The new Organ

After increasing criticism of the original organ being out dated, Council eventually voted to replace the original century-old pipe organ in 1989.  The new Town Hall Organ was built in Brandon, Suffolk, England by J.W. Walker & Sons and was installed in 1990.  This firm was established in 1828, but can trace its origins back to a succession of famous English organ builders.

On Friday, March 30, 1990, before an audience of around 1,000 people, the mighty $1.3m organ thundered into life at a special Gala Concert hosted by the then Lord Mayor Steve Condous.

The following day The Advertiser newspaper reported how the organ filled the Auditorium with sound “so well, in fact, the floor rumbled under our feet … the ceiling shivered … and everything in between shook from the blasts..”

The J.W. Walker organ was the largest mechanical-action instrument to have been built in the United Kingdom for 100 years.  It has 61 stops distributed over four keyboards and 4,500 handmade pipes.  The old organ is in Tanunda at the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall and was restored by volunteers.It took them 14 years to complete the restoration work.

The organ is designed to cover a wide range of musical styles but its forte is the English and French repertoire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, although the clarity of its “’voicing’” is well suited to the contrapuntal styles commonly associated with Bach and his contemporaries.

The new organ is ornately designed and features contrasting shades of light (maple) and dark (American red oak) timber.  The red silk-back “pipe shades” are all hand carved and use Australian native flora as motifs:, the wattle, native hibiscus and Sturt’s Desert Pea.

The key action for the organ is mechanical.  However, it is assisted by an electrical system that couples the keyboards and uses micro-chip technology to program elaborate combinations of stops and effects.

Another innovation allows the player to pre-select pistons and store stopping combinations in an electronic memory which can be operated by a hand-held key pad.

For information on the original organ visit The original Organ.