Songs of Home at Swifts

Members are invited to experience a rare musical performance in the elegant ballroom of Swifts, one of Sydney’s most beautiful and historically significant private homes.

Arguably the jewel of the ballroom is the Fincham & Hobday organ, which will be expertly brought to life by renowned organists Dr Neal Peres Da Costa, Dr Grace Chan and tenor Mr Koen van Stade.

The performance has been developed to complement the Songs of Home exhibition currently on display at the Museum of Sydney, which evocatively tells the story of music played in the home in colonial NSW. Music from Sydney Living Museums’ collections known to have been played in 19th-century homes will be performed.

The Organ

The Fincham & Hobday organ was constructed in 1885 and extended in 1888 for the Congregational Church, Gawler, South Australia. In around 1976 it was removed for storage at Williamstown, South Australia. In 2016 the instrument was refurbished and placed in the existing ballroom loft at the request of Dr Shane Moran and family. The loft originally contained an orchestral player organ which used organ barrels.


Swifts is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register and has been the recipient of the prestigious Lachlan Macquarie Award for outstanding heritage restoration. Apart from Government House in Sydney, it is the largest remaining Victorian Gothic Revival house in Australia. Swifts remains on its original grounds and retains its original landscape, statuary, terrace wall, stairs and paths. It is a prime example of how wealthy people lived in 19th-century Australia. Swifts is also of cultural significance as it was home to two well-known Sydney business families, the Lucas-Tooth and Resch families. Swifts was also home to three cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church. The building is an example of the work of Gustavus Alphonse Morell, a prominent Sydney architect in the late 19th century. 

It is unique not just in Australia but internationally to have a house organ in pristine condition within sympathetic surrounds. 

Dr Grace Chan

We would like to thank Dr Shane and Mrs Penelope Moran for opening their home to us so generously.

Things to note:

  • This is a private event and booking is essential
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • No parking available on site
  • Access to the house is restricted to the Ballroom


Dr Grace Chan (Organ)

Grace has studied with Mr David Drury, Mr Koen Van Stade and Professor Neal Peres Da Costa. Her research focus is Australian pipe organ, harmonium and carillon culture. Grace plays at the National Carillon, Canberra and at significant heritage pipe organs in Sydney. She is organist at the Blacket designed, gothic revival church St Stephen’s, Newtown where Isaac Nathan (Australia’s first composer) is buried. 

In 2017, Grace premiered on the Sydney Town Hall organ a new work commissioned by the City of Sydney to celebrate its 175th Anniversary. She has premiered portative organ works by significant Australian composers in a joint project with AGNSW, MAAS and the Embassy of France to honour the La Dame à la Licorne exhibition. At the City Recital Hall 2018 “Extended Play” Festival, Grace played the closing iterations of an 11 hour performance of Satie’s Vexations. In July 2019, Grace has been invited to perform the world premiere of an Australian carillon work at the Palau de la Generalitat Carillon, Barcelona. 

She is currently a PhD candidate at the Sydney Conservatorium, University of Sydney where she is the recipient of a prestigious organ scholarship awarded for outstanding achievement.

Dr Neal Peres Da Costa

Dr Neal Peres Da Costa is Associate Dean Research and Professor of Historical Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music – University of Sydney. An internationally-recognised performing scholar, Neal has received many accolades for his ground-breaking monograph Off the Record: Performing Practices in Romantic Piano Playing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), and for the complete Brahms’ Sonatas for solo instrument and piano (Bärenreiter, 2015/16) co-edited with Clive Brown and Kate Bennet-Wadsworth. Currently, Neal is undertaking research in 19th-century piano playing funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant and is working with Clive Brown on an edition for Bärenreiter of the complete Sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven. Neal performs and records regularly with Ironwood and several of Australia’s other leading ensembles. He is an ARIA winner with an extensive discography.

Koen van Stade (Tenor)

A graduate of both the Amsterdam Conservatorium and The Royal Conservatory of the Hague, Koen van Stade is a performing scholar with an international career who majored in voice, organ and conducting. He has performed with prestigious early music ensembles such as Collegium Vocale Gent (Philippe Herreweghe) and The Amsterdam Baroque Choir (Ton Koopman). Koen is currently a PhD candidate, focussing on 19th century vocal performance practice.

In a collaborative project with Sydney Living Museums/ Sydney Conservatorium, Koen has performed vocal works from the earliest volume of bound music in Australia at Elizabeth Bay House with Professor Neal Peres Da Costa. 

In September 2019, he will perform and present at a cutting edge workshop on 19th century vocal performance practice in Vienna, Austria. 

Member: $55

Member's Guest: $65

When & Where

Friday 18 October 2019 10.30AM–11.30AM

Darling Point, Sydney

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