Old Lady sings again
1 July 2014
SWEET melodies filled the church as the young pianist worked his magic on the century-old pipe organ.
Parishioners listened in silent wonder as 17-year-old Daniel de Costa cajoled heavenly music from the restored antique nicknamed the ‘Old Lady’ of the Church of the Assumption in Farquhar Street, Penang.
His repertoire of ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘The Hymn of Joy’, ‘Whispering Hope’ and ‘How Great Thou Art’ was most apt for the thanksgiving concert to celebrate the restoration of the grand dame.
For Daniel, his first experience of playing the grand organ was in 2012 during a concert to raise funds for its restoration.
“It was a totally different feeling playing on this pipe organ as it gave me the satisfaction I never had before and I got hooked on to it immediately.
“Not many have the passion to play the pipe organ and I’m glad I found it,” said the Form Five student of St Xavier’s Institution after his performance on Sunday.
The restoration of the pipe organ reminded him of how valuable things are and how people should treasure historical items.
Leonard Selva Gurunathan, the church’s organist since 1998, said the restoration of the Old Lady marked the beginning of a new journey for the instrument that had undergone many ups and downs over the years.
“The pipe organ has survived through all these years as a result of the dedication and commitment of the congregation of the church and support received from various individuals and corporate bodies.
“To keep the organ running for many years to come, not only constant care and maintenance by an organ builder are required.
“There must also be continued commitment and dedication from those responsible for it,” Leonard said.
He had earlier performed opening numbers for the concert with his rendition of ‘Invention No. 1’ and ‘Air on the G String’ on the pipe organ.
The Church of the Assumption Choir group also performed at the event.
Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen who had assisted in boosting the restoration funds was present to witness the Old Lady in action.
AirAsiaExpedia donated RM200,000 while Star Publications (M) Bhd contributed RM50,000 for the restoration.
Khazanah Nasional’s Think City Sdn Bhd also donated RM262,000.
The pipe organ was built in 1914 by Morton & Moody of Oakham, England, and set up in the church by The Robinson Piano Co Ltd in June 1916.
Made of oak, pine and mahogany, it has 640 pipes made of lead and zinc.
By the time the Old Lady was dismantled and shipped to Harrogate in the UK for a major overhaul in January 2013, it was in a poor condition.
Its wooden parts were falling to pieces due to infestation of termites and rats while its mechanical parts suffered wear and tear.
It was fully restored at the church in November last year.
The pipes have been cleaned and tuners atop each pipe were replaced. Most of the original pipes were retained.
Some of the ivory keys have been replaced with synthetic material.
Peter Wood and Son, a British company specialising in pipe organ building, repairs, restorations, rebuilds and tuning was entrusted with the restoration work.