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Historic Restorations

Our restoration philosophy is to conserve the original fabric and character of the instrument as far as possible and reconstruct missing, worn-out or modified parts in facsimile style and materials except where this is no longer practicable. In most cases we aim to restore the organ as a working instrument rather than a museum exhibit and to recreate the original sound and feel of the organ where this has been lost or compromised.

In some cases we remove accretions and modifications and in others we retain or increase them if it is important to the continued artistic use of the organ and does not compromise its construction or future maintenance in any permanent way. We are committed to research unknown areas of construction technique, musical style, and architectural detail before embarking on a restoration project, and are particularly attentive to what the organ can teach us and wary of what assumptions we try to impose on it.



SIOC's first historic restoration was the 1879 Bevington 2-manual, 18 rank organ at All Saints Anglican Church, Dunedin in 1969.

In the early 1970's SIOC began to realize the fragility of New Zealand's pipe-organ heritage in a largely unregulated market, and developed a conviction that the future of the organ would be an expression of artistry, craftsmanship and heritage rather than a resource vehicle for realizing current fashions in sound (an unintended effect of the Organ Reform Movement), or a utility music machine (unit organs) trying to compete with rapidly developing electronic substitutes.

In 1978 SIOC completed its first notable restoration, the 3-manual, 29 rank, 1878 tracker action Halmshaw & Sons (Birmingham) organ at Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch, in the face of opposition from some musical experts of the day, but with support from the Bishop (mostly on financial grounds). The eloquence and endurance of this wonderful organ has been a great catalyst in encouraging the appreciation of New Zealand's organ heritage.

This was followed in 1981 by two more notable tracker action restorations, the first in Christchurch being the 2-manual, 11 rank, 1881 Christopher Farrell organ at St James Church, Riccarton and the second in Blenheim being the 2-manual, 14 rank, 1907 Arthur Hobday organ at Wesley Methodist Church.

By this time SIOC was developing an interest in the restoration of tubular pneumatic actions because of our gathered experience in maintaining the significant number of survivors around New Zealand. The first major restoration in this genre, completed in 1986 was that of the 4-manual, 57 rank, 1906 Norman & Beard concert organ at Wellington Town Hall, an instrument that has attracted world attention and acted as a catalyst for the later restoration of comparable instruments overseas such as the 1907 Sauer 4-manual organ in the Erloserkirche, Bad Homburg and the 1914 Norman & Beard 4 manual organ in Ussher Hall, Scotland.


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