Saturday, March 18, 2006

Organ Donors Needed

This EU bureaucracy is really getting out of hand -- and may I not get arrested or sued for saying that....

Ruth Gledhill, the superlative religion correspondent for The Times of London, reports that some of Britain's great church organs are in danger of being shuttered forever for not meeting new EU lead content guidelines.
The instruments at Salisbury Cathedral, St Paul’s in London, Worcester Cathedral, St Albans Abbey and Birmingham Town Hall are among the first that may be silenced. They are due to be refurbished or rebuilt and will fall foul of the directives, which are aimed at limiting the amount of lead in electrical items.

The regulations permit electrical equipment to have a maximum of 0.1 per cent of their weight as lead. Organ pipes have a lead content of 50 per cent or more and the Department of Trade and Industry has advised organ builders that, in the interests of directive harmony, they must “prepare to comply”. Though pipe organs are essentially mechanical devices, they use electric motors to power the blowers that move air through the pipes.

The great Harrison and Harrison organ at the South Bank, which is now in pieces in Durham as part of the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall, is under immediate threat. Under EU Directive 2002 95/EC RoHS and EU Directive 2002 96/EC WEEE, it will technically be illegal to reinstall it.

The Salisbury Cathedral organ, which is in pieces in Durham, where the console is being renovated, is also in danger of contravening the directive. Tim Hone, head of liturgy and music at the cathedral, said: “We were really looking forward to the return of our great Willis Harrison instrument. If this is delayed beyond July, we would could fall foul of the directive. We would have to use a piano in perpetuity.”

As a committed lover of organ music, this is absolutely horrifying.... We need to keep Peter Hurford workin'. Forever.