A new pipe organ of inestimable value was recently donated to St George's Basilica by Dr Richard Vendome, an Oxford music scholar and the Oxford Girls' Choir organist and founder.

The inauguration ceremony took place on Monday in the presence of Bishop Mario Grech, archpriest Mgr Dr Joseph Farrugia, the Laudate Pueri director and assistant maestro di cappella Fr. George J. Frendo, and the basilica chapter.

During the ceremony, Dr Vendome gave a memorable and brilliant performance on the new English pipe organ, which was then blessed by the bishop.

Mgr Farrugia said that the Aula Mgr Giuseppe Farrugia is now "the only concert hall in Malta which houses two very prestigious instruments", the other instrument being the grand piano donated four years ago by a group of benefactors. Dr Vendome pointed out that there are probably just nine organs like this from Rome southwards. A team of technicians and engineers from Oxford, made up of David and Marion Bolton and Gordon Curtis, flew to Gozo several times to oversee the installation of the organ.

Joseph Borg of FXB offered his professional services to ensure its smooth transportation, and a team of volunteers, led by Frank Mizzi, helped to set the organ up. The wooden case, which was designed to blend with the elegant and stylish setting of the concert hall, renovated by Mgr Farrugia, was made by Joseph Grech with the assistance of his brother Paschal.

The idea to have the organ brought over from England took root following discussions between Dr Vendome, Mgr Farrugia, and Fr Frendo.

Mgr Farrugia said he was honored and privileged, "as archpriest of the basilica and a personal friend of Dr Vendome", to welcome and thank him for this extraordinary gift to the basilica.

He expressed his heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all who contributed towards making this occasion possible, among others Francis X. Borg for the refined work on the organ stops, Joseph Cauchi, Frank Cassar and Carmel Farrugia for the decoration, Raymond Farrugia and Manwel Attard for making the decorative motives available, and Mr and Mrs Teddie Abela for hosting Dr Vendome and his collaborator Pennie Kennedy over the past two years.

The archpriest also thanked "those true friends and partners in the service of St George's who, by inspiration and hard work, make apparently unworkable miracles happen: Dr Maria Frendo, Canon Felix Tabone, Canon Joseph A. Borg and Professor Joseph Vella, who was regretfully and unavoidably absent that evening.

Mgr Farrugia later presented Dr Vendome with a memento of the occasion.

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