Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments
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The notion of a trip to visit pipe organs in Australia has been on my mind for a while. Since Australia is a colorful and interesting country, harbors the largest collection of 19th century British pipe organs in essentially original condition, is experiencing a southern hemisphere ‘spring’ in November, and since 2017-2018 marks the 35th anniversary season of PIPEDREAMS, I figured it was time to kick up our heels!
James Cook’s charting of Australia’s east coast led to the settlement of a penal colony in 1788, rather an inauspicious start for a new country. Originally, Australia possessed only a few small pipe organs, but instruments by prominent English and European builders began to be imported in the mid 19th century, and before long an indigenous Australian organ building culture evolved.
By the end of the 1800s, George Fincham, an emigré from England, had constructed almost 150 new organs for churches and public halls in Australia and New Zealand, and by then Australia could lay claim to some of the finest examples of the organ builder’s craft to be found anywhere in the world. Indeed, the imported 1890 Hill organ at Sydney Town Hall still boasts one of few extant full-length 64’ stops and remains the world’s largest organ without any electric action components. More recently, local builder Ronald Sharpe created the world’s largest mechanical action pipe organ for the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall.
It is always a challenge to limit the number of instruments we visit, thus my decision to focus only on the areas around Melbourne and Sydney. Our rich itinerary includes the two largest town hall installations as well as a wide variety of other notable instruments, older and newer, domestic and foreign.
We’ll lodge in only two hotels and you’ll have opportunities to enjoy seaside vistas, a harbor dinner cruise, and time for independent visits to the Taronga Zoo, the Sydney Aquarium, a Harbour Bridge Climb and various museums, as well as some free nights to explore on your own.
For you PIPEDREAMS regulars...and certainly those of you who missed out on our May trip to France...here’s something quite exotic. I hope you can join us. It will be the trip of a lifetime!!
For an in depth look at our itinerary, check here!
We look forward to traveling with you.