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Wellington Town Hall’s Oldest Resident Turns 100

Music will be ringing out in the Wellington Town Hall on June 25 in a special recital marking 100 years since the city’s organ was first played.

Called Centennial Blast, the recital will be performed by City Organist and New Zealand School of Music lecturer Douglas Mews. Mr Mews will play many well known favourites including Bach’s Fantasy and Fugue in G minor, Lemare’s Andantino in D flat and Rossini’s Barber of Seville overture. 

And to bring the past into the present the recital will also feature a light show and two large screens either side of the organ projecting images of the organ and live “footcam” shots of the organist.

The construction of the organ began in 1905 when the then Wellington City Corporation commissioned English firm Norman & Beard to build it for £5000.  The organ was then shipped to New Zealand in 42 separate cases before being assembled in Wellington. 

In 1984 after years of use Wellington City Council had the organ fully restored. It took four people working full time for more than a year to complete the work.

Wellington City Council’s Culture and Arts Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, says the organ deserves the title “Kaumatua” as it is the oldest Town Hall resident.

“It is important for us to recognise its presence in this city in the last century, but also to recognise those who had a part in its initial construction, as well as those who took on the painstaking job of restoration.”

The Centennial Blast will be held at the Town Hall on Sunday 25 June at 3pm.



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