The Royal Festival Hall’s 7,866-pipe organ has been unveiled, following a £2.3m restoration process by organ builders Harrison & Harrison funded by a £950,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the successful Pull Out All the Stops public fundraising campaign.
A schedule of tuning and voicing now begins to prepare the instrument for the Pull Out All the Stops festival starting on 18 March 2014, when an opening concert will be performed by organists John Scott, Isabelle Demers, Jane Parker Smith and David Goode with trumpeter Alison Balsom and the brass sections of the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra.
The gala programme will include new works from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir John Tavener, while six other new works have been commissioned for the rest of the festival (running to June 2014) from Neil Hannon, Martin Creed, Kaija Saariaho, Simon Holt, Terry Riley and visual artist Lynette Wallworth. Celebrity recitals during the festival include performances by John Scott, Olivier Latry and Thomas Trotter.
For the first time in almost a decade, concertgoers will be able to hear major works for the organ at the Festival Hall: Poulenc’s Organ Concerto; Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony; Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra and Alpine Symphony; and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass.
The fundraising campaign was completed by a £100,000 sponsored cycle ride by a team including Southbank Centre chairman Rick Haythornthwaite, cycling overnight with one of the final pipes in 24 hours from Harrison & Harrison’s Durham workshop to the Festival Hall.