1998 Review

Our major project over the last 18 months has been the rebuilding of the largest Church organ installation in Australia (106 stops) at St. Patrick's Catholic Basilica, Fremantle. The work was completed in time for the two organs to be used at this year's Palm Sunday and Easter Masses when they were very positively received by the congregation and new organist. The formal rededication is planned for July 5. This is one of those rare organs that has everything (well almost) that makes us love the instrument – grandeur and beauty of sound and form, complex yet simple function, noble architecture, lively acoustic, and good siting. For the details pick up a brochure at Congress.

Our second Australian project for the year was the rebuilding of a 1980 Fincham 2 manual tracker organ for a private client in Melbourne. We replaced a Mixture II stop with a Stopped Flute 4' stop made of Macrocapa (it smells as good as it sounds) which Bruce Thompson made and John Gray voiced. Some of you may have played this organ when it was erected in the factory at the time of last years Congress.

Also just after last year's Congress the rebuilt 1931 Lawton & Osborne organ of Waitaki Boy's High School Hall of Memories was opened by Ron Newton, David Childs and Raymond White. This fine twin-cased two manual organ designed by Dr. Bradshaw of Christchurch Cathedral fame was originally built with pneumatic action, and converted to electro-pneumatic in the 1960's. We have renewed this in the rebuild, complete with Muldersoft serial-drive switching and piston capture system with multi-level memory, general pistons, piston sequencer, metronome and transposer.

In July we overhauled the one manual 1951 Cousans tracker organ in St. Margaret's Anglican Church Sanson, and the Choir organ action of St Peter's Anglican Church, Palmerston North. On the Hobday organ at St. Margaret's Anglican Church, Taihape we restored the Swell 4' Flute to its original pitch after 30 years service as a Nazard. In August we overhauled the 1953 Hele organ in Baring Square Methodist Church, Ashburton. The reopening recital was given by Wallace Woodley.

Later in the year we recommissioned the Auckland Town Hall organ after 2 years silence while the Hall was being restored. The taxi console was repositioned centrally at the top of the choir risers directly in front of the case and no longer takes fares. Water damage and dirt had taken their toll during the building works and the organ has not yet fully recovered, but in spite of the difficulties it has been successfully used for a number of events including a performance of Messiah before Christmas.

Last month the restored organ of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Temuka was reopened by Russell Kent and Ron Newton supported by local organists and the Choir of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Papanui. This 1920 Jenkins one manual tracker organ which was in a very poor state through massive borer damage is now full of charm and vitality and giving the congregation great pleasure.

Currently we are restoring the organ of the United Church of Port Chalmers (Iona). This pneumatic action Hill organ came to New Zealand in 1928 after being displayed at the 1924-26 Wembley Exhibition. It originally came from Sherbourne School, some of the pipes dating back to the 1860's while others came from Christie's organ at Glyndbourne. The Church, one of New Zealand's architectural treasures is also due for restoration.

Reinstatement of the Great Large Open Diapason 8' stop at Knox Presbyterian Church, Dunedin currently in progress shows the ever-changing prism of taste. It is just 25 years since its removal caused as much pleasure as its anticipated return. Next year it is intended to reinstate the Choir Tuba 8' stop. Another example of this phenomenon is at St. Marks Anglican Church, Wellington where we have just reinstated the Norman & Beard Choir Orchestral Oboe 8' stop after an absence of more than 35 years. Next year it is intended to reinstate the Clarinet 8' stop.

Next month we commence the restoration of a charming little hand blown Hunter two manual tracker at St. Matthew's Catholic Church, Windsor NSW. Curiously this is just down the road from St. Matthew's Anglican Church where resides the oldest Australian made organ to have survived, the two manual 1840 Johnson and Kinloch organ that we are privileged to maintain.

 
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