The Great Hall Organ
The organ was designed by Rudolf von Beckerath of Hamburg and built in conjunction with Ronald Sharp of Sydney, with the assistance of Mr. T.E. O'Mahony, architect, and the Deputy Principal's office.
Rudolf von Beckerath's philosophy is best expressed in his own words:
"The classic organ or the baroque organ is no longer possible except through an imitative return to the past. Our time is neither classic nor baroque. The vitality of a modern instrument demands instead the translation of the spirit of past greatness into a contemporary form."
Except for the couplers, the action of this organ is the same as those used by Bach and Handel during the golden age of organ-building, namely "mechanical" or "tracker". Enlightened builders and organists have been returning to the employment of this action because of its reliability, promptness of attack and subtleties in touch control. Classic voicing, unnicked pipes, slider-chests, and low wind-pressures combine with the latest advances in modern technology (for example, the "capture system" which permits any pre-selection of stop) to make this instrument at once classic yet entirely suited to our times.
Looking towards the organ gallery, we see on the left the three manual console and above it the Great division with the "principal" pipes fronting it.
Behind it is located the Swell division the expressive section of the instrument because it is enclosed in a vast wooden box with front shutters operable by the Swell pedal from the console.
In the centre of the gallery, jutting out into the hall is the Ruckpositiv division, and on the right hand side, the Pedal division. The beautiful cedar case, which blends so harmoniously with the architecture of the Great Hall, was built in the University's Joinery Shop.
The organ has three manuals and pedals, 53 speaking stops, 78 ranks and 3,947 pipes.
Uses of the organ
The uses of the organ in the Great Hall are as varied as they are demanding: ceremonial use (currently sixty graduation ceremonies annually), organ recitals, and accompaniment of choral and orchestral concerts.
This instrument, with its noble "principal" chorus on the Great, sparkling "mutations" on the Ruckpositiv, fiery French "reeds" on the Swell, and fully independent Pedal, realises Rudolf von Beckerath's concept and for generations to come will add lustre to the many events taking place in the Great Hall.