The Royal Festival Hall has been awarded a lottery grant to help complete restoration work on its centrepiece Harrison and Harrison-built organ, in time for the its 60th birthday celebrations to take place in 2014.
Almost 5,000 of the organs 7,710 pipes need work carried out on them, expected to cost around £2 million to complete.
However, to soften the financial blow to the Royal Festival Hall, and ensure that the organ continues to play an important role in the community and local and national events, the Heritage Lottery Fund has announced that it is to award a grant of £950,000 towards the work.
To raise the additional money, the Southbank centre will be launching a fundraising campaign this September and if successful, a new community learning and engagement programme will be implemented which will allow individuals of all ages to experience the instrument for free during recitals and in collaboration with the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music.
Sue Bowers, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London, announced her pleasure that the restoration work was going to be carried out on the organ – which is the largest of its kind ever produced by Harrison and Harrison.
“We are delighted that the Royal Festival Hall will soon be complete and this amazing internationally important organ back in its rightful place for people of all ages to learn from, experience and enjoy,” she explained.
The work will be undertaken by the instrument manufacturer and is expected to be completed by 2013.
Southbank Centre chief executive Alan Bishop said: “This is a major boost ahead of our fundraising campaign, which we will launch in September, announcing how the public can also support the completion of the organ project.”
The Royal Festival Hall was opened in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations and is now considered to be one of the world’s leading performance venues.
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