Guildhall organ is pitch perfect

The Mayor, Councillor Elisha McCallion pictured with organist Stewart Smyth in the organ tower at the Guildhall on Sunday.
The Mayor, Councillor Elisha McCallion pictured with organist Stewart Smyth in the organ tower at the Guildhall on Sunday.

A special musical celebration took place on Sunday in the Guildhall, when an invited audience enjoyed a sneak preview recital of the newly restored organ.

The recital, pre-empted a major public event scheduled to take place on June 26 next year.

The organ is the second largest concert organ in Northern Ireland. It dominates the stage of the impressive Main Hall in the Guildhall.

The original instrument was crafted and paid for by public donations in 1891, which amounted to £2,000. However, it was destroyed by fire in 1908. It was reinstalled, but was once again damaged by the 1972 bombs before being rebuilt by Hill, Norman and Beard Ltd of London at a cost of £68,000 in 1978.

The recently completed restoration of the Guildhall organ was part of a £10 million restoration project, which was jointly funded by the former Derry City Council, Tourism NI and the Department of Social Development and Department for Environment under the Department’s Built Heritage Programme.

Speaking after the recital, Mayor Elisha McCallion said: “The performances were absolutely beautiful and I was delighted to see the completion of this painstaking work to restore the organ to its original glory. It’s the final stage in the renovation of the Guildhall and the last piece that has been missing in the building’s transformation.

“The Guildhall is such a special building in the history of the city, and the perfect venue for so many public and private events. The organ will now lend an additional visual and musical element to the splendour of the Main Hall.”