Formerly in the Adelaide Town Hall
"One of three organs built by the noted London firm of Hill & Son for Australian town halls. It remains the oldest concert organ on the Australian mainland and is notable for its impressive casework, with carved details, its generous tonal scheme and outstanding sound."
When installed in the Adelaide Town Hall in 1877 it was the largest pipe organ in the colony and was later favourably compared to the concert instruments in the Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland Town Halls. It was performed on by leading national and international organists and was a focal point of music making in South Australia and beyond. This pipe organ was synonymous with many social and civic events for more than 110 years, making it an important part of our state's heritage.
The instrument is the oldest surviving concert organ on the Australian mainland and also the only Hill & Son organ in South Australia. The firm of William Hill & Son could trace its origins to 1755. It held the Royal Warrant and stood for a level of perfection in organ design and workmanship that brought it to the forefront of its art in the 19th century.
The 1875 Hill & Son Grand Organ previously in the Adelaide Town Hall was rebuilt in 1970, and replaced in 1989 by a new instrument. After being stored by the Adelaide City Council for a period of five years, ownership passed to the Organ Historical Trust of Australia (OHTA) with the goal of it being restored/reconstructed to its original condition in South Australia.
Following a lengthy search for a suitable site, the Barossa Council through the Tanunda Soldiers Memorial Hall Committee agreed in January 1998 that their hall would be the new home for the instrument.
In addition to its importance as a wine producing area, the Barossa is renowned for its strong local music traditions and festivals. The culture of pipe organs and organ music has always been an important part of this lifestyle.
Our aim is to return the historic Hill and Son 19th century Grand Concert Organ to its former grandeur, for access to the community arts and music culture. We plan to regain the instrument's original impressive appearance, outstanding sound and mechanical reliability for the next century and beyond.
Apart from the historical significance of the Hill & Son Grand Organ, and its essential place in Australia's heritage, an authentic restoration/reconstruction will preserve this significant musical and cultural icon for South Australia.
It will provide an invaluable musical resource for the Barossa community and beyond with associated tourist and cultural potential.
The restored instrument will resume its full role as a concert instrument in both solo performances and as an accompaniment to singers, choirs, orchestras and brass ensembles.
The restored Hill & Son Grand Organ will be a fine vehicle for recitals, teaching, masterclasses and lectures.
As part of the restoration -
- The wooden casework currently painted white will be restored to its contrasting natural wood finish.
- The metal display pipes will be restencilled and gilded to the original stunning design.
- All of the pipe work will be returned to its original configuration, removing the additions made in 1970.
- All of the pipe-work will be scrupulously regulated to the original Hill character with reconstruction of missing pipes.
- The soundboards, wind chests and console will be restored.
- The mechanical action, pneumatic mechanisms and winding apparatus will be faithfully reconstructed in original Hill style.
- The restorers will include the notable Adelaide-based organ building firm of George Stephens Organ Builder Pty. Ltd.
To build a new organ today of comparable size and scale would cost in excess of $1.5 million.
Tanunda Soldiers Memorial Hall, the new home of the organ, was built in 1913 by the Tanunda Club, and purchased by the Tanunda Institute in 1920. It is the largest public hall in the Barossa Valley, possessing a simple yet stately charm, and a very generous acoustic. The hall provides ample accommodation for the organ within the back stage and tower area.
Appeal Target: $484,000
You may choose to sponsor a part of the project:
- a decorated organ case pipe,
- a rank of pipes (58 pipes),
- part of the new action,
Or become a major sponsor of the restoration of a whole organ division.
You may consent to have your name recorded on a plaque suitably placed near the organ, or to make your donation confidential.
Donations of $2.00 or more to the Organ Historical Trust of Australia for this appeal are allowable as deductions for income tax purposes.
All funds raised will aid the Hill & Son Grand Organ restoration in Tanunda, a project of the Organ Historical Trust of Australia (OHTA)
Enquires and expressions of interest are to be directed to:
The Organ Historical Trust of Australia
c/o Steve Kaesler
5 Gozzard Street, Gawler. SA. 5118
Enquiries are welcome, and should be directed to David Shield:
Tel: 08 8278 1739
Post: PO Box 178, Blackwood SA. 5051