AS AN eight-year-old lad living at Walla Graham Lieschke was instantly captivated by the new pipe organ going in at the church next door to him. Originally built in 1869 for a Melbourne church, the organ was rebuilt and installed at Zion Lutheran Church in 1967 to mark the congregation's centenary. The 27-stop grandfather Fincham/Laurie organ blew him away. "It immediately fascinated me," he said. "I loved its majestic sound and I always wanted to play it." He recalls building models of it out of Lego and once when his family feared him missing he turned up at the church watching the builders install the organ. He studied piano at Walla Public School and progressed to the organ as a boarder at Luther College in Melbourne. His school holidays at Walla were spent at Zion's organ. "I was told I had to pass my fifth grade piano exam to play the organ," he said. "I remember coming home from boarding school in second form and my father had arranged with the organist John Wenke for me to play the organ. I felt so privileged." While studying and training in medicine, Clinical Professor Lieschke was organ scholar and organist at Ormond College at the University of Melbourne, accompanying the Choir of Ormond College under Douglas Lawrence. Now he is director of Music at St John's Lutheran Church, South Melbourne, where he guided the congregation's acquisition of the 23-stop organ built by Knud Smenge (1992) for the new St John's Southgate. In 1997, Professor Lieschke founded the St John's Southgate Bach Cantata Program to present Johann Sebastian Bach cantatas as liturgical Lutheran worship services. This program has presented 140 of the 200 surviving Bach cantatas in more than 200 events over 25 years. Professor Lieschke said the music of Bach had been a life-long interest. "I must be built for Bach," Professor Lieschke said. "I remember in my very early days playing Bach for an AMV-4 talent quest; I must have played it very badly because I was so nervous but I have always loved Bach. "I enjoy the complexity and artistry and cleverness; every aspect of the music appeals to me." Clinical Professor Lieschke was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) on Australia Day in 2023 for his significant contribution to haematology, largely through cancer cell research. He leads a research group at Monash University and is a physician at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Professor Lieschke will return to the region to present Walla Advent Organ Concert at Zion Lutheran Church on Sunday, December 10. He will showcase the Fincham (1869) and Laurie (1967) pipe organ with seasonal music mostly by Bach. "When I was growing up at Walla I remember hundreds of people going to church on Sundays and singing the old German hymns," he said. "I wanted to offer this concert to help promote to the wider community what a fabulous gem they have in the pipe organ at Walla." Entry is free but donations are welcome.