Friday, April 13, 2012

Godwin Sadoh: April 13, 1932: '4th pipe organ at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos, was consecrated'

[Thomas Ekundayo Phillips: The Doyen of Nigerian Church Music; by Godwin Sadoh]

Godwin Sadoh, D.M.A. writes: 

“TODAY IN HISTORY--April 13, 1932: It was exactly 80 years today that the 4th pipe organ at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos, was consecrated at a special service.”

Godwin Sadoh, D.M.A., is a Nigerian organist and composer who serves as Professor of Music at Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. His website is:

Comments by email:

Thanks Godwin,

I had been meaning to mention Christ Church Cathedral, Lagos for some time after talking to an organ builder on a renovation job he was doing abtroad. I had also heard some time ago that that the organ at Christ Church may not have been in such good condition. However, a quick check on the web reassuringly showed that they now have a pretty impressive Oberlinger instrument!

An extract of a recital by Prof Thorsten Mader on the Cathedral website proves it to be a very worthy instrument indeed. I am very much aware of the wear and tear that can beset a pipe organ in the sort of climatic conditions of a tropical country. I have seen some very sad examples!!! One hopes that the German engineering will keep Christ Church Cathedral in good sound for many years to come.

You have done quite a bit to bring the world to the attention of Nigerian organ music. Indeed, Nigeria seems to have been fairly unique in being perhaps the only sub-Saharan African country to have really taken the instrument seriously – with the music to prove it.

It is interesting to note that the electronic organ ‘route’ seems to be the normal approach in Nigeria

However, the tradition of organ music in Nigeria definitely appears to be ‘alive and kicking’.
Last but not least, I have to put in this lovely link from You Tube!
I have copied this to Bill Zick and the other interested people as an open response simply to spread the word to those who are unaware of what exists in Nigeria!  Regards Mike [Michael S. Wright]

Dear Mike,
Thanks for your great interest about organs in Nigeria.

--Yes, the cathedral church built a new pipe organ in 2008 by a German firm and the first recital on the instrument was by a German Professor.

--The article about electronic organs in Nigeria is very true. Pipe organs are very expensive to build today even in the US. Most churches are going for new electronic organs that can produce pipe organ sound. Cathedral church of Christ is one of the very few elite and rich churches that can afford to build a brand new pipe organ from the scratch and by a foreign firm, considering the issue of foreign exchange. The new 4 manual pipe organ cost $1.6 million [US dollars]. I discussed the fund raising exercise in my book on TKE Phillips in the chapter titled "The Cathedral Organs" in which I traced the history of pipe organs at the church from the very first harmonium in late 19th century to the present one.

--Again, you're correct to note that the organ tradition is vibrant in Nigeria. In fact, I just shipped my complete organ work and other compositions to the author of one of the articles you cited, an organist and choir director at Ibadan. He has been asking for my compositions for over a year. He finally got them this week and he has started practicing, getting ready to start playing the pieces at services, weddings, and concerts. I also heard from another young organist in Lagos who asked for my organ music last year. He reported to me this week that he has been playing my music at concerts, weddings and services. In fact, he is getting ready to play another recital very soon. I made sure that I have some individuals with my complete published compositions in Nigeria and the cathedral church in Lagos is one of them. So when organists write me that they need my music, I simply refer them to those people or the cathedral.
Have a great weekend!
GS. [Godwin Sadoh, D.M.A.]

Bill, thanks a million for posting this article including Mike's comments and my response.  I am very grateful.  GS. [Godwin Sadoh, D.M.A.]

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