Manchester Cathedral launches a ‘decorate an organ pipe’ competition for local schools

24 September 2015

The organ is at the very centre of Manchester Cathedral’s music making and is in use virtually every day. With its origins in the 19th century the organ was restored and enlarged between 1952 and 1957, following extensive war damage. This rebuilt instrument, however, had inherent issues with location, look and tone, hence the need now for a new organ. The Manchester Cathedral Organ has been supported and funded by Mr Norman Stoller, through The Stoller Charitable Trust. The new instrument will be installed in 2016. We envisage that it will be formally dedicated in 2017.

As the dismantling of the current organ began, the Manchester Cathedral Development Project wanted to explore ways of using this major event to expand its educational outreach and create an opportunity to bring more young people into the Cathedral. The team decided to launch the ‘Organ Pipe Competition’ and invited schools from the Diocese of Manchester to participate. Pupils at each school are decorating the pipes, which will be judged at the Cathedral in February 2016. There will be a cash prize for the first three winning schools, with a total value of £1000, donated by the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester. After the competition each school may keep, auction or raffle the decorated pipe. The sale/raffle of the pipes is intended to raise money towards the transport cost of bringing pupils to the Cathedral.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Mr Warren J. Smith said:

“This major project is a great way for young people to witness the installation of a huge instrument at first hand and to understand the process, learn of the role of the organ within the musical life of the Cathedral and its history, and the life of the Cathedral within the diocese and the communities it serves. It is hoped that by participating in this process, the young people will feel part of this landmark event in the Cathedral’s history, and that Manchester Cathedral is their cathedral - a place where they are always welcome”.

The installation of the new organ will result in more school visits, organ tuition courses for all ages and stages, and the re-establishment of the Manchester Organ Festival. This new instrument will stand alongside the other fine instruments in the city, at Chetham’s School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, University of Manchester and the Bridgewater Hall, together with Manchester’s three international orchestras. Promising young players will be offered recital opportunities and the public will be able to see the organists at close hand.

We are really excited to see the newly decorated pipes and would like to wish the pupils the best of luck!