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Royal Festival Hall organ returns to the South Bank

The installation of the restored Royal Festival Hall organ has been completed.

Royal Festival Hall organ returns to the South Bank

The installation of the Royal Festival Hall organ has been completed following its complete restoration by the Durham-based organ builders Harrison & Harrison.

The instrument, comprising 7,866 pipes, will now be tuned and the voicing balanced ahead of its reinauguration at the Pull Out All The Stops organ festival which begins on 18 March 2014.

The full 2.3 million required to restore and reinstall the instrument was raised through significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which awarded the project 950,000 in June 2010 and donations of 1.3 million from the public.

Southbank Centre's chairman Rick Haythornthwaite and his team of cyclists finished their sponsored 24-hour ride from Durham to London on Sunday 21 July, raising the final 100,000 to reach the campaign's target.

Pull Out All The Stops Festival An Organ Celebration, which runs from 18 March to June 2014, also marks the instrument's 60th anniversary since it first resounded in 1954.

Eight new works have been commissioned by Southbank Centre to celebrate the return of the organ including works by John Tavener, Peter Maxwell Davies, Neil Hannon, Martin Creed, Kaija Saariaho, Simon Holt, Terry Riley and visual artist Lynette Wallworth.

The opening Gala Concert on 18 March features organists John Scott, Isabelle Demers, Jane Parker Smith and David Goode with trumpeter Alison Balsom and the brass sections from Southbank Centre's Resident Orchestras the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra. Celebrity recitals during the festival include performances by John Scott, Olivier Latry and Thomas Trotter including the London premiere of Judith Weir's The Wild Reeds performed by Trotter on 24 April 2014.

For the first time in almost a decade, visitors will be able to hear major works for the organ performed by Southbank Centre's Resident Orchestras such as: Poulenc's Organ Concerto; Saint-Sans' Organ Symphony; Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra and Alpine Symphony; and Janček's Glagolitic Mass.

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