|In 1999 an open competition was held by the city of Miami, Florida for a new organ for the concert hall in the proposed Miami Centre for the Performing Arts. The competition was eventually won by N. P. Mander Ltd of London.
Stephen Bicknell was engaged by the old-established and famous firm of Henry Willis & Sons Ltd to prepare their proposal. Though the Willis company could not fulfill some of the criteria required by the competition (having built similar organs in the nineteenth century but none in the last twenty-five years), the proposal excited considerable interest and was placed fifth out of six entrants.
The proposal included specification, case design, general layout drawings and pipe scales.
The case design, shown here, attempts a radical re-working of English tradition in concert organ design. The largest bass pipes of pedal and unenclosed manual stops are arranged in spiral towers. These towers from a concave facade matching the rounded shape of the stage. Behind and in the centre, two flattened arches reveal smaller pipes of the two unenclosed divisions.
The tonal design of this instrument was equally innovative, combining 'Willis' tradition with the most up-to-date thinking. Three manual departments were of conventional type and were to be played by all-mechanical key action: Great Organ, enclosed Swell Organ and enclosed Solo and Choir Organ. The fourth manual department, to be playable through the Vincent Willis floating pneumatic lever, was to be a bombarde or 'resonance' division entitled 'Grand Organ'.
Swell organ (enclosed):
Solo and Choir organ (enclosed except Tuba):
Mechanical and 'Willis' floating lever key action
Heny Willis & Sons Ltd
THE HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH ORGAN