Checking out the pipes

The Auckland Town Hall Organ is mightily impressive, mind-blowing, even enough to take your breath away! Hours before the first drafts of my APO + Auckland Town Hall Organ composition were due, Kerry Stevens gave me a tour. Amazing. Here are some of my photos.

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Here are some facts from the organ’s very own website:

  • The Auckland Town Hall Organ weighs 40 tonnes, the pipes alone account for 28 tonnes.
  • Number of pipes: 5391, of which 939 have been restored from the 1911 organ.
  • Largest pipe: bottom C of the 32-foot Open Wood: 9.75 metres high (32 feet) with an interior volume of 2600 litres. The note sounded by this pipe has a fundamental frequency of 16 Hz.
  • Smallest pipe: speaking length 6mm (the pipe itself is quite a bit bigger than this to make it possible to handle!)
  • Lowest frequency note: bottom C of the Pedal Gravissima stop, 8 Hz. (The entire bottom octave of this stop is below the limit of human hearing: it is felt rather than heard).
  • Highest frequency: 17kHz from the Swell Furniture.
  • Loudest stop: equal place to the 16′ Ophicleide in the Pedal organ and the Orchestral Trumpet in the Solo. The largest pipe in the Ophicleide rank has a diameter of 349.1mm at the top.
  • The three electric blowers in the basement deliver a wind flow of 209 cubic metres per minute, into 320 metres of wooden wind trunking (the length of three football fields), into 23 bellows loaded with four tonnes of weights, and then into 18 main wind-chests: ready to blow through one pipe or hundreds at once.
  • Most pipes operate on a wind pressure of 3 inches (water gauge). Highest wind pressure: 15 inches.
  • The organ was built by a team of 42 personnel from Klais Orgelbau over a period of 26 months, taking around 27,000 man-hours. The chief designer of the organ was Stefan Hilgendorf.