About the organ
The visually striking and majestic sounding instrument in the Hunter Baillie Church is by the English organ builder William Hill & Son, and was installed in the church in 1892. It is certainly conjectural, but highly probable that the choice of this builder, apart from his fame in England and elsewhere, rests in his being the successful tenderer for the construction of his magnum opus, the Grand Organ in Sydney Town Hall.
The tall, neo-Gothic casework, in the same style as Arthur G. Hill's 1888 case in Chichester Cathedral, is of exceptional beauty and is unique among Hill's many organs in Australia. Decorative tracery fills the spaces between the tops of the display pipes and cornice mouldings, the display pipes being of burnished tin as well as (unusually) of wood. The cornice mouldings are decorated with gilded pateræ and those of the pipe towers and flats are topped with traceried parapets.
Thanks to the generosity of the many musicians who donated their services in the cause of an Organ Restoration Appeal, and the patronage of a loyal and enthusiastic audience, funds were raised from annual ‘Spring Festival of Music’ concerts begun in 1994. That sum, plus grants totalling $50,000 from the NSW Heritage Office, as well as sustained generous donations from two private benefactors and a National Trust sponsored appeal financed complete restoration of the instrument over a twenty-year period beginning in 1997. Only the Swell division chest remains un-restored owing to its position within the organ.
The organ restoration was undertaken owing to the initiative, dedicated leadership and overall supervision of Ralph W. Lane OAM who was the organist of Hunter Baillie church from 13.11.1981 to 30.6.2018.
Stage I provided a new silent blower, the complete refurbishment of the Choir organ and the restoration of the Swell Cornopean which, in February 1997, was again playable at its original place in the organ and heard for the first time in more than a century! Stage II (2001/2002) saw the restoration of the Great organ, an exercise that entailed shipping the Trumpet rank to the UK for attention by a specialist in Victorian-era reed stops. Stage III (2003) focused on restoration of the chests, pipes and complex mechanical actions of the Pedal division. Stages IV (renovation of the Pedal action) and V (re-facing of the manuals and pedal board) were completed in 2004. Cleaning of the Choir pipe work was again undertaken in 2012. Stage VI of the restoration project in 2013 saw refurbishment of the Swell organ.
Final restoration work from September 2016 to August 2017 included the manual coupling frame, stop actions, draw stops and jambs, removing varnish from the case, console repairs, re-leathering of the feeder and double-rise bellows and re-polishing the façade pipes.
Grateful thanks is due to all who contributed either financially or in kind to assist in an immense task. Together, they have ensured that this noble and exceptional example of Australia’s organ heritage was brought back to a sonority and a playing condition justly its due. Reborn, the instrument lives on to delight and impress future generations.
For full organ specification see OHTA website.
Edward McNeal Grantham
B.Mus., Dip.Ed., A.Mus.A., M.Mus., B.Th., Th. Schol., M.A.(Theol).
Following the retirement of Ralph Lane OAM in 2018, Ted became organist at Hunter Baillie.
Ted, (né 1944), is married to Anne and they have six children, (five living) and eighteen grandchildren.
Ted began piano lessons at the age of five, and informal study of the organ at his local Methodist Church at Malvern Hill, Croydon aged thirteen, later doing formal study with Colin Sapsford at Christ Church St Laurence.
Ted has been organist, inter alia, on Hill organs at Rose Bay Presbyterian and Pitt St Congregational Churches, and frequently practised during his university studies on the Hill organ at Newtown Methodist.
Ted is also one of the honorary carillonists at Sydney University. He first heard of the carillon from Lindsay Gordon, a former honorary carillonist, who was librarian at Homebush Boys’ High, which Ted attended 1957 – 61. When Ted arrived at Sydney University in 1962 he sought out the carillon and was instructed by John Gordon, then the University Carillonist. Ted received a B.Mus., in 1967, studying composition under Peter Sculthorpe and Eric Gross, and musical paleography under Ian Spink. He received a Dip.Ed., in the year following, and taught music and mathematics in state schools from 1968 to 1974 when he took up a position at the De La Salle College Ashfield as music teacher and at the Pitt St Congregational Church as Music Director. Ted received an A.Mus.A., in both organ and theory while at Lithgow in the early seventies, and an M.Mus., in musicology at the UNSW in 1988, his major essay being on Hill organs.
Some notable musical achievements (from a large corpus) are the composition and performance of an opera, Bitter Innocence, at the Great Hall in 1981 and an autograph performance of Handel’s Messiah, 14thApril 1985, (Handel’s tercentenary year), using the music written in the original burst of inspiration before the composer changed anything to suit various singers and performance situations. Ted has installed a three manual pipe organ by Henry Jones, (1897), at his residence. Ted has recently completed his second opera, in a neo-baroque style, titled David and Jonathan, the two title roles given to counter tenors.
In 1990 Ted left teaching to study theology, gaining a B.Th., Th.Schol., and M.A.(Theol)., from the Australian College of Theology. He retired at the end of 2011 after fifteen years as lay pastor of the Concord Presbyterian Church. He has written numerous theological pamphlets on current issues. Besides being organist at Hunter Baillie, Ted is presently an elder of thePresbyterian Churchof Australia.
The Assistant Organist
Stacey Xiaoyu Yang
Stacey Xiaoyu Yang is currently a doctoral candidate of Professor David Higgs at the Eastman School of Music and was a Vanderlinder Fellow in liturgical music at Christ Church, Rochester 2015-2016. Prior to her study in the US, Stacey received a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Science and a Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Sydney and was both University Organ and Carillon Scholars.
In July 2016, she was selected to participate in the Royaumont Foundation summer school at Versailles on a traveling scholarship granted by the AGO Rochester Chapter. In 2017, she was granted E. Power Biggs Fellowship by American Organ Historical Society. She has presented solo recitals at the Sydney Opera House, Cathedrals in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle, Marktkirche in Wiesbaden, Germany, Antwerp Cathedral and Basilica at Tongeren, Belgium, the Hong Kong Cultural Center and Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Atlanta, USA. Her performance has been broadcast by American National Radio music channel--Pipedreams. As a carillonist, Stacey has presented recitals at the University of Sydney, the Australian National Carillon in Canberra, the Leuven Catholic University Library Tower, the Marktkirche Wiesbaden and the Universities of Florida, Michigan and Rochester.
The tonal concept of the organ comprises twenty-four stops distributed over three manuals and pedals with a complete diapason chorus being available on the Great manual and with the Swell and Choir divisions composed of flutes, strings and reeds. Throughout its one hundred and fourteen year history the organ has remained substantially unaltered (although fashion, and the tastes and fancies of interested parties did effect various changes to the instrument until the 1980s).
Ralph Lane OAM, writes:
“The movement to refurbish the Hill organ began in 1994 and the first work started only two years later. Much was achieved through revenue from concert activity, government grants and personal donations so that, by 2013, the majority of the pipe work and most of the mechanisms had been entirely renewed. The year 2016 then loomed and with it the thought of completing an objective that had begun twenty years earlier. What remained to be done? Quite a lot as it happened and, amongst it, some financially speaking ‘big ticket’ items such as the re-leathering of the enormous bellows (heard but unseen under the organ since 1892) and, by contrast, the very intricate, loom like, mechanism that allows the organ’s three keyboards to be coupled together. But that wasn’t all.
We relished the task of repairing, cleaning and polishing the tin and timber façade pipes as well as cleaning the delicate filigree tracery that visually compliments them and, in the process, disposing of 124 years of detritus and dust (this having its downside insofar as two of the workers contracted an unwelcome dust mite-borne rash). Additionally, there were the stop rods (those pulled out to bring the instrument’s individual voices into play), all extremely worn and damaged after a century and a quarter of constant use and associated stop mechanisms as well.
So, here was the prospect of bringing a long held hope to fruition. The work would cost around $140,00.00 and National Trust funds of $19,000.00 were specifically earmarked to be spent on the tasks outlined above. Work began on 28 September by removing the bellows as well as numerous mechanical linkages around the keyboards. Gargantuan and extremely heavy, the bellows required a team of seven to extricate it from beneath the organ. It will now require six to seven weeks of detailed and exacting work to remove and replace the leather skirting with material imported from the UK. This is presently in hand.
In this age of seeming ‘instant gratification’ it is pleasing to report some of our own. Within the week of 13 October all the metal façade pipes were removed from the case, blown free of dust, washed, polished and returned to their places. Similarly, the timber pipes were blown out and the shellac varnish applied to them (and the organ case) in 1924 removed. In the right hand photo we see the 75% tin hand planed metal pipes as they would have appeared when the organ was erected in the church in 1892. The work continues and, when finished, will testify to the great and concerted effort made to all but completely refurbish this noble and historic instrument to its former glory.”