City Hall Main Auditorium and Organ | Brisbane City Council

City Hall Main Auditorium and Organ

The Main Auditorium and the Father Henry Willis Organ (located within the Main Auditorium) are key heritage features of iconic City Hall.

Main Auditorium

The Main Auditorium was originally known as 'Concert Hall' and was so vast that early performers dubbed it the 'two acre paddock'. It is the largest single volume space in the building and its circular design with fluted pilasters around the perimeter is based on the Pantheon of Rome. The walls of the auditorium have large, fluted Corinthian pilasters, in keeping with the Corinthian columns on the front facade.

A decorative frieze runs above the stage, with artwork by Daphne Mayo. The frieze is moulded plaster and features a classically-inspired deign of nymphs playing trumpets and cymbals.

Father Henry Willis Organ

The Brisbane City Hall Organ is one of best preserved examples of a five-manual Father Henry Willis Organ anywhere in the world. The organ was built in 1892 by Henry Willis and Sons of London for the Queensland National Agricultural and Industrial Association (QNA) at Bowen Hills.

In 1897, the QNA was declared bankrupt and several Brisbane musicians joined together to rescue the organ from the auctioneer's hammer by helping the Brisbane Municipal Council to raise funds to purchase the organ. In 1928, work began to enlarge and modernise the organ for its new home in Brisbane City Hall.

The organ's first public recital was on 8 April 1930, the day City Hall officially opened. The installation was completed nine months earlier and its very first performance was a private preview concert in July 1929 for the aldermen of the amalgamated Greater Brisbane City Council.

Both figuratively and literally, the organ belongs to the people of Brisbane by virtue of the fact that an earlier generation of Brisbane citizens saved it, investing 3000 pounds in the future of local classical music.

Restoration

The organ was removed from City Hall for restoration in early 2010. All 4,391 pipes were restored in an off-site workshop. The organ was brought back to City Hall in early 2013. Many smaller pipes have progressively been reinstated since then and subsequently tuned by the organ builders.

Events

Visit City Hall events to discover upcoming concerts and events.

Want to see the City Hall's organ and auditorium in person? Visit Musuem of Brisbane to book into a free Brisbane City Hall Organ and Auditorium tour.

13 November 2018