What work is being done to the organ?
All the pipework, with the exception of the very largest pipes, will be removed from the Chapel for cleaning and repair. The opportunity will be taken then to revise comprehensively the layout of the pipework within the organ. The gold front pipes will be repaired where necessary and re-gilded. The console will be refurbished, electrical work throughout the organ replaced, and the wind system will be overhauled. See the technical summary.
Why does this work have to happen now?
After many years of use the organ is becoming unreliable. The organists and tuners work hard to ensure the instrument works well on a daily basis, but the time is right for a major restoration to ensure its continued operation. The on-site work will take place between January and September to ensure that Christmas services are not disrupted. See the need for restoration.
When did the work start?
Preparatory work began in March 2015, and the organ came out of commission on Monday 18 January 2016.
When will the project be completed?
Work is scheduled for completion in September 2016.
Will choral services and concerts continue as normal?
Yes. Choral services and concerts will continue, although the music repertoire performed will reflect the change in circumstances.
What will replace the organ while it is out of action?
In addition to the main Harrison organ, the Chapel has a small Klop chamber organ that was commissioned in 2012. One of the College’s Steinway grand pianos has been moved to the Chapel, and a two-manual Škrabl organ has been kindly lent to the College by Mr Richard Wood for the duration of the restoration project.
Will there be disruption to Chapel visiting times?
There will be some changes to opening times and there will be restricted access to parts of the Chapel at times during the restoration period. Please see the Chapel visitors page for more information.
What will the restoration process look like?
Much of the restoration work won’t be visible to members of the public: repairs to the pipes will take place in Durham and most on-site work has to take place within the organ and screen. The most visible aspect of the restoration will be scaffolding either side of the organ screen, and pipework that will be stored in the Antechapel before being sent to Durham, and then before being replaced in the organ. While the pipes are removed from the organ, visitors will be able to see through the empty main case: a rare sight!
Will the organ sound different after the restoration?
There will be no significant tonal alteration, except that, with cleaning, the sound will return to a former brightness. Relocation of some lower (pedal) pipes will benefit tonal balance.
Will it look different afterwards?
There will be no significant change in appearance, other than as a result of cleaning of the woodwork, surrounding windows, and the re-gilding of the gold front-pipes and angels.
How much does the restoration cost?
As of November 2015, the work necessary will cost £1.2 million. In addition, King’s is fundraising to endow the organ, ensuring it for future generations, bringing the total project cost to £1.42 million.
How can I support the organ restoration?
King’s is delighted to receive all gifts, whether large or small, made in support of the organ and the restoration. Please see Giving opportunities for more information.