Auck­land or­gan’s vast in­ter­nal or­gans

East and Bays Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - ANNA LOREN

Be­hind a cen­tury-old fa­cade, more than 5000 pipes wait to burst into song.

Be­low them, enor­mous bel­lows con­tain enough air pres­sure to launch an ele­phant 200 me­tres.

Wel­come in­side - yes, in­side New Zealand’s largest con­cert or­gan, once deemed one of the great­est of its kind in the world.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are be­ing in­vited to walk around the mam­moth in­stru­ment at Auck­land Town Hall and ex­pe­ri­ence its sound from a whole new di­men­sion.

Guided tours of the or­gan will be held dur­ing the Auck­land Her­itage Fes­ti­val in Oc­to­ber.

While walk­ing through an in­stru­ment may seem strange, this one is de­signed for just that pur­pose: There are pas­sage­ways at all three lev­els of the or­gan, con­nected by a solid oak stair­case.

The orig­i­nal or­gan was built in 1911 and gifted to the city by former mayor Henry Brett.

At the time, it was de­scribed as the big­gest in New Zealand and the most modern in Aus­trala­sia.

But in 1970, the in­stru­ment fell vic­tim to a new way of think­ing that said or­gan de­sign had veered too far from tra­di­tion.

It was re­built, to the tune of $72,000, and most of its pipes were re­placed.

How­ever, it wasn’t long be­fore mu­si­cians be­came dis­sat­is­fied with the new model.

It was un­der-pow­ered and lacked ver­sa­til­ity.

‘‘It was a bit like tak­ing a 1911 Chevro­let, if there’s such a thing, and putting a Ford Anglia mo­tor in it,’’ Auck­land Town Hall Or­gan Trust chair­man Kevin Bishop said.

The or­gan was re­built again in 2010 by Ger­man com­pany Orgel­bau Klais, help­ing re­store the vast in­stru­ment to its former mag­nif­i­cence.

A third larger than the orig­i­nal, the new or­gan in­cor­po­rated what was sal­vage­able from the 1911 in­stru­ment.

Uniquely, it also in­cluded the sounds of two tra­di­tional Ma¯ ori in­stru­ments: the ko¯ auau (flute) and pu¯ ka¯ ea (horn).

To­day, the or­gan com­prises 5291 pipes, rang­ing in length from 1cm to 10 me­tres, and made of ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing kauri, sci­en­tific glass, lead and tin.

The 23 bel­lows that push air through the pipes con­tain enough pres­sure to push an ele­phant 200 me­tres.

At the or­gan’s – and the town hall’s – of­fi­cial open­ing in 1911, the first song played was God Save The King.

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