Designing a new organ for a concert hall is always an exciting endeavor. Dr. Huw Lewis, Professor of Music and College Organist, made clear from the onset that he wanted the new organ to be of a different orientation from the other instruments on campus.
Therefore, we decided to design the organ in the French Symphonic style. As our discussions evolved, we decided to put the entire organ under expression, including the Grand Orgue and Pédale, as a way to maximise its dynamic range when playing with orchestras and choirs. Having the full sound of the organ contained behind closed thick expression shades, and the roaring effect when opening the shades, is absolutely thrilling in the wonderful acoustics of this impressive hall.
The entire organ is installed on one level in a chamber divided in three sections above the back of the stage. The Grand Orgue and Pédale divisions are contained in one large chamber in the center section. The large Récit is placed to the right, and the Solo, with its heroic Tuba (the only concession to the English style!), to the left.
Interestingly, the organ, being installed behind an acoustically-transparent grille, has no visual presence in the room. This aspect has been debated at length but, because the hall is used for many types of performances, it was not desired to show one instrument more than another. Therefore, in order to make sure the organ would be “visible” when played, we designed the console to look as prominent as the grand piano.