Sapporo church pipe-organ is rare 19th century British organ

The pipe organ in the chapel of wedding ceremony church “Miyanomori Frances Church” in Sapporo’s Chuo ward was discovered through expert appraisal to be a 19th century British organ, of which only a few exist in Japan. The organ interior was assessed for repair, and it was discovered that while the area that delivers air into the pipes had been fitted with an electric motor, the bellows had originally been operated manually. The expert reported, “It is rare for 19th century organs to be imported, so this is a rare treasure.”

To coincide with the church opening in 1995, wedding ceremony operating company president Masuda purchased the organ from a British church that had closed down. The British Forster and Andrews company logo is attached to the organ, but the manufacturing year and other information is not known.

A quarter of a century has passed since the organ was installed, and an air leakage defect arose. In June, President Masuda requested repair services from a German pipe organ artisan named Michael Kreisz, who has a studio in Niseko, within the Shiribeshi Subprefecture.

When Kreisz examined the organ interior, he discovered that the electric motor fan which delivers air to the pipes was originally a bellows structure that worked manually instead. The style of writing on the buttons and the soft tone are in the romantic style popular in the 1800s, and Kreisz conjectures, “It was probably manufactured in the 1870s, during the height of the romantic period.” From the equipment configuration and the like, the organ is thought to have been renovated into an electric organ around 1910.

Tsuru from the Yamaha Musical Instrument Business Headquarters, who works with dismantling and mending pipe organs at Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara, explained, “If it is manually operated, then it absolutely has to have been manufactured in the 19th century.” Yokota, who has been involved in manufacturing and repairing organs for about 40 years in the West, expressed the opinion, “There are only a few organs from the 19th century in Japan, so this is an extremely rare item.”

On September 14, the four-month long repairs were completed. Organist Takahashi looked back on her test performance, “The volume has increased, and I was able to produce the kind of impact you would feel from an organ in a large cathedral.”

Kreisz (left) explains about pipe organ thought to have been manufactured in the 19th century (September 14, Chuo Ward, Sapporo City)


Miyanomori Frances Church