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Interesting Antiques

The Church Pipe Organ at St. Andrew’s, Bangalore

The PIPE ORGAN, the largest of all musical instruments in size, range, pitch and variety of sounds, is said to have been invented about 250 BC and forms a highly scientific adaptation of the primitive Pandean pipes. The instrument began to be used in churches in the 7th century, from which time it became the most prominent and powerful musical instrument in church worship services.

The century old pipe organ in St. Andrew’s Church, Bangalore was installed on 3.5.1881 by its builders PETER GONACHER AND CO., HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND. The work of erecting the Organ was done by Mr. Jupe from Madras. Mr. W.R. Cox was appointed the official organist on 3.5.1881. The installation of a motor blower for the pipe organ was offered by Mrs. RAE in memory of her late husband and it was installed subsequently on 29.11.1933.
The Organ built by Peter Gonacher & Co. of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in 1880, is  well-made, as one might expect from the Gonacher stable. There is liberal use of spotted metal pipe work, and the wooden pipe work is made from good quality sugar-pine and mahogany. The casework is of pitch-pine, with zinc display-pipes, nicely diapered. The detailed features of our Pipe Organ as built and installed in 1881 is presented along with.

The magnificent Pipe Organ at St. Andrew’s, Bangalore is a two manual PEDAL ORGAN and it has seven stops on the GREAT ORGAN, five stops on the SWELL ORGAN and one BOURDON STOP for the PEDAL ORGAN. The fine tonal quality of this organ is superb and when one hears the full organ the grandeur of music it generates is remarkable.

The Organ has been maintained always in very good working condition and was taken due care and attention by the organists over the years, periodically cleaned and tuned ever since it was installed. Also a regular Organ tuner was on official appointment for on annual remuneration for his maintenance work.

The first Organ recital was given by Mr. E. H. FEWKES after the completion of the minor repairs it needed, on 16.11.1950. After three years, yet another Organ recital was given by Mr. VANDER HOTLT, the then organist on 13.1.1953. On 2nd May 1981, commemorating the centenary of the Organ, a grand Organ recital was performed by Padmashri, HANDEL MANUEL of Madras, accompanied by his brother Mr. SURENDER SCHAFFER on flute. Inter-church Music Festival held in our Church during July 2000 for the music lovers in the city and churches saw another Organ recital by Prof. DAVID SEBASTIAN, the Organist and the then Choir Director of St. Mark’s Cathedral. The last Organ recital we had was organized under the direction and guidance of our present Organist Mr. Andrew Bhackyanathan, and it was by the Swiss Pipe Organist DANIEL BOULDJOU AND FLUTIST LILIANE JACQUES in February, 2006.


As the years pass by, the Pipe Organ was showing signs of wear and tear due to age and use over a period of 126 years and was seen to be certainly not at its best as it was in the beginning.  Wear-and-tear caused by dirt and age has had some part to play. The general structure of the organ was however perfectly sound, and all were in a restorable status to a first-class condition. It needed an overhaul after its excellent service for more than 120 years to make it continue for yet another century!

At this juncture the Pastorate Committee under the Chairmanship of Rev. M. B. Kotian, with the advice and initiative of the present Organist and Music Director, Mr. Andrew Bhagyanathan, took up the issue of renovating the pipe organ totally to restore it back to its original grandeur. Dr. Randy Giles, the Director of Music of the CSI synod at Chennai was consulted and its restoration process began. With his consultancy and experience and expertise in Organ music and maintenance, M/s The Middle Organ Company, Builders, restorers and maintainers of quality pipe organ, England was approached in the middle of July 2006. This Organ company is known for its impeccable work and calibre through the specific restoration work they have carried out in Chennai on century old pipe Organs, such as that of Mary’s Church and St. Andrews’ Church. Thus the work was entrusted to the adept hands of M/s Midland Organ Company and they have done an exemplary restoration work for our Pipe Organ in record time to its perfection.   

Now the ‘GREAT LITTLE MONSTER’ the century old Pipe Organ of our Church stands grander and still more magnificent after its total renovation and restoration to its  present status of  new features and feathers added on to it to enhance its musical out put and performance-efficiency. Indeed we wish to place on record our gratitude to the excellent efforts and workmanship of the The Middle Organ Company demonstrated by its talented Director Dr. Christopher Gray. An excellent job they did it! The total amount spent for restoration is around 16 lakhs which includes the cost and installation of new 56 trumpet pipes and the replacement of eight old pipes needed.

Every member of the congregation of St. Andrew’s Church is proud to declare and affirm  in faith & thanksgiving, the grace and guidance of Almighty for having guided and provided us with all needed to help us achieve and complete this onerous task of renovation to its fullest satisfaction of all concerned. The Great Pipe Organ for the first time after more than 120 years of its serving has been totally renovated to serve us for many more years to come for singing and proclaiming glory to God all through its melody and music. It is to be borne in mind, if a similar organ with all its present features of added trumpet pipes is to be imported at this part of the time from UK from the Standard Organ Builders, it would have cost us a fortune, may be to the tune of not less than two crores of rupees.

The names of the Organists who were at the console of this great Pipe Organ of our Church playing and helping us edify the worship services over the past century and a quarter are listed and appended along with, remembering with reverence and respect for the excellent service they had done and been rendering to glorify God through the ministry of music in our Church.

The sixth Organ recital of our Church Pipe Organ is on its way, heralding the rededication of our totally renovated Pipe Organ and we are looking forward to have the pleasure of witnessing yet another great grand Organ Recital being organized. It is by no less a person that the great and eminent Organist Professor Dr. Richard Marlow, Director Music, Trinity College, UK on 4, January 2009.

We are indebted to every member and family of the congregation who stood with us in all times of need, especially when we needed huge funds for undertaking this task of total renovation of our Pipe Organ to make it restored to what it is today!

Stanley R.Chellappa
Secretary, St. Andrew’s Church
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