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Expert builder works magic on St Paul's pipe organ

Organ builder Richard Fenney assembles the new instrument.
Organ builder Richard Fenney assembles the new instrument. Rob Williams

TO witness the amazing attention to detail involved in rebuilding the St Paul's Anglican Church pipe organ is humbling in itself.

One suspects that to finally hear this behemoth of a musical instrument will be another thing all together.

Queensland's oldest Anglican Church has spent years trying to raise the enormous amount of money required to bring its musical heart and soul back to life.

While they are still a tad short of the $750,000 price tag, work on the rebuilt organ has been underway for the last two years and is just a few weeks from being complete, and the church organ committee is confident of being able to fully fund the finished product.

Brisbane organ builder Simon Pierce said the new organ would recycle some of the original, 1860s pipes, as well as a set of bellows and some other pipes from 1923.

The remaining 75% of the new instrument - which is being constructed on the opposite side of the church to the former organ - will be new.

MIGHTY PIPES: Organ builder Simon Pierce and organ player Grantley Chaplin inspect the progress on the St Paul’s pipe organ.
MIGHTY PIPES: Organ builder Simon Pierce and organ player Grantley Chaplin inspect the progress on the St Paul’s pipe organ. Rob Williams

That includes an astonishing 43 sets of pipes, totalling some 2500 individual pieces of an amazing work of art that reaches up towards the ceiling of one of the city's iconic churches.

"If the original builder Joseph Walker was to come back from the year 1860, he would still be able to tune and work on this one," Mr Pierce said.

"This organ is the largest built by a Queensland organ builder and the fifth largest instrument in Queensland."

Organ committee chairman and organist Grantley Chaplin said the original organ was the first of its kind installed in a Queensland church.

The instrument has been moved around the building a couple of times, with the previous incarnation suffering from an entire set of pipes not working.

The organ committee started a fundraising campaign, which was limping along until the Jani Haenke Charitable Trust came through, offering to cover 85% of the build cost.

One condition of the donation was the organ must benefit the entire Ipswich community.

A very grateful Mr Chaplin said the church would now be doing all it could to allow everyone to experience the awesome sound of the finished instrument - starting with this year's Ipswich Festival.

"We are organising a dedication concert here from 7pm on April 8, which will be part of the Ipswich Festival program," Mr Chaplin said.

"This is for the whole community, so we will be embarking on a series of recitals and concerts into the future."

Organ builder Simon Pierce and Grantley Chaplin inspect the progress on the St Pauls organ which is being restored. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Organ builder Simon Pierce and Grantley Chaplin inspect the progress on the St Pauls organ which is being restored. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

Topics:  fundraising ipswich festival pipe organ st paul's anglican church



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