Musician wanted for $4m organ

SOUND OF MUSIC: The Auckland Town Hall organ is worth $4m.
SOUND OF MUSIC: The Auckland Town Hall organ is worth $4m.

An organ worth millions sits in Auckland Town Hall, and now those who manage it want to employ a specialist musician to play it.

Auckland Town Hall Organ, the group managing the $4 million instrument, went to the council's Culture, Arts & Events Committee yesterday to ask for $30,000 a year to pay the proposed organist.

There had been an organist employed in the past - John Wells - but he was paid $1000 a year when he started in the 1970s with his money later peaking at around $4000.

The chairman of Auckland Town Hall Organ, Kevin Bishop, wants the position to be reinstated with more demands and expectations.

"The last organist was really treated as cleaning staff. We want a much more enhanced position, with a proper job description and expectations," he said.

"This instrument is the biggest organ in New Zealand and one of the finest in the world. It needs a professional organist."

On top of playing the organ on demand, the city organist would also promote the instrument, use it for training other organists and use it for entertaining guests.

Bishop said the analogies used by backers of the position were that you would not open a new swimming pool with no instructors, or get a new ECG machine in a hospital with no cardiologist to operate it.

"You can't get a new organ and not have someone who understands it, can play it, and can use it to train other organists and practice," he said.

"Also, at a public recital, there's nothing like being shown the ultimate machine."

He said the organ is already very active and getting a bigger profile, being used by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Auckland schools, festivals, and private dinners.

Councillors attending the meeting supported the idea and decided it will be discussed at the annual plan 2013/14 meetings.

Auckland Now