Renowned Musicians Unite to Commemorate a Milestone in Sacred Sound
On Sunday 12 November, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, was transformed into a resplendent haven of musical enchantment, echoing with harmonious melodies to mark an historic celebration—the 125th anniversary of the Cathedral Pipe Organ.
Over 200 people gathered in the majestic cathedral, a cornerstone of faith and culture, to listen to renowned musicians including internationally acclaimed organist, David Drury who performed the magnificent ‘Organ Concerto’ by Francis Poulenc, along with string players and timpani from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir and Organists.
The Cathedral Pipe Organ, a masterpiece of craftsmanship and devotion, has been a central figure in the spiritual journey of the Parramatta community since the Cathedral reopened, after the devastating fire in 1996.
“We are truly blessed that our Cathedral church, dedicated in 2003, should have such a fine instrument which can be used to enhance the liturgy and worship of God, as well as supporting other musical activities,” said Bishop Vincent OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta.
“This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council document “Sacrosanctum Concilium” promulgated on 4 December 1963 which laid out the foundation for the reform of the Church’s liturgy. In that document, it states that “the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is the traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendour to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up peoples’ minds to God and higher things,” he said.
The Pipe Organ was built in 1898 by London firm, Norman & Beard for St Saviours, Walton Place, London where it was used for 100 years. After that church became redundant, and the new Parramatta Cathedral required an expressive and powerful instrument, it was successfully procured and brought to Parramatta.
“125 years is a significant milestone for an instrument like this. We’re blessed to have this instrument as part of our church and I thought it was important to celebrate what a wonderful organ we have here in Western Sydney,” said Bernard Kirkpatrick, Director of Music for St Patrick’s Cathedral.
“I love the organ because it is such a magnificent instrument. No other instrument has the power that this instrument has. It’s so expressive, it has a long tradition in the Church with sacred music and there is a great amount of liturgical music written for the choir accompanied by an organ like this.
“I’m perhaps biased, but it’s not called the King of Instruments for no reason,” says Bernard.
The concert was created to provide a transcendent experience that people would not usually have access to during their usual church life. It was a confluence of stunning organ, choir and orchestral music aimed at celebrating the rich musical heritage of St Patrick’s Cathedral and to bring together the community to share in the joy of music, history and faith.
Concertgoers were awe-struck, commenting that the event was an “unforgettable experience”.
The 90-minute concert concluded with a presentation of the proceeds from the event to the House of Welcome – a charity created to provide a compassionate response to refugees negatively impacted by government policies. It provides emergency accommodation for refugees leaving Villawood Detention Centre on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs), who have no access to health services or income support.
A video highlight of the 125th anniversary concert can be seen above and on the Diocesan YouTube channel.
View images from the anniversary concert here or below:
A full list of performers
Musicians included staff and volunteers from St Patrick’s Cathedral:
Bernard Kirkpatrick, Conductor and Director of Music
Eric Grella, Assistant Director of Music
Patrick Newman, Assistant Organist
Michael Taylor, Organist, Our Lady of Mercy Shrine Berrima and Assistant Organist at St Patrick’s
Adriel Sukumar, Choral Scholar and Cantor
The St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir
Bailey Yates, Organist
Rena Tang, Cellist
Fiona Ziegler (Concert master)