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North of the Yarra - Organs of Melbourne

Gordon Atkinson plays seven of Melbourne's finest organs, including the giant organ in the Melbourne Town Hall, the organs of St. Patrick's Cathedral, The Scots' Church, St. Paul's Cathedral and St. Mary's Star of the Sea church, West Melbourne.

The River Yarra continues its major role in the development of Melbourne. The Wurundjeri people called it 'birrarung' - 'river of mists and shadows'. When asked the name of the small rapids in 1835 by members of an exploration party, the local Aborigines replied "Yarro Yarro" meaning that 'it flows'. This mishearing led to the name by which it is now known.

The city developed quickly on the north side of the river: commerce and business flourished. Homes, stables, stores, arcades proliferated. Churches, theatres, the town hall, all indicated sudden and continuing growth.

Gordon Atkinson: "Late in 2007, when driving through the north-western suburbs of Melbourne, I came upon the nave of what was planned to be a large church. It was never completed. On looking through a glass and steel structure filling the intended crossing arch, a small single manual organ was seen. With further enquiries, I found that this instrument is considered to be the oldest surviving organ built in the early days of the city, c. 1855. Certainly the wood pipes were made in Melbourne, and it can be assumed that the metal pipes came from England. That this organ should be recorded came to mind, so the chance viewing of St Linus' Church, Merlynston, led to thoughts that some of the city's organs should be included, from the oldest to the newest."

The result is a CD presenting seven very different organs located on the north side of Melbourne's Yarra River. The disc come with a 16-page booklet with music notes and photographs of the organs.


Gordon Atkinson

Although born in Melbourne, Victoria and retiring there in 2005, Gordon Atkinson spent much of his life in England and North America. Following study in Melbourne with A.E.H. Nickson, he attended the Royal College of Music in London from 1950 to 1953, where Harold Darke, Patrick Hadley and William Lloyd Webber were among his teachers.

Press quote

“... first-rate professional production of the disc ... records the important organs of Melbourne, Australia ... a gorgeous harmonic flute features in a brief Dupré Antiphon in the vast acoustic of St Patrick's Cathedral ... a very substantial Rieger organ in the Scots' Church, Dr Atkinson plays his own Adoro Te ... at the Melbourne Town Hall organ he plays a Barrie Cabina sonata, recorded here with verve ... program notes contain photos of the organs.”

— Bruce Cross, Organ Canada

Audio previews

Track Listing

  1. Petite Suite Introduction, Intermezzo, Finale Gerald Bales
  2. Fifteen Pieces for Organ I am black, but comely, O ye Daughters of Jerusalem Marcel Dupré
  3. Gavotte in G minor Matthew Camidge
  4. Ten Tunes for Clay's Musical Clock George Frideric Handel

  5. A Voluntary on a Flight of Angels
  6. Sonata: (Allegro), (Allegro moderato), Menuet
  7. Communion, Op. 8 Louis Vierne
  8. Pastorellen für die Weihnachtszeit Nos 1 and 7 Johann Valentin Rathgeber
  9. Variations to the Sicilian Hymn Benjamin Carr
  10. B-A-C-H Fugue No. 2 Robert Schumann
  11. La Nativité du Seigneur Desseins Éternels (Eternal Purposes) Olivier Messiaen
  12. Adoro Te Gordon Atkinson
  13. Trois Impressions Harmonies du Soir Sigfrid Karg-Elert
  14. Fanfare Nodrog Nosnikta
  15. Pastourelle Fela Sowande
  16. Sonata da Chiesa Paean on "Lasst uns erfreuen" Barrie Cabena



Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992) was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex (he was interested in rhythms from ancient Greek and from Hindu sources); harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations.

George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, and concertos. Handel's music was well known to such later composers as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era.

Where to buy

North of the Yarra - Organs of Melbourne is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Apple Music.

North of the Yarra - Organs of Melbourne is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

List price
$25.00 AUD
John Franklin
Martin Wright
Rhys Boak
Thanks to
Christopher Trikilis
Lachlan Redd
Organ Historical Trust of Australia
Release date
© 2009 Move Records
℗ 2009 Move Records
Keyboard, Organ
Catalogue number
MD 3333
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574333329