On Thursday 14 September, after twelve years in the planning, the dedication and blessing of the new Stoller Organ took place with an Inaugural Recital given by world renowned concert organist, Thomas Trotter. The recital was recorded by BBC Radio 3 and was broadcast on Tuesday 26 September at 7.30pm.
There has been an organ in Manchester Cathedral since at least the 1680s with different instruments being rebuilt, modified and replaced over time. The old organ was badly damaged when a bomb exploded on the north east side of the Cathedral in 1940, and stop-gap measures were taken to repair the instrument, re-using old pipework.
Ken Tickell started working on the new organ in 2012, developing several concepts before his untimely death in July 2014. The building of the organ in the Northampton workshop took twenty-one months and reflects the instrument’s great complexity. We are grateful to Tickell’s Organ Builders and particularly to Pippa Tickell and the organ’s creators who have worked tirelessly to complete the project. We are proud that one of Ken Tickell’s last organ builds will have a place in Manchester Cathedral for many years to come.
The Cathedral are very grateful to Sir Norman Stoller and the Trustees of The Stoller Charitable Trust who have generously sponsored the new Stoller Organ (the total cost was approximately £2.6m) which will be at the centre of Cathedral music and in use virtually every day of the year for services, concerts, recitals, recordings and teaching.
The second occasion was the Blessing of the new Altar Frontals designed by Portuguese artist, Cristina Rodrigues on Sunday 17 September.
The new contemporary art collection entitled ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’ involved the creation of seven textile works for four of Manchester Cathedral’s altars and it is the product of a partnership with the Municipality of Castelo Branco, a town in the interior central area of Portugal, home to the sumptuous and noblest of Portuguese embroideries, known as the Castelo Branco Embroidery.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s State Visit to Portugal. During this visit, the people of Portugal marked the occasion with an offering of a traditional bed spread embroidered in Castelo Branco especially for Her Majesty. Cristina has dedicated the new altar frontals to the reign of Her Majesty. This gift from the People of Portugal also comes as a great sign of the Portuguese artist’s love of England and as a reminder of the oldest alliance of these two countries in the world.
Manchester Cathedral has been centre stage in its city’s history for nearly 600 years. During this time there have been changes and the building has undergone major renovations including the installation of a new green heating scheme which uses ground source heat pumps to heat and cool the cathedral (2013), the installation of the Hope Window (2016), the opening of the East Door (2017), installation of new light and sound systems and the completion of the Stoller Organ.
In June 2017, work began on the tower at the west end of the Cathedral to repair and consolidate the masonry including: stone descaling; the addressing of loose stone; louvres replacement; reinstatement of masonry; the removal / treatment of vegetation to the tower; the checking of the tower pinnacle and tower roof replacement.
These works have attracted a £500,000 grant from the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund. The full project cost is £750,000; we are actively fundraising to raise the remainder of the money so don’t be surprised if you see adverts popping up on the tower!