When Barry Jordan became cathedral organist in 1994, there seemed absolutely no doubt that a new organ on the west gallery was not only desirable but a necessity. The cathedral is after all not only a church serving a small but lively parish, but also the city's major tourist attraction and an important cultural centre. It soon became clear, however, that the financial dimensions of the project would be such that the cash-strapped parish council would be completely out of its depth.
To this end a society (eingetragener Verein), dedicated to the purpose of funding the building of a new organ – or indeed, several new organs - was founded under the name of Aktion neue Domorgeln Magdeburg (Project new cathedral organs for Magdeburg). After some initial difficulties it was legally incorporated and registered as tax-advantaged in early 1998. The logo shows the cathedral towers and a stylised cockerel, which refers to the tradition of great organs from Compenius onwards.
The plural form "New Organs", was deliberately chosen because it was clear that the Remter, too, needed a new and worthy instrument.
The plan envisaged a large symphonic instrument in an eclectic style for the cathedral, and a smallish (about 22 stop) organ in a style which, while ideal for Bach, will allow the convincing performance of a certain amount of repertoire for the Remter, which has the more appropriate acoustic for most baroque music. Not only would these two organs complement each other; they would also greatly enrich the Orgellandschaft of Magdeburg, a city which once had more instruments by Arp Schnitger than any other city after Hamburg and which is rapidly once more becoming an organ mecca.
The main organ was built by the firm of Schuke Orgelbau (Werder an der Havel) and was completed in May 2008 and dedicated on Trinity Sunday, May 18th. During the festival week the instrument was able to convince its hearers with its warm, colourful sound and its ability to dominate the very large room without ever being vulgar or overly loud. Voicer Hartmut Rönnecke and his team deserve enormous credit for their achievement.
This project was financed thanks to a grant of 1,8 million marks from the European Union Fund for Regional Development, 300 000 Euros from the city of Magdeburg, a half a million marks from the Lottery Fund in Sachsen-Anhalt and generous contributions most especially from the Volksbank Magdeburg and its associated "VR Trust" and the “Stadtwerke Magdeburg” as well as hundreds of private persons, many of whose contributions have been extremely generous. A complete list of all who have supported the financing of this instrument is to be found here.
Specification of the organ
Some sound samples
The next stage in the organ project at our cathedral will be a new instrument for the Remter. Negotiations are already well und way. The financial dimensions will be about € 500 000.