2012 Review

44th Annual Review


John Hargraves MNZM | Director


June 2011-12 year began with an exciting Congress in Auckland attended by seven of our staff in which young Australian organist Sarah Kim fresh from advanced studies in Paris charmed us at the Town Hall, John Wells beguiled us on the historic Avery organ and intrigued us with his new Organ Symphony at the Town Hall; Robin Gummer amused and impressed us with his Dance Organ and Roy Tankersley with his WOOFYT at the Town Hall Open Day; young performers Nick Sutcliffe, Simon Mace and Josh Anderson impressed us at Pitt St Methodist, the 1911 Croft organ of which performed well for the competitions and its Sunday morning Centennial service; the 5pm earthquake memorial Choral Eucharist at Holy Trinity Cathedral featuring the Festival Choir directed by Indra Hughes rendition of Widor’s Mass for 2 Organs and 2 Choirs inspired us; the rat attack at historic Unitarian organ dismayed us; the successful launch of the Stocker Memorial Earthquake fund for assisting higher studies for organbuilding apprentices bolstered us; and finally the appearance of Buster Keaton as “General” accompanied by Ron Clarke on the Hollywood Cinema Wurlitzer cheered us on our way home to another year of dedicated organbuilding in Timaru at our Washdyke factory.

We have devoted much of the last year to carrying out repairs to earthquake damaged organs in viable Churches of which there are very few left in ravaged Christchurch City, so the successful recommissioning of organs such as at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral (formerly St Marys Manchester St), Christchurch Anglican Pro Cathedral (Chapel of Christ’s College), St Andrew’s at Rangiruru (parish church and girls school chapel), St Augustine’s Cashmere, and the Blitz organ installation at St Michael and All Angels (Oxford Terrace) are doubly significant.

In between this work, the removal of damaged organs in doomed buildings has proceeded at a slower pace as the danger of this work has been better appreciated since the tragedy of 22nd February 2011. Removal of the HN&B organ of St Mary’s Merivale was particularly poignant as direct damage was compounded by the Church demolition process that preceded its removal and days of steady rain after the organ was opened to the elements took their toll on this beautiful large sister instrument to that in the Cathedral. The HN&B Cathedral organ is still waiting to be rescued and will be the hardest of all due to its size and location. There are only a handful of organs now left to remove, including the Halmshaw organ of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.

On 13 August 2011 five of our staff went to Dunedin to take part in the 50th birthday celebrations of the Otago Organists Association. A convivial Saturday lunch at the Albert Arms got proceedings off to a jolly start, followed by an entertaining members concert at Knox Church and then afternoon tea and the cutting of the Cake. Finally I was invited to give a presentation concerning the first 10 years of SIOC history from 1968-78 in which we carried out much significant work in Otago and Southland which was received with interest by members many of whom to my surprise had not been around long enough to personally experience the changes. We attended a fine Sinfonia concert at the Town Hall in the evening and next morning attended morning service at St Paul’s Cathedral where we were startled during the sermon to observe snowflakes falling outside the clear sanctuary windows. The weather forecast was ominous so we forwent a leisurely lunch and managed to drive over the northern motorway before it was closed for the day.

In September 2011 a five of us travelled to the Capital to hear the phenomenal Cameron Carpenter in concert with the National Youth Orchestra at the Town Hall. Cameron’s dazzling performance was riveting both in ensemble and solo works and his amazing rapport with the young orchestral players quite unique in my experience. He is intent in leading the organ in new directions and while the rhetoric accompanying this goal is highly disturbing in its disregard for much that we hold sacred about the instrument and its music, his vision is compelling in its obvious grip on the possibilities of computer technology and practicality to bring the organ back into a mainstream concert experience. In fact much of what we have does not deserve to survive in its present form, and the best has nothing to fear from any technological advances.

In January 2012 we commenced work on rebuilding and enlargement of the organ of Waiapu Cathedral of St John the Apostle, Napier. This project is an exhilarating release from the horrors of destruction in Christchurch and we are highly charged to produce an exciting instrument building on the Lewis Swell, Croft neo-baroque Great and Positive, and added neo-romantic Solo, which will be amongst the largest of such divisions in the country. Watch out for practical completion in March 2013.



SIOC Newsbytes from 2012:

31 January was our day at the Christchurch Earthquake Royal Commission hearing to explore lessons from the collapse of Durham St Methodist Church in which our Neil Stocker, Scott Lucy and Paul Dunlop lost their lives, and Joshua Anderson, Neil Hooper and Moritz Fassbender were injured. (For more see my opinion piece on-line in March issue of Methodist Touchstone).

22nd February was our special memorial day for Neil and Scott and Paul.

26 February was our memorial concert on the organ of Sacred Heart Basilica, Timaru given this year most fittingly by Prof. Martin Setchell to a large appreciative audience.

25 March was the occasion of my illustrated lecture at St Aidan’s Uniting Church Melbourne – My Life as an Organbuilder.

9 – 16 April was the OHTA Conference in Western Australia attended for the firm by myself, Christopher Templeton and Joshua Anderson. Our WA reps. Patrick Elms and Colin van der Lecq did a fantastic job preparing our six organs in Perth and Fremantle for conference recitals.

29 July – 4 August will be a special time for me to attend the International Society of Organbuilders Congress in Switzerland.


SIOC Projects completed or in Progress June 2011 – May 2012:

St Thomas Fendalton: Factory earthquake damage repairs; May – July 2011.

Mt Albert Presbyterian: Water damage repairs; Sept. 2011.

St John’s Woolston: Earthquake damage repairs; August 2011.

St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian, Christchurch: Feb. 2010 – August 2011; Restoration of fire damaged 1905 Hill organ.

All Saints Haitaitai: Major on-site overhaul; Sept. – Oct. 2011.

St Peter’s Palmerston North: On-site soundboard pneumatics releathering; Oct. 2011.

Wesley Methodist Hastings: Overhaul key contacts; Oct. 2011.

Wesley College Paerata: Overhaul Great stop action and repairs; Sept 2011 – April 2012.

St Peters Onehunga: Overhaul swell engine; November 2011.

St Pauls Presebyterian Kaikoura: Cleaning after Church roof renewal; Nov. 2011.

Kaiapoi Cooperating: Earthquake repairs; Dec. 2011.

St John’s Invercargill: Cleaning after Church renovation; Nov. 2011.

St Mary’s Pro Cathedral Christchurch: Extensive earthquake repairs; Dec. 2011 – March 2012.

St Augustine’s Cashmere: Extensive earthquake repairs and on-site overhaul; June – Dec. 2011.

Waiapu Cathedral Napier: Jan 2012 Dismantling for factory rebuild and enlargement to 4 manuals; Completion projected for March 2013.

St Andrew’s Presbyterian at Rangiruru: Extensive earthquake repairs; Jan 2012.

Rochester and Rutherford Hall: Temporary relocation and reinstallation for building renovation and earthquake repairs; Feb. 2012.

St Paul’s Waiwhetu: Water damage repairs; March 2012.

Hornby-Riccarton Methodist: Earthquake repairs and on-site overhaul; Feb. – March 2012.

Levin Uniting: Releathering 2 sets of single-rise bellows; March 2012.

St Michael’s Catholic Remuera: Cleaning after tower strengthening; March 2012.

St James on the Cust: New blower installation; March 2012.

St Patrick’s Basilica Fremantle: Releathering 1 set of single-rise bellows; March 2012.

St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral Auckland: Renew Great stop action; April 2012.

Takapuna Methodist: Water damage repairs; May 2012.

Private Collection: 1860’s Woods reed organ restoration; Feb. – March 2012.

St Matthias Panmure: On-site overhaul; May 2012.


Christchurch organs removed to storage:

St Luke’s Manchester St; St Matthew’s Cranford St; St Joseph’s Lyttelton; Holy Trinity Lyttelton; Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament: (Bevington 1 manual and Banfield 2 manual chamber organs); St Mary’s Merivale; Knox Presbyterian Bealey Ave.

SIOC Hathaway: Restoration in progress of the 1904 9 rank 2 manual organ made in Timaru for the Congregational Church and rescued from the estate of Maurice Baker in Christchurch.

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