and a little time was needed to track down a bad connection in a long cable run to the far speakers. So by about 1.30, just 3 hours after arriving the organ was playing beautifully and we received a number of compliments on just how convincing it was, I might even say that very many people did not believe they were listening to a digital instrument. Judge for yourself by listening to a recording we made after Christmas. CLICK HERE

Jeremy voicing our Regent 356

My colleague, Jeremy, voicing our Regent 356

Harrison Pipe Organ tuning, Ely Cathedral

Here I am playing “A” on the Harrison Pipe organ – so the Viscount can be brought into matching tune

So, we will be back at Ely in January to recover the instrument and I’ll be very interested to learn how this experiment has been received!

Do you have a need for a support instrument in your church? Feel free to contact me and ask more about our digital church organs. You can call me on 01869 247 333, email me or even comment below.

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I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.