THE legendary organ builders of the early colony will be celebrated by St Mary’s cathedral in the first show of their 2017 concert series.
The cathedral houses two pipe organs, one built by famed organman Josiah Eustace Dodd (our first Australia-born organ builder, 1856-1952) and another built by Arthur Hobday (1851-1912).
Both men were trained by the same master, George Fincham, an old world expert who saw the clunky instruments being transported to Australia.
Seeing the obvious demand, he decided to sail to Australia and set up shop in Melbourne.
He supplied the churches and town halls popping up across the country at a far cheaper rate than the importers, and the homemade organs were far better suited to the hot Australian climate.
He trained a generation of organ builders, but his star apprentices were Dodd and Hobday.
Eventually Dodd set up his own firm in Adelaide (JE Dodd and Sons) and competed with Fincham, building larger, louder and richer-sounding organs.
Dodd expanded his business and opened a branch in Perth in 1903.
In 1910 St Mary’s Cathedral awarded him the commission of building their first organ, the largest one in WA at the time.
The cathedral’s second organ, by Hobday, was built in 1905 for the Newtown Methodist Church in Wellington, New Zealand.
The church was demolished in the 1980s and a new chapel built, but it was too small for Hobday’s instrument, so it sat in storage for 25 years.
In recent years it was dug out, dusted off, shipped to Perth, masterfully restored, and installed in St Mary’s Cathedral.
A century after Hobday’s death, Fincher’s two star apprentices were reunited in a fashion, with their works sitting in the same Perth cathedral.
The history and the music of the era are woven together for the first show in this season’s concert series, “An Afternoon with Mr Dodd and Mr Hobday”, with Perth’s favourite heritage storyteller Richard Offen coming along to tell a few anecdotes about the city during that period. It’s on May 21 at 2pm with tickets from http://www.ticketswa.com/event/afternoon-mr-dodd-and-mr-hobday.
by DAVID BELL