Ria Angelika Polo and the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ

Jakarta-born organist, Ria Angelika Polo, began to learn piano when she was five years old and moved to the organ at age eight. Now, she’s fulfilling a long-held dream to play a grand organ and you can experience it at a free lunchtime concert on 17 June 2015.

What do you like about playing the organ?
The organ is a fascinating instrument in many ways. You need both hands and feet as they are dancing up and down the pedal board. You need an active brain and eyes to read three lines of music and sometimes more. In big organs such as the Grand Organ at Melbourne Town Hall, they have four keyboards. It keeps me active and busy! Most importantly, it can make a super loud and majestic sound with mixtures and reeds as well as a sweet dolce sound with flute, strings or vox humana.

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Ria poses with the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ

The Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ is one of the largest organs in the southern hemisphere and one of the finest organs in the world. What is it like to play?

Words can’t describe how lucky I am to be able to play the Grand Organ. It was my dream to play on a magnificent instrument at a grand hall. One of the particular elements that I love in playing the Grand Organ, the instrument has Carillon, Glockenspiel, side drum and bass drum percussions, which are great to add orchestral effect to famous movie soundtracks such as The Simpsons, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, which I played last year. Another highlight was playing the introduction music to the ABC TV show Q&A as I performed it on live TV.

What will you play at your Grand Organ concert in June?
I will be performing pieces by Mendelssohn, Buxtehude, Franck, one of Charles-Marie Widor’s symphonies, and the concert won’t be complete without performing a work by  Johann Sebastian Bach.

When did you move to Melbourne?
I came to Melbourne in 2002 to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree at The University of Melbourne. After I received my Master’s degree in Music in 2006, I decided to give it a try to teach music here. I have been living in Melbourne for 13 years now and still counting.

What do you like best about living in Melbourne?
Melbourne holds a lot of live music events with a variety of genres. Ever since I  moved to Melbourne, I attended concerts by MSO, Herbie Hancock, Tommy Emmanuel, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Chick Corea, Michael Buble and Coldplay. Melbourne has an easy access to public transport, it’s a multicultural city and offers a lot of awesome places to eat!

See Ria, play the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ in Organ-ic Lunch with Ria Angelika Polo on Wednesday 17 June 2015 at 1pm.