With a re-sounding start to 2015 for one organ in Christchurch at least!
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Knox Church opening concert

Re-sounding start for Knox Church organ in 2015

It is coming up four years since the deadly 2011 earthquake in February silenced both the organ and gutted Knox Church in Bealey Avenue. Readers of this newsletter will have seen my shots of the sad skeleton remains of the church, with the organ shrouded in black polythene in the corner (see pic below).

But 2015 promises to be newer, sparklier and happier than several previous years; on February 1st at 2pm the 110-yr-old pipe organ in Knox Church, Bealey Ave, will be reinaugurated with a festive concert by international concert organist Martin Setchell.

Refurbished by the South Island Organ Co,Timaru, at a 
cost of $500,000 over 11,000 man hours, the reappearance of both the organ and Knox Chruch is a major boost for the spirits of the community.

Apart from the console now being movable on a purpose built platform, and a new Trumpet stop, the organ looks and sounds the same as it did when opened in February 1904. However it now boasts a more responsive, electrified action and modern playing aids, With floor carpeting kept to a minimum, the building's acoustic has also been greatly enlivened.

Appropriately Martin's entertaining programme includes some music chosen by Dr Bradshaw (a fellow Lancastrian!) for the 1904 inaugural, like Lemare's famous Andantino (better known as 'Moonlight and Roses'). It will also include Wagner's Pilgrim's Chorus from Tannh√§user, Elgar's Imperial March, and music by Handel,  Schumann, and Takle, all of which suits this particular organ. You can read Martin's full programme on his website here.

This will be a landmark day for the city, as one of its iconic churches, and historic pipe organs is reopened. Concert admission is free, donations requested, and the general public is warmly invited to attend. See you there!!
Knox shell  with organ 2012
We all became familiar with this sad bedraggled view of Knox with the organ shrouded in black at the rear in this picture. The wooden beams have been retained in the rebuild.

Town Hall status - steady as she goes

Martin Setchell and Friends of the Town Hall Organ Secretary David Towns had a meeting with a senior member of the City Council staff earlier in January to get an update on what is happening to the Town Hall.  
David reports: "As you will know, the City Council decided to fully restore the Town Hall and as far as we were aware before the meeting with the Council officer, there had been no change in the Council's stance in this regard, although it had become clear during 2014 that the Council was facing huge funding problems and that there were some misgivings about that previous resolution. However, we were assured  that Council staff were continuing their work in terms of the Council resolution and that tenders had been called for the work needed to repair/restore the Town Hall to its former glory. The closing date for receipt of tenders for the work is February 2015 and staff would then assess the tenders received and make appropriate recommendations to the full Council. So far, so good. The decision whether or not to proceed would lie in the hands of those councillors. Unless councillors have a change of heart (Heaven forbid), one can only presume that work might start on site during 2015. The key thing, of course, is money."

"In the meantime, the Rieger organ stands silently in place, well cocooned and protected from the elements. When work starts on the auditorium, it is expected that the scaffolding and protective wrap will keep the organ safe from dust and vibration. Unless something unforeseen happens, the organ will remain in place during all the renovations and will not be dismantled, removed or stored off-site."
(Aside from Jenny: According to Rebuild Christchurch, we are now just 10 per cent complete with the Rebuild. At least it's on the plus side!)
Hochseitsmarsch extraordinaire

Wedding season coming up? May have just the thing for you...


Martin's latest music score, only just published in December 2014, is a "Wedding March Extraordinaire". Because it's published by Musikverlag Dr. J. Butz in Bonn, Germany, the German title is "Hochzeitsmarsch Extraordinaire", and is an irreverent romp through the traditional wedding marches as well as paying tribute to various other composers along the way. Now to wait for the first bride to request this for a real ceremony. Ps: yes, he has recorded it on Cardboard Cathedral Organ Capers, and you can watch the video of Martin playing it here

Thanks to The Press cartoonist Al Nisbet for his wonderful cartoon that illustrates the cover.

From the Swellbox

To help kickstart your New Year:
  1. Meet Benjamin Kitten and his partner, Peter Purrs, along with Henry Purrcell - other assorted awful puns on this "10 Pets who think they are Classical Musicians" page from the BBC
  2. I love maps, and I love Google Maps especially. Even when they do toy with me and try to send me playfully hurtling over a 100m bank or into the depths of the Rhine. You have to admire the achievements of such a massive operation. Here is a glimpse behind the scenes: Google Maps
  3. A reprise of one of my favourite soundcloud clips: Jeremy Dawson "I'm an Organist" (with apologies to Monty Python's Lumberjack). You gotta larf...
  4. Can you spot the invisible man

Some stonking hot days have been enough to drive Bobby and Kate in search of  a suitable container for cool cats. Hope Rodgers don't mind their carton serving this purpose...

Jenny and her little "helpers"

PS: Don't forget:  Knox Presbyerian Church, Bealey Avenue, Martin;s Festival opening concert on Sunday, February 1st at 2pm!

2014 Archive issues of the newsletter can be viewed here:

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