The People's Republic of China invited Carol Williams, a British concert-organist now living in New York, to give the inaugural recitals on the Austin pipe organ newly-installed in Beijing's Forbidden City Concert Hall. The delegation fom America was made up of the President of Austin Organs, Inc. (Kimberlee Austin) plus Alan McNeely and A.J. Buttler who, together, ensured that the organ was in pristine condition for the performances.
The first concert, at 7:30pm on Friday April 28th 2000 was with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tan Lihua and Carol played a varied program to highlight the outstanding versatility of the new organ. It included popular works by Widor, Bach, Jeremiah Clarke, Franck, and Purvis together with lighter music by Scott Joplin, Sousa and British composer David Hellewell. It culminated in the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony in C minor.
The second concert at 7:30pm on Sunday April 30th 2000, was devoted entirely to the organ and, to cover a wide range of interests, the first half was made up of famous classical works whereas, in sharp contrast, the second half was principally of very popular works. This concert was filmed for an impending documentary release and, in addition, there were numerous interviews with magazines and with television.
The new concert hall is some five
minutes walk through the beautiful gardens of the Zhang Shan Park
adjoining the famous Tiananmen Square. Beijing as a whole is well
developed and very much up to date yet, surprisingly for a country
which is the third-largest in the world, we were given to understand
that it has only four pipe organs. The visit and the success of Austin
Organs in their installation therefore represent a truly historic and