The blessing took place from the organ loft at Evensong on Sunday 26 November after organ experts Harrison and Harrison – who completed the £1.8m project – symbolically gave the Cathedral back the keys to the organ which is one of the biggest of its kind in the country.
The service followed a series of Organ Reborn! concerts which finished on Saturday night when internationally-renowned concert organist Thomas Trotter played music by Bach, Guilmant, Willan, Dove, Karg-Elert and Mendelssohn to a 1,000-strong audience that had packed out the Cathedral.
Ashley Grote, the Cathedral’s Master of Music, said: “It has been wonderful to celebrate the return of the Cathedral organ this weekend, 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.”
Earlier in the month, the Organ Reborn! concert series had started on Saturday 11 November with Norwich Cathedral Chamber Choir, the Cathedral’s organist David Dunnett and Onyx Brass performing Rutter’s Gloria and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.
On Thursday 16 November, the music of English composer Herbert Howells took centre stage in a concert by the BBC Singers, with the Cathedral’s Master of Music Ashley Grote playing the organ and Nicholas Chalmers and Ed Balls conducting.
The festivities throughout November marked the culmination of an extensive project which, from its initial planning and fundraising stages, had been more than a decade in the making.
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 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.
Meanwhile, gilders Robert Woodland and Debra Miller set about re-gilding the show pipes, crown and star that decorate the organ’s exterior.
Most of the organ’s working pipes were returned to the Cathedral in early 2023 before each and every one of the 5,767 pipes was ‘voiced’ – or tuned – by Harrison and Harrison in situ between May and July this year. The vast number of pipes range in size from about the length of a pencil to an incredible 32ft (almost 10 metres).