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A Note from the Artistic Director

Gerard Gillen
Gerard Gillen

The organ here in Tullamore was built by one of the world’s leading organbuilding firms of the 20th century, Th. Frobenius of Lyngby (Copenhagen), in 1965 for the great cathedral church of Denmark’s capital city. It is a sizeable mechanical-action instrument consisting of 53 speaking stops, three manuals (keyboards) and pedals, and 3,916 pipes. By 1993 the cathedral felt it needed a much bigger organ to fill its great space with adequate sound, and so it was decided to replace the existing organ with an entirely new instrument. Instead of selling the existing Frobenius organ for the considerable sum it would undoubtedly have fetched, the cathedral board decided to donate it to an appropriate church. Tullamore’s requirements for an organ at the time and their request to me to assist them in their search for an appropriate instrument, together with my recital visit to Copenhagen to play one of the last recitals on the ‘old’ cathedral organ and my subsequent discussions with the then cathedral organist, Niels Henrik Nielsen, constituted a remarkable series of coincidences which resulted in the organ’s transference to Tullamore in the latter months of 1994.

The organ obviously needed a new case to fit the gallery dimensions of Tullamore’s fine new parish church. This was designed and built by the Frobenius firm. In the transfer process, the action, pipework, keyboards, interior leather-work and wind supply were renewed; the original 32’ foot pedal flue stop was retained by the Copenhagen cathedral for incorporation into their new Marcussen instrument, and so a new replica 32’ stop was made for Tullamore. These elements apart, the organ represents a uniquely intact transplant of an unusually large all-mechanical action organ. The condition of both pipework and action can only be described well nigh perfect, and the voicing and regulation necessary to adjust to the new acoustic conditions of the Church of the Assumption in Tullamore, were carried out by a team of three superb craftsmen from the Frobenius firm. The net result is that Tullamore can now boast of having the largest mechanical action church organ in Ireland, and the sole example in the country of the Danish firm’s renowned skills and craftsmanship. The organ was inaugurated in a gala concert on 10 May, 1995.

While the past three years were challenging for all involved in the performing arts (and we were no exception), due to unwavering support from Offaly County Council and the JVM Trench Trust we battled on, with two mainly online series of concerts; last year we were able to resume the four weekly July recitals in the church, and this year we look forward to our 25th annual series, a series that has become part of the national summer cultural calendar. We do so acknowledging with gratitude and appreciation the continuing support of our core sponsors, the generous donations of friends and well-wishers, and the hard work of our loyal local committee of volunteers. Without this collective support our annual series of concerts would not be possible.