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Guildhall to unveil historic organ during musical celebration

16 June 2016

Classical music fans will be able to mark a moment in local history this month as the Guildhall hosts an exclusive event showcasing the newly refurbished organ in the Main Hall of the historic building.

On Sunday June 26th some of the finest musicians and choristers will celebrate the unveiling of the work on the instrument which is the second largest concert organ in N. Ireland. The event is being organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council and The Honourable The Irish Society, original funders of the Guildhall building where the organ was first introduced as a feature of the Main Hall in 1891.

Tickets are now on sale and Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Alderman Hilary McClintock, said the event was a real celebration of local musical heritage.

“The Guildhall has undergone extensive renovation which was completed in 2013 so it’s fantastic to see this final piece of work now completed,” she declared.


“The Guildhall organ has a fascinating history and is an absolutely beautiful piece of craftsmanship, so the Organ Event will provide the perfect opportunity to see it literally centre stage. The programme for the concert is fantastic and I’m delighted to see such an array of high calibre performers including Catherine Ennis, taking to the stage to mark the occasion.

“I would also like to thank The Honourable The Irish Society for their ongoing support of the project, and acknowledge the historic ties between the Society and this stunning historic building which is still right at the heart of civic life. I would really encourage anyone with an interest in classical music to come along for what promises to be a really special event.”

Catherine Ennis, Codetta, and senior choristers from Christ's Hospital and St Mary's College, will all bring their vocal talents to the event which will also feature narrative by Sir Roger Gifford.

Speaking ahead of the performance, Catherine Ennis said she was excited about coming to the city to perform. “This promises to be a spectacular occasion that will showcase the beauty of the location, celebrate the investment in the refurbished organ and allow us to bring a music collective to the people of the city for a unique musical celebration.”

In terms of its history the original Guildhall organ was crafted and paid for by public donations of £2,000 in 1891, but was destroyed by fire in 1908. It was reinstalled but was 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 £10m project funded by the former Derry City Council, Tourism NI, Department of Social Development and Department for Environment under its Built Heritage Programme.

Edward Montgomery, The Honourable The Irish Society said: “ The Honourable The Irish Society is delighted to be associated with this marvellous musical event in the Guildhall. It will be a wonderful occasion to hear organist, Catherine Ennis play and have the choristers from the Christ Hospital School, Horsham, and St Mary’ College, Derry take part. The Honourable The Irish Society is very proud of its historic ties with the City and we are very pleased to be able to contribute to furthering and enhancing its musical offering.”

Tickets for the Organ Recital which takes place between 3pm – 5pm on Sunday July 26 are priced at £5 and £10 (plus booking fee) and are now available from the Guildhall and Tower Museum and also online at www.derrystrabane.com/guildhall

Further information on the event can be found at www.derrystrabane.com/guildhall