Norwich Welcomes back Organ after Once in a Lifetime Restoration

29th November 2023

Norwich Cathedral has welcomed back its organ fully restored and renewed after a once-in-a-lifetime project to preserve the historic instrument for future generations.

Norwich Cathedral Organ Rebuilt and Welcomed Back

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher blessed the organ after Evensong following the £1.8m project which has seen every one of its 5,767 pipes “voiced’ by organ specialists, Harrison and Harrison.

Norwich welcomes back organ after once in a lifetime restoration

Ashley Grote, the Cathedral’s Master of Music, said:

“It has been wonderful to celebrate the return of the Cathedral organ after so many years of planning and hard work. 

“The completion of the organ project marks an exciting new chapter in the musical life of our Cathedral, which we hope will touch the lives of people right across our community, bringing high-quality music and opportunities to people of all ages.”

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Dr Andrew Braddock, said:

“We are very grateful to all who have supported the project. We have an instrument of national importance which will be at the heart of supporting and inspiring the many services and other events that draw thousands of people to the Cathedral each year.”

The organ was originally built by the Norwich firm of Norman and Beard and first installed in 1899. It is one of the largest organs in the country. The rebuild project was the instrument’s first complete overhaul since it was rebuilt in 1942, following a fire which partially destroyed the instrument in April 1938.

The project has been a decade in the making but the practical work started back in May 2022 when scaffolding was put up to enable most of the organ’s several thousand pipes to be removed and taken to organ specialists Harrison and Harrison’s base in Durham for further work. The vast number of pipes range in size from about the length of a pencil to an incredible 32ft (almost 10 metres).

To mark the return of the organ, the cathedral launched the Organ Re-born! concert series earlier this month and amongst the concerts, the music of English composer Herbert Howells took centre stage in a concert by the BBC Singers, with the Cathedral’s, Ashley Grote playing the organ and Nicholas Chalmers and Ed Balls conducting.

The organ is used for over 500 services each year as well as special events and concerts and, while the organ was being rebuilt in 2022/23, two digital organs took the place of the Cathedral’s organ during services.