November 2014 news from
For earlier newsletters this year, go here:

Yes, she's still there

It is now November, 2014, and it's been 10 months since we metaphorically closed the lid on the Rieger in the Town Hall, entombing it inside the solid steel and wood sarcophagus which will keep it safe during the repairs to the Town Hall. Not that any repairs have begun yet, but we are constantly reassured that the plan to repair the entire complex will go ahead. Sometime. So for those of you impatient as we are for news, we can only repeat the news from the council which 'has begun seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from contractors interested in tendering for the Town Hall conservation project. ...Three to five companies will then be selected to tender for the project in November this year. It is expected the tender process will close in February next year." 
So Christchurch IS slowly clawing its way back to life in what some reports have described as the world's largest rebuilding project. The website reveals plans and dreams for the city as a whole, but the more specific page here  gives a reassuring summary of the vision held by the city council for the place of the hall in the Performing Arts Precinct.
Stairs to Christchurch town Hall auditorium
We are often asked about the rebuild of Christchurch. This is an impossible subject to summarise in a few words, so pictures are often the best way to convey the progress of demolition, rebuild, or stagnation. For 29 last views of the organ in February 2014 click on the image of the stairs to the auditorium to the left. The BeckerFraser photo collection, which can be found on Picasaweb Albums, includes a gallery of aerial shots of named streets, taken in August 2013. Happy events help boost spirits, such as the re-opening this Monday night of the historic Issac Royal Theatre, the tram now looping a full loop once more, the music and classics departments of the University of Canterbury moving back into the Arts Centre (the old University of Canterbury buildings) in town, and, dare I say it, the aftershocks have all but stopped. 

 Sad news:

John Ritchie, Emeritus Professor of Music at Canterbury University, died in Christchurch on the morning of his 93rd birthday, September 29th. John was greatly loved as a man, and highly respected by his colleagues and musicians throughout New Zealand and further afield for his compositions, teaching, and energetic musical leadership. We specifically have John to thank for "Let the Pealing Organ Blow!" which he composed for the opening of the Rieger in 1997; the title lent itself to the first recording made on this organ. He supported music and musicians with his whole heart, and the world will be a poorer place without him.

Malcolm Monteath, (affectionately known to us all as 'Monty') died recently. 
For the last few years he was an active member of the Trust Board of the Friends of the Town Hall Organ. His buoyant optimism, ability to think outside the square, and never-failing cheerfulness, despite his own personal health battle, was an inspiration to us all.  He will be greatly missed.
Cardboard Cathedral Organ Capers
Great Australasian Organs VII

Organ CDs

It's been sometime since the last newsletter so I'll just update you with some of the possible organ-related goodies you can order as gifts for yourself or others this Christmas. Martin's CD "Cardboard Cathedral Organ Capers" is a unique CD featuring the Rodgers organ in the transition Cathedral. With orchestral sounds, organ favourites, or joyous Bach, it delivers an amazing kaleidescope of colour and utterly enjoyable music. Composers include Bach, Hollins, Schumann, Strauss, Ketèlby, Leroy Anderson, Tchaikovsky to mention a few; original organ pieces mix with transcriptions, and Martin's Wedding March Extraordinaire with the Wagner and Mendelssohn marches counterpointed by other famous themes is guaranteed to raise a laugh. The extraordinary sounds of Dvorak's New World are stunningly like a full orchestra and perhaps this track best epitomises the dawn of a new age for Christchurch, and the Cathedral.
Then of course there is the last CD to be recorded in the Town Hall on the Rieger, in January 2010 by Priory records, "Great Australasian Organ VII". So it's an historic recording, and just as appealing as Martin's other CDs. Go to Martin's website recordings page for more details or to find where to buy these and other CDs. 
abstract organ art special offer
Blue and Gold organ pipes abstract special offer 3 days only

Get this abstract depiction of the organ pipes in Willibrordi Cathedral, Wesel, Germany for a special discounted rate. The beautiful blue and gold-hued print is offered by Fine Art America until November 18th - hurry because there are only five copies for sale. The print is 24.00" x 20.00" on Stretched Canvas, for  $US75.00. Click on the image above to go to the promotion page for details.

Books and gifts

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing The Haarlem Essays, which covers in a variety of ways, 50 years of International Organ Festivals in Haarlem. What tickled me was that the stop pullers and page turners of the festival were treated with suitable respect for their vital work for contestants. But that apart, there much to absorb and delight in. It comes with a CD of award-winning performances, and I highly recommend it. Might be worth your while browsing for music scores while there, and if you fancy a German-translation of my "Organ-isms: Anecdotes from the World of the King of Instruments" ( as "Die Königin und ihr Gefolge") that's there as well under Butz editions. The original English version of mishaps and misadventures in the organ world can still be purchased from Pipelinepress, and 

The Zazzle collection of weird and wonderful organ gifts continues to expand. Now 2,370 organ-related products are waiting to go to good homes this Christmas. Come on, you KNOW you always wanted to have an organ stops chocolate countdown calendar, didn't you? Alright, if not that, just explore from the beginning, at
Just Germany 2015 pipe organ calendar
Up close and personal 2015 pipe organ calendar
French flair 2015  pipe organ calendar
Ceilings and cases 2015 pipe organ calendar

Organ Calendars

It really is time to order your pipe organ calendars - there are now more than 30 different designs in the shop. Note that if you try to access this from the UK, your browser may try to take you to the version of the site. Be firm with it, and change the suffix to .com to be able to see (and order) the calendars. The newest calendar this year is called "Just Germany", and features organ from well, ah, just Germany. No surprise there, then. For the pedants amongst you, the organs represented are:  St Wenzel Naumburg, Stiftskirche Stuttgart, Himmerod Abbey, Merseburg Cathedral, Worms Cathedral, St Wendel's Basilica, Preacher's Church, Erfurt, St Clemens, Münster, St Jodokus, Bielefeld, St Andreas, Ostönnen,Stadtkirche, Celle, St Lambertus, Münster. Incidentally the Ostönnen organ vies with the Sion organ in Switzerland for the title of the oldest playable organ in the world. Ostönnen wins on oldest pipes, Sion has the older organ case. Just so you know. 

From the swell box:

A few links for those "let's expore the internet" days:
  • A perennial favourite, Simon's Cat, has come up with a cartoon of behaviour that every cat owner will recognise (even our cats winked at each other when watching it)
  • Maria João Pires is a highly respected and famous pianist, but even at the top end of her game, surprises can still happen. The mark of a true star is how you cope with it - such as being on stage to play a concerto, when you realise the orchestra has started playing a completely different work from what you thought you were playing. Nervous performers, be prepared for a knotted tummy .
  • For pure intentional comedy, Rainer Hersch is an English comedian and musician who follows in the footsteps of the likes of Victor Borge. His website links to videos and radio programmes starting with a waltz on the Windows theme, and follows with  other videos where he hijacks orchestras and soloists. Plenty to keep you amused during long winter nights here. 
The next newsletter should be out again soon as we will have a competition, a discount sale on Fine Art America prints and will be making an announcement of a new organ publication. But no, am not telling just yet. You'll have to wait and see! 

Until next snoozeletter,
Cheerful noises from our world of excavations, demolitions and recovery, 
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