See the historic City Hall organ up close with new tours

Brisbane Lifestyle Chairman Cr Krista Adams has announced the start of a new dedicated tour of City Hall’s 120 year old Father Willis organ, with a behind the scenes look at the unique instrument and the chance learn more about its history.

Cr Adams said the 45 minute tours were being offered for the first time in the history of City Hall and would explore the intricacies of one of Australia’s largest pipe organs.

“Our Father Willis organ is one of the largest organs in Australia, featuring 4300 pipes, the tallest of which stand at an impressive 13 metres high, with the smallest at 10 centimetres,” Cr Adams said.

“The organ was built in 1891-92 by Henry Willis & Sons, Camden Town, London for the Brisbane Exhibition Concert Hall.

“In 1900 Council purchased the organ and it was relocated, enlarged and modernised for Brisbane’s new City Hall which opened in 1930.”

“There are no two identical pipe organs in the world; each one sounds and looks different, and our Father Willis organ is regarded as one of the best pipe organs in Australia.

Cr Adams said when City Hall closed for its $215 million restoration in 2010, the organ was removed, before being reinstalled and rededicated in 2014.

“This painstaking restoration of the organ itself included various specialist works such as French polishing, cabinet making, leatherwork, electrical wiring and computer programming,” she said.

“The sound of each of the 4,391 individual pipes was recorded before removing it from City Hall in 2010, to make sure it would sound exactly the same as the day it was removed from City Hall.

“This meticulous restoration work is worthy of being admired up close and these tours are the perfect way to not only see the organ but to hear it in all its glory, with a performance by a qualified organist,” she said.

“Fans of the organ can also hear it in action during a special performance by Spics and Specks star Barry Morgan, at his concert Mr Barry Morgan Plays the Big Organ, on 15 October.”

Tours will be held at 1.30pm on the following dates:

• 25 August
• 8 September
• 22 September
• 13 October
• 27 October
• 10 November
• 24 November

Tours are free and wheelchair accessible, however bookings are essential and can be made at museumofbrisbane.com.au/organtours or by calling (07) 3339 0800.