Sydney Town Hall Organ


Sydney Town Hall is one of Sydney’s best loved icons. For more than a century it has been the city’s major public and civic building, its clock a popular landmark and the marble steps leading up to the entrance, one of Sydney’s favourite meeting places.
During the second half of the nineteenth century it was customary for the civic halls of England and her colonies to be provided with organs of imposing dimensions; dimensions which in themselves spoke of a city’s pride and aspirations. With Sydney’s own Town Hall itself a structure of lavish proportions, it is no surprise that the original designers of the organ conceived an instrument on the grandest possible scale.

Built in London by William Hill and Son, the Grand Organ was shipped to Australia and installed in 1890. It was then the largest organ in the world and is still the largest ever built with tubular-pneumatic action.

The organ was restored between 1972 and 1982 and is used regularly for performances. The final stage of the organ’s restoration unfolded in 1992 when the Town Hall was restored. At this time the original colour scheme for the case, with its lavish gilding, was reinstated.

The Sydney Town Hall is an impressive centre for civic and cultural events and its state-of-the-art facilities make it one of Sydney’s most exciting venues. However its’ heritage listing means that any technical changes within the building have to be carefully considered; the placement of audio visual equipment is not easy.

So how do you give a venue such as Sydney Town Hall an extra edge with which to attract potential venue hirers?

The solution was to light up the wall behind the organ in changing colour. Initially the lighting department at the venue was solely interested in changing the existing prehistoric lights that lit up the organ as they were becoming a safety risk. Not only were they high maintenance but they were also positioned rather precariously. Whist looking at replacements, the idea of colour changing lights was born and the venue operators soon realised the attraction of such a feature to potential hirers.

Five Studio Due CityColour 400 colour wash units were supplied by BeyondAV and these are situated within the organ on a platform. From there, the unit’s colourwash the back wall behind the organ. The colour can be static or on a continuous change.

One of the first important functions that benefited from the venue’s new feature was the Wallabies Bledisloe Luncheon. The wall was lit in a brilliant shade of green whilst the organ pipes were lit in gold and the client was very pleased with the result.