About five years ago John became involved with the music and musicians in Durban, South Africa. The first person he met was Pinkie Mtshali who is Director of Music in Emmanuel Roman Catholic Cathedral. She introduced him to many top-class musicians including Melvin Peters who is organist and choir master of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church in the centre of Durban.
Durban Music School
In February 2018 John at his own expense sent a Viscount Grand Opera digital organ to Durban Music School to be used for teaching. To keep costs to a minimum this was sent by sea so took some 10 weeks to arrive.
One of the many problems in Durban is a shortage of electricity. When the problem is really acute there is ‘load shedding ‘. Large areas of the city have no electricity for two hours at a time. Shops and banks etc have to close and traffic lights don’t work. In the UK this is not a situation you could dream of but a number of times when we wanted to play the organ there was no electricity so we couldn’t. Bring back the days of hand pumped organs perhaps provides a possible solution?
The Viscount Grand Opera Organ
Throughout 2018 the large Saint Paul’s Church was being completely refurbished. The pipe organ had been dismantled and was unusable. In December 2018 with the renovations completed, there was a re-dedication service with the Bishop in attendance. As an instrument was needed to accompany the service John agreed that the Viscount could be moved from the music school to the church. It will remain in the Church until the pipe organ is ready to use again.
The Grand Opera instrument is approximately 20 years old, so perhaps 5 years older than the life span many sceptics advise you should anticipate your digital organ will fail and need replacing. So this ‘elderly’ and large 3 manual just goes to show how robust digital technology in the 1990’s was. Well after predicted retirement it carries on giving good service after transport 5000 miles by sea and then another local trip to the Cathedral.
This was not entirely without mishap as en route to the church a fuse did actually blow, no doubt caused by the bumping about the organ got on its ‘trailer ride’ to the cathedral. Eventually a replacement fuse was found and we were back in business for the re-dedication service.