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This lavishly illustrated work forms a celebration of the work of the South Island Organ Company Ltd over a period of half a century. The firm was established by two emigrant English organ builders in 1968 and has since become the largest firm of its type in Australasia, with contracts extending as far as Perth, on the Australian western coast. It has established an exemplary record in organ conservation, with many notable successes including two town hall organs in New Zealand and a number of cathedral instruments, and pioneered the successful restoration of pneumatic actions.

The author traces its history through the examination of milestones in the firm’s history, looking at key achievements and the personnel who have worked with the firm. Jill Worrall has interviewed not only people working there, but also organists and conservation experts. In the middle of building many fine examples of the firm’s work came the tragic earthquakes in Christchurch, which saw the loss of three valued staffmembers and the destruction of numerous significant instruments.

The book avoids technical detail and is rather a descriptive outline of the firm’s work. It might have been helpful to have included an overall listing of the firm’s contracts. Having worked in an advisory role with South Island on several restoration projects in Australia, I can testify to the firm’s remarkable attention to detail and its extraordinary problem-solving skills. Jill Worrall’s book is a worthy testament to its remarkable contribution to organ building in the region.

JOHN MAIDMENT Read the full review on Agora Classica


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