Organ's grand celebration

GRAND INSTRUMENT: St Mark's Cathedral's grand pipe organ, pictured in the background, with Isaac Ellis, front, marks its 40th anniversary in the church.
GRAND INSTRUMENT: St Mark's Cathedral's grand pipe organ, pictured in the background, with Isaac Ellis, front, marks its 40th anniversary in the church.

A recital featuring a renowned organist will mark the 40th anniversary of St Mark's Cathedral's pipe organ.

The organ made its debut in the cathedral on September 2, 1979, and remains unique in regional South Australia today.

It was put to use at its first recital and was presented by James Govenlock and David Swale, organists of St Francis Xavier's Cathedral and St Peter's Cathedral.

It had been previously used in Adelaide's Elder Hall and took a lengthy process to dismantle, clean, adjust and reassemble to be used in Port Pirie.

Speaking about the history of the pipe organ, Nita Stokes, the conductor and director at the upcoming recital, explained that at the instigation of the then Bishop, Bryan Gallagher, Fr Ray Pope, Vicar General of the diocese, offered to purchase the organ for the sum of $5100.

The rebuilding of the organ was completed at a cost of $28,000 but at the time the organ itself was valued at $250,000.

The grand instrument had to be transported to Port Pirie in sections.

Before it was installed in the cathedral, works had to be conducted to extend and strengthen the choir gallery due to the size and weight of the organ.

The works at the cathedral cost $30,000.

Part of the money had been raised in an appeal put out to parishioners.

Mrs Stokes paid tribute to the work of Fr Pope, now aged 94, who will be a guest-of-honour at the celebration recital to be held on Sunday, September 29, at 2.30pm.

"Fr Pope and helpers, with the help of James Govenlock, dismantled it. Fr Pope was present for all of the dismantling," she said.

"Fr Pope with his band of merry men transported it to Port Pirie in sections.

"Fr Pope played a huge part in the rebuilding of the organ.

Fr Pope played a huge part in the rebuilding of the organ. He knows everything about how it all works.

"He knows everything about how it all works."

She said once it was installed, it was the best organ of its kind outside of Adelaide - a mantle it still holds today.

Speaking of the instrument's debut in 1979, she said it was a massive occasion.

Local organist, Isaac Ellis, detailed the celebrations to mark the pipe organ's milestone.

At the recital, guest organist Dominic Perissinotto, the director of music at Fremantle's St Patrick's Basilica, will perform.

"He comes highly recommended," Mr Ellis said.

Mr Ellis said Perissinotto had given recitals in Australia and overseas.

On the day, the Cathedral Choir and Port Pirie Music Club will join forces for the performance. Tickets for the September 29 recital cost $20, $15 concession, and are available through the Parish Office by phoning 8632 3977.

DETAILS

When: Sunday, September 29 at 2.30pm

Where: St Mark's Cathedral, Gertrude Street

Tickets: Can be purchased from the Parish Office. $20 ($15 concession). Phone 8632 3977.