30th November 2019
Organ Restoration over Mgarr, Gozo
The Friary Church of St. Anthony in Mgarr, Gozo has the good fortune to possess a particularly fine pipe organ, built in 1939 by the Italian firm of Balbiani-Bossi.
Across Malta, we can find only three examples of this firm of which the example found in Gozo is the smallest one.
This instrument is a small one-manual and pedal organ of five stops. Although it is a small organ, surprisingly enough it is very effective in its performance as a versatile accompaniment organ which was made in series to other similar instruments under the model name of 'Balilla'. This organ is well capable to create very gentle sounds by the aid of a two-rank 'Celeste' stop (stop is a set of pipes that creates a specific sound), to very bright and loud sounds with a five-rank mixture stop, together with a generously toned foundation pedal stop. All pipes, of various materials of lead, tin, and wood are enclosed in a Swell box, which by the aid of moving shutters that are controlled by the organist, the organ can be expressive as well. These mentioned characteristics are normally found in larger instruments, so it is rare to find such a small instrument with these specifications. The action – the mechanism between the keyboards and the valves which allow wind into the pipes – is operated pneumatically which consists of a series of lead tubes from each key, sending wind through an intricate labyrinth of machines containing hundreds of valves and action parts, many of which are made of very thin leather. Such a delicate and complex action is a tribute of the craftsman who built it, but it needs much attention for reliable operation, especially in the Maltese climate, where severe hot summers and dust presence can present difficulties.
From time to time this instrument has been repaired to continue serving, but lately it has suffered several mechanical problems with severe woodworm damage which alarmed the Friars to see how to save this instrument from deteriorating extensively. During this year, work has started on it where Noel Gallo - a Maltese internationally renowned organ builder and designer was commissioned to restore the organ and treat it in the best way possible to get it to its former glory. With this work, the organ is expected to be used again in liturgical services and also for concerts.
The organ will be inaugurated on Saturday 30th of November at 19:30. For this occasion a concert will be conducted by organist Franco Cefai and accompanied by Trumpeter Jason Camilleri. This event will be part of the Malta International Organ Festival.