Viscount recently provided a digital organ for hire to the Hull Minster while the building is undergoing a major programme of renovation. I am afraid to admit that until we were recently approached by Minster Organist Mark Keith I was not aware of the splendid church that must be the crown jewel of the City’s heritage. It was until recently known as Holy Trinity Church but has recently been upgraded to Minster status.
Hull is the City of Culture 2017. The award is given every four years to a city that demonstrates the belief in the transformational power of culture.
Hull Minster – Transformation Project
The transformation project, which is currently underway, will see a large open space created in the Nave creating flexibility for a multitude of uses. Facilities will be greatly improved, which includes the installation of new lighting, heating and sound systems, improvement to electrical cabling and new accessible toilets built. The outcomes of the transformation project will enable use of the building to its full potential.
The Hull Minster will become a high quality performance and arts venue in Hull’s Old Town which will hopefully bring a wide audience to the magnificent pipe organ that at the moment is not playable while the building work is in progress. Hence the need for a temporary digital instrument and the reason for renting a Viscount Organ.
While on the subject of their pipe organ it is a most interesting example of the work of John Compton with a 4-manual illuminated drawstop console and incorporating pipe work from earlier instruments. Check it out in detail here.
To conclude on the work at the Minster an impression of the reworked interior space can be seen in the picture. Visit the Hull Minster website and find out more about the work completed and underway as part of the transformation programme. I very much look forward to visiting later this year but I will wait until the pipe organ is back in action so that I might hear and perhaps play the instrument. It looks to be a rewarding experience and will be the first time I have seen an illuminated drawstop pipe organ!
Placement of the Organ and Speakers
Placing temporary instrument in church spaces nearly always provides compromises to be resolved most of which involve budget. The best places to get speakers are usually at height and these are expensive to access for a short term use. An option of using scaffold towers, as we did in Manchester Cathedral is not always possible as they take up floor space and are not the prettiest of solutions.
The Minster architect was obviously a man of great foresight as the chancel screen could not have been better designed or located to provide a temporary speaker platform. With much of the nave closed off for building work we needed a concentration of sound towards the east end and the screen provided the perfect location for all but 2 of the speakers. Out of sight and reasonably high off the ground as you see in the pictures.
The Hire Organ at Hull Minster
The digital instrument supplied is our Viscount Regent 356 which has 56 speaking stops spread over 3 manuals an pedals. This instrument is identical to the one that was in Selby Abbey while the pipe organ rebuild took place in 2015/16.
Hull will be om my list of places to visit shortly. The City Hall has a renowned pipe organ as well and this year hosts an ‘OrganFest’ in September. How appropriate that the latest City of Culture should be blessed with 2 very fine pipe organs and that September will see one of them demonstrated by a number of fine musicians. Sadly I do not think the Minster’s Compton organ will be back in action by then but I am sure you will be welcome to hear our instrument demonstrate what is always any instruments best stop, the building!
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.