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Passionate about the pipe organ

T. Lalith Singh



CLASSIC FARE: T.M.J. Champion playing the 99-year-old pipe organ at St. John's Church in Secunderabad. Photo: Satish H.

HYDERABAD: A retired naval officer associated with software industry keeps alive his passion for the pipe organ. And after St. John's Church, he is out to ensure that some more churches in and around the city echo with the sonorous notes of the music instrument.

Commodore T.M.J. Champion, VSM (Retd.) who was instrumental in restoring the pipe organ, which lay silent for almost 15 years at the St. John's Church in September 2003, has now set his sight on the St. George's Church, Abids. The instrument here too is not functional and restoration work is likely to begin in a month's time.

That apart, Commodore Champion is communicating with authorities of the Medak Cathedral to attend to the pipe organ that is awaiting expert help to strike the right notes there. "I am trying to get the pipe organ there, inspected by T. K. Das of Hurry Brothers from Kolkata and have written to them in this regard," he says.

Five instruments

A total of five such instruments are available with churches in and around the city but apart from the one at St. John's Church, none are fully functional. "The one at Holy Trinity, Bolarum is barely operational and all others need full scale effort to revive them."

With no formal training, Commodore Champion is a self-taught master in pipe organ and is ready with a list of church compositions, hymns and carols, to play this Christmas. Incidentally, the music instrument here will complete a century in September 2006. "It was built in the year 1806 by Habeebullah of Misquith & Co., Chennai," he reveals.

Compositions

The man who served 35 years riding high seas with the Indian Navy is also behind several compositions and one of them `Descant', written for organ and trumpet, was played during a recent police parade.

Consultancy

The church organist has come up with a group `Voix Celeste' offering consultancy in Pipe Organ repair and restoration and also sacred choral music. For him, nothing can match the pipe organ in terms of quality and sound.

"This is pure physical acoustics that fills the church and cannot be matched by any amount of electronic music," he says.

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