The Malta Independent 18 May 2021, Tuesday

St Paul's Anglican Pro-Cathedral organ restored

Malta Independent Monday, 28 July 2014, 10:00 Last update: about 8 years ago

A prime example of Malta’s musical heritage has recently been restored to its former glory; the historic organ of the Anglican Pro-Cathedral of St Paul in Valletta.

The Cathedral’s Organ began its life in Chester Cathedral, England. Built in 1676, by "Father" Bernard Smith, a German-born master organ maker in England in the late seventeenth century, the organ is considered one of the earliest and most important to have survived from this period. It was removed from Chester and shipped to Malta in the 1850's.
There is a long-held tradition that it was played by George Frederick Handel when on his way to Dublin for the first public performance of the “Messiah”. It is believed he carried out some final rehearsals to fine-tune some of the choruses at Chester Cathedral in 1742 when the organ was housed in the Cathedral.
Having been restored and rebuilt several times in its history work was again required to return it to a fully playable state.
The current rebuilding work cost around €210,000. A campaign entitled "pull out the stops" was started to raise the final €100,000 asking individuals to sponsor single pipes or ranks from €20 up to €1000 per pipe and between €480 an €6100 per stop depending on the number of pipes involved. 
The restoration work not only included the restoration of the 2000 existing pipes and the visible case work but also many modern additions such as a new custom designed three-manual console and a new electric solid state microprocessor key action transmission system. All of the pneumatic parts of the key and stop actions were restorated as well as the repairing and making good of the wind system, bellows and the addition of a new silent blower motor. The original pipes on the organ case were silent pipes for decoration; these were replaced by 25 new gilded Open Diapason functional front pipes.

This beautiful instrument, now been restored to its former magnificence, can be heard on 28 August played by the international UK organist Wayne Marshall during the opening concert of a two-week long organ festival, the First Malta International Organ Festival sponsored by Lions Sliema Club. Other organists who will play this instrument during this festival include Erwin Wiersinga (Holland), Vladimir Suzdalevich (Norway), Irina Rozanova (Russia) and Vladimir Shliapnikov (Russia).
This festival will celebrate the rich heritage of Malta’s historic pipe-organs and will give audiences an opportunity to experiences the beauty of which only comes alive when it is played.


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