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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

‘Old Lady’ back to former glory

Magnificent instrument: Church-goers admiring the restored pipe organ at the Church of the Assumption.

Magnificent instrument: Church-goers admiring the restored pipe organ at the Church of the Assumption.

GEORGE TOWN: The Church of the Assumption in Farquhar Street, which held “A Concert in Thanksgiving” to celebrate the restoration of the century-old pipe organ, saw young organist Daniel de Costa entertaining parishioners and invited guests with his performance of several musical pieces.

De Costa, 17, mesmerised the crowd as his fingers moved gracefully over the pipe organ’s keys to render Amazing Grace, The Hymn of Joy, Whispering Hope and How Great Thou Art.

“I first played on this pipe organ in 2012 during a fund-raising concert for the restoration of the instrument. It was a totally different feeling playing this pipe organ as it gave me the satisfaction I never had before and I got hooked on to it immediately.

“Not many have the passion to play the pipe organ and I’m glad I found it,” said the Form Five student of St Xavier’s Institution after his performance on Sunday.

De Costa added that the restoration reminded him of how valuable things are and how people should treasure historical items.

Leonard Selva Gurunathan, the church’s organist since 1998, said the restoration of the “Old Lady”, as the pipe organ is affectionately known, marks the beginning of a new journey for the instrument, putting behind the many ups and downs that it has been through.

“The pipe organ has survived through all these years as a result of the dedication and commitment of the congregation of the church and support received from various individuals and corporate bodies.

“To keep the organ running for many years to come, not only constant care and maintenance of an organ builder is required, but also continued commitment and dedication from those responsible for it,” Leonard said.

He had earlier performed opening numbers for the concert with his rendition of Invention No. 1 and Air on the G String on the pipe organ. The Church of the Assumption Choir group also performed at the event.

Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen was present. She assisted in boosting the funds set up to restore the pipe organ.

AirAsiaExpedia donated RM200,000 while Star Publications (M) Bhd contributed RM50,000 for the restoration.

Khazanah Nasional’s Think City Sdn Bhd also donated RM262,000.

The pipe organ was built in 1914 by Morton & Moody of Oakham, England, and set up in the church by The Robinson Piano Co Ltd in June 1916.

It is made of oak, pine and maho­gany and has 640 pipes made of lead and zinc.

By the time the Old Lady was dismantled and shipped to Harrogate in the UK for a major overhaul in January 2013, it was in poor condition with termite and rat-infested wood as well as wear and tear of the mechanical parts.

It was fully restored at the church in November last year.

The pipes have been cleaned and tuners atop each pipe replaced. Most of the original pipes were retained. Some of the ivory keys have been replaced with a synthetic material resembling ivory.

Peter Wood and Son, a British company specialising in pipe organ building, repairs, restorations, rebuilds and tuning was entrusted with the restoration work.

Tags / Keywords: Family Community , pipe organ


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