Als aanvulling op het neo-barokke van Vulpen orgel is in 2020 door Personal Organ een Hauptwerk orgel opgeleverd met de sample van het Father Willis orgel van Salisbury Cathedral. Aarnoud de Groen heeft de sample in februari 2020 ingeregeld specifiek voor de Cunerakerk. Omdat door de coronacrisis concerten en Evensongs over het algemeen niet meer door konden gaan en het contracteren voor buitenlandse musici niet mogelijk was, zal het orgel tijdens dit festival voor de eerste keer klinken.
De ultieme wens en onze uitdrukkelijke voorkeur was de realisatie – mede in relatie tot de start van Choral Evensongs in 2019 – van een reeds om niet verkregen Engels pijporgel in het noord transept van de Cunerakerk. Deze plannen konden helaas, ondanks volledige externe financiële dekking, niet op instemming rekenen van de Protestantse Gemeente.
Het alternatief was het laten bouwen van een Hauptwerk orgel met de sample van een Engels orgel om zoveel mogelijk recht te doen aan de gewenste Engelse klankkleuren.
Father Willis organ Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral is also home to one of Britain’s greatest and most well known pipe organs which was built in 1877 by Father Henry Willis (1821-1901). The instrument consists of 61 ranks and 65 stops over 4 manuals and pedal with two main cases on the north and south sides of the quire and an additional case for the 32′ pedal pipes in the north transept.In an edition of The Musical Times from the year 1898 a supplement titled A Portrait of Henry Willis discussed the origins for Henry Willis’ nickname ‘Father’ Willis. Similarities were drawn upon Henry Willis and Father Bernard Smith, a 17th century organ builder for the King. The article from the publication was written as follows:
“Two hundred years ago there lived in this country a great organ builder whose instruments were the glory of their maker. Two of his nephews were associated with him in his business. Partly to distinguish him from his younger relatives, but more especially as a mark of high appreciation of his great abilities and artistic worth, he was canonised (sic), so to speak, with the title “Father”. His name is familiar enough in the history of organ building – Father Smith. Henry Willis is also assisted by a younger generation, having two sons – Vincent and Henry – working with him, in whom he has great confidence and hopes. It is natural, therefore, that he, the greatest organ builder of the Victorian Era, will be called Father Willis.”
Father Willis’ system of scaling did not rely on regular halving ratios and therefore it was possible to manufacture and voice flue ranks with a smooth ‘power curve’ throughout the compass. Many firms have attempted to copy these scales by careful measurement, but have failed. These are secrets which are very much guarded by the firm and only its closest advisers are allowed access to them. High-pressure reed voicing, in particular some 16″ wind pressure Tuba ranks have been a specialty all their own throughout the history of the Willis company. The organ has been hailed by many as the finest Willis organ ever built. A statement from then Oxford Music Professor, Sir Frederick Ouseley written to the Salisbury organist (in 1877) John Richardson read: “I honestly believe that you have the finest church organ in the world – certainly the best in England, and I heartily congratulate you on the same.” Later, Father Willis himself said to Sir Walter Alcock, organist at Salisbury from 1917-1947, that he believed the organ was his best work to date. Very few changes have been made since it was originally built and nearly all pipework is original and still cone tuned.
The organ is well maintained and tuned on a monthly basis. It is actively used for daily services and is in constant demand for recordings by organists from around the world. The Father Willis organ at Salisbury Cathedral is no doubt one of the finest examples of organ building in England from any period in history.