Royal Festival Hall organ back in place
23 September 2013
The iconic organ pipe-façade which served as an atmospheric backdrop to Royal Festival Hall concerts for five decades has finally been unveiled in its restored glory. With all of the organ’s divisions now back in their rightful places, following reinstallation by the Durham-based organ builders Harrison & Harrison, the instrument, comprising 7,866 pipes, will now be tuned and voiced ahead of its planned reinauguration at the Centre’s Pull Out All The Stops organ festival, beginning on 18 March 2014.
The first phase of the current project (one third of the organ), including the restoration and reinstallation of the Swell, Great fluework and Pedal Principal 32ft stop, was completed as part of the major transformation of the Royal Festival Hall, which reopened in June 2007; the second phase was installed during the summer of 2012 and included the Great reeds and most of the Pedal Organ.
The full £2.3m required to restore and reinstall the instrument was raised thanks to a £950,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and donations of £1.3 million from the public. Southbank Centre’s chairman Rick Haythornthwaite and a team of cyclists finished their sponsored 24-hour ride from Durham to London on Sunday 21 July 2013, raising the final £100,000 to reach the campaign’s target.
The Pull Out All The Stops festival begins with a gala concert on 18 March next year, and runs until June.