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Royal Festival Hall organ: fundraising appeal launched

The Southbank Centre has launched a fundraising campaign to complete the refurbishment and reinstallation of the Royal Festival Hall organ.

RFH organ
How the organ will look when restored and reinstalled (Hayes Davidson/Nick Rochowski)

The Pull Out All The Stops appeal will allow for restoration of the remaining two thirds of the organ and its reinstallation back into the heart of the Grade 1 listed auditorium built for the Festival of Britain.

"I am delighted to launch this campaign asking the public to Pull Out All The Stops by giving, however large or small, to reinstall this landmark of the English organ world for future generations," said Southbank Centre chief executive Alan Bishop speaking at the Royal Festival Hall.

Individuals can sponsor one of the 7,866 organ pipes. A one foot pipe is 30 whilst the 32 feet long pipe is 10,000.

The plan is to raise 1.35 million over the next three years to add to the 950,000 Heritage Lottery Fund award this year.

"I will never forget, as a very young boy, being taken to hear my father's organ recital at the Royal Festival Hall," says Southbank Centre board member Julian Lloyd Webber.

"That magnificent array of pipes and the splendour of the instrument's sound have remained with me ever since so I am overjoyed that it will soon be restored to its former glory!"

The restoration is being welcomed by concert organist Dame Gillian Weir who said: "This organ is much-loved, and of singular importance because of its place in the organ reform movement in Britain, and I am delighted that the restoration work will now be able to go forward. Its reinstallation is eagerly awaited."

The work is being carried out by Harrison and Harrison who built and installed the organ in 1954 and undertook the first phase of the refurbishment.

The major final phase will begin next year in Durham and involve 40 organ builders.

An organ festival is planned for summer 2014 when the instrument is re-inaugurated on its sixtieth anniversary.

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