City & Country: future directions for the Pipe Organ in Australia

1st - 6th October, 2005

Information on the organs and churches visited

The Organ Historical Trust Australia will be holding its annual conference in Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley from 1-6 October this year. With the theme City & Country: future directions for the Pipe Organ in Australia discussions will focus upon the retention and use of pipe organs in Australian churches.

In keeping with the theme of the future, several substantial recitals will be given by some of the brilliant students who have studied the organ in Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra in recent years. The Trust has also been fortunate to secure the services of two distinguished speakers, Hugh Mackay, the noted Sydney psychologist, social researcher and author, well-known for his strong interest in church music, and Barbara Owen, of Massachusetts. Ms Owen, one of the founders of the Organ Historical Society in the United States, is an organist, consultant and writer, well-known for her authorship of books on a diversity of subjects, including the life and work of E. Power Biggs, the organs of New England and the registration of Baroque organ music.

St Mary's Cathedral

St Aloysius Chapel

On Saturday 1 October visits will be made to organs in central Sydney, including St Mary's Cathedral (all 4 organs), Sydney Grammar School, Pitt Street Uniting Church and St Aloysius' College, where a dinner will be held overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and Bridge.

Sydney Grammar School

St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta

Sunday 2 October will feature a midday rivercat journey to Parramatta, where recitals and lectures will be held in a variety of venues, including St Patrick's Cathedral, where the magnificent 1898 Norman & Beard organ, originally in St Saviour's, Walton Place, London, will be heard to great advantage in its new home.
On the Labour Day Monday, a visit to organs in Balmain and Annandale will take place in conjunction with the Organ Music Society of Sydney: this will feature historic suburban Sydney organs at their finest, with examples of the work of Hill & Son, Henry Jones, Charles Richardson and J.W. Walker on show. An early-evening visit to the Neo-gothic splendour of St Paul's Burwood, will display the restored powers of the 3-manual William Davidson organ of 1891, the largest surviving nineteenth-century Australian-made organ with tracker key action.

Hunter-Baillie Presbyterian Church, Annandale

On Tuesday 4 October delegates will travel by train to Newcastle, the journey across the Hawkesbury River providing one of the country's most scenic rail trips. Organs will be visited in central Newcastle, representing the work of J. W. Walker and Hill & Son, with the day concluding with a conference banquet. On Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 October the conference will be spent in the Hunter Valley, with a kaleidoscope of historic organs to be inspected in towns through to Singleton in the west: it is hoped to include the work of J.C. Bishop, William Davidson, Charles Richardson and Henry Willis in the various visits, while the oldest organ to be seen during the conference, (Wheildon c.1850) will be inspected at the Convent of Mercy in Singleton. As the Hunter is famous for its vineyards, a brief visit to a winery in the Pokolbin area will be included.

The conference will end mid-afternoon on Thursday 6 October: participants can either return to Sydney by train (arriving around 6.30pm), or remain in Newcastle and make their own way back later. As places on the coach are expected to fill rapidly, intending participants are advised to book early.

As the cost of accommodation in Sydney and Newcastle is higher than some of the other cities we have visited in recent years, intending participants are advised to prepare their budget for the event well ahead of time.


Copies of the 148-page conference book are available at a cost of $17.50 (inclusive of postage and packing within Australia) from OHTA, GPO Box 676, Sydney, NSW 2001; cheques payable to Organ Historical Trust of Australia. The book includes historical and technical details of the organs visited, many accompanied by line drawings from Graeme Rushworth, together with the programmes of the various recitals and events. A mine of information on NSW organs..

Any enquiries can be directed to Kelvin Hastie

Pictures and specifications of selected organs visited on the 2003 Riverina conference