[31 July 2019] Over 500 keys and some 200 stops to control the ranks of nearly 10 000 pipes. This marvel of a musical instrument, originally built in 1929 and situated in the Melbourne Town Hall is, not surprisingly, believed to be the largest and most valuable instrument in the southern hemisphere. The Grand Organ stands four storeys high and the floor space equals five average-sized houses. Famously, there is even a bathroom and toilet inside the instrument.
The Australian and New Zealand College of Organists (ANZCO) pulled all the stops on Wednesday when they presented a lunch hour concert, charmingly hosted by famed organist, Thomas Heywood, and featuring three highly talented high school students, Joshua Nah, Ruby Khuu and Kusalavan Sivathash. As a fabulous bonus the public afterwards had the opportunity to tour the Grand Organ lofts.
If any of the few hundred members of the audience came to hear Bach’s Toccata in D minor, they didn’t have to wait long. The students also dazzled with Widor’s Toccata and works by Vierne, Guilmant, Yon, Mailly and more, producing magnificent sounds from a delicate whistle to deafening thunder.
Nimble fingers and hard working feet were projected onto two large screens to the awestruck concert goers’ delight. Clever application of light effects enhanced the showcase.
After enjoying all this glorious music J.S. Bach’s statement posed serious food for thought: “There is nothing to playing the organ. You only have to hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”
Or in a modern idiom, the Nike logo on Ruby’s socks was possibly just as close to the truth. Just do it!
Joshua Nah playing Widor’s Toccata.