OHTA 2018 Conference

Each year the Organ Historical Trust of Australia organises a conference lasting about a week in one of the states of Australia. Conferences have also been held on both islands of New Zealand. These conferences bring organists and those interested in the instrument together from all over Australia, as well as New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Asia and Europe. Often, an international authority on the history and restoration of historic organs attends as a key-note speaker. Past guests have included Uwe Pape (Germany), Barbara Owen (USA) and Stephen Bicknell (UK). Opportunities are provided for recitals on historic and instruments. Members often have time to play and inspect the instruments for themselves and papers on the preservation of organs and other relevant topics are presented and later published in OHTA News.

Upcoming conferences

  • 2022 Auckland, NEW ZEALAND


Past conferences

The Modern Australian Mechanical Organ

2021 sees the advent of a new style of OHTA Conference as we come together both online and in-person for a series of presentations on The Modern Australian Mechanical Organ. Sessions will explore a diverse range of pipe organs, with presentations from both leading historians and organists, discussion panels, fascinating video footage, and concert performances showing off these fine instruments. Each virtual conference session will last around one hour and be available for viewing through the OHTA website at 7.00 pm AEST daily from Monday 27 September through to Friday 1 October.

The conference week will commence with a zoom Plenary Overview, outlining the history of mechanical action organs in Australia, and the various factors which led to these instruments finding their home in churches, houses, concert halls and town halls around Australia. Over the week there will be presentations from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. These performances, discussions, and forums will explore our understanding of these organs, the influence they had on the musical world at the time of their construction, as well as the challenges they pose to future organ builders.

The OHTA 2021 AGM will be held virtually on the Wednesday evening of conference week. On another day each state will host an in-person dinner for local delegates. Other live events may become available in your area, subject to availability.

In the meantime, here is a taster of what to expect:


South East Queensland is home to some of Australia’s most exciting and distinctive pipe organs influenced by the Orgelbewegung (organ reform movement). Come and explore this rich cultural legacy by leading Australian and international builders, and its influence on organ building to the present. In focus will be the organ built for Mayne Hall at the University of Queensland (Pogson 1976).


New South Wales is home to many important and representative organs of the mechanical style, and this presentation will focus on St Mark’s Anglican Church, South Hurstville (E.F. Walcker 1960), Wollongong Town Hall (Ronald Sharp 1965), and St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Albury (Orgues Létourneau 1994).



The Victorian segment will focus upon the role of the Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord in the promotion of the modern mechanical action organ from its inception in 1971, with new instruments introduced in many years and utilised through concerts, exhibitions, masterclasses and lectures.  Several of these will be visited during the conference.


West Australian will examine the work of local engineer, lecturer and organ builder, Lynn Kirkham, whose contribution to the development of organ building has been overlooked – in spite of the clearly outstanding quality of his two instruments (Trinity College, East Perth and the Goerke Residence, City Beach) and his significant contributions in the rebuilding and restoration of historically significant organs in Perth and beyond. This presentation will evaluate the unique aspects in Kirkham’s organ designs, showing how these have the potential to improve the quality of modern, mechanical action organ building both in Australia and internationally.