The recently-restored Fincham pipe organ, highly regarded for its versatility and beautiful tone, is installed high above the nave in its own gallery. It dates from 30th March 1930. In 2003, the organ was relocated and refurbished by Laurie Pipe Organs. A new solid-state logic organ control with multiple memory combination was added.
The relocated organ required new casing. Alastair Conder, Cabinetmaker, North Geelong, was selected to install mirror-image cases on either side of the gallery, designed around the pipe layout, doors, windows and other existing features. The beautiful stained glass rose window with its decorative carvings on each side determined the height and width of the final design. A row of pipes beneath this window is also designed around this lovely feature. European Oak was chosen for its grain structure and ability to blend with other timber features of the Basilica.
Elements of the design of these and some of the marble features from the sanctuary were included in the new design. Pressed metal panels of burnished mesh complete the outer casing. Twenty two removable panels and four bi-fold doors allow access to the pipes for tuning and maintenance.
Planning and preparation of the design took 6 hours. Construction required 360 hours, staining and polishing 55 hours and installation a further 70 hours.
The huge undertaking of dismantling and removing the organ from behind the high altar, relocating it in the gallery, rebuilding and extending the instrument, building the casing and completing the decoration was achieved over a period of five years. The result is spectacular.
Those who hear and see the organ know that the work has been a tremendous success.
The Basilica Organist is Frank De Rosso.
Photography by Robert Young
Text from Alastair Conder and Frank De Rosso