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Christie theatre pipe organ
The Christie theatre pipe organ

The principal instrument is a Christie theatre pipe organ, which is located in the auditorium of the Kelvin Grove State College in Brisbane, Australia. The Christie is a three manual, 11 rank organ and originally from the Granada Theatre in Maidstone, England.

The original console was destroyed in a flood in the theatre before TOSA purchased it, and a two manual Christie console was sourced from New Zealand and enlarged.

The organ arrived in Brisbane in 1969 and the society’s members spent several years painstakenly going through every rank, wind chest, relay, the wiring and wind supply before the organ was installed in the new auditorium at Kelvin Grove in 1973. The pipes and associated effects are located in two chambers (solo and main) on each side of the stage, giving excellent stereo acoustics. The console is on an electric hoist in the centre front of stage.

After the inaugural concert in 1975 with Tony Fenelon at the console, the Christie was used regularly for the next two decades. By 1998, the console was showing signs of age and it was decided to completely rebuild it with a new polished timber console to house the modern electronics and capture system. The result was a totally new look with excellent controls to make this Christie theatre pipe organ one of the best of its type in the world.

As well as the many ranks (or sets of pipes), the Christie has a complete set of percussion instrumnets and sound effects - something that sets theatre organs apart from classical or church pipe organs. You will find in the solo chamber, drums, xylophone, glockenspiel, castanets, tamborine, bells, as well as a siren, car horn, surf, thunder and other sound effects all played by the organist from the console.